I wrote this post while hanging out at the Snow Summit lodge yesterday, but I couldn’t get my laptop to connect to the internet in Big Bear so I had to wait to post it until today. We had a great weekend there, but it’s nice to be back home where it’s (relatively) warm! Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.
What an ordeal we’ve had this morning. I feel kinda guilty writing about how difficult it was to get from our Big Bear hotel to the Snow Summit resort this morning because Dan, John, and Hudson did all of the hard work to make it happen! But now they’re finally on the ski slopes and I’m sitting in the lodge saving them a table for lunch. But let me back up and start this story at the beginning. I’m a terrible snowboarder and after four years of trying to get better I finally gave up on it. This has made Dan’s snowboarding trips few and far between. So back in January I decided that I wanted to give him a weekend trip to the mountains for his birthday since he doesn’t get to go as often as he’d like. And so that Dan wouldn’t have to snowboard alone I invited our friends John, Hudson, and Dave. They weren’t free to go to Big Bear the actual weekend of Dan’s birthday, but we decided that weekend of February 26th and 27th would be work for all of us. So I called the Honey Bear Lodge, a hotel we’ve stayed at before and liked, and booked a room for five people that weekend. Everything was in place. Then Dave hurt his back and decided that there was no way he could come with us, even just to hang out of the weekend, which was a real bummer. So it was down to four of us. And then we got the weather forecast. Not only was a storm front coming through Southern California on Friday/Saturday, but Los Angeles was going to have some of its coldest days in a decade! That meant lots of snow in the local mountains and cold enough temperatures to keep it from getting icy on the slopes. The boys were very excited about the promise of good conditions and it looked like we had picked the perfect weekend for our trip. John and Hudson met Dan and me at our house yesterday and we left for Big Bear at 6 PM. We made surprisingly good time for a Friday evening – until we got stuck on CA-18. First let me explain that the road we usually take into the mountains has been closed all season due to storm damage last year, meaning that we had to take a longer, unfamiliar route to Big Bear. So when the traffic suddenly stopped moving, I looked on the CalTrans website to figure out what was going on. Sometime after we left the house, the status of the CA-18 was updated to make tire chains required from Panoramic Point to the Big Bear Dam. Since I didn’t know where Panoramic Point was I looked that up next. Turns out that was exactly where we were stopped. It was raining pretty steadily at that point (not quite cold enough for snow yet) and none of us were excited about the prospect of getting out of the car in those conditions to put on chains. Fortunately there are some enterprising folks who charge $40 to put the chains on for you. Even at twice the price that would definitely have been the way to go. I highly recommend carrying at least that much cash if you’re driving up to the San Bernardino mountains because it’s worth every penny. Once Dan flagged down one of the guys it only took him about five minutes to earn our $40. It was fantastic. Unfortunately we were still a long way from Big Bear when we were chained up and ready to go. Our goal was to make it into town before 10 PM in order to rent skis for John and Hudson and be able to get a meal from somewhere other than Denny’s. We made it with fifteen minutes to spare, meaning that our entire trip took about four hours. We’ve definitely had worse drives. We got the skis from Leroy’s and surprisingly found Paoli’s Italian Kitchen still open in the Village for dinner. We had some delicious pasta there, which was an unexpected treat because just about every restaurant in Big Bear closes at 10 PM. By the time we got into our hotel it was 11:30 PM and we went to sleep shortly after that.
Dan’s alarm went off at 6:30 AM this morning to give us enough time to get ready and make it to Snow Summit before the slopes opened. But then we looked out the window and realized that leaving our hotel realized wasn’t going to be a simple proposition. I walked out to the car with Dan in about a foot and a half of fresh snow (which is not really a good idea in jeans because when you go back inside the snow melts and your pants are soaked) to get the car started and brush off the windows. Then one of our fellow hotel tenants in a huge truck (but without chains) tried to drive out of the parking lot, but he only made it about a car’s length before he got stuck. Yikes. At this point I retreated back into the room, leaving Dan, John, and Hudson to the arduous task of helping to get that truck out of the parking lot so that we could follow in his tracks. That took about an hour and a half, poor guys. I felt so guilty sitting in our warm room while they were out there working hard, but I figured I would have been more of a hindrance to them than a help. And I would have been miserable out there considering I hadn’t dressed appropriately for the weather (Why didn’t I bring my snowboard pants and gloves?) and my griping certainly wouldn’t have helped them at all. Eventually that truck made it out of the parking lot and we were able to follow them out onto the freshly plowed roads. (Apparently the truck owner kept doing stupid stuff, getting their truck even more stuck in the snow. It’s a good thing Dan, John, and Hudson were there to help out or they would have been in a lot of trouble! Hudson said they sounded like Hawaiians!) It still wasn’t easy for my CR-V to get out of the parking lot because it has less ground clearance than the truck, but we made it out without too much more effort. Phew! We got to Snow Summit around 9 AM, I picked up the lift tickets that I had pre-ordered for the boys, and now they are out enjoying the newly fallen snow. Hopefully our drive home tomorrow won’t be as eventful as the last 16 hours have been! I heard that the snow was going to stop sometime this morning, and as I’ve been sitting here it did. For a while. Now it’s snowing big fat flakes again. I’m glad to be fairly warm here in the lodge and I hope the boys are having a blast on the slopes. My plan for today was to go back to the hotel at lunchtime to take a shower and relax until they were done skiing/snowboarding for the day. Also, I want to go to the Sugar Pine Bakeshop down the road and get some cupcakes to celebrate both Dan’s and John’s birthdays (belated, but still a good reason to eat cupcakes). However, there are two problems – 1) I’m not sure I want to give up our space in the main parking lot, and 2) I’m terrified to try to drive into the hotel parking lot again! I guess I could call and see if they’ve gotten a snow plow out there yet, but not being very experienced at driving in snow means I have no idea what to do if I get stuck in the snow. We’ll see how the boys feel when they come back to the lodge for lunch.