May 11, 2013

  • Photopost: Lake Arrowhead "Birthdaycation"

    In 2012, Catalina Cruises offered free travel to and from Catalina Island on your birthday, so I took a "birthdaycation" to Catalina when I turned 59. The trip was free but the hotel and meals still cost money. On May 1st I turned 60, and in February, our controller at work, who is a part owner of the company, asked me what my plans were for my birthday this year. I hadn't really made plans at that time, and she offered the use of the family cabin in Lake Arrowhead if I wanted to spend my birthday in the mountains. Sounded good to me. I was handed the keys on Friday, April 27th, and on Monday morning, April 29th, I began the 100 or so mile trip up into the San Bernadino mountains for a week relaxing among the tall trees.

    I shot over 1000 photos (on two different cameras) and recorded about a half hour of video. I still haven't gone completely through or posted all my photos online yet. My Flickr Photostream is HERE and there are currently three themed "sets" online. Facebook allows easier photo insertion in their program than the ancient Xanga editor. When I returned on Friday, May 3rd, I immediately began posting some of my photography to my FB "Timeline" HERE. I received some instant gratification and a lot of "likes." Xanga is more problematical these days, and it takes time to create one of my "walk with me" Photoposts, but here is the first, themed to my first days at the Lakeside resort, and contains photos taken on the first of two wilderness hikes I took up into the mountains. The first photo here was taken on a turnout on the "Rim of the World Highway" (CA18) right after I got off the 210 freeway and started the ascent into the mountains.

    Rolling meadows, magnificent trees, misty mountain tops.

    Same turnout. Same tree. Different angle.

    A boulder thrown in for good measure.

    The cabin is a standard 60s style A frame. The family I work for doesn't rent it out, but lets other family members, close friends and acquaintances stay for a while. I took the whole week, returning Friday, May 3rd. This is the view from the living room area out to the deck. I like to spend time at home sitting in one of my ariondack chairs outside the mobile. I always call the area (I don't have a deck or porch) my "second living room". The weather was great, about 72 during the day and only 60 at night, so I kept the windows and doors open and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Some people live full time in the Lake Arrowhead area, but it's mostly a tourist spot during both the winter and spring/summer season. I was up there during the "off season" but it was almost summery. A perfect time and place for a week off.

    Here's to ya! My first late afternoon on "my" deck enjoying a cold Corona. The deck is about 15 feet off the ground, and is fronted by spruce, pine, and fir trees. There are so many trees on the property that one can't even see the cabin from the street.

    This is the front door to the cabin. Before our CEO had his stroke, he used to take "weekends at the cabin" quite a few times during the year. Now it sits empty most months, and his wife is thinking of selling it. 

    The living room area right after I settled in. I hadn't yet "Mikeized" the room, moving furniture around, etc. Before I left, however, I put everything back where it was. I don't take lots of trips (yet, that is, I'm paying down my debt substantially, and plan on traveling a lot within a couple of years.) but when I do, I like to stay in one place for four or five days, so that by the end of my vacation, I'm quite familiar with the area. This really helped in the mountains. The streets are twisty turny winding up and down, and it's easy to get lost if you don't know where you're going. (I'm "old school" No GPS for the Mikester.) In no time at all, I was driving around town like a local, enjoying both my day trips, hikes, and my time "at home" in the cabin. I did take my blu ray player and a few boxed sets of movies with me, but forgot to pack the remote, so couldn't get past the menu on most of the movies. This didn't bother me, since I don't go on vacation to watch TV anyway. Between the photo trips, restaurants (I have to lose a lot of weight now!) and quality time with my Kindle, I didn't need TV.

    Here's one of my first shots of the actual Lake. I visited the three major lakes in the area. (Arrowhead, Gregory, and Big Bear) I only saw one sailboat, but this was "off season" so not a lot of tourists. 

    Although this looks like it could be the shoreline of a park, I'm actually shooting photos from the edge of the Lake Arrowhead Village, which is the major shopping center, with outlet stores, restaurants, and entertainment ( the stage opens next weekend, darn). Nothing like a major shopping center in Los Angeles, however. We don't have lakesides in L.A. 

    Not a cloud in the sky. The vessel far out in the lake is the "Arrowhead Queen" which is a tour boat resembling an old Mississippi riverboat


    After dark the first night, I took some photos of the trees alongside the deck, using only the camera's flash as a source of light. Got some interesting "art shots"

    Spooky, ain't it? I didn't take any photos of the night sky, but I'm not used to seeing as many stars as one can view 7000 feet above sea level down in the Los Angeles area, that's for sure.


    Here is the main street in Blue Jay, which is the closest town to Lake Arrowhead. Other towns in the area are Twin Peaks and Rimforest. A block from where I stayed, which is next to the golf course, one can still see fire damage from the 2007 Rimforest fire, which thankfully didn't get down into any of the towns of near the lake. 

     On Tuesday, the day before my birthday, I decided to take a hike. (I actually took two.) The remainder of the photos on this particular Photopost were taken while hiking the "Little Bear Creek trail" which goes right through one of the areas scorched by the 2007 fire. At first, coming out of the North Shore Campground (which was still closed, since it was off season, and was eerily vacant and serene, leaving me alone with God, nature, and the trees) the path seems like any parkland, wide and shadowy. Since the park was closed, I parked my car in the hospital parking lot across the street, and began my hike. One needs to purchase an "Adventure Pass" for $5.99 which only lets you hike for 24 hours. I took two hikes (10 miles total) that Tuesday. It was a nice day, so I wore a short sleeved shirt and jeans, but had my thick soled hiking shoes, long billed cap, bottle of water (Arrowhead brand, natch) and of course my camera bag.  


    After descending a bit into the canyon on the way to the creek, the landscape suddenly gets quite strange.

    The fire was six years ago, so there was new growth, partially charred trees, and trees which miraculously escaped damage. Forest rangers had cut down trees which impeded the trail.

    I can remember one bus tour through Central California I took with Pat back in the 90s where the tour guide told us it is quite natural for chaparral to be destroyed by fire and revived by nature every decade or so. I remembered this as I walked along this hiking trail, which although not in the same area, gives pretty much the same kind of natural revivification. The only reason fires are deadly in California is because people build their homes in these naturally fire threatened areas. (In an almost frightening moment Thursday night, after not using the internet or reading any newspapers, I turned on the news just to see if I was missing anything of importance, and every channel was showing the Ventura fire.)


    The magnificence of tall trees cannot be denied. (When I showed a selection of my photos to some of my workmates, almost everyone declared "You really do take some nice photos." 

    Look one way and there's regrowth and missed destruction, and the forest looks fine.

    Turn around, and it almost looks like you're on another planet. (I placed my camera on a fallen tree to get this shot.)

    Each hike was 2-1/2 miles each way, or 5 miles round trip. (The only way to get back to the car is to go back up the way you came!) It took me over two hours to take each hike, but I stopped repeatedly to position my camera and shoot photos.

    I'm always looking for contrasting textures in my photography, and this photo gives you lots of them. I also have a knack for shooting nature and architecture without people. (However I would at some time like to try my hand at portraiture, there is a lot of expense incurred in getting lights, shades, etc, and I don't even have a DSLR camera yet! Interesting to note that I mainly draw portraits, and photograph nature/architecture.)


    On this particular hike, I think this is the most interesting tree I saw. All around is desolation and bare branches. The top of this "Christmas Tree" was miraculously left unharmed, and is majestically awaiting the return of his cousins and friends. Notice the absence of bark on the white tree to the left of the Christmas tree about an eighth of the way up.

    A look upward at the same tree.


    The complete inside of this hollowed out trunk was missing.

     A splash of color appears as if out of nowhere, closer to the creek.

    After hiking for what seemed like most of the morning (actually roughly an hour or so) I heard, and finally found the creek, which was pretty meager, but it was amazing how there was grass and growth all around it. There were even a few small "water falls" (although for some reason I can't find my photos of them this moment, and want to get this entry posted, since I worked a good time on it, and Xanga wouldn't let me post last night.) I won't make any promises, but those of you who still follow me here might be interested to know I'll be posting more photoposts within the next couple of weeks, including my second hike, later that afternoon, to Deep Creek, which took me farther into the wilderness next to a place called "Devil's Hole", my birthday day trip to Big Bear Lake, and photos of the chainsaw carved bears one sees everywhere, created by local artists. Until then, I bid you adieu, and want to remind all of Xanga, even though I use the much easier Facebook to instantly post my photos nowadays, and even though my 8000 photos in over 100 themed folders on Webshots disappeared along with that website, I will still post these "walk with me" photo tours with commentary in the "pages" of Xanga, as long as I'm taking photos and as long as Xanga sticks around! happy

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Lake Arrowhead History, Lake Arrowhead Fire Reports from 2007, Full Photospread of my Little Bear Creek Hike on Flickr

    Posted: May 10, 2013 7:04 AM

Comments (40)

  • Mike, I have really enjoyed viewing your pictures.  I love the cabin!!  (so, I'm a little jealous, too.)  I would love to be able to hike out there in California, it looks so beautiful, peaceful and serene.  I'm happy that you had a good 60th birthday celebration and I wish you many more.  

  • This are great pictures Mike I am glad you relaxed and enjoyed your time

  • Lake Arrowhead is old stomping grounds for me, as I have a very close friend who lives up there (near the hospital) year around.  These are lovely photos of an area I didn't have a chance to explore when visiting her.  It's a beautiful spot, and there's something about pine forests that is extremely relaxing and enjoyable.  Glad you had a nice b'day!

  • It is amazing that you did not get lost....

    I remember the cabin that we timeshared near Lake Arrowhead/Big Bear. It is nice to be in a cabin on a cold day near a fireplace.

    Bike riding covers too much scenery so a walk/hike is great for photography.

  • what a beautiful place to escape from everyday life and celebrate! I'm glad you got to go! :)

  • Hey, Mike! Good to see you! I always enjoy your photos! This looks like a wonderful, peaceful, beautiful place to relax and have fun! A cabin in the woods near a lake is my fav getaway spot!
    Hope all is going well for you!
    Happy Belated Birthday!!!
    You are NOT spooky, you look handsome and happy!!!
    HUGS!! and Keep dancing!!!

  • Great photos!

    So, did you check out that creek for gold?

  • thanks for sharing the photos

    seems like a neat place for relaxing

  • My word, Mike, these are gorgeous shots. Even the areas of recovering fire, have their own unique beauty as they heal. What an awesome way to spend a birthday.
    Happy Birthday!

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