a broken wagon in Big Bear

Vagobond in Big Bear Lake

Vagobond in Big Bear Lake

a broken wagon in Big BearAnd now I get to work for the next few months. I’m in my childhood hometown of Big Bear Lake, California.

You can check it out at BigBear.com. I’m working with my Dad to remodel a couple of apartments and in the process he is teaching me the fine details of the constructions trades. It’s a good opportunity for me because he is a guy that really knows how to do this stuff. So for the next few months I’ll be tiling, painting, plastering, framing, plumbing, electrical work, and more. I’ve done a lot of this stuff before but never actually had a chance to be taught by someone who knows the ins and outs of the business.

Plus, it’s pretty cool to hang out with my Dad and hear a lot of stories and thoughts that we’ve never had the chance to share before. He’s an interesting guy. Last night we had a fairly intense debate about politics and had to call a truce to end it. Fun stuff.

Big Bear is a lot smaller than I remember it and is filled with quite a few odd people. I can almost imagine living here. I’ve found the only internet hotspot in the entire town and am having coffee and using the wifi here while I skip out on a few hours of work. I’ll be getting DSL hooked up in the apartments in a few days. Essential for me to be online these days…it’s my home address.

Anyway…getting here was fun. After Canada I spent a few days with my good friends Dave and Lynn in Bellingham, visited with a few friends, took a trip to Seattle where I saw my friends Kevin and Candida and then I watched the new Star Trek movie before heading to the airport for what turned out to be a pretty good nights sleep on a bench near the check in counters. Woke at around 6 am and caught my flight to San Francisco where I had just a long enough layover to have breakfast with my sister and say hello to her cute little baby. Then back on a Virgin America flight to San Diego where my Dad picked me up, then a 2 hour drive up the mountains into Big Bear and straight to work.

Star Trek was great. I really enjoyed it. Virgin America was also the best airline I’ve flown on in the states or Europe. I was a little disappointed as they advertised wi-fi on all flights. They had it, but it was $9.99 per flight essentially. And you have to have a credit card to use it. A royal rip off unless it is a 5 hour flight. The service was nice though, the seats comfortable, and the inflight entertainment system was the best I’ve seen on any airline.

So I think that’s about it. I’ll update sometime soon, but probably not as often as I have been doing while I was on the road.

If someone told you they had just spent a fun-filled weekend at a popular southern California resort called Yuhaviat, you probably wouldn’t know what they were talking about. Yuhaviat is a Serrano Indian word that means “Pine Place,” and it is the name Big Bear had for more than a thousand years.

Big Bear is no longer called Yuhaviat, because back in 1845, Benjamin Davis Wilson rode into Yuhaviat Valley with a posse of 20 men. They were chasing Indians who had been raiding their ranches in Riverside. As they entered the valley, they found it swarming with bear.

Wilson divided his men into two-man teams. Each team went out, roped a bear and brought it back to camp. They had eleven bear at the camp all at the same time. This prompted Wilson to come up with the name Big Bear Lake. However, it should be noted that Big Bear Lake is a man-made lake that didn’t exist in 1845. The lake Wilson named Big Bear was actually the natural lake at the east end of the valley, now known as Baldwin Lake.

Ben Wilson is not only remembered for giving Big Bear its name, but he went on to become an important figure in Southern California history. Among his accomplishments, he is remembered as the first mayor of Los Angeles. He was also a two term California state senator, and he built the first railroad between Los Angeles and San Diego. Wilson died on March 11, 1878, but before he died, he donated land and buildings for the construction of a college. This new college eventually became the University of Southern California.

Wilson’s energy and leadership qualities were passed down through his children to his grandchildren. One of those grandchildren was famous World War II General, George S. Patton.


Originally published 07 June 2009