The first time I went to Bear Mountain, it actually wasn’t where I was planning to go. This was years and years ago. My mom and I were heading off on a road trip, and forty-five minutes into our trip, we somehow ended up lost. In Bear Mountain. After going there this past weekend, I can’t imagine how it even happened. But I *do* remember it took us the better part of an hour to find our way back out. Ahh, good times.
Unfortunately, my streak continued. Clearly I have issues with Bear Mountain. And getting lost. Although, I swear to you, I rarely get lost. Losing things is a completely separate topic as, I’m sad to say, friends and family can report. Anyway. Sarah and I planned a Bear Mountain meet-up with the kids ages ago. As the day got closer and closer, our details became more and more concrete. A picnic. A menu. She brings this. I bring that. We spend the day in the sun, letting the kids run around and get all their crazies out, without spending much scratch.
So the morning was a little crazy. We finally arrive at Bear Mountain and I blithely follow the signs. Up. Up. Up. Up some more. The kids fast asleep in the car. I gasped at every turn. For two reasons. One. The view is absolutely, positively stunning. Breathtaking. Like if you happen to live within a reasonable driving distance, you should go. Picnic. Hike. Invent a reason and just go. And be sure to drive to the top of the mountain to get the full effect. And then there is the second reason. Wow, is it ever scary driving near the edge of a cliff. On a narrow road. With nary a guard rail in sight. I got out a few times and took pictures and the last time, Nick woke up. “Oh my gosh, this is so scary.” Kid, you ain’t kidding. I tend to be a little paranoid about a few things, and I have since added accidentally driving over a cliff to the list. I mean, you *did* hear what happened to Heidi Montag’s famed plastic surgeon, right? Of course, he was texting while driving, but still.
So we’re at the top of the mountain, and there are only a handful of cars. No carousel. No zoo. No big lake. No picnic area to speak of. And definitely no Sarah. I don’t get it. All I did was follow the signs for Bear Mountain. I asked a nearby couple, who very thoughtfully shared their map, what I did wrong and they pointed down below. That’s where you need to be, they said. Oh.
At this point, Sarah is texting me, telling me she’s in the ‘hood. And parked. By the carousel. Clearly, she has done this before. Fine then. So back in the car, and now we go down. Down. Down the mountain. (As a side note, if you go for just the zoo or the carousel or what have you, do make the same mistake I did and first go to the top of the mountain. If for nothing else, the view. Please).
I found my way to where I was actually supposed to be and we park the car and begin unloading. Picnic blanket. Cooler full of homecooked food. Soccer ball for the boys. Soccer ball for the girls. Camera. BlackBerry. Next time, I will remember music.
We had divvied up the food, and I made the sandwiches for the grown-ups, making a riff of these overstuffed sandwiches, this time with a homemade tapenade on it as well. I also brought fresh-squeezed lemonade and cut-up fruit for the kids. Sarah took care of our salad, an awesome dip which I am SO making this weekend, and sandwiches for the kids. I had so many things to try and remember, I was sure I was going to forget something. And I did. Cups so we could drink the lemonade. But I MacGyver’d a way around it, and used the kids juice boxes, snipped the top, saved the juice in a bowl, and we drank from that. Hey, I’m good thinking on my feet.
The run-down for our afternoon of fun?
Parking at Bear Mountain: $8
Endless carousel rides: a buck a pop
Soda for those of us that were dying for a caffeine fix: $2
An afternoon of fun with the kids without breaking a twenty: priceless
And one tip before I leave you with our photo recap? Don’t use the bathrooms near the parking lot (the ones that are by themselves). Instead, use the ones that are inside with the carousel. They seem to be a well-kept secret, are normal bathrooms and soooo much cleaner. ‘Nuff said.
And now the photos.
Maddie saw this pair of Newfys walking by and came running to tell me about “the gorillas.”
When the kids spied this young and innocent couple with their dog, we lost them for a good 30-45 minutes. And the couple quickly gained four kids, rapt with attention at their every move.
People with kites, the poor things, were also big hits with the kids, as they chased after tail after tail after tail.