Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Romantic Winter Getaway

Ready for a break from all the madness? Sometimes you just need to pack your bags and head out of town for a weekend away from the chaos of everyday life. If you have children, some alone time with your spouse may even be a necessity to maintain your connection and sanity. It's times like this that calls for a break from all technology. In other words, leave the computer at home and turn off the phone!

Although we have no children ourselves, that's exactly what my husband I decided to do last week. I had an itching to get out of town for quite some time and a trip to the mountains seemed like the perfect remedy! Ever since we moved to California I had heard about the resort town of Big Bear, located in the mountains of San Bernardino County, and was aching for a visit. With an elevation of over 7,000 ft. I couldn't help but wonder what the world might look like from up there. I knew it was a popular location for skiing and other winter activities, so enjoying a bit of frosty weather was somewhat appealing. Now don't get me wrong, I love the wonderfully consistent, mild temperatures of San Diego, but every so often it's nice to put yourself in the elements. What better time than Christmas?

Little did I know how different a world we would stumble upon. The drive was around 2 1/2 hours and quite breath-taking as we made our way up the mountain. It wasn't long before we saw our first signs of snow, which was exciting as we weren't sure if there was going to be any on the ground or not. We knew early on that this was going to be the perfect getaway. It unfolded before us like every movie you've ever seen with people heading to the mountains for a Christmas holiday!

To begin with, we checked into our room, which was was cozy and complete with fireplace. Afterward we headed out for a Bed & Breakfast tour that was taking place that day. It was really interesting to see how each differed from the next and get an idea of what the rooms were like. Best of all were the gourmet chocolates and other goodies they gave out for free. Included with some were recipes for the goodies, which I thought would come in handy for my upcoming baking session.

Later on we went for a night session of tube sledding at Magic Mountain. What made this experience great was the fact that they had a covered people mover to take you back up the hill. No trampling through the snow, which made it easy on our toes! The whole experience was so fun and convenient that we were able to go down around 20 times in the 2 hours we were there. Sometimes my husband and I would interlock arms or legs going down, or we'd simply race on two tracks. They had one winding hill dubbed "The Snake", which was a riot.

After exhausting ourselves with sledding we headed back to the room to get ready for a late dinner. I was getting pretty sleepy by this point, but food was my motivator since we hadn't eaten a real meal since breakfast. We also found out about a great restaurant, Nottingham's, so I had a pretty good feeling that it would be worth dragging my tired carcass back out into the cold. Thankfully they did not disappoint! Their Chicken Florentine was divine! Definitely a romantic dinner in a romantic setting.

Daytime shot of the restaurant

You would think that after all the activity that we would be in for a good night's sleep, but you'd be wrong! I stayed up a while longer watching "White Christmas" on TV, which seemed strangely appropriate since the movie is about the leads going from tropical Florida to a mountain lodge in Vermont. Even still, I was feeling a bit restless and not quite adjusted to the altitude so it took a while but I eventually drifted off to slumberland.

Not our car, in case you're wondering

We woke bright and early the next morning to get ready for check out. We then stopped in at a local diner for breakfast, The Lumberjack Cafe, that was high on small town charm. The food was great and we even ended up staying a little while and chatting with a couple who were from Los Angeles and owned a place in Big Bear. I couldn't help but envy their ability to pop into town whenever they wanted to get away. I can't say the thought didn't cross my mind, but I guess that's common when you're enjoying a new place. One thing is for sure, I will definitely want to visit at least once a year!

We then decided to spend the rest of the afternoon perusing the streets of their quaint downtown. The buildings were mostly filled with specialty stores selling candy, arts and crafts and other various gifts, which is perfect for the casual tourist like myself. They also had a beautiful town Christmas tree adjacent to their ice skating rink and across from the horse and carriage rides. Lucky us, we also happened to run into Big Bear himself, the town mascot. This guy is happy-go-lucky and passing out 'bear hugs' to all who need them!

By the time we left the downtown area the wind was blowing, marking the sign of the snow storm due later that day. Jess thought it would be best to head back down the mountain before the weather prevented it. I was able to get some pictures around the lake before we left, and as you can see, the clouds were making their debut and even dusting the tops of the pine trees.

Clouds covering a popular ski hill

Big Bear Lake

Icy, but I wouldn't go skating on this!

Dashing through the snow...

Boulder Bay

One last look at the lake

Now it was time to head for home, but not before taking a few more pictures of the scenery before us. It seems like there is no real way to capture the beauty of God's creation, but we certainly keep on trying!

Leaving the Alpine splendor of Big Bear

Be sure to consider an opportunity for your own weekend getaway this Winter!