Wrightwood – A Small Mountain Town in Southern California
The beautiful home stretch of Lone Pine Canyon Road en route to the small, mountain town of Wrightwood, California was about where my Gipsy Kings Pandora radio discontinued service. There’s something magical in the loss of Internet connection. There’s the possibility to connect with much more important things – nature, people, culture. As much as I was enjoying the Spanish guitar sounds against the gentle slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains and the desert terrain, I was excited for the possibility.
Upon arriving to Wrightwood, population of 5,000 at an elevation of 5,935 feet, we were hungry. The hour and a half drive from Los Angeles worked up an afternoon appetite. Our first stop was Grizzly Café, which doubled as a shop. It was the kind of shop you would expect in a small, country town. There were odds and ends with Biblical verses and cutesy owls and floral patterns printed on tea towels. There were even small bouquets of dried lavender, which I purposely inhaled as I passed. Stop and smell the lavender, you know? So much better than roses, in my humble opinion.
The café was busy. We had to wait a short, fifteen minutes for a table for two. My stomach protested but my curiosity certainly did not. A sucker for a swing, I moseyed my way to the porch just outside the entrance to sit on one of two securely hung from the building’s log beams.
People Watching – One of my Favorite Pastimes
This town certainly didn’t lack in the people-watching department as I enjoyed a gentle swing in the shade. From bikers to hikers to locals to skaters to a young, black man proudly sporting his, “Make America great again,” baseball cap, the possibilities were endless. A plethora of Harley Davidson motorcycles were parked in the lot, awaiting their hungry owners as the scent of breakfast wafted on to the porch.
Dining at The Grizzly Cafe in Wrightwood
“Linds, party of two!” Yes!
The eclectic gifts from the adjoining shop made their way to the dining room apparently. I couldn’t get over the bear salt-and-pepper shaker holder. I thought it was one of the cutest things ever, so much so that I needed a picture. A giant moose head above the kitchen moved its eyes and head electronically and snow shoes donned the wall above a stone fireplace. A group of Ukrainian Harley Davidson enthusiasts talked boisterously in their language at a large table a few feet away.
For an appetizer, we ordered some of the best fried zucchini I’d ever had with ranch dipping sauce. My entrée came with a delicious mixed green salad with Italian dressing. I ordered shrimp linguini that came with a large piece of yummy garlic bread. I was too full to even finish by the time it arrived. Unfortunately, I think my shrimp was cooked in a pan that had fried bacon remnants. I could taste a hint of pork. As a pescetarian, this was disappointing. The kind waitress offered to cook another plate, but I’m not high maintenance. I politely declined.
Antiques and more Oddities
After lunch, we stopped off at Pharmacy Boardshop. They were having a sidewalk-clothing sale with racks of steeply discounted RVCA tops and fifteen-dollar denim that drew in the younger crowd. We then made our way to the antique shops packed full of overpriced junk that is probably someone else’s treasure but fun to peruse, nonetheless. Antiquing was something my dear mama loved to do, so I enjoy it whether or not I find something to take home.
The basement of Vintage Antiques & Oddities had a framed painting of an old woman staring at me with a wide-eyed, semi creepy gaze. I asked myself who would buy that and hang it in their home, guests constantly asking, “Who’s that?” Aside from that logic, I don’t want a disturbing, looking stranger staring at me everyday. As I write this, I look up at my living room wall of antiques and oddities and I see a couple of pieces that may very well end up in the basement of an antique shop one day.
After shuffling through vintage glassware, movies on laser disk, and used books displayed in a room that used to be a bathroom (hence the toilet in the corner behind an old, wooden chair), I made my way outside in an attempt to even out the farmer’s tan I inadvertently got on last weekend’s camping trip. I wore my Yerse dress to give my legs some Vitamin D even though I knew there was a chance we may hike.
I sat on a bench beneath an awesome contiguous United States map made out of old license plates from each state. This was my favorite part of the antique store. I’m a map nerd and I love globes. I used to study Thomas guides and today, Google Maps can steal my attention for quite awhile. The day I found out that Google Maps has a “traffic” option was life altering. Inside the antique shop, I actually got excited over a very old Rand McNally map. When I say very old, I mean the pages were falling apart.
Thirsty in Wrightwood
The mountain sun proved to be quite strong and I became thirsty. A sign for Italian ice and sodas drew me in. The Cedar Lodge had a quaint little café inside where a friendly, older woman made me a raspberry Italian soda. I enjoyed my beverage on the shaded porch. Solo hikers and groups passed by with their hiking poles and overly stuffed backpacks, looking worn out and in need of a shower or two. After our refreshments, I decided that hiking was out of the question due to lethargy.
My trip to Wrightwood, California concluded with an unplanned visit to Veterans Memorial Park, which seemed appropriate being that it’s Memorial Day Weekend. Sitting at a bench as the midday sun slowly moved across a cloudless, deep blue sky, I thought of my grandpas who both served. I thought about the freedoms and the pleasures that we Americans have. To say I’m grateful would be an understatement. Regardless of politics and the current state of affairs, I am fortunate to live in a country where I can sit in a community park without the fear of a bomb being dropped on me. To the gentleman I saw at Grizzly Café, America was great before your hat became a thing. You walking around in that hat prove, to some degree, just how great it is. Happy Memorial Day folks, near and far! Be safe and enjoy.