Friday, July 2, 2010

The Hidden Gem in Your Back Yard

On Tuesday and Wednesday this week I drove up to Big Bear to spend some time with my parents and daughters, and to just enjoy getting out of the city. It had been several years since I had been up there and I was looking forward to seeing how things had changed. I also had brought along the mountain bikes to go for a ride with my girls. The bike ride was something that they had uncharacteristically requested and that I couldn’t, in good conscience, refuse to do (plus you know that bike riding is always something I’ll jump at the chance to do). I have to admit also, that I always remembered the drive to the lake as being a long three hours of freeway and nasty mountain road. My recall of the drive was so bad, that it really was a deterrent to me making the trip on other occasions, but I had decided to just relax on the drive and not worry about having a schedule on the way up.

So Tuesday at noon I hop into the car and start my trek across America…or at least from Glendale to San Bernardino. I was amazed when I actually reached the base of the mountain in only an hour. I really remembered it taking two hours to get to this point, so I was pleasantly surprised. I stopped for gas and a quick check of the map and continued on my way. Other than the car overheating on the way up the hill (my fault for not checking the radiator water) I had a nice drive. Not a nasty mountain road, but a pleasant drive with fantastic views. Within another hour of driving (not counting the overheating incident) I was in Big Bear at the timeshare ready to relax with my family. Instead of arriving irritated and unhappy about the long drive, I was happy and ready to spend quality time playing and kicking back with my daughters. I voiced my amazement to my parents that the lake was really a lot closer than I ever remembered it being.

I spent the next two days enjoying the great weather, cool breeze, and quiet lapping of the lake against the shore. I went swimming with the girls, took a guided boat tour of the lake, and went on a really fun bike ride with my daughters to the “village” to have a cold soda and a treat picked up from one of the local stores. Our little bicycle jaunt was so fun, my youngest daughter, usually the first to complain about having to actually pedal the bike, told me that she loved going for a ride with me and couldn’t wait to get the bikes out again in the future. My elder daughter was in full agreement. As we rode around the lake I was in awe at how beautiful things were. The trees, the mountains, the lake, everything was so picturesque. I know that there are trails and roads throughout the mountains there, many of them with historic points of interest and views that many people never see because they don’t leave the paved roads. I was beginning to understand what I had sitting virtually in my back yard. Overall the two days at Big Bear lake was an amazing get away and I vowed to make Big Bear a regular retreat and that I would begin exploring the hidden mountain trails on my bike.

My points for telling you all this is simple….First, don’t miss out on something just because you seem to remember it in a poor light. Your attitude about being inconvenienced or not enjoying something can really affect how you look at doing things. Go into it with a fresh attitude and open mind and you just might be surprised. My drive to the lake turned out to be quite enjoyable and surprisingly shorter than I remembered. And once I was at the lake, I wondered why I had been so foolish about making the drive to such a wonderful escape. Second, don’t overlook those gems that are just around the corner. I rediscovered a place that has so much to offer me, as far as mountain biking and relaxation potential, and I don’t have to drive to another state, or even for hours to get to it. This new environment feels like I’m in another world and yet it is so close. I’m sure that wherever you live you have a place that is the same. A place right around the proverbial corner, and never really on your mind as a location to get away from the usual grind. I will be returning to Big Bear a lot this Summer, either by myself for a nice bike ride or hike, or with my daughters to explore the mountains and our relationship with each other.

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