Monday, July 13, 2020

Jeep-ing around Big Bear

Since Big Bear was only a few hours away, we decided to bring the Jeep along with our  RV. This way we'd be able to try out some of the 4-wheeling trails in the area. One of my favorite parts of the RV trips are the road trippin' conversations. But this trip ended up being fun in a different way. I got some one-on-one time with my 15 year old, while my husband had fun with the 12 & 10 year olds. It was different, but really great too. Once we arrived at our campsite, we got settled, and immediately took the top off the Jeep off, and jumped in to check things out.

As soon as we turned out of the campground and approached the lake, we saw masses of people. Cars parked end to end along the streets, boat ramps so crowded they were closed, crowds of people on the beaches and in the water. We continued driving around the lake, looking for more open space. The lake was beautiful though, and we really enjoyed the scenic views. A gorgous setting with deep blue waters, pines and spruce trees, and steep cliffs. 

Just outside of town, we found the forest roads and offroad trails. Now we are in for some fun!!

Our crazy crew is ready to rock and roll....

...and our fearless driver....

Beautiful look at the lake-

We loved the views as we wound higher and higher up the mountains surrounding the lake. It was so peaceful up there.

Driving along the shore was fun too!

And once we turned off the asphalt roads, and hit the trails, the drive really got exciting. We loved how the huge pine trees shaded us while we 4 wheeled through the woods. The weather was perfect, in the 70's and beautiful! What a difference from the 100-115 degree temps we left at home!

The wildflowers were so pretty too!!

4 wheel drive strongly suggested....especially if you plan on these water crossings! We didn't pass too many other people, but you do have to drive carefully, because there are some other off-roaders and dirt-bikers there too. 

Only one of the trails was a little to scary for me, but the rest of the family LOVED the sheer cliffs and the views. Me....not so much. You can't tell just how high the trails are in the video, but I did cut out my sobbing and cursing (just kidding, just kidding...I wasn't THAT bad...out loud!)

Another thing we loved about these trails, were the many pull-off opportunities. The lookouts were spectacular, and lots of chances to rock-climb, play with sticks, look at birds with binoculars, or take a picnic lunch. 

 Luke loved the chance to hunt for huge pinecones and walking sticks!

I loved the photo-ops, and the rest of the family scrambled over boulders in the background. The views from this lookout were amazing!

Katie had fun taking some scenery pics, and laughing at her little brother's crazy antics. He had almost fallen off the cliff here....not funny...but funny because he was fine...know what we mean?

Lots of places where it was ONLY us and the big, deep woods. Plenty of time for the kids to explore, and play in nature. I prepped lunch here, and we all enjoyed delish wraps while we sat in the shade of the pine trees. Beautiful!

The look on his face.... It's just perfection. I love how he expresses what most of us feel. He's good like that. Livin' in the moment!

It was pretty cool to see the ski lifts here while we were driving around.

Another lookout spot. We could see natural springs down below. Lots of mountain bikers up here too.

I love my little explorers!

Luke patiently waited for a spot with no trails below, no bikers below...just open space to throw his pinecone...

And AT much satisfaction!!

My favorite spot of the day. Top of the trails with a beautiful lookout of Big Bear Lake below.

And on the way back to our campground again.

At last, the crowds died down. We were able to get gorgous views of the lake as we drove by late in the afternoon. What a pretty lake! We can't wait to come back again!

Anti-Social RV'ing

So, we recently went on our first RV Trip post-pandemic. We had waited for months, first, to see how the virus spread was going to progress, and secondly because all of the campgrounds and national & state parks were closed. Thankfully, after a few months, they began to lift restrictions. I am thankful for the opening of the national (and some) state parks to self-contained rv'ers, as this is one of the EASIEST and most natural ways to be outside without spreading germs. Many of us who RV, just naturally self-distance of our own preference. And with all of the stress and anxiety in our lives lately, getting out in nature is one of the BEST ways to combat that, and return to healthy and happy mental wellness.

On our trip last weekend, we had almost zero public interaction. The only "forced" human interaction we had was when checking in to our campground...and this was very limited. The host was behind plexiglass, we were masked, and we stayed 6 feet away from them. If you were to do dispersed camping, this would not even be necessary. We also had to get gas one time, but again, this is an easy fix. Wash hands after gassing up (we have a sink, soap and water on-board). Or you can bleach spray nozzle before and after filling up. Easy!

The lake was very crowded. We avoided this area. Simple, common sense. There were TONS of other fun opportunities to explore. We went 4 wheeling (in our own vehicle), we hiked (far away from others), we explored streams & puddles, overlooks, wildlife viewing, star-gazing, marshmallow roasting, laughing, story-telling and lots and lots of family fun. This is exactly how we would have managed an rv-trip on any crowded camping weekend in the past. We prefer being alone (well, alone, just the 5 of us, ha ha) in nature most of the time. So it's an easy transition. 

I'll just expand upon each of the bulletpoints on how we utilize our RV.

  • Use your own Bathroom/Shower-- This is one of my favorite things about rv-ing and what seperates it from tent-camping. I like to shower in my own space. I like to know I'm only dealing with my own dirt (and honestly mostly the filth of my very dirty after a day of exploring kids). I also SO appreciate that we can shower them off and put them to bed, CLEAN, into their own beds...see below. :)
  • Sleep in your own Beds-- Yep, clean and jammied up, we are the only bodies that sleep on these beds, on these pillows, in these sheets. And we all sleep so well in our own beds.

  • Shop Local-- we are going to be buying groceries no matter what. So it's easy to just shop in our own town, at our own stores, and limit exposure to any places we wouldn't already be going. Now, pre-pandemic times, we loved to shop at local farmer's markets and organic stores in whatever town we were visiting. This is especially helpful on a long trip. However, during these times, to limit exposure (to towns we travel to, as well as to ourselves) it is easy to only shop in our normal stores and have plenty of food to last for the trip. I do add organic fruit cups, applesauce and other non-perishable items for a long trip. 
  • Bring/Prep your own food-- We have always done this (food-allergy on board!) and it's really second nature to us. Now that my kids are older, they are so helpful at cooking and prepping, and packing up meals. We know that we can have enough food for our family for weeks (including a full Thanksgiving Dinner) as we often do this. Here are some tips for fitting more food: Fitting it All

  • Bring Bleach spray & wipes-- Pre-pandemic, I have always traveled with bleach wipes for quick cleaning and sanitizing. Yet now, these are VERY hard, if not impossible to find in stores near me. So I bought some good-quality spray bottles from my local hardware store, made a sanitizing bleach/water solution, and filled the bottle. I spritz it on regular baby wipes, then wipe surface or hands as needed. WARNING: This is BLEACH. It will stain if sprayed on colors, it MUST NOT BE MIXED WITH AMMONIA!! I made sure to buy a really good spray bottle that can be tightly closed so it won't leak in my rv. I also keep the bottle in the kitchen sink for travel, so in case it tips over or issues! Proper way to use bleach to sanitize.                                        
  • Wash Hands-- Again, this is normal behavior in our family. My kids have been taught to wash hands with soap every single time prior to eating anything at all. Nothing has changed for us. This is a really good habit to have all the time. Also remember, if you have a germy item (PHONE) that you touch all the time...wipe it with bleach solution too. If you wash your hands then play with your dirty phone, then eat...that's gonna be a problem. And it's something that people do all the time.  
  • Glove, Dump, Bleach/Wash-- Again, most RV'ers have always done this. Just a reminder...Glove up, dump your tanks, put your hoses away, carefully remove gloves, wash your hands thoroughly and/or bleach wipe until you can thoroughly wash hands with soap and water. 
  • When filling your rv from a shared water spigot, you can bleach wipe the spigot prior to filling your rv. Afterwards, we bleach wiped the spigot again for the next RV'er. I do this same process when fillling up with gas too. Keep things cleaner than when you found them! And then, always wash hands with soap and water right afterwards. Easy peasy!
  • Avoid Crowds- It's easy to do with a little prep. Know where you are going. If traveling to a popular destination (a popular lake, state or national park etc.) have other options for what you want to do. Many times, we have just walked a few hundred feet to get some privacy. MOST people want the easiest option. If you are willing to hike a bit, or park where there's not a huge free parking lot, paddle your kayak away from the crowds and beach by yourself, many times, you will find wide open spaces just for you! Think of the easiest option for the laziest of people...and then do something different. You will be greatly rewarded with solitude! 
  • Mask up for human interaction- when there are no other options (checking in at a campground, buying firewood etc), mask up. This was required only ONE time during our trip last weekend (when we checked in) and it was no big deal. The rest of the trip, we didn't even thing about C-19, or masks, or the virus, or ANYTHING other than nature and relaxation. It was amazing!!
  • Enjoy the Great Outdoors!!! This is the whole point of this post. For months, the majority of our household and neighborhood and community has been on edge. So many questions, so many scary and heartbreaking stories, so many facts...updated by the minute, sometimes conflicting, so many numbers, so many arguments, opinions, experts...AAAGGHHHHH!!! Enough to drive anyone crazy. So, getting away from it all was necessary. Literally unplugging, and looking at the beauty of nature all around us, was breathtakingly freeing and such a much-needed mental break for everyone. Hopefully, you will be able to get out there too...and just relax and enjoy it. Happy Travels!!

Jeep-ing around Big Bear

Since Big Bear was only a few hours away, we decided to bring the Jeep along with our  RV. This way we'd be able to try out some of the ...