Road Closures, again?

5:30 am – (if it is dark, isn’t it conceptually the same night?) CHP is no longer reporting a slide at Big Creek, if one existed, but they have sent a unit at 5:01 am down to Alder Creek due to closure, and are reporting that one on their website.

10:00 pm – CHP website reported at 8:30 pm that Big Creek is closed again due to another slide? Yes, Cal-Trans did clear it, and it was open today, but that may have changed, once again. The entry by CHP is rather contradicting, as Stan Russell points out. Mother Nature can be a fickle mistress when stressed. Can’t we all?

One reader reports that at 10:30 this evening, a friend drove from Esalen to Lucia and there *is* NO closure at Big Creek. CHP may be “closing” the road in terms of the sign at Rio Rd., but at least one report is that it is open. BTW, I have received two reports that there are two confusing signs at Rio Rd. re status of road.

Also a report from a reader, “…[S}ome small rocks and gravel were falling on the road this evening just north of Soberanes, actively moving when I came home from my mom’s just now.” (Also reported at 10 pm)

I must admit to a bit of exhaustion tonight from being a one-person newsroom. Thanks for your understanding. Can I go to bed, now?

Legends of Big Sur, 2010

Thursday night, TreeBones Resort, owned by John & Corinne Handy held their second in the annual Big Sur Legends Series to raise money for Pacific Valley School.

TreeBones Resort

One entered the lobby, and there was the guest of honor, Don McQueen.

Further in, the items for the silent auction. This is just a few of the many items available to bid on.

The resort lobby and dining room was decked out for the occasion with lovely table settings, and tables that would eventually fill completely as dinner was served by the students of Pacific Valley School, all of whom were dressed in black. They looked so classy and did an incredible job of serving the 70 of us in attendance!

There were appetizers, Heller Estate donated wines that were poured by Mary Roos; a salad from the gardens of TreeBones; but the piéce de resistancé was the filet mignon with pomegranate demi glaze served over garlic mashed potatoes with steamed asparagus. I have never seen a filet that thick, 2 to 3 inches, or one that literally melted in one’s mouth like that one did. I am only sorry I did not think to take photos of the food. I see food — and I just want to eat!

Chef Chris Watts

And I am informed that Chris won the People’s Choice award at the recent Chanterelle Cook-Off. Congratulations, Chris, and eating food you have prepared is such an honor!

Oh, and the dessert? It was created and donated by Margaret Graham Doyle. It was a wonderful date pudding with hot caramel sauce. Yum … when my student waitperson tried to take it away before I finished that last bite, she realized she would risk my wrath.

Throughout the evening we were treated to live music, some performed by the students themselves.

But the “fireside chat” between John Handy and Don McQueen was what most of us came to see and hear. Don McQueen, a Big Sur Legend, and one of our elders.

Don McQueen

John Handy

Don McQueen came to Big Sur in 1931 at the age of 11. His father was in charge of the highway. [Ed. note – Highway One was finished and opened in 1932.] When he got here, he thought the Pacific Ocean was ” … the biggest lake I’d ever seen.”

Don McQueen telling stories

Don started the Big Sur Campground in 1953 with Walter Trotter. Now, reservations for this icon are 18 years out. But the project in Big Sur that Don built that he is most proud of is Fernwood, and that project he did for free.
Don on Firefighting

Don started fighting fires in 1947. He said of that time, “The most amazing thing was that people went out and put the fire out.”

During the Basin Complex Fire of 2008, Don called Caterpillar Company and order a $200,000 cat on credit. They delivered it to him in 16 hours and 15 minutes. I asked him about this, and he replied, “If I didn’t do that, I would have lost everything.” And from what I hear from his friends and neighbors, they also would have lost everything, but for Don and his cat.

Don on Traffic

“We have too much traffic already.” I’m with you there, Don. Even the wagon trail that passes for a road up to my place gets crowded during the summer. Fortunately, every so often, Mother Nature, when she’s had enough, closes the highway.

Thank you, Don, for the stories, the sharing, and for being an elder in our community, and a Big Sur Legend!

Alder Creek Slide Photos 3/7/10

4:00 pm – Note from Danny Millsap: “Hey Kate , there’s some mix up about the name , we are calling it the Alder Creek slide now. I have as much help as I can get, that will fit in the area, to get the job done safely and as quick as possible. The message boards north and south say road work with delays / and from 6:00pm to 7:00am it will say road closed ahead and what ever the distance the message board is from the slide . We are letting traffic through every two hrs. from 7:00am to 5:30 pm, unless mother nature decides different .
Here are some up to date photos

(See attached file: Alder 9.jpg)(See attached file: alder 99.jpg)

Danny Millsap
Caltrans Maintenance Supervisor
Willow Springs Station , Big Sur
Office (805) 927-4243”

And here are those photos:

Alder Creek Slide, by Danny Millsap

I wish I had either Danny or Rock Knocker here to tell me if that BIG boulder is the same one in the photo below, sitting up on the side of the slide zone … very well could be, it is large enough!

... all the help there is room for, by Danny Millsap

Thanks, Danny! You are THE MAN!

3:30 pm – ROAD UPDATE. Hard closure again tonight, it is just too unstable. Big Creek is cleared, thankfully, so only the one between Villa Creek and Alder Creek currently blocking the road. Cal-Trans is now calling this the Alder Creek Slide, so changed the title of this post. Will be reassessing the danger, bringing in a geologist, and making determinations Monday and Tuesday about next actions. Some up-to-the-minutes shots to post from Danny Millsap, shortly.

Here are a series of shots taken this morning by Rock Knocker. As a retired Cal-Trans worker from Willow Springs Station, trained by the legend, Don Harlan, he knows what is going on.

As with last night, I will publish immediately, but be adding new photos whenever the opportunity arises. All photos at Villa Slide, and all photos by Rock Knocker

Loading the truck


bring down the loose stuff.


This is the slip plane — where the material begins sliding down the face in the hill above, all of it looking to “come on down” – Newton’s Law, you know. That is one huge boulder in the middle of the on-going slide. Note the crack. Hopefully, this will crack open when it comes down.

Working it from a platform

Is this a fault?

Either wordpress just added a new feature, or I finally discovered it, but I like the “photo” look and caption, so will be converting to these, most of the time.

Here, at Villa Slide, note the rocks. An interesting geological formation has been revealed by the slide. You will note the almost horizontal layer of rock, butting up against an almost perpendicular layer, then into another almost horizontal layer. Does this indicate a fault line? I don’t know. But below is a closer look.

Close-up of interesting geological formation

That drain is his-tory!

That drain is supposed to redirect the water coming down, horizontally under the road. Fortunately, it is not blocked and can still perform its duties.

These last two show the water coming out of the hill at Mud Creek, about a mile north of Villa Slide.

Water from a Rock
... and the long view

That’s it for the slide today. In a few hours, I will be writing the story and uploading the photos from The Legends of Big Sur series Thursday night at TreeBones resort. Also need to check weather reports, but as of last night, it was looking as if we are in the clear until Friday. Here’s hoping that is true, although Big Sur Valley reported 1/2 inch from last night’s storm. I haven’t even had the time to get to my rain gauge yet!