The Coast News Group
Ski season at Mammoth Mountain opens Nov. 8. Skiers can get there on a new JetSuiteX flight that runs Thursday- Sunday out of Orange County’s John Wayne Airport. Courtesy photo
ColumnsHit the Road

Big fun, Big Bear Lake and beyond

A Fun Zone filled with giant inflatables is one of the many attractions at the annual Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest running weekends through Nov. 3. Even grownups can jump in on the 25-foot-high slide, a connect-three basketball game, a giant castle and a mechanical bull (adults only).

“It’s a bounce-house party on steroids,” says Monica Marini, director of Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest. Sundays admissions to Oktoberfest are $10 for adults and free for kids. Fun Zone is $10 for an all-day pass. Regular admission: adults $15.99; seniors $11.99; children 12 and under $9. This is the 48th year

Giant jumpies for kids and adults are part of the fun at the 48th annual Oktoberfest in Big Bear Lake, which runs through Nov. 3. Courtesy photo

for the autumn celebration, which features ample German cuisine, beer and music, and just-for-fun contests and games. Visit or call (909) 585-3000.

Pray for snow

Ski season is just around the corner (we hope) and a new airline with service from John Wayne Airport, Orange County (SNA) to Mammoth Lakes starts service Dec. 20. JetSuiteX flights operate Thursday through Monday. According to the company, JetSuiteX offers a “semi-private flying experience…with no lines and easy parking adjacent to the private terminal.”  Other perks: business-class legroom, free snacks and beverages and no baggage fees for skis and snowboards. One-way tickets: $79 to $129, depending on timing and demand. Service between Bob Hope Airport (BUR; Hollywood Burbank Airport) and Mammoth Lakes also resumes Dec. 20. Flights continue through April 7. Opening day at Mammoth Mountain is Nov. 8. Single-day discount tickets $50 and veterans ski free on Veterans Day (Nov. 11).

Thar she blows … where?

Orcas — killer whales — have been spotted off the Southern California coast in the last few weeks. These unusual sightings are of great interest because orcas are thought to inhabit colder waters much farther north. Experts believe these orcas are probably eastern tropical Pacific whales that came up from Mexico. Book whale-watching tours out of Dana Point at See a video of 10 orcas playing off the coast of Dana Point at

Ring around Ireland

Tory Island, a “kingdom” of less than 150 residents with its own royalty, is one of the stops on Adventure Canada’s Ireland Circumnavigation expedition cruise that sails from June 9 to June 20. 

“This trip fits nicely on the circumnavigation trend — exploring island nations by sea as a way to see even more than by land,” says Jillian Dickens, spokeswoman for Adventure Canada. 

Tory Island’s king, who happens to be a woman named Patsy Dan Rodgers, will greet visitors when they climb out of the Zodiac rafts onto the 1.4-square-mile island off the northwest corner of Ireland. Adventure Canada also circumnavigates Iceland (July 5 to July 14) and Newfoundland (Oct. 2 to Oct. 12). Visit

Green flying (now) and

bigger, better terminal (later)

San Diego International Airport (SAN) and nine other airports in North America have received a Level 3 certification from the Airports Council International’s Airport Carbon Accreditation program.  The program helps airports reduce carbon emissions, which SAN has done not only in its facilities, but in additional areas by partnering with airlines, concessions and ground transportation. Ultimate goal: to earn the highest level of certification — Carbon Neutrality — by 2022. Only one airport in North America (Dallas Fort Worth International) and 48 of 17,678 airports in the world have attained this designation.

More good news from SAN: “We are in the process of firming up plans for the replacement of Terminal 1, which will be our biggest development project to date,” says Jonathan Heller of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

If you’ve flown out of that terminal, you know this is good news indeed.