When the temperature drops, things just seem to have a way of getting cooler. To capture the best that this chilly (at least chilly for Southern California standards) season has to offer, we bring you our annual WINTER GUIDE, an essential roundup of ideas, suggestions and activities that are outside the box and as cool as . . . you know. Naturally, skiing and snowboarding easily come to mind, but it’s nice to know that there are things to do that involve ice and frozen stuff that don’t involve getting slush in your shorts. From pub crawls—nothing keeps you warm like good old-fashioned liquor—to sexy things to do with an ice cube, from traipsing through Lake Arrowhead Village to freezing your asteroid off to go stargazing in Joshua Tree, we’ve got the perfect recipe to chill out.
ON THE ROCKS
Just because some of the major family-orientated holidays occur during this season, this shouldn’t mean you have to kick spending time with your friends to the curb. Sorry, but it’s time to take a break from the kids, husbands, wives, grandma and grandpa . . . and sorry, mom, you, too. Time to abolish the friend boycott and spend some time curled up to a nice drink or five. It’s a pub crawl, folks! Grab your buds or your gal pals and take a hike to Claremont’s downtown area for some ice-cold drinks. Cool down at Hotel Casa 425 with a nice mojito or a margarita on the rocks—all from the comfort of an outdoor living room with the stars overhead, comfy sofas and a college/hipster/artsy crowd vibe to set the tone for the evening. Oh, and I highly recommend the garlic herb fries. But if lounging isn’t your crew’s thing, walk on over to The Press for a chilled martini or iced cocktail. With more of a bar atmosphere, The Press always has a drink of the day and a pretty good list of mixed drinks on the rocks, and from all cultures, too; from the Brazilian caipirinha, a national drink made from sugar, lime and cachaca, to the Argentinean tincho, a wine cocktail made with Valentin Bianchi’s New Age and a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Malvasia Bianca . . . yes, that’s right, wine on the rocks. Cheers! (Lynn Lieu)
FREEZING POINT: The ice in your glass.
COOL PLACES: Hotel Casa 425, 425 W. First St., Claremont, (909) 624-2272; www.casa425.com. The Press Restaurant, 129 Harvard Ave., Claremont, (909) 625-4808; www.thepressrestaurant.com.
Gold panning is an offbeat excuse for a hike into the great outdoors and a chance to live some California history—with the added bonus of a (very remote) possibility of making some moolah from what you find. While Cali’s best gold panning is probably in, yes, Gold Country (in the Sierra Nevada and northern part of the state), the IE was also a Gold Rush destination in the 1840s and ’50s and there’s still some shiny stuff in them thar hills. The Applewhite Campground in Lytle Creek (just north of Mt. Baldy), is a perfect jumping-off point for panning in rugged canyons where gold fever once reigned. Winter can be a good time to go, with fewer folks around and the creeks running high. But know what you’re doing and get properly kitted-out before you go. The Temecula-based Gold Prospectors Association of America (www.goldprospectors.org) is a, ahem, mine of information for wannabe panners. Also in Temecula, American Prospector Treasure Seeker ( HYPERLINK "http://www.aptsgold.com" www.aptsgold.com) offers panning lessons and supplies. And there’s a golden opportunity to sample the prospector scene this very weekend, at the Gold & Treasure Show at the Pomona Fairplex, with demonstrations, lectures, equipment for sale and even a gold-panning contest. (Paul Rogers)
FREEZING POINT: Ice-cold water up to—or over—your boots.
COOL PLACES: Applewhite Campground on the North Fork of Lytle Creek. Take the Sierra Avenue exit off I-15 and go five miles north on Lytle Creek Road. $15/night; no reservations. Gold and Treasure Show, Pomona Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave. Building 6; Sat-Sun, Jan. 22-23. 10AM–5PM (Sat), 10AM–4PM (Sun). Admission is $5 for adults, free for kids 12 and under.
As long as we’re talking about icy cool activities (and no, not of the Cool as Ice variety—“Drop that zero and get with the hero,” remember that old gem?), we’d be remiss to forget about our very own Ontario Reign, right in the midst of their 2010-11 season. The Reign—formerly the Texas Wildcatters, formerly the Huntington Blizzard—recently acquired Utah Grizzlies defenseman Jason Fredricks in a trade (he bumps the number of Americans on the predominantly-Canadian team up to a whopping eight out of 23), so if you want to see some new blood on the ice, hurry over to Citizens Business Bank Arena before April 2, the final home game of the season. Fredricks has already proved his worth to the Reign, pulling off what was called a “fluke goal” in last week’s game against the Alaska Aces, one that tied the game and led to the team’s eventual 3-2 victory (a victory that the L.A. Kings’ affiliate needed pretty badly after suffering through a string of six consecutive losses since their Dec. 28 win over the Victoria Salmon Kings). (Tyler Davidson)
FREEZING POINT: Ice on the rink. Ice for the team’s concussions.
COOL PLACE: Citizens Business Bank Arena, 4000 E. Ontario Center Pkwy., Ontario, (909) 244-5500; www.cbbankarena.com, www.ontarioreign.com.
WAKE AND LAKE!
Lake Arrowhead is the place that’ll keep even us inlanders singing, “I’m on a boat,” or at the very least on a paddleboat, but that’s chill. The calm and cool backdrop of the San Bernardino National Forest makes Lake Arrowhead the perfect place to simply take in the scenery or have yourself a genuine open-aired, outdoor adventure. Swiss chalets play host to Arrowhead’s Winterfest, which features ice carving and photography contests, Arrowhead’s own live concert series and unadulterated fun in the snow. It’s enough to make even Henry Thoreau bounce out of Walden and make his way down to Lake Arrowhead to try his hand at making snow angels. (John A. Waterman)
FREEZING POINT: Lake Arrowhead Winterfest, February 18–21.
COOL PLACE: Lake Arrowhead Village, 28200 Highway 189, Lake Arrowhead, (909) 337-2533; www.lakearrowheadvillage.com.
BOLDLY GOING WHERE GEEKY MEN HAVE GONE BEFORE
The Eaton Science Fiction Conference is the cure all for the winter blues as far as serious geekdom is concerned. No more scrambling to find tickets for the Comic-Con, not when the chilly sarcasm of literary sci-fi legend Harlan Ellison has equal star power to amp up a roomful of adoring geeks, he who introduced death with the mournful “Edith Keeler must die!” Of course, there is a certain sex appeal in alternate universes, as in China Mieville, where steely blue eyes and an Englishman’s demeanor sends shivers of orgasmic delight down any heterosexual female’s spine (and certain males for that matter). If this three-day ode to speculative fiction does not get the creative juices flowing or if you tire of scholarly discourse on Cold War science fictional visions incarnate at Disneyland, you can always hightail it over to the Star Trek exhibit on the other side of the 91, which runs through February 28, and is the real reason why sci-fi has succeeded so magnificently. As the saying goes, “boldly go where no man has gone before” and experience the world that Gene Roddenberry created in his quest to reach the final frontier. (Nancy Powell)
FREEZING POINT: The coldness of intergalactic space.
COOL PLACE: The 2011 Eaton Science Fiction Conference, Mission Inn & Spa, 3649 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside; http://eatonconference.ucr.edu/2011/frontpage.php.
“Star Trek The Exhibition” at the Metropolitan Showcase, 3800 Main St., Riverside, (951) 826-5273; www.riversideca.gov/museum/exhibit-startrek.asp.
(MILKY) WAY OUT!
While much of the country suffers soggy and overcast winter weather, we in the Inland Empire have the option to escape into the desert for sunny days and starry nights. Untarnished by light pollution and (despite its name) with a sky view mostly unobstructed by trees, Joshua Tree National Park is a world-class spot for stargazing. If you can take the teeth-rattling night temperatures (and even occasional snow at higher elevations), you’ll find solitude and spectacular night skies in the park in winter. Stargazing can be romantic, escapist, educational or just downright geeky, but it’ll certainly transport you from the mental clutter of grown-up city life. As well as binoculars/telescope, a star chart and a flask-full of hot (and/or stiff) drinks, bring wooly socks, a hat that covers your ears and a substantial jacket. If you plan on staying overnight, a well-secured tent (it can get windy up there) and sleeping bag with a 0° F temperature rating are musts. The next ranger-led Night Sky Program at Joshua Tree is on February 4. These free National Park Service programs combine a presentation about what to look for in the night sky with a chance to ogle the stars through mega telescopes (cloud cover permitting). (Paul Rogers)
FREEZING POINT: Don’t let Joshua Tree’s mild daytime winter temperatures fool you—it’s like a whole different (and very chilly) country by night.
COOL PLACE: The next Joshua Tree National Park “Night Sky Program” meets at Indian Cove Campground amphitheater (off Route 62 between Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree) on Fri, Feb. 4. 7PM. Call (760) 367-5500 or go to www.nps.gov/jotr.
Oh sure, join the teeming throngs to get your favorite raspberry gelato, your lemon yogurt covered in gummy bears, your old school Rocky Road single cone from Rite-Aid. Sure, I suppose you could be that most mundane of ice-cream connoisseurs, the summer shopper of spumoni. Or you could break out of your rut, babe, and realize that frozen snacks are a year round treat, especially in Southern California where everyone sports shorts in February, golfs 365 and considers it chilly when it dips into the 50s. My biology teacher at Arlington High School once told us that we should drink cold drinks when we’re cold and hot drinks when we we’re hot. He eventually moved to a cabin in Montana to live alone with his pet iguana, but that doesn’t discredit the argument that consuming cold food when it’s cold is no crime. And once you’ve freed your mind, you might want to check out two of the best joints the IE has to offer. There’s Yogoo A La Mode in Rancho Cucamonga, funny name but amazing frozen yogurt, along with a host of awesome toppings ranging from the healthy to the heavenly. And there’s Handel’s Ice Cream in Upland, simply the best ice cream in the area, bar nada. Let the sheep sip their hot chocolate. (Bill Gerdes)
FREEZING POINT: 32 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s when ice crystals form in frozen desserts.
COOL PLACE: Yogoo A La Mode, 7890 Haven Ave. Suite 8, Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 484-1820; www.yogooalamode.com; Handel’s Ice Cream, 373 S. Mountain Ave., Upland, (909) 946-9077; www.handelsicecream.com.
ICE ICE, BABY!
With temps as high as 80 degrees in some areas of the Inland Empire in the middle of January, it’s easy to get hot during the winter. For that date that goes well or the boyfriend you can’t get enough of, there are a few tricks to stay cool when things get steamy—but there are no guarantees as to how long you can stay chilled. Everyone knows how to play hide and seek, so why not try it with an ice cube? Start easy with a slightly melted ice cube in your mouth; pass it back and forth until it gets harder for him to find with his tongue. Move on to cooling each other down by tracing your favorite body parts with ice cubes, all the while licking said body parts with your tongues. Because, let’s face it, we all have our favorite hiding places. Trust us, he/she will be giving you more than a cold shoulder after this a round of this creative foreplay. Then to the heart of the game, hide a cube in one of his favorite places and see if he can find it with his mouth . . . take turns. Bras, panties, blindfolds are all acceptable accessories. All you’ve got to gain is a ridiculously hot night. (Lynn Lieu)
FREEZING POINT: The ice cube in your undergarments.
COOL PLACE: Your bedroom.
Sure that chocolate fountain surrounded by piles of strawberries at that cocktail party is pretty eye-catching . . . but maybe not as eye-catching as a mythological griffin carved entirely out of ice that serves as the shindig’s centerpiece. Yes, the beauty of ice sculpting is you can pretty much make anything out of ice. And we mean anything. Take a look at the portfolio of Mira Loma-based Crystal Ice Creations and you’ll see what I mean. There are faceted diamonds, miniature horse-drawn carriages, logos, picture frames, guitars, cacti, shoes and the Superman emblem. Just the animal kingdom alone is enough to keep you in a deep freeze. Crystal Ice has created elephants, butterflies, rabbits, eagles—call it Noah’s ark with a frosty finish. So go ahead and throw a party, any party, and have Crystal Clear kick your gathering up a notch by providing the decor. Your partygoers will be treated to some pretty chill eye candy and some original conversation starters. Cuz you’re cool like that. (Matt Tapia)
FREEZING POINT: The aforementioned griffin ice sculpture.
COOL PLACE: Crystal Ice Creations, (951) 790-1506; www.crystalicecreations.com.
THE RAZOR’S EDGE
With the barometer breaking the mid 60s lately, where do you go when you seek the icy coldness of winter? Riverside’s Ice Town, which happens to be the only game in town when it comes to transport by a pair of sharp blades, unless you count nearby Ontario or Yorba Linda. The nice thing about Ice Town, besides the indifferent teenagers or thuggy lowlifes behind the counter whose service you could soon forget, are the figure eights you could trace on ice trying to transform into the next Michelle Kwan, which a couple of half hour lessons and tons of practice (a lifetime maybe) could hopefully resolve. On the opposite spectrum of poise and grace stand blood and guts, the sheer testosterone and fierce carnal appetites of the Inland Valley Adult Hockey League whose broom or stick are best avoided with a clearance of one ice rink in distance. Young and old, novice or expert come here for the largest public ice available in SoCal without strings attached. Also sweet is the half hour complimentary skating or hockey lesson Ice Town offers for tots aged three or older. Forget the $750 month-long snowboarding lessons when you can pay considerably less to cause mischief on hometown ice. (Nancy Powell)
FREEZING POINT: Blood and grace on ice.
COOL PLACE: Ice Town, 10540 Magnolia Ave., Riverside, (951) 637-3070; www.icetown.com.