Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Loving The Loveless Cafe

 While on the trip home from our wedding in 2009 I was to pick up a tourist magazine in Nashville that would effect all future visits to the area. This magazine listed ten things I needed to do before I left town. The entry that caught my eye was for a place called the Loveless café. It was nearing dinnertime and we decided to seek it out and see for ourselves if it would make our own cut of top ten things to do in Nashville. It more than qualified. It became a highlight of our trip home and we knew we would always include a stop there on any future trip through Nashville

The Loveless Cafe
      We arrived at the café and I was immediately intrigued and charmed. I could tell right away this was not just any restaurant. It was a village of sorts, a compound really, including shops full of trinkets, works of art and a large line of Loveless café brand food products and souvenirs. I was told that prior to fifteen years ago these buildings were the Loveless café’s hotel rooms and I thought it looked like a place I would have enjoyed staying, had I only known. The building that housed the café was an old home and each room has been transformed into a comfortable cheery dining area. The lobby walls are covered with photos of celebrity patrons who just like us had visited the Loveless café and fallen in love. 

On this trip we returned to visit, enjoy brunch and stock up on some of the famous loveless café preserves. We arrived about twenty minutes after every church service in the area ended. The hungry congregations had flocked to the Loveless as well and swarmed the hostess podium like bees around a hive. We opted to take out our breakfast and enjoy it, and the beautiful day on one of the picnic tables scattered throughout the property. 

The omelets and home made biscuits were as good as we remembered served with three kinds of preserves and hot coffee. Sadly, the creator of the iconic Loveless biscuit Ms. Carol Fay Ellison has passed away but, she has left a legacy that will be shared by generations to come. 

When we visit the Loveless Cafe we feel as if we are visiting the home of a good friend. I was especially impressed with the staff who made us feel welcome despite the Sunday crowds. I can’t wait to stop there again on our return trip.
The cafes famous biscuits and preserves

Monday, October 3, 2011

Lake Arrowhead And Big Bear: Playing In Our Own Backyard

Kilometers are shorter than miles. Save gas, take your next trip in kilometers ~George Carlin  

 I’ve always heard people speak of Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear as a playground for the Los Angeles outdoor set. In all our time here we had never taken the opportunity to explore these iconic mountaintop resort areas. When I did my trip research I found out that the area had been home to the Serrano Indians over 2000 years ago and that Ben Wilson of Mt Wilson fame had found his way here in the 1840's. I realized that we were living within a couple of hours of both resorts. When Californians tell you that on any given day they can ski in the morning and surf in evening they are not exaggerating. Within a three hour period one can descend from Snow Valley resort and arrive at Santa Monica pier to play in the waves and sip a fruity cocktail on the beach.

   We decided to take a day trip up to Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear to see these legendary California landmarks for ourselves. Just off the 210 freeway near Fontana we turned north and headed up the I30 highway. As we climbed up through the San Bernardino Forest we were treated to fantastic far reaching views. The haze muted the colors of the mountains making them seem ethereal and almost magical. The winding road continued and finally we were led to the turnoff for Lake Arrowhead village.

     The parking area was surrounded by shops and looked a bit like the typical ski villages that spring up in resort towns to service the après ski crowd. Just beyond the shops we found the lake. It appeared before us, a real life 1950’s post card extolling the joys of a summer on the lake. 

     We were surprised to learn that this lake is privately owned and for use by residents only.We walked along the lakeside enjoying the ducks and geese who, apparently had not read the rules and have made Lake Arrowhead their home. We spent about an hour exploring before we continued on to Big Bear Lake.

   As we entered Big Bear we were greeted by a beautiful blue lake. We parked and took a moment to soak in the peace and tranquility of our surroundings. The lake is well used and bustling with activity.We chatted with a couple ready to take off on a kayak trip. They had been enjoying Big Bear for decades and gave us insights on the area and shared a few restaurant tips with us. The town is fairly simple to navigate, as it hugs the lake. There is a town center filled with tourist shops, restaurants and lodging options. It's possible to rent all manner of water sport equipment on site, making a getaway to the lake very easy to plan.

We stopped for lunch at a local brew pub where both the beer and the food were just below average. Usually brew pubs have great food so we were a bit disappointed.The rather lackluster meal was followed by a wonderful surprise. We came upon a local craft fair right along the lakeside and I spent some time browsing and meeting the artists, finally deciding  on a blown glass oil lamp as a souvenir of our day in the mountains.

     So often we feel that every trip must involve copious lists, over packing and endless details. It’s nice to know that a beautiful road trip can simply involve jumping in the car with very little and making  wonderful memories right in your own back yard.