August 2014

No Bears… Big Bear Lake

We were so fortunate to have Granny and Papa (Robin and Carolyn) visit for the first time in July/August (yes, I know that is nearly 6 months ago and they are due to arrive next week again oppHonestly, we have been so lucky with the being able to have our family and friends visit. It also encourages us to look at new places to go, however ‘bucket list’ seems to get longer and longer after each wonderful place we see.

As it was Robin and Carolyn’s first visit, we decided to keep local for the first week or so and allow them to acclimatise and get their bearings around good old Coronado. As you can imagine, they fell in love with the place as does everyone! We have had some challenges with the boys enjoying their swimming lessons. So with the arrival of Granny and Papa on the scene, it was time to get the boys more confident in the water. So pretty much everyday Robin and Carolyn were here, they had the boys down at the beach swimming and splashing around.

Of course, we took Robin and Carokyn to the usual San Diego sites including the zoo and generally all over the island. We were able to secure a spare bike for the time they were here so we could all cycle together (with the boys in the trailer.)

We has too laugh as there was an ongoing joke about how it never rains here (which is true!!) anyway the day we decided to head out on the bay in the boat (which I nominated not to go) it happened to rain. It did not only just rain but it poured!! Thankfully Anthony had decided to take out the awning as it initially had been sunny – the awning at least provided a little more protection. The boys apparently snuggled up under the front dash! As you can imagine it did not stop them enjoying the time out on the boat. Carolyn was even able to get a swim in off the back of the boat while it was raining.

We took complete advantage of having the grandparents in town (as we always do) and headed away for the night to Laguna Beach. It was such a great surprise when Anthony turned up at home with a black Camaro convertible!! What a treat! I not sure the boys even noticed that we have left as they were engrossed in the daily craft session they were having with Carolyn! (We were presented with a decorated pet rock and necklaces once we returned). There is a fantastic coast drive (equivalent of the (great ocean road) from San Diego pretty much all the way along the Calafornian coast. So we headed up the main freeway and then cut in and took the coast road via a stop over at the famous Trestles surf break which was a high light for Anthony.

After this we travelled via Dana point to Laguna beach. The coastline is amazing – the traffic not so great! Friday afternoon was not a great time to travel and coupled with the summer holidays we travelled along at a snails pace – but it was worth it. We had a great evening enjoying the local sites. Laguna Beach is the home of all the Orange County photos you may see around  – and it the home of the beautiful people!

On the at back to San Diego we visited San Juan Capistrano – a beautiful town with one of the original missions http://www.missionsjc.com in California. It has been restored and preserved to represent the past Native America and Spanish involvement. It has a wonderful serene feel, the grounds the way in which the buildings have been preserved is beautiful. The surrounding town is lovely to walk around with an historical area where you can only walk (no cars allowed) with lovely stores and places to eat. You past through the town if you travel to and from LA and San Diego via the Amtrak.

After our weekend away, we packed up again and headed to Big Bear Lake! This is where I hand over to Anthony for the Big Bear Lake report. We had wanted to find a little slice of the American dream by having a house on a fresh water lake where we could take the boat. After much googling and elimination due to excessive distance from home we settled on Big Bear Lake which is a 3 hour drive from home. Be warned, the road on the map is decidedly flat when compared to the actual ribbon of tarmac that lead us up to 7000 feet above sea level. With the poor car on its last legs we hauled the boat and trailer over the last hill to discover an amazing oasis of green pine trees and an amazing lake right at the top of a breathtaking mountain range.

Tired after a big drive we headed straight to the boat ramp to drop the boat in and drive it around to the dock at the house. There is a big issue with fresh water mussels being transported between lakes here in California. These killer mussels building up so much that they have been known to sink docks and navigation markers. After a stringent boat inspection and engine cooling system flush we finally backed the boat down the ramp. With so much focus on paperwork and mussel inspection yours truly omitted to screwing in the bung!! All was not lost as I enjoyed my first swim in the lake with bung and spanner in hand. Never again will I forget that silly bung!

After a stressful day of logistics we settled into an amazing week of early morning wakeboarding, mid-morning explore, afternoon naps followed by taking the boat to various beaches around the lake to swim and let the boys explore the shoreline. The highlight of our mid-morning adventures was taking the chair lift up to the top of Snow Summit Mountain (www.snowsummit.com). This was the first chair lift ride for the boys and I must admit that Clare and I were both a little nervous as the boys were eager to peer down at the ground 100s of feet below in some spots. There is amazing 1 mile loop track you can walk around the top of the mountain with breathtaking views which I highly recommend. We had lunch at great little BBQ restaurant overlooking the valley below. With its proximity to LA, Big Bear Lake is certainly a holiday destination for the well-to-do of the American society. We were lucky to rent a ‘well lived in house’ for a reasonable rate. Other recommended activities include the discovery center on the north shore of the lake (www.mountainsfoundation.org/big-bear-discovery-center) which allowed the boys to touch items from the forests as well as a great interactive natural outdoor trail. The boys also enjoyed ridding their scooters along the sealed path that threaded itself along the north shore of the lake.

While we will not risk taking the boat up to Big Bear Lake again through fear of the car dying on us, we will certainly be back to see it in the winter and introduce the boys to snow.

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