The change of scenery was most welcomed as we headed into the hills, which quickly became mountains as we road down California Highway 247 towards Big Bear City and Big Bear Lake. Unbeknown to us, because we didn't check the weather on route or more importantly the route altitude we found ourselves in 34 degrees (freezing is 32!) and a snow blizzard, which rather unkindly turned into hail-stones (sleet). Hail-Stones don't really go well with open-face motorcycle helmets. It's pure torture, like someone stabbing you in the face with a meat skewer several times a second! Eventually I had to stop due to showing early signs of the onset of hypothermia, and put my waterproofs on. Jon being the real road warrior battled on in jeans and a t-shirt and thin summer jacket, laughing at the crazy diverse American weather patterns in the space of just 50 miles!
After miles of really scary riding through the rain on downhill switch back mountain roads, stopping every half mile to clean our glasses because we just couldn't see the road we came out the other side and like an oasis in a icy cold desert we could make out San Bernadino in the distance. As the altitude dropped our spirits rose as did the temperature. Before long we were at yet another Best Western Motel, unpacking the bikes and defrosting with the help of our trusty bottle of rum (which we carry purely for medicinal purposes) swigged straight from the bottle 'Pirate Style' - we had survived, but most importantly we had learnt a valuable lesson in that you must always assess and understand the weather and terrain you plan to ride in this beautiful country.