Finding another reason to escape the heat and spend time with the boys, Jersey and I took a road trip over Labor Day weekend to Big Bear Lake in California. He had a read about Big Bear in one of his travel magazines back in May and after telling me I was ready for another adventure with Thurman and Murman. It was a short 5-hour drive from Phoenix with a 40 degree temperature drop! Exactly what we were looking for and to top it off we were up in the mountains, off the grid on the quiet property of Cienaga Creek Ranch. This will not be the last time I say this but if you are in Phoenix, please go stay at the ranch. Please. It is amazing!
There were only 5 other cabins on the property which was on 50 acres so we had all sorts of privacy. The owners thought of every detail starting with the swing on the porch. Our cabin was the Wild Rose where Thurman and Murman were asked to wipe their paws. So cute. The cabin was kitschy and classic all at once. Classic was the wood cabin that I think were made from the Jeffrey Pine or Juniper trees that surrounded the property. They cabins were really well constructed and the trees dropped nice big pine cones that I collected for this year’s holiday decor.
Kitschy was the wallpaper and art that gave the cabin its personality. There was a main room that included a full kitchen and living room. When we arrived and walked into the cabin it smelled of the fresh baked cinnamon roles that were waiting for us on the table. As Jersey would say “Details”!! The ambiance was perfected by the details. We used the fireplace every night as the temperatures fell under 40 degrees. We were in heaven. Please go check this place out!!
The bedroom and bathroom were in the back of the cabin with natural sky lights that made for perfect star gazing. A special treat was the hot tub. I used it every night. The cabins were new with all the modern conveniences. Jersey and I had our own bathroom sink areas and there was a modern walk-in shower with two shower heads. Delightful.
The owner knew we were bringing our boys and made sure they felt equally welcome with cute water bowls and some milk bones. So sweet. They did ask us to keep the dogs on towels they provided when on the furniture. This was not easy but we were sure to leave the place as immaculate as we found it. Another detail was the owners delivered small baskets of breakfast goodies every afternoon for the next morning. The baskets included fresh baked banana bread, carrot cake muffins, eggs and more cinnamon rolls. We did bring food knowing that we were going to be in up in the mountains but the baskets had that special touch.
Jersey was so excited to find out that the cabin was located right on the famous PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) that spans 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon, and Washington. He read a book about the trail years ago and had been fascinated by how many people actually hiked the entire trail. Well now we can officially say we hiked the trail. The trail was on both sides of the ranch drive-way so we hiked around 3-5 miles on each side or as much as “fat Murm” could handle.
People that hike this trail obviously camp on the trail. On one of our adventures, Jersey went off trail to see the view from the peak to find this make-shift shelter for through-hikers. Whoever built it made sure they were safe from the wind and other weather. Pretty cool really. We talked about this trail and the Appalachian Trail out east that spans from Georgia to Maine. I love hiking but I need a shower at least every other day. And some good wine once in a while. Ok, so I’m not really cut out for trails this long but it was good hiking conversation.
We would hike in the morning and then again in the late afternoon. When we came back to the cabin the boys settled right into their routine with taking naps, eating dinner and just hanging out. Each trip they settle in easier and faster. We always bring things to make them feel home like their beds and favorite treats. It has been so rewarding to see them so happy to be with us out exploring the country.
Thurman loves napping on our bed pillows at home and he was sure to find his space in the cabin. Yes he’s adorable.
When the owner stopped by one afternoon she encouraged us to walk up Rainbow Lane, the road the ranch was on, to checkout the zip line and the beautiful views. It was a great evening hike into the forest to not only see the zip liners but to hear the coyotes and enjoy that fabulously cool mountain air.
As simple and silly as it sounds the dogs get to do things on these trips that they don’t get to do at home. While sitting out at the picnic table we watched Murman dig a whole to which he then proceeded to sit in. It was so cute and something he cannot do in our grassy backyard (and we are sure glad he doesn’t want to). It’s the little things right?
There was a TV in the cabin but it only worked with the DVD player. We knew this and brought some of our own but they had a great selection as well. Jersey was impressed and thrilled that they had the classic Steve McQueen movie Bullet. They also had games and books to pick from. They had this excellent book of photography, In Our Time: The World As Seen by Magnum Photographers that I fell in love with. You have to check it out! The photography ranges from photos of the Vietnam resistance to the streets of Paris. It’s amazing and now part of my coffee table collection. Need I mention the book I found in the bathroom’s vanity drawer . . . whether he is my husband or not . . . the book was on point.
We did venture down to the town of Big Bear Lake a couple times to get ice, hike and check it out. We also had lunch with my cousin Shannon who I hadn’t seen in years. Our grandmothers were sisters and very close. It was nice to talk about how they were together. Like as Shannon and I were slathering on sunscreen we were reminded how our grandmothers used baby oil and laid in the sun for hours!! When we went to town to meet Shannon for lunch we saw the ski slopes. It was tempting to think we could come back and ski but Shannon assured us the lift lines were long and this little town became overwhelmed with visitors from L.A. The lake itself was super low as a result of the drought which was depressing to say the least.
The cabin had a hammock where I spent quality time finishing my book so I could leave it behind in the cabin’s library. I also spent time thinking about my Cooper Beans. Jersey made sure he was not out of sight by wearing a t-shirt I had made for him a couple years ago. We also knew he was looking down on us when we found the sun shining down on a heart shaped rock. Love you buddy.
On our last morning we woke up to a very cold morning! But we loved. every. second. of. it. !!!!
The car rides with the boys continue to be the best. Not only do they get excited to go for a ride but they also love to relax. Murman found comfort in the “fort” created by the tonneau cover in the back of the Prius. He loves to hide.
On our way home we took a small detour through the Joshua Tree Forest. It is really a crazy place with desert for miles and animated rock formations. It’s always humbling to see landscapes like this as I wonder how it all came to be. Was it all under water at one time? How did these trees come about? We also read about the random fan-palm oases found when your atop a crack in the Earth’s crust. Geographical fault lines crisscross the park area and when water hits the fault plane, it rises to the surface to create these random oases. We didn’t see any this trip but came close with some wild yellow flowers in the midst of the desert sand!
We decided to exit the part and see what was up in the desert town of 29 Palms. The answer is nothing but we did some interesting roadside art on the way out of town. Please go visit the Cienaga Creek Ranch, you will not be disappointed!
While we are on the road with Thurman and Murman our Belly kitty has to stay behind but he is well taken care of my our loving and caring neighbor. He has found a leak in our drip system this summer to keep him cool and we decided to leave it until the weather gets cooler. He is such a good cat and we check in on him every day when we are away.
“The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” – John Muir