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.
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!
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…
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.
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.
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.