“And I don’t need one other thing, except my dog.” – Steve Martin, The Jerk
The road to Big Bear, CA, for those who have never been, is a tale of paved unexpectation. What begins as a characterless, fifty-three lane freeway—rough estimate—soon turns to a thin, serpentine course that twines ’round swelling, green-pine landscape licked by slow-moving fog and then, sunshine. It’s so damn beautiful to twist your way up the mountain that as you do it, you can’t help but think about how foreign this place is from the traffic-jammed smog of Los Angeles, worthy of a John Denver song or some fancy car commercial. Your pick.
Anyway, such was the journey I made yesterday, determined to spend a morning and afternoon at Big Bear Lake. I had never been before and so, with my dad, my camera and faithful dog by my side, I completed the two-hour trip from beach to Bear town.
But wait, you say. “Isn’t Big Bear for skiing? Also, do you know it’s the middle of June?”
“Yep, I’m aware,” I reply. Except I don’t ski, which means I’ll go to Big Bear in late spring and have myself an adventure. Now let’s skip to the part about how it all went down …
No trip to Big Bear Lake is complete without … a trip to Big Bear Lake. I recommend parking at the East Boat Ramp and rambling/frolicking/dancing the two-mile path along the water, which is definitely more Sound of Music than Southern California.
The lake is seven miles long, so you won’t cover it all on this flat-land hike but you will get to see the tiny, European-inspired homes that speckle the shoreline and take in that big, azure sky and pristine mountain air.
Doesn’t this scene make you want to learn how to play the banjo, find a friend who plays harmonica and together form a folk band called The Rolling Tumbleweeds that performs strictly by the water of Big Bear Lake? Oh OK, just me then. Moving on …
One other thing of note: The path—and really, the entire town—is a dog-friendly paradise. While traipsing along the lake, I let my big guy off his leash and the dude was in pure duck-chasing, dead-fish-smelling heaven.
Big Bear Lake’s restaurants, or at least those with outdoor seating, are also canine cool, and water bowls and doggie treats are just a few ways these fine establishments show for their furriest of patrons an outpouring of love. And speaking of pours—see what I did there?—the day ended with a locally made chocolate porter from Big Bear Lake Brewing Company, which, as the mountain heat rolled through, was nothing if not ice cold, cocoa-y perfection. Big Bear, it’s official. In the completely irrelevant game I made up now to end this story, you get five hundred points and win.
Actually, let’s end by watching the movie clip from the opening quote to this whole article because even though it has nothing to do with Big Bear Lake (or beer), this is my blog and oh my gosh isn’t Steve Martin hilarious?