Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Unbeaten Paths: The Hidden Jewel Of Big Bear

Happy Tuesday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend and started your week with renewed enthusiasm.

Today I am so happy to share with you the unexpected discovery that I made over this weekend.

Last Friday, my family and I were off to the mountains for our annual trip to Big Bear, California. We have been going there (or to Mammoth Lakes) every January for twenty years already!

While I don't necessarily like living in a cold climate, I don't mind spending a weekend in the snowy mountains. (Yes, we are spoiled here in Southern California.) This year, however, it was clear that we won't get to see snow since So Cal was blessed with 80 Degree weather for the entire month of January!

So what to do in Big Bear if there is no snow?
The slope looks pretty sad for this time of the year.
I hope that February weather will bring a generous amount of snow supply!
At first, we did the usual - walked around the lake, hiked a beautiful trail, bowled... and then we went to the zoo. Yes, Big Bear Alpine Zoo, located right at the very bottom of the ski slope! Did you know there is a zoo there? I didn't. Luckily, my friends Mary Ann and Art, who love exploring unbeaten paths told me about it. Thank you!

Honestly, I am not really a big fan of zoos, but this one is different - it's more like an animal rescue and rehabilitation center. 90% of animals that are being brought to this center are able to get back to the wild. Amazing, right? And the rest 10% of  animals that have to be put to sleep for either a bad injury or a bad behavior are being brought here and, if they cannot be released to the wild for one reason or another, they find their home at this zoo.

The zoo is very small and lacks budget, so it doesn't have any fancy landscape. It's more like a mix of Big Bear's wild life in a a typical Big Bear setting of tall pine trees and unpolished, low budgeted roads.
The insider tip: walk around the zoo will take no more than an hour, so come at around 2:30 in the afternoon and stay for a feeding tour at 3. The tour is free, and, while you will watch the animals eat, you will be treated with stories about them, their abilities and habits, and the very important tips on how to survive meeting them face to face. So if you come across a wolf in the wild, you will know exactly what to do to survive and what not to do. They say that turning around and running away is a bad bad bad idea. Now you know. I may have saved your life! Yeah!
Apparently, bobcats, while they look cute and fluffy, can take on animal 4 times its size! Consider to be warned!
And we got to see them eat a big dead rat. Yuck! 
There are quite a lot of wolves in this zoo. Did you know that wolves howls have different meanings?
This was not only my first meeting with real life wolves, but also I listened to their howl. So loud, so soulful, so wild!
Three little bears. Ok, not so little. The one on the left is 950 pounds.
Bear claws are no joke, I tell you. 
So if you ever come across a grizzly bear (the one with a hump), you have to play dead. But if you come across a black bear (the one without a hump), you better fight and run uphill in a zigzag line. Bear will follow, but, eventually, will get exhausted and give up. 

I feel so much smarter already! I learned so many cool things and heard great tips (hopefully, we will never have to use them!)

Tomorrow, will tell you all about making S'mores!!!! M-m-m

xo, Zuma A.

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