Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sliding Through The Bottle Forest

It is strange how things work out sometimes. You set your sights on one destination and on the way are blown off course and discover something unexpected and wondrous. Saturday's roadtrip was such a journey.

The wife and I, joined by the "J", headed to Big Bear Lake to ride the alpine slide. The drive was about three hours. On the way we had to detour when the 210 Freeway unexpectedly came to an end. Not knowing where we were going, we followed the traffic until we made it back on course. We made our way up the mountains to Big Bear, peaking at around 7,112 feet. The road is a twisty - turny - winding - twirling road and the wife was not appreciating the beauty of it all. That road was trying its best to make her hurl. I slowed down the best I could to diminish her stomach churning. We finally made it to the lake and made our way to the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain. Before starting our runs down the slide, we paused to let the wife's stomach to calm by stopping at the snack bar and dining on Hot Dogs and Chicken Strips.

I was hoping to take some pictures on my way down the slide and from the ski lift on the way up but I was a little disappointed to find out that cameras were not allowed on the slide so I only have one picture of the track. We bought five runs and headed for the slide.

Here is a view of the slide. For those who do not know what an Alpine Slide is, it is a track made of concrete or fiberglass. You ride down on a sled. The sled is equipped with wheels. Push forward on the handle and the wheels are lowered and you speed up. Pull back on the handle and the wheels go up allowing the skids to slow you down. You take a ski lift up to the top of the track and ride down. It gives you a bobsled like experience. This was our second try at Alpine Slides (This was the "J's" first time). Our first time was a year before our marriage, 1996, at Lutsen, Minnesota.

My first run was relatively slow so I could check out the course. It felt less stable in some of the turns then I remembered from Lutsen. A little history: We had an 8 run pass at Lutsen and on the seventh run, trying to go as fast as I could to catch up with the wife, came out of a curve too fast and managed to roll my sled. This resulted in a bloody raw patch on my forearm just above the elbow. 11 years later I still have the inch and a half diameter spot on my arm that won't tan. That changed on Saturday. The spot is now bigger. On my second of five runs, I managed to roll my sled. This time I scraped the forearm - roughly in the same spot as last time - one half inch wide and about 2 1/2 inches long. I also managed to make a two inch moon shaped skid mark on my bicep. YEAH!!! We finished all five of our runs. After each run we were breathless - it was like your breath was sucked out or maybe it was that you forgot to breathe on you way down. The slide was a hoot! The "J' agreed that the slide was great. At the end we were all dog tired. My arms felt like noodles from pushing the handle forward. I don't remember it being so difficult at Lutsen but I was 11 years younger and Big Bear is at almost 7,000 ft.

We finished our runs just in time as a High School class showed up and were getting ready to start their runs. We headed into town and stopped to walk the shops. The "J" bought a really cool "Cars" lunch box and the wife bought a "Life Is Good" sweatshirt. We stopped for some really good ice cream before getting back into the car.

I pulled out the atlas to look for an alternate way home that would bypass the detours. I decided to head north and take 18 west to Palmdale. This turned out tho be a good decision for the wife. The road out the north is a lot less twisty - turny and she had no problem. 18 West turned out to not be very scenic. I had thought it was another highway that went thought the mountains north of LA but it turned out to be a desert road instead.

When we reach Victorville, I missed a turn. As I continued on the road, I realized that something was wrong as the sun was in the wrong position. It should have been blinding me, instead it was on our left. We pulled over near Helendale to figure out where we were. We were on a part of historic Route 66 and we were heading NNE - in a direction totally opposite of what I wanted. We turned around and this is where we discovered something unexpected and wondrous - Elmer's Bottle Trees. On the side of Ol' Route 66 was a forest of bottle trees. Elmer had erected metal poles adorned with all sorts of bottles of all sorts of colors. On the top of each pole were strange, eclectic things like typewriters, toy guns, whirligigs, wheels, street signs, and more. We wandered through the forest, our eyes wide with wonder. It was simple, it was fun, it was quirky - all the thing we like. What a serendipitous find. We didn't see Elmer but we enjoyed his art and creativity. You can find pictures here.

We eventually made it home. We all agreed that we had a great day - a day full of fun and quirkiness. It is the unexpected paths that bring joy to your journey. Who would have thunk that the joy this day was in the shape of a Bottle Forrest.

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