Family time, part deux

I had such a good time when my folks visited last month that I decided to do it all again! My sister, Joan, brother-in-law, Richard and brother, Steve all visited me this week. We ran our little behinds off doing fun things, and I’m more tired now than I was at the end of my last busy busy work week!

But, before we could go off and have a good time, we had to get through Labor Day weekend. And it was a doozy! We worked Thursday through Monday and every single one of those days was extremely long and difficult. The campground was completely full with campers and we were also hopping with people coming past on the bike trail and driving in “just to look.” We are also the only national forest campground in the area with showers, so we had people coming from a 20 mile radius to use our facilities. Mostly, we just stocked toilet paper all weekend. I’m not sure what the women were doing with all of the tp we were putting in there but it was gone every single time we checked, even if we went in at 2 hour intervals.

We did have one really nice experience with a wonderful group of long time campers who was here the whole week before Labor Day. They have been coming to the Serrano campground every summer for the past 20 years. They started coming as young couples and over the years have added children and now grandchildren to the group. They insisted that we stop by as often as we liked for coffee. Because we had so much to do, we didn’t make it over day after day. One day towards the end of their stay, I was stuck up in the kiosk for hours on end. One of them came by with a Starbucks gift card for us and said “if you can’t come to the coffee, we will bring the coffee to you!” That was probably the sweetest thing that anybody has done for us this entire season! And the icing on the cake was a little surprise that they left for us after they checked out:

 

My sister and her husband arrived in the Big Bear area on Sunday morning. They surprised us by coming over to see us while we were working at the campground. When my boss heard that my family was in town, she gave us the best present: early release! It is absolutely unprecedented for us to be finished with work before about 8 p.m., but we were allowed to leave for the day at 4:00!  We headed over to the condo that my sister was renting and had a fabulous time taking 15 minute long showers in the two bathrooms! We went out for dinner and ice cream and then headed back to the RV to get some rest. Except it wasn’t a very restful night.

An extremely intoxicated group of Russian gentlemen were set up in the campsite next to us and we could tell that they were going to be trouble. They were behaving themselves earlier in the evening, but they woke us up around 11:30 with revving engines and lots of yelling. I’m still not sure what the situation was but it ended with my boss coming over and informing them that they would need to go to bed immediately or the police would be over to assist them with the process.

The next day we introduced Joan and Richard to our wonderful farm market. We had lunch at a little diner with great hamburgers, and then drove over to the Lake Arrowhead area. Joan’s one main objective was to find an enormous pine cone. I remembered seeing some monsters when we were on the Metate Rock Camp Trail. She was very happy to find some 2-pound specimens. She is hoping to take them in her carry on luggage and safely get them back to Ohio.

Joan can do it pretty good!

I made them recreate the famous Dave and Max photo here–the men “grinding acorns” in the ancient stone metates, while the woman directs them!

Success!

So proud of my strong sister, who has been working out, and was able to scramble up these rocks!

That night, we gathered up barbecue supplies and headed to the other side of the mountain for a cookout with Dave and Max. We had a great time! Joan absolutely loved the beautiful beadwork that Max does as a hobby and even commissioned her to make some Ohio State earrings. We ate lots of food, tried out our special brand of s’mores that includes Fritos, and talked late into the evening. We spent the night in the condo’s extra bedroom, which was very pleasant because there were no loud Russians anywhere nearby.

 

On Wednesday, Joan and I got up at our customary nothing-o-clock, (JJ blissfully slept in) and my sister helped me do some cooking. It was such a treat to have access to an oven that fits multiple 13 by 9 pans and then to a dishwasher to do all the clean up!   My brother, Steve, arrived from Las Vegas in time for lunch.

That afternoon we took the ski lift up the Snow Summit mountain and did a ridgeline hike to Grand View Point. The view there is really spectacular! You are on a mountain ridge and looking across an immense valley to the next mountain ridge over. The expanse of space in front of you is so vast that it almost does not look real. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to enjoy the view for long. We realized that we would really have to hustle in order to get onto the ski lift to go back down before it stopped running for the day. We managed to cover 3 miles of grueling uphill in about 45 minutes. It felt so sweet to sit down on the chair lift and just melt into a puddle of tired on the way back down!

JJ and Steve

We wanted to go try out the Alpine Slide which is a concrete luge that you ride down on a little sled. Alas! It was closed an hour before the stated time and we weren’t able to try out that adventure. After a very well deserved dinner, we went down to the lake shore of Big Bear Lake to do some stargazing with Steve’s really cool telescope. Joan and I both had a lot of trouble seeing through the eyepiece clearly, but we were able to see the moon in fantastic detail.

They were still here a few days after we went back to work. They treated us to  hand delivered breakfasts and dinners at our campsite, and we visited with them when we could. It was so sad to say goodbye on Friday morning, because I don’t know when I’m going to have the chance to see them again! It was a great visit and I’m so glad that they were able to come out and spend time with us!

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