Thursday, July 9, 2020

Big Bear Lake; Getting away from it all!

2020. It's been quite the year already, right? I mean seriously, a pandemic? Who could have predicted this? So for months, many of us have been on lockdown. And for us RV'ers, that does not feel "normal" AT ALL! We usually go on a short trip every 30 days or so. But we haven't taken the rv out in months. Very unusual for us. 
And we have ALL felt it. 
We need nature. 
We need new sights.
We need a roadtrip.
We need to stop being inundated with death tolls, fighting over masks, violence, racism, death and destruction, what does and doesn't kill viruses (followed by immediate contraditions or updates that bring huge levels of stress and anxiety), political fighting...and on...and on...

So, armed with bleach spray (I'll be honest here, I always used to carry bleach wipes anyway, but post-pandemic, they are impossible to find in my city, so bleach spray it is!) we left for a long weekend to soak up some nature and try to have some fun. 

So many beautiful sights along the way. Even the desert landscape can be so pretty in its own desolate way. :) 

After just a couple of hours, we reached our campsite. We were thrilled to see the spacious sites. Each one of them had plenty of room to roam, relax, and be far, far away from people. My kind of perfect (even pre-pandemic)!

The kids were so happy to set up their hammock and relax. It has been MONTHS since they've left our house/neighborhood. I don't think any of us realized just how much that had affected all of us, until we arrived, breathed in the fresh piney air, and relaxed in wide open spaces. It was awesome!
Happy 4th of July!! We were so happy to celebrate one of our favorite holidays camping together.
All decked out in Red, White and Blue. Excited for an awesome weekend!! This trip was so close to our house that we decided to bring the Jeep with us. It was also a way to be able to escape the campgrounds or the town if it was too crowded for our liking.
Two little firecrackers ready to celebrate the Fourth, and have fun in the great outdoors!
These three have been "hammocking" together for so many years. We still love it!

We realized that we've been RV'ing with the kids for 10 years now. Fun to see how they used to look in the hammock together. 

Such sweet memories!

This year's patriotic popscicles were made by Katie. It's so fun to see that the traditions we have made over the years are now carried on and embraced by the kids too. 

After an icy, refreshing treat, we decided to take the Jeep out and scout around the lake. We were again, SO HAPPY with the lack of traffic and people in and around the campground. It was seriously less crowded than many, MANY times we've been camping in non-holiday, non-pandemic times. 

Look how private!! We loved it!

Some very happy kids! The happiness and freedom we felt was hard to explain, but it was almost palpable in the car. 

Our fearless driver was pretty happy too!

He even managed to find lots of dirt for us to drive on. And seriously, if you can't be happy driving a Jeep in the dirt... you just can't be happy. :) 

We found many dirt trails right around the campground. These ones were a bit more "desert-y" than we hoped for, but they had great bumps and dips and lots of chances for the kids to laugh and sing and play loud music. We all sang along and laughed and laughed and laughed. Such good times!

Eventually we made our way back to drive around Big Bear Lake. It was VERY crowded. Tons of cars, close parking, very few masks that we saw, and very crowded beaches. Even the lake itself looked packed, with waterskiiers, boaters, fishing, kayaking, jetskiiers, swimmers. And the pics below were the LEAST crowded ones we could take. Looked like tons of fun, but not for us. Especially at this time. So we were very happy to look at the lake from afar, and keep our distance this time. We hope to come back another time and enjoy the lake.

After our lake drive-by, we returned to our campsite. 
Kids were really excited to just have fun and relax. Luke loved to whittle his "wand." Since reading Harry Potter last year, he's been working on all the wand and quidditch projects. 

Brave Katie was the first to climb the RV Ladder and get a "bird's-eye view" of the campground. 

We had an awesome surprise!! Lots of vintage airplanes flew over, all day on the Fourth. We were really disappointed that the fireworks were cancelled, so this was such a cool thing to watch!

And before long, it was time to light the campfire! Each kiddo gets a turn to make their own fire. Of course, we watch and make sure everyone's safe, but we rarely have to intervene any more. It's a pretty cool life-skill to learn how to be successful at building a great campfire. And all 3 of them are now so good at it! 

Katie's fire burning bright!

Love to see her so proud of her great fire.

I love this photo by Rachel 

Now Rachel (our Space lover) is super-excited for darkness to fall. She's been plotting out which planets we may be able to view from our campground for weeks. 
Love the texts she sends us...

I also love that she gets her little brother into it as well. So much learning happens just as part of regular life. It's awesome!

While we're waiting, the bats start to fly above us. I have to admit, it was a little unnerving to see them swoop so close to our heads. But after we realize they aren't going to crash into us, we love watching them flap and flutter above us. We all discuss the pros and cons of having the bats, and ultimately all agree that we are so thankful for them. There is not a single mosquito and hardly any bugs at all here. We all thankfully credit the bats. 

The darkening sky and silluettes of trees is just so beautiful. I had to try and capture it. 

And soon the kids break out the glowy fun. This was my substitute for the lack of fireworks and the kids had a blast with them!

And they got pretty creative too!

We loved the creations they came up with.

Then we broke out the homemade marshmallows and made s'mores. A great time!

Despite my new binoculars with Iphone Hookup...I still couldn't photograph the moon successfully. This was the best I could do, just with my regular camera. But the moon was AMAZING!! So bright and so beautiful. You're just gonna have to take my word for it that through the binoculars, it looked spectacular. We could see all the craters and shadows and everything. 

And the Big Dipper was so cool! I tried, but of course, pics just don't do it justice!

It was so much fun to see Rachel so excited about everything we got to see. We were able to see Jupiter (and 2 of its moons). I was amazed when Rachel said the names of the two moons (Ganymede and Io) and I checked my stargazing app and she was right!! I was so impressed!

We also saw Saturn and rings, and Rachel also found a Binary System (one in which two stars orbit around a common center of mass, that is, they are gravitationaly bound to each other) and showed her dad and I with the binoculars. It was SO cool! I've never seen anything like that. I had to look up the definition (above) when I got home. Amazing! What a great 4th of July!

The kids also love whittling and making things while we're camping. Luke worked on his bow and arrow....

While Katie crafted a Quidditch stick for a project she was planning for later...

Thankfully, I got this pic of Luke's first (and last) shot, as he learned firsthand how dry the wood was up there! The bow cracked with a loud "SNAP!" and Luke had to make adjustments for the next attempt.

But first...Katie recruited him to help hang her "Quidditch Swing." Again, these are the entertaining endeavors that we love to watch. We try to stay out of it, and let the kids problem-solve by themselves. First of all, the kids had to figure out how to hang the swing all by themselves. And those trees were TALL!! 
First they tried attaching one end of the rope to a football and throwing it over. Didn't work too well. So then they tied one end to a heavy (plastic) horseshoe and flinging it over a branch. Success!!! Well, sort of. The rope looped over a small nodule (or a cut off branch) so Luke was too nervous to try out his weight on it. 
He graciously allowed his big sister to try it out....and he was wise. Katie took a few fun swings, then...."CRAAAACK!!" The nodule broke and she landed on her tuckus...😂 Thankfully, nothing was hurt seriously, and she hopped up to try again. 

This time, they chose a new tree, used the same method, and soon had a strong, fun swing to play on. Success!! And great lessons learned. Harry Potter flies on the "Quidditch Broom" for the rest of the trip.

The weekend surpassed our expectations for fun, solitude, natural beauty, and an awesome Fourth of July!! These smiles say it all. We ALL really needed this weekend.

So thankful to our "Home Away from Home" which keeps us safe and healthy and allows us to experience the beauty of the Great Outdoors, even in these crazy, weird times.

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