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Vacation Memories of Big Sur

We were five then–Andrew hadn’t come to us yet–and that summer night as we slept in the Volkswagen camper, we suddenly awoke to noise.  Someone–or something–was prowling around our camp site. Jerry scrambled out of bed, and I was close behind as he snatched up a flashlight, opened the camper door and pierced a beam into the black night.

There they were–raccoons–fat ones with their nimble fingers still around the 3-pound-coffee can into which I had placed the home made cookies–think they were oatmeal, but I can’t recall for sure. The little gezzers stared, Jerry stared back, then he started yelling and I think I yelled too, and finally the raccoons set down the cookie can and backed away. Strange thing, though, they did not quite retreat, but instead circled our camp–waiting, we supposed, until we would close the door, quit the infernal yelling so they could get on with their midnight repast.

Big Sur

One of the most beautiful places I have ever visited, and a spot where we have taken more than one family vacation, is Big Sur. Highway 1 up the coast of California is unexcelled in raw splendor and natural appeal, and it is around Big Sur that many people believe the area to show its finest face. 

We have stayed in a lodge there, but usually we camped in one of the several rigs we owned through the years.

All of us have swam in the frigid water, walked the trails through the redwoods, cooked many a marshmallow and a few hot dogs around evening camp fires there; we’ve told stories, took youngsters fishing, refereed arguments, taught lessons…and in general,  stitched together a wondrous tapestry of family vacations at Big Sur.

Now the area is on fire, and the entire community of Big Sur has been ordered evacuated.

From the New York Times Dateline July 3

BIG SUR, Calif. – Facing a stubborn fire, California officials Wednesday ordered the evacuation of Big Sur as flames flared on nearby mountaintops and moved steadily toward this coastal retreat.
    Firefighters have been attacking a fire near Big Sur for 11 days and had been helped in recent days by fog, moist conditions and lighter winds. Seventeen homes have been lost here – more than half the total destroyed statewide from the first major wildfires of the season – but many residents had been allowed to remain as the fire stayed to the east and south.
    But overnight Tuesday the fire unexpectedly intensified, prompting mandatory evacuations of residents on both sides of Highway 1, the scenic coastal byway that runs through the Big Sur valley.
    Statewide more than 19,000 firefighters and other workers have been fighting fires since June 20, when a line of storms and lightning sparked hundreds of blazes across the northern and central parts of the state. The blaze near Big Sur, known as the Basin Complex, is just one of some 1,100 currently burning in California, according to Cal Fire, the state fire agency

I’m praying for all the people in these areas and for our brave fire-fighters.

(These are all file pictures.)

EDIT/UPDATE: Adam Housle of Fox News is maintaining an update on the situation in Big Sur. At the link I have supplied, is a video explaining “cutting-edge” fire fighting equipment and sensors. Check it out.


My devotional blog is here.

By Shirley Buxton

Still full of life and ready to be on the move, Shirley at 83 years old feels blessed to have lots of energy and to be full of optimism. She was married to Jerry for 63 years, and grieves yet at his death in August of 2019. They have 4 children, 13 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren...all beautiful and highly intelligent--of course. :)

17 replies on “Vacation Memories of Big Sur”

Natanja, welcome to my blog. I don’t have information on that particular house, but Big Sur would be a beautiful place to visit in the United States. Hope you have a great trip.


Hello! I’m looking for a nice place to stay for our big trip tot the USA in may. Is the brownish house on this site for tourists? If yes, do you maybe have more information for me about it?

Thanks alot!



It’s distributed near Portageville…people near Springfield (or anywhere) can subscribe. I went to college in Springfield in the 1970s. Still like that town very much. Thanks for the info.

Jo Schaper


Dear Shirley
May I have permission to reproduce the photo of the raccoon family on our newspaper site?
I am with the River Hills Traveler, an outdoor newspaper which covers SE Missouri. Our mascot is Trav, a raccoon. We’re doing a little of personalization of our mascot, and Trav needs an online family photo. This is one of the best I’ve found.
Thanks for your consideration.
Jo Schaper

Hi, Jo. That picture is posted under creative commons and thus is available for anyone to use, I believe. Adorable, is it not?

I was born in Portageville, Mo, moved when I was 3 months old and spent all my childhood in Springfield, a beautiful city.

Is your paper distributed in either of these areas?


[…] something??was prowling around our camp site. Jerry scrambled out of bed, and I was?close b fire nears Big Sur, residents and beasts flee Boston GlobePiles of charred rubble smoldered near […]


[…] something??was prowling around our camp site. Jerry scrambled out of bed, and I was?close b Burning Near Big Sur, CaliforniaPhysOrg news: Fires Burning Near big Sur, california … Image […]


[…] something??was prowling around our camp site. Jerry scrambled out of bed, and I was?close b Estate Agents in HalifaxCentral House Central Street Halifax HX1 1HU Our new site is under […]


Good morning, Kurt–

Thanks for contributing here and for all the work that is done to control the fires. I agree it is a massive problem in California.

We have a home in Crestline–in the San Bernardino mountains, where some time back we had raging fires and were evacuated for more than a week. We are blessed in that we sustained no damage ourselves.

Thanks for the personal contribution to our well-being.

Be blessed–


I suggest you start a daily blog about fire in CA. I live in Malibu and am a wildland fire expert. We have had some ferocious fires here every year. Each year the fires are coming earlier, getting worse, and lasting longer. Soon CA will have a full 12 month fire season. Each year we hear, “unusually dry season, low rainfall, etc.” That’s the norm! The fire services are doing all they can, but there is still a terrible loss of property. There are several basic issues-
/>Accumulated brush which hasn’t burned in 20 years
/> Increased development on the urban-wildland interface
/>Everyone everywhere expects full (free) fire protection at no cost
/>Climate changes
/>Lunatics who think it would be fun to set something on fire.

It aint gonna be pretty
Kurt Kamm


Catherine, please get over to the coast and view this beautiful part of California. I’m believing it will be saved from these terrible fires, although right now it is not looking promising.

Love raccoons…think the are so cute, but sometimes a scratch or bite is the result of being friends with them.


I’ve not been to Big Sur State Park, but I feel sadden by the fire. The picture you show reminds me of coastal areas in Switzerland ( much smaller scale – minus grapevines, castles, roads etc… off course!). Much beauty in this great state has been lost to fire the last few years, and I think of the people. Last summer was horrific.
Raccoons: those little rascals have more tenacity than some humans 🙂


Karen, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is exactly where we had the visit from the raccoons. Is that area not the most beautiful place in the world. I absolutely love it, and am so sad about the fire.


It is heartbreaking for this beautiful part of earth to be on fire. For years, we used to stay in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park on our way either to or from camp meeting. How beautiful the trail that led to the waterfall. In fact, we were in Big Sur on our way to San Francisco just two days before the fire started. We commented on how brown it was. It was not the normal green that we have enjoyed for years.


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