California

Nepenthe, Deetjens saved in Big Sur

Most of Big Sur's main landmarks have been spared by the Basin Complex Fire, but there have been some losses and several close calls. From the San Jose Mercury News:

The fire has claimed 16 houses, including the historic 1939 hunting cabin, made of hand-split redwood, where the conservation group Big Sur Land Trust was founded....

Threatened, but saved, was rustic Deetjen's Big Sur Lodge [sic], the coast's original roadhouse now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. A burning log rolled against the edge of one of its rough-hewn cottages; firefighters caught it and quickly extinguished it.

At the popular restaurant Nepenthe, flames burned all the way up to a knoll above the edge of Highway 1 and across from the restaurant's famed patio with its epic ocean view.

McWay Creek's waterfall still tumbles down a pristine 80-foot cliff to the ocean at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, a picturesque cove now closed due to fire. But its serenity is shattered by firefighters working to protect the park's Depression-era cabin, historic water wheel and log bucker. Up the canyon, the air has an eerie yellow cast.

Esalen, usually filled with guests bent on self-improvement, is empty. It has canceled its workshops, therapies and International Arts Festival.

Highway 1 remains closed between Nepenthe Restaurant and Esalen. Because burned hills can't hold rock, the highway is dangerously littered with falling debris.

The Post Ranch Inn has offered its underground concrete storage unit to the Henry Miller Memorial Library for safe storage of irreplaceable books, correspondence and Miller's "Three Nudes" watercolor. Ventana Inn is letting firefighters shower at the clothing-optional pool. And Nepenthe volunteered its webcam so families of firefighters could view their loved ones. The resorts are also feeding the firefighters, who sound like they are eating pretty well.

For the record: The Mercury-News is a bit off on its names. Deetjen's is the Big Sur Inn. The Big Sur Lodge is located within the state park. Thanks to Anita Alan, author of the "Big Sur Inn: The Deetjen Legacy," for pointing out the error.


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