Big Bear Makes the NY Times

Did you encounter the CalTrans crew fixing up North Shore Drive? I sure did–but I was happy to see them finally fixing the road.

Now, I’d rather see a nice asphalting and drainage project but guess we can’t have everything we want all at once. Which is why I still think making the main access roads into toll roads would be a solution to some of the funding issues and repair problems.

So my neighbor Steve gave me the heads-up on this article about Big Bear in the New York Times.

Big Bear as a resort town has been a hot discussion item lately. Recent conversations I’ve been involved in talk about the lack of consistency for developing an identity.

Sam Hooper Samuels said in the NY Times, “Among mountain resorts in Southern California, Big Bear Lake is considered the least exclusive and most family friendly.”

Least exclusive–yep that is a moniker we really wanted and will really attract a good crowd. If you think about it, have you ever wondered WHY those public restrooms are always closed? Why the local businesses won’t let just anyone come in and use their facilities?

Think about this a little bit–and you might want to read the Toilet T-issue written sometime back.

So, getting out of the toilet issues and back to my train of thought…one of the newer business owners in the village told me that he had opened a couple of other businesses in other ski resort areas, and although he claimed to have researched this area, asked just what was up with the empty, dilapidated buildings on the main boulevard and the lack of maintenance.

If you don’t know what he was referring to, take a few moments as you drive down the boulevard and take gander. Check out these recent photos taken of the sidewalk just down from the village, too. Forget those nasty cinders that help you to slip and slide and look like hell–check out the cracks and uncleared dirty ice pack.


Yes, sir-ee. Would you want to take a vacation where the place looks like this? Those of us who have lived here for a while remember when the entire village sported poor conditions–cracked sidewalks, holes in the asphalt–nothing like the attractive center that now exists.I left the area for a few years and when I came back, shook my head in disgust at all the franchises asking, “Just what were they thinking?”

So, does anyone really think that vacationers really want to vacation someplace that looks like everywhere else they go?

Personally, when I head out to vacation–I seek a unique getaway that is not filled with franchises but small shops run by families–and that look a bit more pristine.

So is it growing pains or just a lack of foresight and planning?

Just Saturday, we were musing over what might have happened to that petition sent to Trader Joe’s and then there the name appears–mentioned in the NY Times article. The scuttlebutt is that TJ’s did want to open a store up here but that it was thwarted by “those in charge.”


Not the first time I heard that story and you know we really needed ANOTHER pharmacy around these parts.

Sam also said, “Big Bear Lake does not support a large number of fine restaurants.”

Ya think? Now you know we pretty much quit going out around these parts…and I’ve even been threatened (get in line) over posting bad behavior and bad comments about the local eateries. I’ve been looking for good reviews and have only been able to find one–which I will have to find time to post…

Before I get back to the main topic of today, let me say another pet peeve (which Sam did not mention) is that although we have a burgeoning arts community it gets overlooked and dismissed…just down the road Idyllwild is known for its artists. It maintains its quaint resort atmosphere and attracts art students and supports artisans from around the nation…but I need to stop digressing again…

Never mind the lack of an abundance of uhh, err, quality merchandise for the masses. Kmart (which also got mentioned in the NY Times article) isn’t a place I frequent but then how many members of the community frequent Hunter’s Hall, Mill Creek Trading, or even our own North Shore Trading Post? How many visitors do?

So, okay. We live in the “least exclusive” resort around these parts. Anyone else want to change that perception? How about the type of visitors this place attracts?

Now I never vacationed here–and the reason I moved here? To get out of the So. Cal. rat race but still be close enough to participate if I need to.

How about you? I’d be really interested in hearing what the locals have to say…and those of you who read regularly who are visitors or second home owners.

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This entry was posted on Monday, March 3rd, 2008 and is filed under Business & Commerce, GG's Reviews, Mountain Lake Resort, Small Town Living.

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6 Responses to “Big Bear Makes the NY Times

  • 1
    March 3rd, 2008 13:25

    Fifteen years ago I moved to the valley for the peace, quiet and the wildlife (animal). I knew almost immediately to eat was not to dine – in Big Bear. The words were not synonymous. A couple of good restaurants surfaced; one in Fawnskin and another in Bear City. This valley is too small to sustain growth like it is another Orange County. Good for Fawnskin that they have maintained their rustic, friendly atmosphere!

  • 2
    GG (Gossip Girl)
    March 4th, 2008 06:49

    Thanks for leaving a comment. I find that we head off the mountain for dining adventures these days and when I write something a little “off” and not the “happy, happy, joy, joy” that has become status quo–well I get threatened. Yes, I love Fawnskin and live here because it is rustic–the Moose Lodge actually has pretty good home cooked meals–and since it supports so many charities with the funds, we spend our money there and visit with our neighbors at the same time!

  • 3
    March 4th, 2008 07:41

    We purchase a major part of our wardrobes from Mill Creek. they have great clothing and it is quality, meaning it will last.

    I agree with you on the eatery issue…last week a group of us went to the sushi place across from CVS. They provided HORRIBLE service, and one of our party did not get her meal until we were almost ready to leave. The didn’t even offer to discount her meal! I will NEVER go back.

  • 4
    GG (Gossip Girl)
    March 4th, 2008 09:35

    @Cricket: Yes, I love their clothing there. One of the places I mentioned in my latest post is another sushi establishment in the valley. Frankly, sushi in the mountains is questionable. I quit patronizing the one you mentioned a long time ago due to poor attitudes, poor service, and just marginal food. Personally, I’d suggest visiting San Diego for good sushi!

  • 5
    Chau Randall
    March 5th, 2008 13:30

    I would want to have a TJ here in BB. And what’s up with all the phamacies? My main residence is in Fontana and there are CVS and Long Drug not counting phamacies in Target and Staters’ Brothers in one shopping center, yike! I agree with GG that BB needs more of foresight and planning to maintain its charm. My husband and I like the food at Perpercorn and Mandoline. Breakfast and lunch at Teddy Bear are hearty and Americana.

  • 6
    GG (Gossip Girl)
    March 6th, 2008 07:46

    Chau, thanks for leaving a comment. Yes, we like the Peppercorn but have not been back to Mandolin Bistro since it was sold. We like Teddy Bear’s for the breakfasts and the homemade chicken pot pies. Regarding the pharmacies, locals are mad over the WalGreens going in–this is going in despite the fact that we have the Medical Arts Pharmacy, Big Bear Pharmacy, CVS, and Rite Aid. They slaughtered a lot of trees in the process too.