Fall 2022 Episode 3: To the Mountains and Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake fall season had arrived

Holloway’s Marina and RV Park

On October 6, trees flashed their flaming fall colors as we parked our trailer at Holloway’s Marina and RV Park, our home for seven nights. At Holloway’s, visitors can rent a pontoon boat, charter a fishing boat, buy marine parts, have service work done, or park an RV.

Big Bear Lake 17′ below normal in this photo

It would have been nice to rent a pontoon boat one afternoon, but the lady recommended not eating the fish due to Blue-Green algae, a bacterium that can be toxic. Shoot, no fishing for Jon and no trout dinner for us.

Plenty of boats to choose from

Then we eyed the Pirate Ship. Who doesn’t like an entertaining sail around the lake on a pirate ship? That didn’t work out either. The ship’s schedule didn’t match up with ours.

Ahoy, matey!

Although the boat rides would have been fun, the weather and nature entertained us with fog floating through the landscape and the sun kissing tops of trees and mountains.

Blue tarped figures are boats prepped for winter
Kissed by the sun

The main reason we chose Big Bear Lake for a visit was to meet up with our son, Kevin, and his better half, Bailey. They were attending the Adventure Van Expo over the weekend as vendors. While we waited for their arrival, the Big Bear Discovery Center and the Big Bear Alpine Zoo kept us busy.

Big Bear Discovery Center

The Big Bear Discovery Center in Fawnskin is mostly geared towards children ages 2–7 years of age, with its Nature Discovery Zone that serves as an outdoor classroom with interactive play areas. Their website describes different activities that are offered, but there were none during our visit. The center is a large building with lots of space inside, but it was mostly empty, except for four volunteers at a desk and display tables with T-shirts and stuffed animals for sale. Perhaps they were renovating? The volunteers gave us a pamphlet that listed 13 hikes ranging from an easy 1/2-mile path to a difficult 10-mile trek.

Big Bear Discovery Center building
Discovery Center grizzly bear statue

We selected the 5-mile out-and-back Alpine Pedal Path from the Discovery Center to Serrano Campground for its gentle slopes up and down on asphalt pavement. The elevation of 7,000 feet was enough for us to contend with on our first day without worrying about Jon wrenching his knee again on a rocky surface.

The path links to the Cougar Crest and Pacific Crest trails
Over the bridge and through the underpass we go
Typical tree seen along the path
Crumbling rock formation

Big Bear Alpine Zoo

A zoo in Big Bear? How did I ever miss it? The Big Bear Alpine Zoo (formerly named Moonridge Animal Park) was established in 1959 after a fire scattered wildlife and a group of people got together to rescue some of the animals. It is owned by the Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District, a Special District of the County of San Bernardino.

Look! A zoo in Big Bear

The Friends of the Big Bear Alpine Zoo, created in 1989 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization raises funds and coordinates volunteers to support the zoo. The zoo is open daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. On snow days, they may open late or not at all.

Sturdy compounds house the animals

The zoo’s mission remains a 100% rescue facility. All of the animals on display came to the zoo for rescue, mended, but unable to live in the wild. Birds have missing or broken wings. A bear is missing a leg. And some of the animals have adapted too well to human contact, making it dangerous to release them into their natural habitat because they no longer know how to find food or hunt or protect themselves.

Wild Critters on the Playground

Animals currently on display include a bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, white pelican, great horned owl, grizzly bears, black bears, and a gray wolf. Due to the double fencing, it was difficult to get a good photo of the animals, but here are a few.

Sleeping fox
Bald Eagle
Gray Wolf

Adventure Van Expo

And now, on to the Adventure Van Expo. Camping in a van is nothing new. Could it possibly trace its roots back to the covered wagon days when families loaded their possession to travel thousands of miles across the country? I didn’t dare slide into that rabbit hole of research, so I leave the question for others to answer.

Vans showing off their builds

More recently it seems, converting vans for camping or even living purposes has gained in popularity for at least the past 10 years or maybe longer. And where popularity grows, so do expos and cons. The fifth 2022 Adventure Van Expo organized eight expos in 2022 and has scheduled eight more for 2023. Over a two-day period, the events draw 60-80 vendors and up to 6,000 attendees, according to their website. Attendees can browse the many van conversions on display and for sale, and purchase all the accessories needed to enhance their #VanLife.

No remaking the bed everyday in this one, just pull it down from the ceiling
A sink, stove top, and microwave. What more can you ask for in such a small space? Oh, yeah. A fridge. There’s one of those too.

So, back to the product Bailey designed and curated for display and purchase at the expo. The CampIt includes everything required for the preparation, serving, and cleanup of a meal around the campfire or grill. Contained within a wooden box the size of a banker’s box and weighing in at around 23 pounds, are a tablecloth, cutting board, knives, spatula, tongs, serving spoon, roasting sticks, bamboo eating utensils, scrubber, hand sanitizer, soap, can and bottle opener, reusable plates, bowls, and cups, and much more.

The CampIt vendor booth

On Sunday, Jon and I manned the booth while Bailey and Kevin walked the expo to make contact with potential vendors. Videographer Van Haulen made a video of Jon and me talking to the videographer. Click here to take a look. It’s a long video, and we don’t show up until the end at 15.18 minutes, so zip forward.

To see Bailey in action, check out this video where she’s a featured new vendor. She shows up at 2.56 minutes. Of course, she’s the expert, knows her product well, and did a much better presentation than Jon and I did. All of the items that fit in the box are displayed. Or go to thecampit.com to learn more.

Next up in our fall adventure, we head to the desert. Join us while we explore Joshua Tree.

Safe Travels