November 24, 2015

Films, Swag at Cave Winter Kickoff

Get psyched for snow when The Cave Big Bear hosts its third annual Winter Kickoff Party featuring movies, music and giveaways on Saturday, November 28.

There’s no homage to Ulr but there will be movie showings including Warren Miller’s “Chasing Shadows.” The 66th film from the legendary filmmaker stars JT Holmes, Seth Wescott, Caroline Gleich, Steven Nyman, Marcus Caston and others as top skiers and snowboarders chase neck-deep powder, perfect lines and cliff drops. While ripping the most spectacular mountains in the world: Chamonix, Alaska’s Chugach, the Chilean Andes, Utah’s Wasatch and the mighty Himalayas.

The Cave will also be showing 686’s “686 Seconds.” What started as a way to fill 686 seconds eventually became a full length 36 minute film shot on the streets and mountains of the United States, Canada, France, Austria, Russia and Japan by the 686 team including three Big Bear riders, Ryan Tarbell. Melissa Evans and Mike Gray. Other riders are Riley Nickerson, Ian Hart, Austin Young, John Murphy, Mike Wainhouse and other heavy hitting snowboarders.

Doors open at 5 p.m. for the event at 6 featuring autographs, giveaways, swag, DJ, photo booth and food and drink specials. General admission is $15, 12 and under and Big Bear Mountain Resorts employees $10. Call The Cave Big Bear at (909) 878-0204.

November 20, 2015

Nelson Family Christmas with Ozzie, Ricky, Twins

Three generations of number one songs earns them a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. But it’s three generations of holiday memories that Nelson brothers Gunnar and Matthew share at The Cave Big Bear one night only November 21.

Christmas with the Nelson twins Matthew and Gunnar“Christmas with the Nelsons” is the kind of holiday you might have celebrated...if your grandfather was Ozzie Nelson of “Ozzie and Harriet” show fame. And if your dad was renowned rock and roller Ricky Nelson. Such was the case for twins Gunnar and Matthew, and they take audiences down memory lane celebrating Christmas’ past through songs, stories and videos in a heartwarming multimedia presentation. Tickets start at just $25.

The brothers have put their own stamp on the musical world—when “(I Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection” reached the top spot in the charts in 1990, it marked the first time three generations of one family had #1 hits. From country music to rock, thrilling audiences worldwide with their high-integrity “Ricky Nelson Remembered” show, the Nelson brothers have stuck together as family.

Which is what their Christmas production is all about. While it’s the second year they’ve done the holiday show, this time it’s backed with a full album of holiday music, “This Christmas,” set for release the day before The Cave show on Nov. 20. There’s 13 songs recorded over a two-year period, with another 13 to be released as a second volume next year.

“We’re hoping for a Grammy nomination,” Gunnar said in a phone interview. “It’s kind of like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young do Christmas. This is not some sort of cash grab—it’s an art project, put together with a lot of love. It’s our best record work to date.

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November 13, 2015

CATS `Christmas Carol' a Family Affair

When Community Arts Theater Society reprises its holiday classic A Christmas Carol for 11 shows in November, it does so with a cast of mostly homegrown talent.

Scrooge and Ghost Present in A Christmas CarolThe kid who played Tiny Tim the last time CATS presented this show in 2011 now gets a grown-up role as young Scrooge. This Tiny Tim is Joshua, the  real-life son of longtime CATS veteran Joe Sellarole appearing as Bob Cratchit. The towering Ghost of Christmas Future was once one of the charming Clock Sprites; now Evie Nootenboom struts confidently on stilts though she gets no lines.

Even Scrooge got his start with CATS, as Adam McDonald was a mere tyke himself playing Rolf in The Sound of Music, leaving the mountain for several years playing in productions of Jekyll & Hyde, Pippin, The Secret Garden, The Sound of Music, The Wiz and Guys and Dolls. After returning to town he’s been in CATS shows like Broadway Broads of Big Bear, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music.

In baseball they call it having a good farm system. For theater-goers it makes for great entertainment during 7:30 p.m. shows at the Performing Arts Center on Nov. 13-14, 18, 20-21, 24 and 27-28 along with 1:30 p.m. Sunday matinees Nov. 15, 22 and 29. No matter how many times you’ve seen the holiday classic, chances are you’ve never seen it quite like this.

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Big Bear Snow Play Opens for Inner Tubing Nov. 7

Winter recreation returns to Big Bear Lake Saturday, November 7 as Big Bear Snow Play opens for family inner tubing with three full-length runs and base depths of at least three feet of snow or more.

The recent storm and two nights of snowmaking have made for excellent opening day coverage on freshly groomed slopes, and the extended forecast calls for continued favorable conditions to make snow. It’s looking like a winter wonderland at Big Bear Snow Play thanks to its powerful Lenko fan guns, and as snowmaking continues the area will eventually have over 20 feet of snow piled high on up to eight runs, enough for tubing till Easter and beyond, whether the forecasted El Nino delivers or not.

Big Bear Snow Play, once a ski area known as Rebel Ridge, offers worldclass inner tubing on the longest runs in Southern California. As the guns continue to blast jet streams of snow Big Bear Snow Play will build special features like whoop-di-doos and berms in addition to its traditional downhill runs. For the first time ever in its storied history longtime family favorite Big Bear Snow Play will open for night tubing Fridays, Saturdays and holiday periods from 5-9 p.m. beginning Thanksgiving weekend.

Guests never have to walk uphill for their downhill fun. Big Bear Snow Play has two Magic Carpet uphill lifts that families merely step on and off of. No uphill climb to tire parents and kids out means they save all their energy for downhill fun and get in as many runs as they want. One of the Carpets is even enclosed in Plexiglass for those snowy, chilly days.

Snowcats groom nightly to ensure the best possible conditions for guests, who enjoy evenly-spread corduroy as part of their ski resort-quality tubing experience. There’s also a separate kiddie area for the youngest riders. When it’s time for a winter warm-up, head inside the heated base lodge for family-priced snack bar and video games.

Big Bear Snow Play is now open daily for inner tubing from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. All-day passes include tube rental and Magic Carpet lift for $30. New night sessions Fridays, Saturdays and holiday periods from 5-9 p.m. cost $25. Guests are free to come and go as they want or bring their own lunch and there’s plenty of paved parking.

Big Bear Snow Play is on Big Bear Blvd. next to Motel 6. Call (909) 585-0075.

November 2, 2015

Awesome Zeppelin, Eagles Tributes at Cave

Terrific Led Zeppelin and Eagles tributes round out a full November lineup at The Cave where every seat is front and center.

ZEPPELIN USA returns Nov. 7 to The Cave in a must-see show. When the group presented their ultimate tribute to the ultimate rock band in July the show was so good the band has been rebooked by the second song! The band’s attention to musical detail is incredible, with special recognition of the famous guitar riffs and haunting vocals Zeppelin is famous for.

This isn’t a band that dresses the part. rather it’s a group of musicians who let their talents do the talking in putting on a great show that has its own touches. Like breaking out into Van Halen music or playing to the audience. "Kashmir "is a particular highlight along with "Stairway to Heaven." Tickets start at $20.

Then on Friday, Nov. 27 right after "Christmas in the Village" The Cave welcomes back DESPERADO playing the music of The Eagles. The premier Eagles tribute band has played Las Vegas including Fremont Street Experience and the Peppermill Casino in Reno, presenting the supergroup’s many hits plus lesser-known songs with worldclass guitar work, solid rhythm section and vocals.

Opening is Mountain Top Strings under the direction of Sharon Rizzo. Toys for Tots will be collecting donations and in lieu of ticket purchase, guests can bring an unwrapped toy. Otherwise tickets are $15. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and all shows begin at 7:30.

The Cave; 40789 Village Dr. (909) 878-0204 or

October 30, 2015

Same Ski Resorts but `Mammoth' Changes in Motion

Gone is the personal artwork, like the portrait of Snow Summit founder Tommi Tyndall as a small boy in Czechoslovakia.

This is Dave Likens’ office now, and while he sits in the same space that for many years was Dick Kun’s domain, and even shares the same job description with him—Big Bear Mountain Resorts president—Likens and by extension Mammoth Resorts are putting their own stamp on the Southland’s two best ski areas, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain..

Likens’ window, the same one Kun observed Snow Summit operations from for decades, still peers out on the base area, but now it delivers a different picture. Where the kiddie area used to be, right below the East Mountain Express, a stage is going in that will host two separate winter concert series. And underneath the chairlift will be inner tubing, something Kun would never have gone for.

Changes big and small are coming to Snow Summit and Bear Mountain and, it turns out, some of the rumors floating around since Mammoth announced last year that it was purchasing the resorts are true. Mammoth really does want to connect the two resorts by a lift system, eliminating the need to shuttle guests back and forth. Grand hotels, the likes of which Mammoth already has around its decade-plus-old Village, are on the table. How much of this actually comes to fruition is yet to be seen, but one thing is certain: Mammoth dreams as big as Tyndall did when he first looked up at a Big Bear mountainside in 1952 in arid Southern California and saw a ski resort.

While the deal was announced in September 2014, Mammoth didn’t finally acquire the resorts till March. "We spent last year looking and observing," Likens said. "What we learned is that we can create a phenomenal on-hill experience, one that is significantly insulated from the weather, with snowmaking that is worldclass with the equipment, experience and access to water."

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October 21, 2015

Country Star Deana Carter at The Cave

Country superstar Deana Carter brings her talents to The Cave Big Bear one night only on Saturday, October 24, 2015.

Carter’s concert has been eagerly anticipated for a year now as the multiple Grammy-nominated singer performs just feet away from the audience, making for the most amazing selfies. She’s had three number one hits including "Strawberry Wine" and her debut album Did I Shave My legs for This? sold over five million copies, thrusting her onto the country scene. Some 14 hits later, including Grammy-nominated "We Danced Anyway" and "How Do I Get There" plus other Top 20 tunes, prove her career is still in full gear, even after taking a pause for parenting duties.

Evidenced by the tune "You and Tequila" recorded by Kenny Chesney which received Grammy and Country Music Association nominations for Best Song. The latest release by Carter, daughter of late famed studio guitarist and producer Fred Carter Jr.

"Southern Way of Life," has been well received, reflecting her unique country approach on tunes like "I’ll Save My Love For You" but also sprinkled with retro-rock at times with an 80’s sound a la Blondie or The Cars. like on "You Can’t Stay." Tickets start at $30.

ZEPPELIN USA returns to The Cave by popular demand with its show on Saturday, November 7. When the group presented the ultimate tribute to the ultimate rock band in July the show was so good the band has been rebooked by the second song! The attention to musical detail is incredible, with special attention to the famous guitar riffs and haunting vocals Zeppelin is famous for. The show is just part of a great November 2015 at The Cave Big Bear that also includes "Christmas with the Nelsons," Eagles tribute, Winter Kickoff Party featuring Warren Miller's latest movie, and more.

The Cave Big Bear; 40789 Village Dr. (909) 878-0204 or


October 16, 2015

Sweet Kraut, Cabbage at Barnstorm Restaurant

Sauerkraut that’s sweet, not sour. Red cabbage people actually eat, not something to just add color to the plate and then to be sent back to the kitchen.

Jaeger schnitzel at Barnstorm RestaurantBarnstorm Restaurant sees German food differently. It’s not just something to slap on the menu during Big Bear Oktoberfest when people have brats and beer on their minds. Rather, sausages and schnitzel are on the menu year-round, often appearing as weekend specials, and are served at lunch too.

Owner Renee Wagner was born and raised in Germany, coming to the United States when she was 16, and all of the German specialties served at the Barnstorm harken back directly to her mom’s recipes. Whether’s it’s schnitzel pounded out by hand or luscious potato pancakes offered traditional-style with sour cream and apple sauce on the side, these are not run-of-the-mill German dishes to be sure.

Case in point: sauerkraut. Cooked eight hours with a hammock, apple, onions and caraway seeds, it’s not the bitter stuff straight from a can that many people associate with sauerkraut and immediately pass on. This is more like sweetkraut, exploding with flavor. without the tart taste

And when was the last time you actually ate the red cabbage that came with a German entree? Don’t make a similar mistake by passing on Barnstorm’s, which is combined with onion, a touch of lemon and bacon and even sugar to create a sweet taste sensation that’s almost dessert-like.

"It’s important to start with fresh red cabbage," Wagner said.

Jaeger schnitzel is a favorite, starring a generous sauteed pork cutlet smothered with creamy mushroom sauce featuring ham pieces and spices. Emphasis on the mushrooms—there was a garden’s worth on mine during a recent visit. The sauce is especially savory and teams well with the tender cutlet. Knusper schnitzel is also on the menu, breaded pork cutlet sauted and topped with a cooked-to-order egg.

Barnstorm feels like a quaint, cozy French cafe affording great airport views but on our visit the mood was strictly German, and not just because it serves the best saurerkraut around. Renee is a Rotarian volunteer at Oktoberfest and was decked out in a dirndl, and also dining was Norm Reinik and his wife Linda.

All that German wasn’t enough to convince wife Sandy to sway from trying a new dish listed among the dinner specials Our server egged her on with a description of beef cutlets grilled to taste with roasted garlic sauce. The strips arrived rare to her liking with a flavor-packed sauce that had just a touch of red pepper pop.

Barnstorm does a lot of things well besides German. Dinner menu alone is two full pages long from appetizer start featuring baked brie, spinach artichoke dip with homemade chips to Maryland blue crab cakes, moist and full of flavor, to chocolate thunder dessert finish. In between there’s steak, seafood, chicken and Italian specialties, amazing selection for a restaurant this size.

Open daily for breakfast and lunch—with another four pages of menu of blintzes and crepes, burgers and deli sandwiches!—and Friday, Saturday and Sunday for dinner, Barnstorm has terrific accompaniments. Signature green beans are to-die-for, exquisitely seasoned. Each dinner begins with fresh veggies along with Barnstorm’s baguettes served with seasoned butter. Saturdays there’s live music, currently the piano artistry of Mike Cross before Art Harriman returns for winter..

—by Marcus Dietz

Barnstorm Restaurant is in the airport terminal at 501 W. Valley Blvd. in Big Bear City. Call (909) 585-9339.