bittersweet Big Sur visit

I just arrived home from a few days with a dear friend in Big Sur.  Frankly, I wasn’t sure we were even going to be able to go as a huge fire was roaring through parts of the region. The fire started on July 22 by an illegal campfire in one of the state parks. As of this writing, it has consumed over 79,000 acres and is 60% contained.  It will be weeks before it is completely under control.  It has cost a life and destruction of 57 buildings.  All of the parks in the area are closed and the few businesses that are open are struggling. A big thank you to Big Sur Kate and her blog which was a wealth of information.

August in Big Sur is one of the busiest months. Highway 1 is usually clogged with cars and campers. While there were still a few on the road, the fire and the intermittent closure of the Highway have limited the number of tourists.

When we arrived at my brother-in-law’s ranch, the smell of smoke was in the air and mixed with the fog was a golden tinge and haze from the distant fire. Even in the fog and with some smoke, there is still such beauty. Hiking the property was bittersweet, knowing that fire was destroying so much of the forests up north.

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These redwoods at the ranch still bear the scars from past fires…
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Smoke and fog mix to create a hazy filter over the land
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Dry hillsides and grasses on my hike

The next day we headed up the coast to have an early dinner at Nepenthe.  Normally it would be packed with tourists and the fact that there were so many empty parking spaces told the story.  Many of the diners were firefighters and it was so heartening to see the owner of Nepenthe has made the meals free for them…not an easy thing when business is so down from normal.  I must say our dinner was delicious, the service excellent and the locals could not have been nicer. I love this place!

Yesterday we headed up to Big Sur Bakery for breakfast. It was quiet as well.  I was happy to see that they had their delicious Cop donuts and almond croissants.  The fog had lifted and we were able to eat at a picnic table outside….heaven!

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The charming Big Sur Bakery
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Cop donuts and almond croissant

Internet is spotty at best in Big Sur but when we were able to get news it was of two more fires.  The Chimney fire on the other side of Big Sur near Lake Nacimiento and a huge wild fire named the Blue Cut 60 miles East of LA.  Some of the firefighters in Big Sur had already been diverted to the Chimney fire and now another one!  These men deserve so much credit, praise, and thanks.  They are working in horrific conditions, sometimes in triple digit heat, and are away from their families for weeks at a time with very little rest. I feel the need to say “thank you” whenever I see them.

It wasn’t all gloom.  There were the noisy seals we spotted having a siesta on a rock out at sea…

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Some very noisy Big Sur residents

And on our last night the fog stayed at bay long enough for us to bring our wine and appetizers outside on the deck and just take in the beauty of this magical place.

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The perfect end to the day

As I am writing this, I have just learned of yet another fire much closer to home here in Santa Barbara.  The highway that I just drove over is now closed and my friend that I dropped off just sent me this photo of the smoke that can now be seen from her house.

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The Reys fire much too close to home

They say it is blowing away from Santa Barbara but the winds can be fickle and so we wait and watch and listen for news.  It is going to be a long and difficult fire season for the West and I pray that everyone stays safe.

 

 

4 thoughts on “bittersweet Big Sur visit

  1. We are so sorry to hear this news Elizabeth. We have been following the fire news here on the East coast and pray you all stay safe. Those wonderful firemen are amazing and put their lives on the line no questions asked. My heart goes out to their families, they must be so worried. Stay safe, Susan Weaver

    Sent from my iPad

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    • Thank you Susan. I feel confident about this newest fire near Santa Barbara and the one in Big Sur is huge but they seem to have a handle on it now. But some of the others are burning homes and are no where near containment. The firefighters have been amazing and we owe them so much. Thank you for your kind words and thoughts. E

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  2. It breaks my heart to read this, Elizabeth! We’ll be praying for those brave firemen and all the families affected by these fires. Angry that reckless acts can cause this much damage… Stay safe!

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    • Thank you Eva. Yes, there are a lot of prayers going out to the firemen, their families, and everyone affected by the numerous wildfires all over California and the Western states.

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