The LA sun tends to beat down on me in a way that is often welcoming but sometimes overwhelming. As an East Coast native, I get tired of the sun and miss the occasional rain or thunderstorm (or God forbid -- snow!!). I decided to take a few friends and runaway to the mountains for a fall-foliage weekend of camping and binge-eating by the fire. I secured our group of 6 a spot next to Big Bear Lake at Serrano Campground, a mere 2.5 hour drive from the city.

The campground is a stones throw away from the glistening water of Big Bear Lake, making it the perfect location for afternoon walks along the water and a huge draw for the fishing crowds. We could even walk up to the Big Bear Solar Observatory, which was built there in the 60s for optimum views thanks to the sky clarity/minimum pollution of the area. We spent much of our day lounging around, eating food, and making Glühwein -- my magical spiced mulled wine treat that I pull out every year with utmost fervor. 

Sunday morning we ate pancakes, packed our camp up, and raced down the road for Big Bear's Oktoberfest -- one of the largest Oktoberfest's in California. Big Bear's sister city is Abtenau, Austria, which is clear from the occasional Austrian themed half-timbered buildings and small cottages tucked throughout the surrounding mountains. I had never been to an Oktoberfest before, and let me tell you it is FUN. The beer is fantastic, but there's really so much more than that. They had German bands parading around in lederhosen, incredible food, competitions, and even a mechanical bull. It was a marvelous afternoon sipping on ales and watching old couples dance around in their garb. If you plan to go camping in Big Bear, I highly suggest making the trip during Oktoberfest for the best pairing imaginable.

The drive home back down to sea-level was dramatic and jaw-dropping. The leaves were beginning to change color, but the sun was peeking through the clouds, drowning us in warm rays all the way home.