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Day 178 - Mission, Butterflies and a Beach

We stayed in the Solvang area to visit Mission Santa Ines, had lunch at Anderson's Pea Soup, then drove north to Pismo State Beach and found out Monarch Butterflies overwinter here!

sunny 72 °F

The forecasters were right, the weather today was beautiful.

We got a late start, partly because we'd stayed at state parks for a few nights - so I really needed to do some housekeeping on the RV, Empty Tanks, Fill Tanks, get tires checked, vacuum, etc. (Of course, the fact that Mom & I had to visit the hot tub this morning before we left the RV Campground had nothing to do with our late start).

Anyway, we headed back towards Solvang because on the far side of the town is an old Spanish Mission. This one is Mission Santa Ines (Ines is the Spanish word for Agnes).


It was founded in 1804 and is the last Mission they set up in Southern California. It was originally very large, about 350 feet long on each side in the shape of a square (or almost square rectangle). The church is still used for services, in fact we had to alter our tour somewhat to accomidate a mass they were starting shortly.


The yard inside the Mission was originally used for many things, including some gardens, making adobe bricks and roof tiles, cutting lumber and whatever chores were needed. Today, this is maintained as an ornamental garden. It was very pleasant however and had both orange and lemon trees (with ripe fruit).


After we visited the Mission, we stopped by the Ostrich farm. Mom had hoped to buy an ostrich egg, but the farm was closed. However, the ostriches were still quite visible from the road, so Mom was happy to settle for a picture.


Even though we'd only done a couple of things, it was already lunch (probably because of the hot tub...) so before we left Buellton, we stopped for lunch at Anderson's Pea Soup. The soup was delicious of course, but somehow I forgot to take any pictures except for this one of Mom. An exterior shot would have been nice, or even one of my soup - but it just didn't occur to me.


Anyway, with our bellies filled up - and the gas tank also fueled up, we got back on Hwy 101 and continued North. Because of the recent rains, the famous golden hills of California were a beautiful green, with live oaks and rolling hills. Love the scenery of a CA Springtime (although technically it's still winter).


We also saw several hawks - I was able to restrain myself for awhile, but how can I not upload a shot of two together?


We also passed quite a few very lovely horse pastures, more cattle ranches, and more strawberry fields. We are starting to see more vineyards in this area - in fact Solvang seems to have as many wine tasting shops as motels (and they have a lot of those). I skipped the wine tasting in Solvang, for the most part we select activities both Mom and I enjoy - and she is not a wine drinker. However, I enjoy an occasional glass and decided to stop at the Leaitta Winery we passed and try some good old California wine tasting. I don't know if it was me or the weather, but for the most part I didn't care as much for their wines as for the Washington wines (maybe I'm just more familiar with them?), but I did find an orange desert wine I liked. I also loved the views.


When we got near Arroyo Grande, I decided to turn off again for the brown sign - Pismo State Beach. OK, we've seen several beaches already that had camping, why not try for one more? The trouble began when we found out there are three different camping areas. The one in the middle is a little like WA - you can actually drive out onto the beach - but you have to be a little careful not to drive on soft sand and not to park too close to the water since there is no marker where the high tide ends! But the camping would have only cost us $8/night - so I was all in favor of this one. (Also, we'd be right on the water, if we didn't get too close to it.)

Mom didn't like the idea of washing away with the tide and argued strongly for one of the other more developed campgrounds. I agreed to at least check one of them out and find out how much it cost. The north campground was $18/night, so Mom agreed to go back to the first one. However by then I'd found out that Pismo State Beach is the largest Monarch Grove on the CA Coast - where Monarch Butterflies overwinter - and the grove is in the north campground! Also, we found a site just a short dune away from the beach (maybe 100 yards from the water?). So again, I overruled her and we stayed at the north campground.

But before setting up the RV, we parked near the Monarch Grove and I did my best to take pictures. It was late in the afternoon and the butterflies, while abundant, were mostly in the tops of some very tall Eucalyptus trees - where it was still sunny & warm. Butterflies are even harder to capture with a zoom lense then birds! Although I had to delete a bunch of worthless shots, I got a couple to at least show what they look like. (Note, eucaluptus trees do not have orange flowers)


Later, Mom also saw one land in the sand near us while we were enjoying the evening at the beach.


Mom was a little easier to 'capture' on the beach, at least she doesn't fly away before I can aim the camera!


There weren't enough clouds for a really spectacular sunset, but the craggy tree's made an interesting contrast with the evening sky, so I took pictures anyway.



Miles Driven - 62, Cumulative - $17,320
Camped at Pismo State Beach, North Campground ($18)

Provisions Secured: Gas $23.93 for 7.364 gallons at 127,157 miles
...Propane $11.92 for 3.2 gallons at Flying Flags RV Campground
...Lunch $20.xx at Anderson's Pea Soup + gift shop...
...Albertsons, misc groceries and cash
...Two bottles of Orange Desert Wine from Laeitta Winery

Posted by jl98584 22:48 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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Wow, your photo of the monarch on the sand really caused me to do a double take! My first reaction was that there was a GIANT butterfly perched amid sand dunes! Something about the sand makes you lose perspective on this photo. Cool shot! Sounds like you are finally getting the warmer weather you were wishing for all along the Gulf Coast.

by TexasRTJ

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