Tourist Tuesday on a Wednesday, 1/2/19 – Big Sur is a health hazard

National Parks during the government shutdown – several examples from CA:

Joshua Tree National Park: 

“The government shutdown has left America’s national parks largely unsupervised. No one is at the gate. No one is collecting a fee. The visitor centers are closed. There are some law enforcement and emergency personnel on site, but certainly nothing as standard as a park ranger who can answer a question.

People are streaming into the parks, enjoying the free access, but they’re finding trash cans overflowing and restrooms locked. Vault toilets are not serviced, and there’s hardly a flush toilet to be found anywhere. If nature calls — well, the woods are over that way.”

Read more of this article here:–heavily-populated-and-barely-supervised/2019/01/01/db51564e-0d3b-11e9-84fc-d58c33d6c8c7_story.html

Joshua Tree National Park campgrounds will close at 12:00 p.m. Wednesday, January 2 “to take…action for health and safety concerns as vault toilets reach capacity,” according to a National Park Service news release.

During the government shutdown, much of the onus of park upkeep has been left in the hands of volunteers. 

“In addition human waste in public areas, driving off road and other infractions that damage the resource are becoming a problem,” reads the release.”Additional closures include Lost Horse Mine Road due to illegal activity and Rattlesnake Canyon in order to reduce the number of search and rescue events for rangers already spread thin due to the government shutdown.”

Joshua Tree business people and volunteers have tried to take over for the furloughed rangers and maintenance staff as best they can.

About 35 people pitched in Saturday during a volunteer event, while businesses in downtown Joshua Tree tried to help incoming visitors looking for information.

Volunteers including retired park ranger Caryn Davidson, Stone Adventures co-owner Annie Semmelroth and Coyote Corner co-owner Ethan Feltges manned a makeshift information booth outside Coyote Corner through the weekend.

One of their main concerns by Saturday afternoon was where to put all the trash generated by the thousands of visitors.

“Our dumpsters are full,” Feltges said.

It pointed out a larger problem with the volunteer effort. “It’s not sustainable for the long haul, and the cash isn’t going to be here,” said Seth Zaharias, co-owner of Cliffhanger Guides.

He estimated he and other business owners had paid several thousands of dollars over the past week to stock bathrooms with toilet paper, buy cleaning supplies and rent portable bathrooms.

Park Superintendent David Smith praised the efforts of locals who have been working to help park visitors. (

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite visitors turn roads into toilets as shutdown crises mount at national parks

Mountains of garbage and human waste are challenging efforts to keep U.S. national parks open during a partial shutdown of the federal government, National Parks Traveler reported.

In California, Yosemite National Park officials have closed the Wawona and Hodgson Meadows campgrounds, along with the Mariposa Grove of redwoods, after finding human feces and urinebeside Wawona Road, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“With restrooms closed, some visitors are opting to deposit their waste in natural areas adjacent to high traffic areas, which creates a health hazard for other visitors,” National Parks Service spokesman Andrew Munoz told the publication in an email.

“It’s a free-for-all,” said Dakota Snider, 24, a Yosemite Valley resident, reported The Associated Press. “It’s so heartbreaking. There is more trash and human waste and disregard for the rulesthan I’ve seen in my four years living here.”

Read more here:


Sequoia or Kings Canyon National park

The partial federal government shutdown, now into its 11th day, has forced furloughs of hundreds of thousands of federal government employees. This has left many parks without most of the rangers and others who staff campgrounds and otherwise keep parks running.

The lack of staff and unsanitary conditions have led to the closures of several areas of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

The closures went into effect at 6 p.m. on Monday, according to Sintia Kawasaki-Yee, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks public affairs officer.

Closer to home is Pinnacles National Park

“Park rangers will close the eastern park entrance… due to impacts from human waste and increased vehicle congestion,” the press release says.

All of the above listed California National Parks are now closed (or partially closed) due to trash and human waste, which are health hazards. Sound familiar? Big Sur has become a health hazard. Just ask anyone who lives or camps here. Trash, feces and toilet paper everywhere. Big Sur, one of the most beautiful and healing places on the planet is now a health hazard. How did we let it go this far?





Geotagging is ruining natural landscapes

Starting with this Tourist Tuesday report, I am looking to only post ideas for dealing with the issues we face. We know what the problems are. We now know it is a world-wide problem, so we need to look at approaches and ideas. There is no one solution, there are only steps we can take to minimize the impacts. Being mindful of geo-tagging is one.

From a NY Times article by Laura M. Holson in the Travel Section on Sunday (thanks Ken Wright):

“Sorry, Instagrammers. You are ruining Wyoming.

Last week, the Jackson Hole Travel & Tourism Board asked visitors to stop geotagging photographs on social media in an effort to protect the state’s pristine forests and remote lakes. Explaining the campaign, Brian Modena, a tourism-board member, suggested the landscape was under threat from visitors drawn by the beautiful vistas on Instagram.”


A few years ago, one or two hikers a day would make the nine-mile trek up to Delta Lake. Now, he said, as many as 145 people are hiking there each day to shoot engagement photos and hawk health supplements. Little-known trails are heavily trafficked and eroding in some places, taxing park resources.

“We want people to have a real connection to nature,” Mr. Modena said, “not just a page with a pin on it.”


Six months ago, Colorado-based Leave No Trace, an organization that promotes ethical use of public lands, published new social media guidelines that discourage geotagging. In Jackson Hole, the tourism board has suggested that visitors use the generic location tag, “Tag Responsibly, Keep Jackson Hole Wild.”

This is just a beginning, but we must get the message out. New Zealand has adopted one program which I urge MCCVB, Visit California, and See California to also adopt, spending some of the millions of dollars of advertising monies on plans and programs to ensure the survival of the natural areas in California – particularly in Big Sur. I will post about one thing New Zealand does which we can easily adapt here next Tuesday,

In case you may be wondering…

I haven’t been online much this week, as I have been on the road, taking care of things all week, so far.

Monday, I met Rock Knocker in Nipomo Mesa, where he was taking his Motorhome. I had planned on coming to SLO to see about winter tires – the best for my new MBZ Sprinter Van. This one:


(Yeah, that pink license plate holder has GOT to go! Clashes with the Aqua Green. Purple, yeah. Red, yeah. But pink? Nah.) Anyway, after meeting Rock Knocker, I went to get a camping spot for the night.

It is a gorgeous van, and my son built me a bed to go in it. Looked like this, but I have already changed it.


My first overnight (except when I brought it home) was to Morro Bay. Tonight, I am back there, but this time, unintended.

My road is a mess. People tearing it up because it is fun to get muddy! (Their parents must have denied them the opportunity when younger.) And the storms, and clay, and I couldn’t take my new van out unless I got good mud tires. I had done my research and knew that BF Goodrich All Terrain KO2s were the best (per owners) for the MBZ Sprinter. I did some more research, and found out that I should get some black rhino wheels, and I settled on the Warlords. I found the best tire shop around (and no, I am not going to tell you which one that is. It is already way too busy!) I called them on Tuesday. They ordered them for me, to be in on Thursday. I had reserved my campsite for 3 nites, so all was good.


This was my campsite. I can tell you this because unless you are retired military or 100% disabled vet, you can’t camp there. It is $5/nite for no hook-ups. Camp San Luis.


This is the drive to the campsite.

Wednesday morning the tire store called me, and they were delivered a day early, so I ran right down. I had had one cup of coffee, so I was good to go.


These are the final tires and rims. They are gorgeous and should really help during the winter months. I kept the “old” tires and rims as they only had 500 miles on them, and I can use them in the dry months and extend the life of these mud tires.

Alas, on the way home, I hit a significant size rock and limped into Gorda with 14 PSI to spare, only to find my son there. There were some major issues with the jack, the lug  nut tire iron, as the new ones were a different size, etc. but still, he got it changed, and missed the School’s Christmas Show in order to help me. Sorry, everyone. I then drove down here to Morro Bay for yet another night. Just couldn’t drive the rest of the way at night. I was beat.

So, I was out of there before I could get a photo, this am. But I was on the beach at the Strand, being lulled by the waves. I went by the tire place and dropped off the damaged tire, ordered a new one, had them tighten the lug nuts once more time, just to be safe, and now I am hanging in town until the tire comes in. Another night at Camp San Luis. Since I did not stay there last night, and my card had already been charged, they aren’t going to charge me for tonight. Finally, the universe is going my direction. Now, I get to play “tourist” in SLO.



Pfeiffer Beach Shuttle Service Public Meeting

From and written by Weston Call:

Please join your community At 6:00 PM on Monday May 21st For a round table discussion regarding this summers Pfeiffer Beach Shuttle Survice

A presentation will be given by Weston Call of Sur Transportation.

Ask Questions, Seek Clarification and Learn how the local community is crucial in reducing traffic down Sycamore Canyon by telling inquiring visitors about the Pfeiffer Beach Shuttle.

When is the project taking place? What will the shuttle cost? Where will people park? Won’t a shuttle just add more people to the beach? What about locals? What’s this long term plan I keep hearing about?

These questions, your own, and more will all be discussed Monday night at 6:00pm at your local Grange Hall.

If you cant make the meeting, or have questions that you would like on the agenda, please send them to

What were they thinking??? 5/12/18

From Rose Welch, who just happened upon this little scenario. Educate our tourists? Perhaps we should start with the tour bus drivers.


From CHP:

6:40 PM 8 [16] B27-P 1185 1097
5:39 PM 7 [13] [Rotation Request Comment] 1039 CALIFORNIA TOW 424-8615
5:36 PM 6 [12] 1185 HEAVY DUTY
5:12 PM 1 [2] 1125 NB LN


Tourist Tuesday, 5/8/18

Surprise: Global Travel is a Huge Contributor to Climate Change

This article excerpt is from KQED, published yesterday. The two articles linked within this one are crucial reading. I urge everyone to take the time to read them. They also directly relate to our situation. Has anyone made the effort to measure the effects of carbon emissions in Big Sur Valley? Or in Monterey Peninsula lately? Are we smothering ourselves in pursuit of more and more tourism? Critical questions.
San Francisco welcomed a record total of 25.1 million visitors in 2016, an increase of 2.3 percent from 2015, according to the San Francisco Travel Association. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Researchers warn that the surge in global tourism is outstripping the “decarbonization” of tourism-related technology.

In the first study of its kind, researchers found that carbon emissions from world travel contribute about 8 percent of all carbon emissions, four times more than previously estimated.

That rate is expected to grow 4 percent annually, outpacing the footprints of many other economic sectors, according to the study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The study takes a sweeping look at the environmental impact of  global tourism by examining the entire supply chain, from flights, dining, to shopping purchases. High-income countries account for the majority of this footprint, with the U.S.  topping the list followed by China, Germany and India.

“Our analysis is a world-first look at the true cost of tourism — including consumables such as food from eating out and souvenirs — it’s a complete life-cycle assessment of global tourism, ensuring we don’t miss any impacts,”  said senior author Arunima Malik, who teaches sustainability at the University of Sydney.

For the rest of the article, see:

Tourist Tuesday, 4/3/18

I took  a closer look at thepresentation MCCVB made at the last BSMBAAC meeting. While I can see the need for a “Destination Master Plan”  for Monterey County, I think we need a separate and community oriented, implemented, and managed Sustainable Destination Stewardship Program/Plan for Big Sur. In discussions with Tammy Blount of MCCVB, she has agreed that a separate, “special” forum should be held for Big Sur. I look forward to working with Tammy and finding a common vocabulary which will strengthen our sense of community here in Big Sur – the crown jewel of Monterey County.

A “Master Plan” reminds me too much of dystopian novels like 1984, Brave New World, Handmaiden’s Tale, Soylent Green, etc. Personally, I think the Sustainable and Stewardship components of any plan are critical to how we approach the issue of sustainability of both the community and the environment of Big Sur as tourism continues to increase exponentially. The focus needs to shift from making money to sustaining the sense of place, in my opinion. Making money is only relevant if it is used to enhance the experience – not profit from it. I also see that Big Sur needs a bigger voice in any planning endeavor.  Big Sur needs to take the lead in any efforts to “market” her unique beauty, and if necessary, tell others she is not for sale. Several members of the board of CPOA are willing and delighted to work with us on creating an entity for such a purpose.

Naming, to me, helps to define, refine, and focus our goals so we don’t get distracted from the purpose we have for going forward, obtaining financing, other backing, and instituting meaningful change to save our community and place while we share it with visitors. Also, it will help establish the roles of all our various governmental and non-governmental agencies who claim a stakehold in Big Sur by helping them to fulfill their management plans and see the many ways each is compatible with the others. We need to get away from the singularity which defines each government agency and begin to see our Big Sur Coast as a holistic entity, entitled to the protection she needs and deserves.

Here is a quarterly event that MCCVB hosts that addresses this issue:


The above is a screen shot, so the registration button is not “live.” Here is a link you can go to to register for the Sustainable Moments marketing forum: Sustainable Moments Quarterly Forum. I have signed up to attend, and will report back after the Forum. Marcus Foster has also indicated he is interested in attending. I would encourage all of you interested in the future of Big Sur and her tourism component to come to this forum to listen, learn, and contribute, if appropriate. Big Sur is the driving force behind tourism for the entire Monterey Peninsula. It is time we have a bigger voice that is heard.

Next week, I will seek out information on how to work with and organize all the diverse stakeholders present in Big Sur. Thanks to others in the community with whom I have had conversations, I am convinced that the MCCVB is NOT the appropriate entity to spear head an issue to preserve and protect Big Sur, and am looking at a whether a disinterested outside consultant might be the way to go, along with formulating a non-profit Big Sur entity capable of grant-writing, funding a consultant, fund-raising, organizing, and implementing a long-term plan that incorporates all the various interlocking pieces that comprise Big Sur and make her who she is. If you want to be a part of this process, please let me know how you see yourself contributing, either in the comments or via email to

I had not intended to make this portion of my blog a full-time endeavor, but that is what it is becoming. Big Sur needs protecting and all of us must become proactive in this. All the individual concerns we have: bathrooms, traffic, degradation of the wilderness, camping, enforcement, tourists who drive Highway One (poorly), but don’t spend here, preserving our community, work-force housing, our history, protecting our environment and so much more are pieces of this much larger puzzle. Join us in becoming a part of the solution, instead of just bitching. Let’s save the love of our lives and our home, Mama Sur.