Travel Diaries: California, the Heights

I didn’t visit the mountains in California during my road trip, but I’d been to a couple of different ones before and after.

Idyllwild was the first mountain town I visited, just a couple of road hours outside L.A. It was mid August, with triple digit temperatures in the San Gabriel Valley. I thought I had left that heat behind in Texas, only to find it here. At least it is dry heat, rather than humid, in California.

With every 1,000 feet of ascent up the mountain range on my way to Idyllwild, the temperatures dropped until they settled into the pleasant low 70s. I was joining a group of others at a cabin retreat for a weekend getaway for artists, which included an art workshop and an art show.

I had never considered myself a mountain girl until I went to Idyllwild. In my world, the sea is always greater than the mountains; however, I almost changed my mind that weekend.

Not only were the temperatures perfect, the surroundings were incredibly green and peaceful. Tall trees, impossibly blue skies, miles and miles of untouched scrub, and mountain-fresh air abounded. There were none of the pollutants of big-city living.

When I got to the cabins, I wanted to live there forever. They were quaint, wooden affairs, outfitted with modern amenities, but still maintaining their old world charm.

One of the downsides of mountain living was finding out that they sometimes get snowed in during the winter and can’t make it down the mountain for days. I don’t know about that. I’m not OK with anything that makes me feel stuck, boxed-in, or trapped.

For snow enthusiasts, that might be no problem at all. In fact, Big Bear, the second mountain town I visited, is famous for its ski slopes. There isn’t much that happens there off-season, but winter is the real kicker. Skiing has never appealed to me, considering it requires everything in me just to remain upright while merely ice-skating in a relatively safe ice-rink. Why would I want to go hurtling down the side of a mountain on unstable blades?

Another downside of mountain living is that these wonderful, peaceful oases are too far removed from decent-sized cities than I would like. While I’m not a fan of big-city living, I do like to attend a philharmonic concert on occasion, or sample different ethnic foods, or hobnob with a variety of exotic people. Small towns just don’t have those opportunities in abundance, you know. Such a dilemma!

If you haven’t been to California, put it on your travel list. There is much to see and do and enjoy here.

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