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!

~ by bigsurkate on March 7, 2010.

2 Responses to “Legends of Big Sur, 2010”

  1. Thank You Kate, so nice to see a current photo of Don. Haven’t been able to see him since 1998 , a v big loss for me.

  2. Thanks Kate! It was if I were there more than just in spirit!

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