The beginning of bigsurkate, the blog

Used to be, all my readers knew how this site came to be. Now, only a few do. I started this blog 8 years ago because I got pissed off at the sheriff. It’s not wise to piss off a lawyer who has made her living going up against various forms of the government, especially law enforcement. If you want to read the early entries, go to the pull-down menu to the right for archives, and pull down and click on July 2008. I wrote over 50 entries that month. Eight years later, I have written 2,747 entries. Damn, how did that happen? I have had over a million, 100 thousand views. I thought this blog would have closed after the Basin Fire, but the Chalk Fire came on its heels, and by then the die was cast.

I got pissed off because of this:


Note the date and the time of this. 6 pm on the eve of a 3 day weekend. I got a copy on July 4 – Independence Day. I was pissed and went into overdrive. I stayed awake for almost 24 hours in order to combat this order and to learn how to blog. (It wasn’t as easy back then as it is now.) On July 5, 2008, I published both my first and second blog posts. This was the first:

“I began this blog, after 2 weeks of inundating everyone’s mailbox with news, links, editorials, and photos of the massive Big Sur Fire of 2008. I decided a blog might be a better venue for us all to stay connected, share information, and remain informed. PLUS, I got totally frustrated when my email send function became so erratic. I can receive, but sending is completely hit and miss. I am hoping the email fairy visits me soon!😉

I will also be posting some of my photographs, also, as and when I can.

Welcome! Once the fire is past, I will convert this to random musings, I suppose, or it will evolve into something else.”

Boy did it ever evolve into something else – something I could not even imagine back then.

A year later, I recounted as best I could, what happened those first few days. I wrote:

“July 4, 2008 – I cannot find my notes, and I did not write in my journal for much of July, as I was far too busy, but I started my blog one year ago tomorrow, so some of the story about last Independence Day was reported then. I am recreating the day, based primarily on a memory with holes in it – swiss cheese holes – a moth-eaten sweater. I also have no photographs taken that day, at least that I can find. The road was closed, as previously posted.

When I first got a copy of the 409.5 memo on 7/4, I called OES (Office of Emergency Services), and they had a Commander Teter of the MCSO call me back. When I got no satisfactory explanation about the issuance of the memo, other than it was to “educate” the Big Sur community about the power the MCSO had, I was furious. The MCSO was flexing its muscles and declaring a police-state in Big Sur, and fully intended on arresting who ever got in their way.

It was a holiday. Everything was closed. What could I do? The only places open were newsrooms. Having lived and worked in Monterey County, much of that in the justice system, I knew I needed to go outside of the county. I called the LA Times newsroom and the SF Chronicle newsroom. I posted something on Before my post was removed from surfire2008, Deborah Schoch, a staff reporter from the LA Times called. After speaking with her for some time, I got her phone numbers, and said I’d pass it on to a member of the Curtis family who was not in Big Sur, and if they wanted, they could pass it on to Micah and Ross. This resulted in more phone calls, and more long conversations with Curtis family members and LA Times reporter, Eric Bailey. Only a few days later, he and Deborah Schoch published a 3-page article about the police state in Big Sur. It is no longer accessible unfortunately.

This was the start of the battle between Big Sur Locals and the Mike Kanalakis, Sheriff of Monterey County. Kanalakis also made the mistake of taking on Cachagua in Carmel Valley. Both were big mistakes.

Thanks to Jim Kimball for archiving posts from surfire2008 and other sources, we have an excellent record of all that happened on this day last year. It was a busy day, with reports from locals coming in up and down the coast all day long. Let’s not forget what it was like to live in this police state from July 3, 2008 to July 8, 2008, when the road opened to locals and their employees, and July 11, 2008 when the road opened completely.

Go to this link, and scroll down. It is arranged as all blogs tend to be, with the older posts first, or backwards chronology. Just scroll down to July 4th and start reading. It is fascinating:

So, Big Sur, and lovers of Big Sur, we celebrate our independence, along with our country’s independence and may we never forget the battles we have fought against oppressive government entities in both 1776 and in 2008. Happy Independence Day. Keep strong, and battle on when needed.


13 thoughts on “The beginning of bigsurkate, the blog

  1. ok I took the bait and went back to July 2008. Your 1st post was about a 1 day old kitten Lucky that had come into your life. Nothing else I could spot. Did Lucky enjoy a long life with you? We adopted a 4 week old John bottle fed every 2 hours with goats milk for more than 2 weeks. Lovingest kitty EVER our all white KoKo! Of course fire stuff was AMAZING too but wondering about that kitten.

  2. Check the date on that. That was the END of July, not the beginning, you must scroll ALL the way down. Blogs are always chronological, with the newest posts at the top, and oldest ones at the bottom, so if one wants to see the beginning posts of this blog, one goes to archives, gets to July 2008, and when that comes up, scroll all the way down to the very bottom and you will see the first two posts from 8 years ago.


  3. Thank you for posting this, Kate.
    And, for being one of the pioneers at keeping justice alive in Big Sur.

    Used to take care of the plants at the Tower House, when I was groundsman for Ventana.
    It was a really beautiful redwood dwelling in the woods on the hillside, tower shaped- spacious open deck on top, vaulted ceiling’d indoor living room with large glass & tall book shelf walls, a deep cylindrical hot tub on the northwest deck looking towards Molera.

  4. HOORAH KATE!! We must not forget these triumphs, July 4 is exactly right, the founding fathers would be so proud of you. They were pursued for years for signing the Declaration of Independence, their children kidnapped, their homes burned. America was born of great courage.
    I remember the equally messy law enforcing of the 2008 fire experience in Cachagua, then I moved to Big Sur a year later, and followed yours, and Mike Jones’ blog at the country store in Cachagua and the IDIOT sheriff everything. Mike did secret food runs to those refusing to leave.
    FYI, readers, (Kate is this right?) there is an existing CA state law that you CANNOT be forced to evacuate. Effort must be made on your behalf to inform and get you to leave but you are legally allowed to sign off on staying. The fabulous ‘Fire Monks’ of Tassajara did, and kept the Buddhist retreat from burning.
    Happy Fourth of July, everyone. God Bless America.

  5. Hey, Kate, good to you. Seriously. I stopped blogging, because I’m not able to find that fine line between being diplomatic and being critically honest in a public setting, such as blogs, tweets, and other popular social media avenues. You have turned this platform into something extremely useful and helpful, not only for the locals, but also for the thoughtful tourists to the Big Sur area. You are a blessing to the community. Thank you for all your efforts, then and now.

  6. Katie, thank you. It is sometimes a fine line I travel, but I usually know what needs to be addressed when I get indignant. Otherwise, politics I leave alone,.

  7. Thanks for the review Kate, I had forgotten how it all started, but so grateful it did! You keep us updated on everything important and we are so grateful!

  8. Kate, i hope you can collect all your posts. Your fiery blog, the Cachagua debacle, Fire Monks and all the brave others who had to choose between political power plays and apolitical FIRE power; all put together, sounds like a great story, just needing an author.

  9. It’s all there, Michael’s, mine, the Fire Monks … It is all there. One of us, one of these days will put it all together – or someone will.


  10. Hi Kate,
    As a Long time visitor, because it gets even nuttier at home (Pismo) for the big holidays, I appreciate you sharing the Big Sur community with me year round. And yes, I told everyone this 7/4 that the fine for an unauthorized campfire was $5000, and that the price was too cheap if a wild fire resulted from someone’s stupidity.Thank you again

  11. I love Pismo, but the only time I used to go there in summer was when my aunt and uncle were camping in Oceano. Normally, I love Pismo in the winter. It gets crazy there, that’s for sure!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.