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I've been meaning for a while to drive to Big Bear Lake, but the car needed some downtime.  Turns out it performed better than I did in the 7100+ foot altitudes the road reached (well above where I've been before), in which I ended up wheezing and having a bastard of an ear-ache.  So basically my experience sucked, but a lot of what I got to see was awesome, and I managed to get some nice photos out of it.

Along the way, I kept missing crucial opportunities to stop and take photos, and then overcompensating by stopping at every single turnout for a while with minimal returns.  Once you get to the lake itself, the trick is to drive the clockwise circuit so that you have access to lakeside parking - something I'm sure anyone with any experience vacationing at lakes (as in, not me) would know already.  Since I wasn't actually vacationing, but just on a day trip to grab pictures, time was too short to make up for these missed opportunities by going back.

As I drove, I kept seeing the most awesome things, because the clouds were letting in broken sunlight, so some parts were dark and others light while the water in places was so placid it was a mirror reflecting the cumulus clouds.  If I wasn't in physical misery, I'm sure it would have been some kind of mystical experience.  Still, I'm happy enough with what I did manage to capture.  I can go back another time and get more.  The lake ain't going anywhere.

Anyway, here's some taken on the way there, via Routes 330 and 18:

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This one isn't really of anything, it just seemed like the angles and lighting were interesting:

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Some of these turnouts are terrifying to get back on the road from, because they happen right after a curve and you can't see other cars coming.  But it's a lot less of a headache once you get to the lake and can drive at normal speeds without all the pressure of assholes behind you making you have to turnout.  Part of the lake photos are from the part of Route 18 that passes on the South shore, and others are from the North shore - gotta say I found the North shore amazing.  I could spend all day on one little stretch of it.  Not quite sure I remember which is which though, because I was kind of operating on a sense of obligation at that point through a haze of exhaustion.  

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Some of the views from the North shore were magical, and only possible in partly-cloudy weather.  I wish I could go there often enough to get acclimated so I could explore it properly, but it's a 120 mile roundtrip drive and I'm definitely not in the same financial situation as the people on those boats.  But if you have the time and means, you'll want to go there and at very least drive the North shore.  That is some otherworldly shit, with a little of the same vibe I got from going to Yosemite a couple of years back, and the stuff I didn't photograph that deserves to be seen would fill volumes.  Granted, I was a bit loopy from the altitude, but then so will you be if you go and aren't some kind of alpinist.

Note of caution: I went on a Wednesday to minimize traffic, but it was still well-represented, so if you go on a weekend or a holiday, you might want to snort large quantities of ibuprofen powder as a preventive measure.

Originally posted to Troubadour on Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 06:12 PM PDT.

Also republished by National Parks and Wildlife Refuges.

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