As everyone knows, a gigantic, illegal-campfire-caused wildfire is currently burning in Big Sur. It has already burned over 80,000 acres, destroyed nearly 60 homes, and led to the death of a firefighter. It isn’t expected to be contained, much less out, until the end of September.
You might think this reality – impossible for anyone living in, or visiting, Big Sur to ignore – would cause people to seriously think twice before building illegal fires of their own.
You might think this. But you’d be wrong.
Tourists are still lighting fires along the coast on a nightly basis. Many, in places that directly threaten homes and portions of the backcountry (like the Silver Peak Wilderness) the current fire is expected to spare.
Here, for example, lie the remains of a very recent campfire at Salmon Creek. Remember Salmon Creek?
The Soberanes Fire started on July 22, 2016 in Garrapata State Park Trails, from an illegal campfire. The result has been nearly 71,000 acres have burned as of August 13, 2016, and have achieved 60% containment, 57 homes have been lost, three homes have been damaged and numerous outbuildings lost or damaged. At one point, there were over 5,500 firefighters, now down to 4,400. Tragically, one bulldozer operator died when his dozer rolled over the edge of a cliff. He leaves behind a wife and two little girls.
The areas impacted have been the Cachugau and Tassajara areas of Carmel Valley. Backburns are still being conducted to completely extinguish the flames. At one point, a portion of the Carmel Highlands, near Point Lobos, was evacuated. The photo on the left shows Point Lobos as the fog is rolling in at the bottom, above and to the left, you can see a huge cloud of brown smoke. The top right photo shows the plum of smoke from Carmel Valley as seen from Wharf No. 1 in Monterey. The bottom right photo shows the brown smoke in the air above Carmel Views. The very top photo shows a flare up of flames with a tiny light on the right from a bulldozer.
At the present time, on the South, the fire has moved into the Ventana Wilderness and Los Padres National Forest. An immense firefight is taking place to protect Big Sur Village. Highway One will be closed from 2 PM on August 24, for at least 24 hours. All subject to weather conditions while they execute a backburn in extremely steep terraine.
Our community has stepped up to recognize the fabulous work of the firefighters with thank you posters on the roads. The Big Sur firefighters are a volunteer department and the community has arranged for local chefs to prepare meals, the community has donate socks, hand wipes, water, poison oak medication, etc. And for homeowners who have lost their homes, several fund raisers have taken place with more scheduled. What a great community!
With all of this loss, it is gratifying to see some of the wildlife who has survived. In the last three days, I have seen a condor circling in the City of Monterey. And among the ashes, we see little green sprouts popping up. A rebirth to give hope.
Last August, during our annual Coldwell Banker, Habitat for Humanity fundraising event, one of our silent auction items was a one night stay at The Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, in one of The Peak houses. I was thrilled to be the winning bidder. With time running out to use the donation, I thought it would be a grand idea to use it during my birthday.
The house was totally private and had every amenity you would desire – a refrigerator stocked with soft drinks, juices, cheese, crackers, nuts, etc. We also found acomplimentary bottle of wine.
The bath had everything you needed – hair dryer, lavender-scented body wash and lotions, a Jacuzzi tub, elegant, snuggly robes and slippers.
We settled in to enjoy the serene setting and the majestic mountains views with only the sounds of chirping birds and the wild turkeys. I so love the stone mountain peaks which I was told are dusted with snow during the winter months.
For dinner, we strolled to the Sierra Mar dining room which hangs at the edge of
the mountain, with a glass wall overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The sun was beginning to set with beautiful colors.
It was hard to decide what was the most fabulous dish of our five course dinner. Every plate was a show piece and the taste sublime. Many of the items came directly from the organic garden on the property and beautifully incorporated in the dish. One of the most memorable dishes was the crab bisque with a crab cake and a few drops of vanilla oil. I would have never thought to add a vanilla oil to a bisque but this was outstanding! The dinner was elegantly paced and our waitress was delighted to answer our questions about the various dishes.
As we walked back to our house, we looked up at the sky filled with thousands of stars that appeared so close you felt you could touch them. Back in the house, we made a fire and relished the evening.
The following morning we went back to the Sierra Mar dining room for a buffet breakfast which included everything imaginable – bakery items, bacon, French toast, an egg station, fresh fruit and yogurt. It was impossible to decide.
While there, we saw two whales directly below in one of the small coves. After breakfast we enjoyed the walk past the infinity pool, gardens and water features.
The time went entirely too fast and it was time to leave. The tranquility of this luxury property felt like an appetizer and I wanted to stay much longer. How fortunate that we were able to have visited this spectacular organic, green luxury property. Ideal for special occasions or when looking for a total retreat. The dining facility is open to the public for lunch or dinner but reservations a must.
The property consists of approximately 98 acres with hiking paths, numerous pools, spas, 39 suites/houses, the Sierra Mar restaurant and a store. Upon arrival, the valet takes your luggage into his car, you check in and can enjoy refreshments and then are taken to your house. The staff is extremely pleasant and helpful to make your visit a pleasurable stay. The generosity of the management to support our fundraising efforts for Habitat for Humanity are greatly appreciated.