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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Big Bear Lake, CA, USA - February 25-27, 2011

(Too see the slideshow, right-mouse-click on the title and opt to view in a new window.)

There are so many things to love about California:  When you travel abroad and say you are from California, everyone knows where that is (like "Italy" or "Switzerland", California is almost a country within a country); you can start a day skiing in the mountains and finish it by swimming in the ocean--not getting overly chilled with either activity;  but what I love the most about California is the storms.  In California, stormy weather will race into town and usually be done in a day, with the sun sure to follow.  We lived an exception to this pattern on our first Salt trip to the snow.  

We heard there was a snow storm coming to the San Bernardino Mountains, but having survived below-freezing temperatures in Mrs. Dash (details on that, the first time Alan & I ever pulled a trailer will be coming soon) at the Grand Canyon, we knew that the real Salt would be fine.  If we could only get to the campground before the storm hit.  

So we took off early Friday with our hearts pounding and wondering how in the world we would turn around on that windey mountain highway when the CHP pulled us over for lacking snow chains.  Yes, we left on a snow-filled weekend adventure without tire chains since the set Alan wanted couldn't be found anywhere.

I was constantly monitoring the status of our highway via the CA DOT Highway Conditions website.  So far so good.  We climbed all the way up to Big Bear Lake where we found a ton of snow already on the ground.  But our campground, Serrano, was guaranteed to have some spots open and cleared of snow.  And it sure did -- we backed in and immediately took the dogs for a romp in the white winter wonderland.

We returned, poured the sun-downers and toasted to not acting on fear:  Not letting the fear of an approaching storm stop us from our adventure.  Then the snow began to fall.   And fall and fall.  The highways closed.  The campground roads filled in.  The camp host knocked on our door to make sure we had all the food and water we needed for a "few days", causing me to freak out just a little.  OK, a lot.  I am claustrophobic after all. And have I mentioned that Salt is only 19' long?  That includes the tow bar. But back to the story:  The snow was falling so hard they were having trouble keeping the campground roads cleared so we wouldn't even be able to take the Pepper out for groceries.  Not to worry!  Having learned that food lesson, we had tons of food already on board and we had water right at the site.  The snow fell all Friday night and we awoke to a gorgeous, but still snowing Saturday.  

So we spent most of Saturday just digging the snow out of our immediate area.  Having lived in the snow before, I knew the importance of getting the snow cleared while it was still light and fluffy.  One below-freezing night and you will have a much heavier mass on your hands.  

We took the dogs for lots of walks--since there was hardly anyone around, we let them run off leash.  They returned with icicles hanging from their fur.  I didn't want to let them into Salt with the icicles because they would melt and we'd have a ton of water everywhere (and some on the bed no doubt since that's where River tends to land.)  Alan suggested we hose them off in the shower and then towel-dry them which worked out great.  And just an FYI, you cannot escape the wet-dog smell in a 19 foot trailer.

Now that we are all warm and cozy inside, it seems like a good time to make a note regarding our heater:  It pumps out heat like you can't believe.  Rosco adores the heater (or any heat source, really), lays directly in front of it, closes his eyes and lets the hot air blow his fur back.  Unfortunately, the location of said heater is directly underneath the kitchen sink.  This is great placement for keeping the pipes warm (to avoid freezing) but not great when you are trying to cook and Rosco is trying to dry off.  So quite often, I would turn the heater off until I had finished cooking--sending Rosco to his bed under the dinette. (Are you wondering if Rosco would voluntarily leave if I needed to cook his dinner?  We'll never know as they only get dry dog food.)   River, as noted early, could be found on top of the bed at any point during indoor time.

Sunday morning we woke to some gorgeous blue sky and sunshine but found that we had lost our water supply.  The faucet had frozen during the night.  So I boiled some water in the (one) saucepan and kept handing it outside to Alan.  After about five pan-fulls, the water began to flow again. 

Once we had water back, we had to start digging out again as we had gained another 12" or so during the night. Good exercise no doubt as my arms and back were still sore from Saturday's clearing of three feet of snow.  By early afternoon, the park host had managed to get the roads plowed in our area so we could hitch up and head home.  The highway was back open, although it was still caked with snow and ice.  Traffic moved slowly.  The Pepper, of course, had no trouble at all.  We strolled down the mountain, losing vast clumps of snow on every sharp curve.  

There was so much snow on Salt that, even though we were driving in bright sunshine, there was still snow on top when we pulled into the Spice Rack nearly four hours later.

Although a thoroughly enjoyable trip, I learned that there is a limit to how much time can be spent in Salt's confines.  Our adventures into non-fair weather climes will have to be sprinkled between trips where we are happy to spend most of our time outdoors.  Also, some cross-country ski's would come in handy.