“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17
Big Bear Lake, California – Big Bear Shores https://www.bigbearshoresrv.com/ (07/16, 1-Night)
We decided to drive straight through to Big Bear Lake instead of staying the night in Newberry Springs, CA, as originally planned. However, our reserved campsite at Big Bear Lake was not available a day early. Fortunately, we found a site at Big Bear Shores which is a very nice gated resort consisting of privately owned sites with some sites made available for rent, similar to a VRBO. Each site is uniquely landscaped, there was a nice pool, ping pong tables, and a pickleball court (currently being resurfaced). The temps were in the low 80’s mid-day, a welcome change from 111 degrees we were having in Arizona. The site was expensive for an RV site $160 per night tax included.
The three of us went for a swim and later enjoyed sitting out in the cool mountain air (60 deg.) on the patio by our propane fire pit. Our campsite was positioned beautifully and had a limited view of the lake. A neighboring RVer had multiple bird feeders in her backyard and Karen was blessed to see a Stellar Jay. “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:10
We also met Lynn and Robert, a nice couple who had two Toy Fox Terriers and we shared stories of our smart little four-legged family members. They owned their RV site in this resort and referred to it as their second home.
Big Bear Lake is a quaint, small-town that is a snow ski resort in the winter and a summer lake resort. The pleasant outdoor temps are ideal for sporting activities and enjoying the many hiking/biking trails. Big Bear is only a couple of hours from L.A. and is a very popular destination for Southern Californians. Many of the people we met use their RVs as second homes at Big Bear Lake. The more affluent purchase sites at Big Bear Shores and others just rent long-term (usually 2 or 3-months) at Holloways’.
Big Bear Lake, CA – Holloways RV Park https://www.bigbearhollowaysmarina.com/ (07/17 – 07/26/2020, 10-Nights)
The drive from Big Bear Shores to Holloways was a short drive to just the other side of the lake. We arrived at the 2 pm check-in time only to learn they had messed up our reservation. Our reserved site was occupied by another camper not scheduled to check out until the following day. Although we were refunded for that 1-night and put in another site for overnight, it is an inconvenience having to move the RV the next morning, and it delayed our setting up our site for our 9-day stay. It did somewhat turn out to be a blessing though. While watching the sunset at the lake’s edge, we met one of the long-term seasonal couples (Reggie and Francesca Erie from Long Beach, CA) who have been coming to Holloways every summer for 20-years. Turned out that Reggie (CDL “Commercial” Driving License), and his friend Brett were experts at positioning RVs in tight spaces. Reggie and Brett met us at our assigned site the next morning and guided us into a very tight spot. The maneuvering only took about 20 minutes. Laughingly, Bill said he could have done it by himself but it would have taken a few hours. Needless to say, we were both very grateful for their help. Our rearview RV view was ideally positioned on the cliff overlooking the lake and marina, every night we enjoyed gorgeous sunsets.
Mandy drove from her home in Pasadena and arrived Friday evening, July 17. Saturday, July 18 was Bill’s 71st birthday celebration. Mandy grilled steaks for Bill’s birthday and we enjoyed the homemade strawberry birthday cake that Mandy made and brought to the lake. It was a nice relaxing day and evening. The four of us played corn-hole. Later we drove around the lake check to check out rentals – pontoon boat, paddleboard, and wave-runner. As we were driving around the area we passed by Boulder Bay Park http://www.bigbearlake.net/lakes-trails-parks/Parks/Boulder-Bay-Park a nice beach area with a pretty landscaped park. That particular day was a Saturday and the afternoon crowds of people were too much to endure during the current pandemic. Most were not wearing masks and were congregating shoulder-to-shoulder on the beach and in the park. We did not even stop, rather just drove by in astonishment.
Many golf carts can be seen throughout the campground. People bring their own with their campers. We noticed one camper had a cart with a sign “For Sale.” Bill offered to rent it from the owner for our stay. He accepted the offer, and we had a golf cart to drive around for the 9-days. Lily had a blast driving it all around the resort. The golf cart was handy in getting back and forth to our vehicles (Bill’s and Mandy’s trucks) which had to be parked in the marina parking lot next to the RV sites. The campground was really too narrow, crowded to park vehicles at our campsite.
The four of us went to Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain http://alpineslidebigbear.com/ which has only a few rides, it’s a small amusement park. All the employees wore masks, sanitized the ride carts after every person. Most everyone there observed the floor markers used to keep patrons 6-foot apart for social distancing, also that day it was not very crowded. All four of us rode the Alpine Slide; Mandy and Lily rode the Mineshaft Coaster. Back at the campsite, we played more corn-hole. Mandy and Lily won one night, Lily and Nana won the second night.
Bill decided to put the Porta-Bote on the lake. This required a $110.00 state lake inspection for quagga/zebra mussel which is a threat for Big Bear Lake and an additional $100.00 to dock the boat at Pleasure Point Marina. Bill purchased a 1-day fishing license. On July 20, the four of us assembled the Porta-Bote and launched at Pleasure Point Marina. The lake was rough and it did not feel safe with the four of us, so we did not stay out very long. We checked into pontoon boat rentals, but they were booked up. Mandy rented a wave runner for her and Lily to ride which was something Lily had talked about wanting to do. We took another drive to Boulder Bay Park, it was not as crowded as it had been on Saturday so we wore our masks and took a few photos. There were a few people fishing off the beach, some families swimming, and that day it was a nice place to visit. The Villages in Downtown https://www.bigbearlakevillage.com/ is a nice shopping area whose streets are lined with hanging plant baskets on street lamp posts providing pretty landscaping for the many shops. Masks on, sanitizer in hand, and 6-feet distanced, we visited a few shops, ordered pizza “to go” at Maggio’s https://www.maggiospizza.com/, and we were back at our campsite by early evening.
Mandy and Lily took an early morning bike ride along the Alpine Pedal Path trail https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/alpine-pedal-path-trail, a location we had seen driving around. Bill and Karen went out on the Porta-Bote, just the two of us, and attempted to fish.
We probably waited too late in the day and the fish were not biting. It was just as well as the wind became brisk and the lake was again too rough for our small 10 foot Jon boat. We did not last more than a couple of hours. The four of us met back at the campsite, ate lunch, and decided to drive to Boulder Bay Park for a third time to check out the crowds. To our surprise on Tuesday afternoon, it was not crowded at all. We were able to keep our social distance easy. Mandy rented a paddle board for her and Lily to enjoy paddling out to the island of large boulders and around the lake cove that is Boulder Bay. Bill fished off the beach and a little off the fishing pier while Karen sat under the beach umbrella relaxing. We were happy to have been able to enjoy the beautiful park and water without large crowds of people.
Wednesday’s plan was to fill Lily’s Hollywood bucket list. She wanted to drive to Los Angeles to take pictures of the Hollywood sign, drive around Hollywood, and see a California beach on the Pacific Ocean. We left the RV early morning with plans to make it back within 8-hours the time we felt the two dogs (Gabby and Greta) could be left behind for a day. We drove the beautiful scenic Rim of the World (CA-18) highway as our route to Los Angeles. Mandy guided Bill on where to drive to get the best pictures of the Hollywood sign without hiking to it. We drove to Hollywood Boulevard for Lily to take a few photos and purchase a few souvenirs, then we were off to Santa Monica Beach/Pier. The Pier was closed, but we had not planned to go out on the pier anyways. Lily just wanted a few pics on the beach, we knew the Pacific Ocean is cold so we did not plan on swimming and took no swimsuits for this day trip. Fortunately, we started out very early and Wednesday was a good day. None of the short visits/stops we made involved any large groups of tourists or crowds. It was about a 2-hour drive, so we were at the Hollywood sign around 10ish. Still, it ended up being a 10-hour day instead of our planned 8-hour day, but the dogs were fine when we arrived back at the campsite. Lily was happy to get pictures of the places she wanted to see. She follows a few TikTokers’ who supposedly live in the hills of Hollywood and she was excited to pick out what she believes is their houses. At 13-year’s old, Lily was most-shocked and confused and had many questions on why so many homeless people are located under over-passes, on the streets, and sleeping along the retail shop store-fronts or in tourist areas with their tents. A few actually had full, filthy dirty mattresses on the public sidewalks. There were lots of homeless in the areas we visited. The rest of us have visited this area of California many times, so knew what to expect. It was quite a surprise for Lily, she thought that Hollywood was primarily where the rich and famous lived.
Homeless by Jennifer Bates (2018)
“So when we judge them with our eyes
The reason for their slow demise
For each of them it’s not the same
A different story behind their name.“
Thursday, July 23 was another total relaxing day after our 10-hour driving day the day before. Vons is the only large grocery store in Big Bear Lake and we had seen long lines of people waiting to get into the store a few days earlier. We needed some supplies and learned that getting to Vons at 7 am was the way to go. It was not crowded and everyone had the required masks on. Mandy, Lily and Karen hiked the Woodlands Trail (1.2 miles) https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/bear-lake-woodland-trail.
It was a nice, easy trail with lots of boulder photo opportunities and pretty views of the lake from a higher elevation. In the evening, we played UNO sitting outside by the warmth of our propane fire-pit at our campsite.
Mandy’s 40th celebration started with breakfast at Alpine Country Coffee Shop at a table on the outside patio. Later, Bill, Karen, and Lily took the Porta-Bote out of Pleasure Point Marina and loaded it back under the RV in its usual storage place. Unfortunately, we were not able to get much use out of the boat at this lake. Mandy and Karen took another hike, this time at Castle Rock Trail (2.6 miles)
https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/castle-rock-trail which was an Intermediate trail, quite steep with lots of boulder rocks. There were so many cute chipmunks running all along the trails. Mandy climbed a collection of boulders up to a very high point. Karen was happy to have brought the hiking sticks Shahn, her son, gave to her for Christmas.
Lily stayed at the campsite with Papa and helped decorate for the party surprise for Mandy. They hung the tie-dye colored balloons that Lily blew up, a happy birthday poster board, etc. Karen ordered a custom birthday cake from The Copper Q Bakery https://www.copperq.com/ located in The Villages. Copper Q is a nice bakery/retail shop with an outdoor patio for seating and a large firepit. For the big surprise, we had ordered and shipped to Holloways an order of custom-made tee-shirts for all of us to wear. Each shirt was emblazoned with a collage of photos of Mandy growing up from a baby into adulthood. We first gave her one t-shirt as a gift at breakfast and she thought that one was the only gift. Later, that evening when Mandy came walking up after walking Greta, Bill, Karen, and Lily had put on their matching tee-shirts. The neighboring campers all joined in on the “happy birthday wishes.” Then using the color powder “chalk” balls that Lily brought, we threw the balls at each other dodgeball style in order to add tie-dye colors to the matching shirts. Another great day, just wishing all the family could have joined us in Mandy’s 40th birthday celebration.
On Sunday, July 26, Mandy packed up to head back home. Bill, Karen, and Lily drove to Joshua Tree National Park https://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm, an approximate 2-hour drive from our campsite. Of course, we saw many, many Joshua trees, as well as lots of rocky hills and mountains.
Joshua Tree National Park does have “dry camping” campgrounds – no services (water, electric, sewer), you have to fill and use your RV water tanks, use a generator, and use the RV sewer holding tank while camping and then you have to use a dump station when you leave. We drove through a campground and it is indeed camping in the desert, roughing it is a little too much for us. There were some RV’s, but mostly tent campers. We prefer lakes, rivers, and trees where we camp.
It was a long day and we decided to have dinner out at “Santana Mavericks” http://www.santanamavericksbarandgrill.com/. There is a second-floor patio/balcony eating area with beautiful views of Big Bear Lake, only a few people, and everyone socially distanced. The food was really good. Mandy and Lily had lunch at the same restaurant earlier in the week. During the pandemic, California restaurants are not allowed to have inside dining, outside dining only, the servers all wear masks, and the tables are distanced between each other with many of the tables removed.
Monday, July 27, we checked out of our Big Bear Lake RV site at Holloways and began our journey home. We were on the Scenic 38 Highway heading out of Holloways, and in some ways, we are happy to be leaving the altitude of 8,200 feet, but we will miss the cool mountain temps (low 50’s in the mornings and evenings, and typically low 80’s during the day). Our skin and noses were so dry. Karen also experienced shortness of breath from the altitude which made it difficult to hike with our young granddaughter Lily and 40-year old daughter Mandy.
As we drove to our first “returning home” over-night campsite in Picacho, Arizona, we watched the temperatures rise up to 114 degrees, good-bye cool temps that we enjoyed for 9-days. It took about an hour to cool down the RV and at 5:45 pm it was still 102 degrees outside.
Tuesday another day’s drive with a night’s stay in Las Cruces, NM Hacienda RV Resort https://www.haciendarv.com/, working our way home. Las Cruces is one of our favorite places to stop when traveling to Tucson to visit our Uncle Gerry & Aunt Pat. Visiting the old historic Mesilla plaza, and purchasing Toffee from the Chocolate Lady https://www.mesillachocolatelady.com/. We did not get out until after most of the shops were closed on this visit, but did enjoy walking around the plaza, taking a few photos with Lily.
We had dinner at La Posta de Mesilla https://www.laposta-de-mesilla.com/ which was really good, enjoying their nice patio with cooling misters. New Mexico, like California, has only outdoor/patio eating at their restaurants or take out.
Our third day on our “returning home” will be a longer day than most. Our over-night on Wednesday was at Above and Beyond RV Resort https://aboveandbeyondrvresort.com/, located on the Llano River.
After a long drive today, Bill and Lily were in their bathing suits as soon as we parked and headed to the River for a swim. Karen sat in a lawn chair in the water with Gabby, who wasn’t too excited about being in the water.
Rather than head back home through Amarillo on I-20, we took the southern route on I-10 and cut across through Austin to Madisonville, Texas. Our good friends Kelly and Mark are the proprietors of Enloe Ranch, home for registered Toy Australian Shepard dogs. We had been working with them for several months and on May 31, 2020 their champion dogs Tank the blue-eyed tri-color and Slugger the award winning Merle coat had a litter of 3 males and 2 females. Mayah, the most perfect female now lives with us. Kelly and Mark kept her for us until we could finish our California trip.
We had decided to keep Mayah a secret from the family for months, even from Lily who was travelling with us. We arrived in Madisonville Thursday afternoon and told Lily that we were going out to visit our friends Mark and Kelly at their ranch where they raise all kinds of animals. When we drove up, she saw the breeding pens where about 32 dogs of different ages are kept. She smiled, got excited and said “Nana, they have a bunch of dogs!” Once we were in the yard amongst the many dogs, Lily was all smiles! After a few minutes, Kelly brought Mayah out and Lily said, “Look Nana this one is the cutest of all of them!” Nana replied “Lily that’s our dog.” “No way!” Lily said “Really?” and so it was, this was the first time, after 4200 miles and 3 weeks that Lily found out that the reason we diverted to Madisonville was to pick up the new puppy.
We finished our entire roadtrip very Covid-19 cautious. We avoided all public restrooms, using instead our self-contained RV toilet at roadside or Travel station stops. We did have a few meals at restaurants, however, California and New Mexico have current Coronavirus guidelines requiring all restaurants to offer ONLY outside dining with tables removed for proper distancing. A few times we bought fast-food and ate in our RV or in the truck. We feel we made good decisions on this trip in lieu of the current pandemic, of course only the Lord knows if we escaped exposure.
“For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:20