Celebrating July 4th in Big Bear (Mountain-Style)

Did everyone have a fabulous 4th of July? Did you check out my instagram? I was in Big Bear for the 4th of July an it was AWESOME! A bunch of friends chipped in on renting THIS cabin from HomeAway and boy was it fun.

Only 2 hrs outside of LA, it felt like a real getaway without being too difficult to get to. I drove up after work on Thursday the 3rd. I stopped off at a Ralphs to get some food essentials to share with the gang. I arrived around 10pm on Thursday evening to see our awesome bear-themed cabin. Everyone was in the hot tub when I arrived.

The house had a master suite, 1 bedroom with a queen bed, and a bedroom with full size bunk beds and another queen bed. We also had two sitting areas, each with fold out couches. Lets just say our huge group fit comfortably. Everyone brought some food along and we ate each meal at the house (a money saver) plus it was super fun cooking and helping prepare the food. I’m not a good chef, so my way of helping was on the cleaning end.

The cabin was also so full of activities: a hot tub, ping pong/pool table, picnic table on a big deck, foosball table, and giant dining room table which was perfect for boardgames. One of my favorite things to do on any vacation is get up early and do a neighborhood walk. This was especially nice in Big Bear, as we were on the south side of the lake in a great walking neighborhood. There were several spots with views of the lake.

On Friday our first big activity was renting a pontoon boat! We walked to the docks, then realized we made a reservation at a different dock and raced over to the right dock (on the north side of the lake).

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By the first dock was a pirate boat for rent! That was a bit more than we needed, but I still needed to take a picture with my boyfriend (above), Black Beard.

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After making our reservation at the right dock we took the boat out on the lake for 2 hours of pure boating bliss. We packed sandwiches and snacked out on the water. Our plan was to swim (technically not allowed) but the water was so cold we just put our feet in. The clouds came and went and we even saw a rain storm brewing on the mountain.

At 2pm we made our way back to the cabin where it became hot tub/shower/nap time for most of us.

Around 5pm we walked to the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain where for 4 dollars you ride a chair lift up he mountain and sled your way down.

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Here’s a shot (above) of some of the group preparing to sled down. Super fun and super cheap! I highly recommend this even for young kids visiting the lake. We also had tremendous views from the top while waiting in line.

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After Alpine Sledding, and a bbq at the house, we packing up our to-go drinks and walked to the water for an excellent view of the fireworks show over the lake.

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The next morning while making breakfast we experienced a pretty big earthquake! The cabin was a’shakin! After the quake, some rain storms rolled in so we decided to have a big game of 7 Wonders at the giant dining-room table. It was a lot of fun, especially playing in teams due to the large number of people participating.

Another great group game we discovered on this trip is Quickwits. It was developed by a coworker of mine and is a great party game. We ended up playing this multiple times throughout the weekend. It’s got a similar vibe to Cards Against Humanity, is super easy to pickup, and doesn’t take too much focus/time so it was a great “lets play around while the food’s grilling” game.

Once the storms passed, we made our way out for a short hike. Turns out the hike required pretty much off-roading in order to reach it. My Mazda 3 was SUPER not happy about it. But we did get some exercise eventually, which was the goal. And it was on this hike where I took the above photo. You can see the clouds started rolling back in again.. we even heard thunder! It was exciting for us city-folk.

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Here’s a shot of the hikers above. When we made our way back to the house and rejoined the rest of the gang, we had a fun bbq’ing night. After dinner I had to take off to try to beat the sunset down the mountain and head back to LA. The group continued on for another day, kayaking and picnicking out by the water.

I think it was unanimously a fun weekend full of good times. Especially given our large group, it was great to find so many activities we could all participate in. I’m loving these staycations! Big Bear for the 4th was a big hit and I totally recommend it to people looking to get a taste of the mountains.

Happy July 4th, 2014 Weekend!

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Are you one of the lucky people already on vacation? Or Are you half-daying it today? Lucky! I’m going to sneak away from LA for a couple days. Last year friends rented a house on Manhattan Beach and it was such a fun staycation. This year we are doing the same thing but in a new (surprise) location. Follow me on instagram to see my real-time photos and see if you can guess where I am!

I’ll be back to my old tricks on Sunday… in fact I have 2 wood bedside tables in the works. Now it’s time to make the drawers! Oh and I’ll be in Africa in 2.5 weeks?! Still so much to do…

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Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

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Happy Memorial Day Weekend everybody! Are you out traveling, or staying in and bbq’ing it-up this weekend? My good friend is getting married in 3 weeks, so we treated her to a Los Angeles staycation bachelorette weekend. It all began at Glen Ivy, the Disneyland of Spas!

SpaDay1 (Me and the future-bride, Brenda)

Given that it is a holiday weekend, we arrived at 10am and the admission cost was $65. I’m not one to do any spa treatments… I don’t even get my nails painted (Im a DIY-er, you know), but this $65 fee is worth it. This place has thought of everything. It’s a great women’s retreat full of amenities, natural pools, floating pools, pool aerobics, jacuzzis, steam rooms, saunas etc. And for those with more money to spend, they offer massages and other spa packages at an additional price. This was a great bachelorette party activity, and even a great girl’s weekend getaway. At an hour outside of LA, you feel removed from the city and yet it’s easy to get to.

AceHotel (The view from the Ace Hotel rooftop at night)

We drove back to LA from Glen Ivy and ended up at our home for the night, the new Ace Hotel. I’ll admit, this new hotel was hipster heaven but they are still figuring out the logistics of running a hotel. Our room was supposed to be ready at 3pm, and when we arrived at 5pm it still wasn’t ready. With no real lobby to wait in, we went to their rooftop bar with all our luggage where there was also very little room to wait. We were also dressed for a spa and not for a rooftop bar which left me feeling a little embarrassed and out of place. After an hour of waiting our loft room was ready.

They did give us a complementary bottle of wine for our hassle, but I’ll admit the room had a not great smell to it. Alas, we didn’t let that get in the way of our spa-zen spirit. We got ready (rushed, as we had dinner reservations to make). We booked a 4 person room (and paid for 4), which had 1 bed and a couch that opens out into a big bed, and they assured us this was a 4 person room. But getting them to come assemble that couch-bed took multiple attempts, and when they did provide sheets, they just left them sitting there on the couch. Really? You can’t assemble the couch-bed that you’re insisting is meant for guests to sleep on? Ace Hotel fail. I don’t mean to complain, but this was not a cheap room considering the amount of issues that came up.

At this time more LA friends joined us in the room as we got ready. Since it’s a stay-cation it was great that friends could come and go for different events/meals throughout the weekend. Once ready, we walked down to the Wooden Spoon for dinner where we met up with even more friends of the bride-to-be. We had a delicious meal with yummy sangria and complementary rose champagne. Considering it’s a small place, they were great to host all  8 of us in the party, as some other local restaurants panicked at the idea of 8 guests. I highly recommend this spot for dinner if you’re downtown (I had the shrimp balls and beets salad).

FriendsAtAceHotel (Eva, Me, Grace, Tamar)

From there we walked back to the Ace Hotel to hit-up their rooftop bar now that we were properly dressed for the occasion. Of course we had to rock the bachelorette party-crown attire. So much fun.

Bar107 (Dancing at Bar 107, view of the ceiling in the dancing room)

We decided that dancing was in order, as the bride-to-be loves to dance. We walked from the hotel over to Bar 107 where lots of dancing commenced. Lots and lots of dancing.  Around 1:30a we were pooped and Uber‘ed back to the Ace. Slumber party fun began and then was followed by crashing.

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The morning after: a hearty meal at Nickel Diner (an LA institution). What a fun half of Memorial Day weekend, to spend it with good friends relaxing at the spa, eating great meals and then dancing the night away. Now what to do for the second half of this long weekend? I’m sure I’ll come up with something 😉