Since Dan is five going on forty, he woke me up at six am very excited to open his presents! I plan to return the favor in a few weeks on my birthday!
We had several hours before our Segway tour to get breakfast and wander around Big Bear Village.
One of my favorite places in Big Bear Village is the Copper Q. The Copper Q is an adorable coffee shop and bakery. We had scones, yogurt and lattes for breakfast. I even went in the afternoon with my book to read and have another latte. I love this place.
Just as the village is dead in the evening, it is very quiet on a Sunday morning. We explored and took some pictures. We clearly scored by visiting Big Bear during a "Gothic Dragon" sale. I wanted the store to be open, just so that I could have an explanation as to what constitutes a "Gothic Dragon". Thoughts?
We had been very excited to try the Segway Tour since we saw a brochure advertising it on our last trip to Big Bear. I reserved it three weeks in advance and was given a choice of several time slots. The morning slot was recommended as the weather is still cool and the streets are not crowded. We were told to wear closed toed shoes and bright colors. The bright colors were for good pictures, colors that pop against the greens and browns in the woods.
Thank you to my Aunt Trudy for the Segway contribution to Dan's birthday weekend!
I wasn't nervous until we watched the obligatory safety video. This video made me feel apprehensive as it showed a stick figure falling both face forward off of the Segway and backwards smashing the back of its head. Yikes! Our guide, Chris, assured us that it wasn't as dangerous or as difficult as it looked on the video and that he would be going over safety as we practiced in the parking lot. Nobody would proceed with tour, if they didn't get the hang of it during practice.
We had one other couple on the tour with us, who were in their sixties and had done a Segway tour in Atlanta. They, especially the husband, exuded confidence and made me feel a little better.
We got geared up and it was time to practice.
I felt very uncomfortable right from the start. The Segway just feels unsteady. Chris was a great guide and safety always came first, but no matter how much he repeated that we needed to trust the machine, the machine never felt trust-worthy.
It takes a sense of balance, which is not an area in which I excel. After about half an hour, Chris said something that finally clicked with me. He said to think of my body as a stick, stay rigid and make slight movements. Okay, this worked for me, but I still never felt 100% confident.
The scary part is leaning and speed. Segways are zippy and with leaning forward, I always felt like I was one pinecone-too-big away from splatting on the concrete. The Segways can roll over uneven terrain, but there is small window of error when it comes to stuff like big rocks and curbs. I felt like with enough practice, the Segway would become easy to operate, but it's like learning to Skateboard wherein you're going to fall a lot while trying to learn.
I didn't fall for the first 2/3rds of the tour. We rode around Big Bear, looking at homes such as a cabin that Richard Nixon spent childhood summers. We saw perches and nests of Bald Eagles. We saw a house that had old ski chair lifts on its front porch. Chris was an informative guide and it was a fun way to get out and see Big Bear.
Chris took a picture of us on the Segways by the lake.
I began to feel more comfortable on the Segway when we were riding around the residential areas, where the terrain was more or less flat and without obstacles. Dan took a video of our group.
One of the safety issues that Chris went over was how to properly get off of the Segway if you lose control or hit something like a big pinecone. Pinecones were often mentioned to be avoided. I kept hoping that it was because Big Bear is home to abnormally large pinecones and not that the Segway was so sensitive! I saw the husband in the other couple manage to successful avoid accidents twice. That being said, when you encounter a problem, this is easier said that done.
I was going up a slight incline on dirt to a bump transitioning to a concrete sidewalk when my Segway got off balance and started sliding backwards. Instead of hopping off (which went against instinct), I grabbed the handle to steady my balance. I was thrown off and the Segway toppled over me, pinning me to the ground. The scary thing was my right leg was grinding against the wheels, which wouldn't stop spinning. Dan heard me scream and came back to rescue me!
Chris was a good guide and made sure that I was okay. Both my body and pride were covered in bruises and I had a bleeding elbow, but nothing was broken or sprained. It's now two days later and everything hurts! My left leg has a huge bump that Chris said was likely a burst blood vessel. Nice.
I know that it was my fault for not properly exiting the Segway, but overall I was left with the impression that Segways are kind of dangerous. Dan and I both concluded that once was enough. I'm glad that I gave it a try, but if I could go back in time, I probably wouldn't have taken the tour. There was nothing that Action Segway could have done better, it was just an activity outside of my comfort zone.
Here are a few pictures taken about five minutes afterI fell. I limped off of my Segway and put on a smile.
I was relieved when the tour was over and Chris gave me ice packs for my injuries.
I would recommend the Action Segway Tour to those who like adventurous activities like skate boarding or rollerblading. This is not a mild or passive activity. You will discover little muscles in your feet and legs that you have never used before!
While I was icing, we decided to sign up for the Action Zip Line Tour for Monday morning. This was a weekend of activities far outside of our comfort zones!
We walked to Boo Bear's Den for lunch. Boo Bear's Den has a large patio with live music, which just felt right on a hot summer day. We had enormous burgers with steak fries and enjoyed sitting in the sun.
After lunch, Dan spent two hours getting pampered at The Village Spa. I picked The Village Spa because of their great reviews and their "man-menu". Dan had three treatments, The 007 (men's facial), Fists of Fury (hand treatment) and Chuck Norris (foot treatment). I left Dan in the capable hands of mother-daughter team Gin and Holly, who own and run the beautiful day spa. The Village Spa not only provides great services, but has a lot of nice touches like original art on the walls. They even gave Dan a gift bag that happened to have a gift card for the Peppercorn Grille, where we had already booked a reservation for his birthday dinner.
If you're going to Big Bear, make sure to check out The Village Spa. Here is their link.
We got all dolled up for dinner and had enough time to check out the Le Dolce Vita Tasting Room, located directly across the street from our hotel.
The Le Dolce Vita Tasting Room is a gem of a find in Big Bear. Bryan, who owns the tasting room with his wife Valerie, helped us during our visit. In addition to being a great tasting room, Bryan's warmth, knowledge and hospitality would make this a must-do on future visits.
We did a flight of wine from California wineries. All of the tasting rooms wines are Californian and from boutique wineries, making it a special experience.
They also offer sake, cider and beer flights. We didn't have a lot of time to sample, but I did try a pear cider that I loved. It was like drinking a dessert.
To add to the fun of our experience, we met a couple who also live in Southern California and who happened to have book the same zip line time as us on Monday. A shout out to Diana and Elliott, if you happen to be reading this. We enjoyed meeting you and hope to see you in LA. Cool hats!
If you're in Big Bear, you should make sure to check out the Le Dolce Vita Tasting Room. We plan to plant ourselves there for several hours each day of our next trip!
As we staggered back into the village for our big birthday dinner at Peppercorn Grille, we had to step around major road construction. The entire village in undergoing a big street renovation project. Be mindful of this if you're visiting the area and maybe take a moment to walk out of your way to get to some of the businesses being affected by the project. They are hurting because driving access and parking is being hindered. Many of them, like the Village Spa and Le Dolce Vita are worth the extra effort.
All of the locals that we encountered raved about Peppercorn Grille and they did not oversell. This is a fabulous restaurant. We had dinner reservations for seven and despite several people waiting to be seated, we were ushered to our table immediately. Our server, Chris, was top-notch. He was friendly and down to earth, yet as competent as any server in a fine dining restaurant. In fact, Peppercorn Grille was as good as any fine dining experience that I've had in Los Angeles, yet a lot less pretentious. A great restaurant with a casual vibe.
Naturally we ordered a bottle of wine to continue the drinking that we started at Le Dolce Vita.
The starters looked so good that we decided to try two. It was a hard choice though, as we wanted to try them all!
We both ordered the surf and turf, which came with soup or salad, vegetables and rice or potatoes. It was all delicious, especially the steak and I was sad when I could only eat half of it, having filled up with the appetizers.
The meal ended on a high note with a warm chocolate birthday dessert, which wins points for presentation on top of being delicious.
Peppercorn Grille was a perfect place for a special 40th birthday dinner.
Stay tuned for the last day of our Big Bear Weekend, where we taking a big leap outside of our comfort zones during a Zip Line excursion!