That's Bear Lake Utah / Idaho, not Big Bear, California.
I'm sure Big Bear in California is nice, but I've never been there, off-season or on.
So, I'm writing about Bear Lake, UT.
We discovered that our son doesn't have as much Christmas vacation as we had expected and were disappointed that we probably wouldn't be able to take the kids to see relatives in California this year. We just moved from California, and our kids would like to see Grammy and some of their friends. However, since we have less time than we thought, and we just can't bring ourselves to not be home on Christmas day, we decided to stay home this year and go somewhere else instead that is much closer.
Our son got Halloween day out of school for 'Quality Teaching Day'. I think that means that the district administrators figured out that most teachers didn't get any quality teaching done on Halloween. I wonder if there is another Quality Teaching Day on Valentines Day. So, the teachers and the school moved all of the extra activities that used to be on Halloween to the Friday before Halloween. That saves them from worrying about letting kids where costumes to school and stopping kids from wearing masks, and all the other distractions related to costumes, and chose to load the kids up on sugar before Halloween instead. My son had no less than three cup-cakes, one sugar cookie and a bunch of candy at school. Most of the treats were brought by parents who were over-anxious that their child wouldn't have any of the wonderful experiences they had when they were kids of having too much sugar so they took it upon themselves to make sure that the whole class had some. Also, as far as I know, the teacher didn't ask parents not to bring treats.
With no school on Halloween, we scheduled a family vacation to Bear Lake. TrendWest has a nice location there with a great view and nice rooms. We were suprised when we got there that everything was so nice. I had thought that it would be buildings that were built in the 70s that were simply remodeled. Instead, the buildings are only about five years old, and came with all the amenities that WorldMark TrendWest usually offers to owners... a full kitchen, a separate bedroom plus a queen-sized Murphy bed (the kind that swing down out of the wall). A washer and dryer, a separate furnace, thermostat and water heater for each unit, ironing board and iron, hair dryer, gas fireplace and a outdoor gas grill. All that plus an indoor heated pool made it really nice for a two-hour drive getaway.
Since the days are getting shorter, and since we've already switched into Daylight Savings Time, by the time we were ready to go Friday night, it was already dark and our drive up to Bear Lake through sardine and Logan canyons were fairly uneventful. We couldn't see any of the beautiful scenery going up Logan canyon, but were aware that we must be in some hill country with a stream because the road winded back and forth and would be great for a road-hugging car commercial. As we made it to the top of the mountains and could see the lights from the Bear Lake valley, we were glad that our drive was almost over. We checked in and went to bed.
In the morning we discovered it was raining off and on. That dampened our plans to take the kids to the beach sand, but it still left plenty of room for us to go swimming, play games and watch movies. I definitely don't get much time to do any of those things at home. The best experience of the whole vacation was an excellent dinner that night at a restaurant right across the parking lot from our room. There is a hotel with a large light-house building attached to it. That hotel is home to the new (and hopefully to stay) restaurant Aromas. Michelle ordered some excellent steak with crab garnish (perfectly cooked), and I had maybe the best thing I've ever had at a restaurant: Maple Pork Loin with candied walnuts. (I don't remember the actual name of the dish, but I know it was pork, and the maple with it was amazing. The yams, sweet potatoes and other vegetables with the dish were really good as well, but the maple pork... Oh wow! We were full enough to not want dessert, but I was glad that we tried their creme brulee. If you are within a few hours drive of Bear Lake, I suggest you go to Aromas restaurant to try it for yourself. During the off-season (fall and winter) the restaurant appeared to only be open for dinner. It would be worth a three hour drive if you haven't been there to try their food yourself. However, it only took two hours from Layton. We might steal away up there again sometime.
Sunday was nice. We went to the church building about a half mile down the road and had a nice meeting. Snow fell at night up on the mountains, which added to the beauty of the view around the lake. We took our kids' pumpkins with us and got to carve them just how they wanted them. We also saw a sign marking the historic Oregon trail. We got to swim again Monday morning before checking out by noon.
On our way home we saw some excellent Christmas postcard photo opportunities. We snapped a few pictures. Take a look and I think you'll agree:
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