The build-up to our trip to Lake Arrowhead had been difficult for me as my Emetophobia was going into overdrive. No matter how well I feel I have my phobia and anxiety under control, a big family trip always drags me back. The day before my trip I forgot to take my medication, so it was even worse. The journey was only one and a half hours, but I knew that the last half hour involved mountain roads which are my worst nightmare. I gave both kids travel sickness pills but honestly, I’m not sure I needed to because, as is often the case, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The mountain views were astonishing, and the roads were not as twisty as I had prepared myself for.
The kids were sad about leaving home because of the Christmas tree, as I had told them our Airbnb wouldn’t have a tree, but when we arrived at our A-Frame cabin (@morningswoodsaframe on insta) on 23rd December, the look on the kids faces was worth all the moaning about going. Our cabin was off a mountain road, up a little steep hill and although there were other cabins it still felt very secluded with the woods around us. The kids looked through the glass in the front door and saw the lights twinkling on the Christmas tree and excitement levels went up a few notches. Once inside they discovered their mezzanine bedroom with its little reading nook and both said this was the best Christmas ever (and this was before presents!). We explored the cabin and were overjoyed that it was even better than we had imagined. There was a gift basket left by the host with wine, chocolate, and bath products. There was a fire and a record player, a diffuser with oils to combat stuffy noses from the heating, luxurious toiletry products, clean white towels, soft linen bedding and the décor was like a picture from one of my Pinterest boards. The huge wall of windows at one end of the A-Frame perfectly framed the view of the wooden decking and the giant pine trees that surrounded it.
We gave the kids a hamper I had made, filled with hot chocolate, marshmallows, books, a puzzle, a bingo game, matching pyjamas for us all, fluffy socks and some activity books. I knew there was no television in the cabin, so I wanted to make sure we had plenty to do in the evenings. During the days we ventured out to the lake which was only 5 minutes’ walk away. We walked along the lake, through the woods to Arrowhead Village which was only 20 minutes away and had delicious waffles at Belgian Waffle Works. There is always a long wait, but it is worth it in my opinion. We also had lunch one day at the Lakefront Tap Room Bar and Kitchen which was a real treat as the view of the lake is breath-taking, the food was really tasty, and the staff were so friendly. We visited the little village of Blue Jay and had a wonderful lunch in a little understated place called Hot Shots Coffee House where again the staff were so friendly. We picked up food from the local store and had evening meals in the cabin where we could stay cosy and not worry about driving those mountain roads in the dark. I felt safe and comfortable there and strangely all my fears of bears, mountain lions, coyotes and any other creature likely to eat me, vanished, I didn’t even freak out at the spiders we found. It was so relaxing and calm, even with the children which is very rare. The view of the trees and the blue sky seemed to affect us all.
It was forecast to snow on Christmas day and we keep our fingers crossed for days but on Christmas Day we woke up to rain and although opening presents was fun, we were all a little disappointed in the lack of snow. We facetimed all our family back in England and then suddenly, around 9.30am it started to snow, not just tiny flakes that melt as soon as they encounter the puddles on the ground. No, huge snow flakes and ridiculous amounts of them. We threw our coats, hats, gloves and boots on over our pyjamas and headed outside to make a snowman, it was magical. A moment in time that we will never forget, like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia. Christmas day was pretty relaxed with just the four of us for a change, but we went out foraging for things to decorate the table with, ate too much food, danced around to Christmas tunes, played bingo, read our new books and just hung out together with the roaring fire on all day to keep us warm. Our Christmas day was like one of those cheesy Christmas movies, it really was, and I wouldn’t change a single second of it.
After Christmas we headed to Snowdrift Snow Tubing Park with our friends who were staying nearby and tried tubing for the first time. The kids were not overly keen to go, which is often the case when it is something they have never done before, but they had so much fun. They were off with their friends dragging their inflatable rings up the slopes and then speeding head first down the slopes squealing with joy. It was exhausting but so exhilarating and yet another example to the kids that trying new things really can be fun.
Our trip to Lake Arrowhead was perfect and driving only one and a half hours from your sunny palm tree adorned home in Orange County and ending up in the snowy pine forests and picturesque lake still blows my mind, especially as we didn’t even leave California. It was a (semi) retreat from technology and a chance for our little family to reconnect with each other. As we all sat at the table in the Cabin and wrote down our goals for 2019, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky we were to be there at that very moment in time and while I have many goals for the future, I think the present is pretty awesome.