Visit Gold Mountain Manor

Big Bear City has been a four-season mountain paradise ever since Southern California's largest gold rush way back in 1885, caused when William F. Holcomb was hunting and accidentally bagged gold.

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With only 21,000 permanent residents and numerous visitors, it's hard to believe that Big Bear is located only 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles, and yet, it is a world of difference.

Whether you come up the 6,574-foot elevation to where the air is crisp and clean for snow, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, or just enjoying the quaint shops and fresh air, Big Bear is the place to be. Their Department of Tourism certainly has their catch phrase nailed dead on: "It's cooler up here." Luckily, not everyone can live in Big Bear, so visitors can discover gold themselves by staying at the beautiful Gold Mountain Manor Bed and Breakfast. It's a welcomed slice of heaven with seven bedrooms spread around 6,000 square feet in a historic log mansion built in 1928 and gracefully set on an acre of Ponderosa Pine high in the mountains of Southern California.

Gold Mountain Manor is certainly no fool's gold.

Above: GMM's large stone front porch.
Below: Beautiful wild flowers bloom
around the Gold Mountain Manor.

Trish and Jim Gordon, the innkeepers and owners of Gold Mountain Manor, along with their two people friendly, furry, four-legged kids, Cappy and Mat, are there to make your stay romantic and relaxing. As you lead your pack mule or whatever up the steep, curving stone covered driveway, you will spy a gorgeous wood shake roofed log cabin that beckons you to visit, relax and want to come back again, and again.

The chunks of red granite that comprises the large wrap around front porch columns and house foundation, along with the well-oiled logs that were carefully erected into a three-story retreat take you back in time to when life was simpler. The feel of this lodge, with well-crafted antiques, hardwood floors, soft earth tones, and warm plaids, welcomes you to enjoy a cool glass of iced tea and laze away a summer afternoon watching the squirrels scamper to and fro as the intoxicating smell of pine needles wafts through the air.

The one acre grounds are very well landscaped and easily worth a meandering tour. Although a number of ponderosa pine trees were recently cleared away thanks (?) to bark beetle infestations, hollyhocks, irises, and daisies were in bloom as humming birds squeaked and danced in the air from flower to flower. Whether you want to crack the binding of that new book or find just the right place to be alone, you don't have to look too far: areas are amid the rustic swings, nestled on a hammock built for two, or out in the warm mountain sunshine on the white Adirondack chairs. Don't worry about the dreaded bark beetle, since there are still many towering ponderosa pine trees scattered among the lush green grass clearings. (Editor's note: the devastating 2003 fires spared Gold Mountain Manor, although some of those pines are now gone.)

Planning a large wedding, small picnic, or just stealing a little naptime? The expansive grounds at the Gold Mountain Manor are the perfect place for all of these options.

Above: The den, complete with pool table
and beautiful forest views.
Below: The living room with comfy couch,
piano and desk.

Indoors, it's much easier than breaking your back panning for gold to find a number of places amid the 6,000 square foot log cabin for relaxation and romance. Throughout, you will spy bird's eye maple floors and exposed beamed ceilings and numerous period antiques to cozy up to and nosh on a warm, freshly baked cookie, no matter what season of the year. In the living room, a Kimball player piano caught my eye and required further investigation after I read the guest books filled with lavish praises. Creaking wood floors, comfy overstuffed chairs and lodge décor invites guests to make ones self at home in what I'd certainly call "the real thing." Soak in the atmosphere, watch the large screen television, or test your luck on their antique nickel slot machine, but the large game room is perfect for relaxing after a day laboring in the gold mine, hiking, or skiing on the nearby slopes. Warm your bones by one of many real wood-burning fireplaces, either in the game room, your own suite, or in the antique filled living room.

In your room, therapeutic aromatherapy milk baths built for two are the perfect place to share a bottle of champagne with that special someone, as the bubbles float around your luxury suite. It's a guarantee that no matter where you go throughout the Gold Mountain Manor, a flock of charming antique bird houses or lit accent candles will easily be found. It's no rumor; some birdcages even have captive monkeys, so see if you can find them while soothing music is piped through hidden speakers in the public areas tantalizing your ears.

Above, left: The Cozy Goody Room. Above, right: The Pine Suite.

In our Cozy Pine Suite, we were quite pleased by our amenities. Cappy, one of the two friendly house dogs featured on the embroidered logo on our thick terrycloth robes that were tucked in the art deco English armoire, will certainly attest to the comfort of the large bear skin rug that warmed our feet as we emerged from under the warm flannel comforter piled atop the large four poster bed created from rustic pine branches.

I'm sure there's a story why a large stuffed chicken was guarding the room, as it was perched over the slip covered upholstered chair, but I somehow forgot to inquire the meaning from Trish or Jim. Hmm . . . maybe on my next visit? Anyway, marble topped bedside tables, wood branch accents such as mirror frames, light switch covers, or Levelor wood blinds, and the sounds of chirping birds and the warm glow of the morning sunshine through the eight inch glass blocks over the Jacuzzi tub are welcome perks that don't cost your entire fortune to enjoy as they warm your room each morning.

Above: Breakfast is served on the large wrap-around porch. Below: dinner is in the formal dining room, surrounding you with antiques.

The homemade morning vittles served on the sunny wraparound porch were a perfect beginning to a new day rising. Jim served us a first course of sliced cantaloupe, raspberries, and a dollop of yogurt accented with a sprig of fresh mint. In keeping with the rustic theme, orange juice was served from an antique milk bottle from their extensive collection. To top the first course—the main course was even better than a shot of red eye—homemade, fresh from the oven apple Danish to tempt your taste buds as the orange Belgium waffles topped with sliced bananas and banana syrup, and finely ground cinnamon were served with a smile. They weren't too sweet, but were an excellent start to a day of enjoying the cool mountain air. As the sun started to heat up the pine trees thereby making their pungent aroma waft throughout the entire mountaintop, we watched as storm clouds rolled in on this fine late August day.

Little did we know, hail was on the agenda for Mother Nature as she watched over the Gold Mountain Manor. As I plopped myself at the dining table located under the covered exterior porch to do my self required quota of work that I brought with me to counter the weekend of bliss, I watched with my newest hobbling, graying red friend, Mat, as a freak summer hail storm rolled in over the mountain.

Thunder cracked off in the distance as an extremely surreal 45 minute hail storm armed with gumball sized pellets rained down on the lawn, trees, roof and Garrett, my Indy Blue 2002 MINI Cooper.

My heart raced, as if I had discovered the mother load, but I thought, "It's no big deal, dude. I've just discovered gold at The Gold Mountain Manor. — Photos and feature by Donald & Kimberly Tatera, Southern California Jetsetters Magazine Correspondents. Read the Jetsetters Magazine feature about "Palm Spring's Eco Saafari Red Jeep Tours."

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