After breakfast at 4,000 feet, we left the popular Pine to Palms Highway and headed higher to the town of Idyllwild (pop 3,870). Our waiter had said that if we turned left there on Doubleview Road, we'd eventually get to The Point where the locals go on July 4 to look down on the fireworks displays far below. The entire town seems to be tacked precariously against the steep mountainside, affording spectacular views -- but no back yards.
We read somewhere that these sturdy pines produce the biggest cones in the world and, sure enough, when we arrived at The Point, we found a pine cone and. . . it was huge. They come from Coulter Pines and weigh up to four pounds. Advising you to wear hard hats when working around them, locals refer to the cones as "widow makers."
We also found views stretching toward the Pacific and to our right spotted the ski runs on faraway Big Bear. On the other side of Mt. San Jacinto (elev. 10,580) there's an aerial tramway that, for $25, will take a senior citizen to a tony restaurant set high over Palm Springs. This historic tram boasts the world's largest rotating gondolas.
They've probably got some big pine cones over there too.
|Coulter pines have a limited range, found only in coastal areas in California.|
This cone is a mere nine inches, they can be up to 15. We didn't go looking. No hard hat.