On January 1, 1980, Jeff Norman, then 29, moved into the Overstrom homestead, Alta Vista, in Big Sur. Overlooking the ocean from a 2,700-foot-high perch on Michael Ridge, and accessible only by trail, Alta Vista was an ideal location for observing and experiencing the beauty and power of the natural world. Jeff lived at Alta Vista until his death, at age 56, on October 31 2007. All structures associated with Alta Vista were burned to the ground eight months later in the Basin Complex Fire.
Fortunately, journals covering the years 1980-1991 were removed from Alta Vista three months before the fire and escaped immolation. They are essentially weather journals, kept to maintain a record of rainfall and other meteorological events, but other information (car trouble, animal issues, the discovery of rare plants, the constant struggle to avoid foreclosure, etc.) had a way of seeping into them. Anyone wondering what it’s like to live without modern conveniences in a modern world, should find these texts interesting. But anyone who spent time in Big Sur during the years these journals cover, will likely find more than a few old memories reawakened.
The journals, as presented here, have been transcribed and lightly edited for readability. Some limited annotation has also been provided. Some days and months are missing, as Jeff did not always keep up with his journaling, and we have excluded passages inappropriate, in our view, for a general audience (those that reveal the location of sensitive archeological or thermal resources, for example, or include especially harsh assessments of particular individuals – however accurate they may be). We have also eliminated portions that, in our opinion, are simply too focused on weather minutiae to be interesting.
The writing in the journals is not always easy to decipher and we apologize in advance to those whose names have been misspelled (either by Jeff or through our poor transcription).
And, with that, here they are … eleven years of fires, floods, births, deaths, parties, storms, weddings, droughts, accidents, and frosts:
Please Note: These are relatively large .pdf files (the largest is almost 47MB). They can sometimes take a few minutes to load.