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Day 179 - More Beaches, Butterflies & Birds

We made it to Hearst Castle this afternoon, but the tours were full so we bought tickets for tomorrow morning. So there's not much new today, more butterflies, birds and beaches - but this time rocky ones!

sunny 0 °F

Don't know if you noticed it or not, but my production dropped off the last couple of weeks. Not only was I trying to do my taxes, but also something came up regarding my dad's place (which unfortunately I'm the executrix for). That finally came together today, so other than some cleanup work the next couple of days, I should be able to get back to the trip more fully now.

Today I had to spend part of the day sitting in a Staples parking lot in San Luis Obispo to wrap up some of this business, so we didn't have as much time to sightsee as we might have liked. So we did what we could with the time available.

Yesterday we noticed the Monarch Butterflies at Pismo State Beach tended to prefer the sunshine. So this morning when the sun was shining more directly on the campground, I was cautiously optimistic that we would see the butterflies up close more, not just in the tops of the trees. We weren't disappointed. These were some shots I got just walking over the low dune to the beach:


(No dear cousin, these are not giant butterflies! Keep in mind, I have a 12x optical zoom on the camera, which with some cropping during the edit process, can work like a 20x or more digital zoom. Ho, Ho)

The interpretive trailer was open this morning, so we stopped by to see what we could learn. It turns out they sell Monarch Butterfly stuff, but there are also volunteer nature guides available to answer questions and provide information. It turns out that the winter over season is really just about over, most of the butterflies have already left to return home - could have fooled me! This season, the peak Monarch Butterfly population was about 20,000. They estimate there are only about 1,700 left. The population fluctuates from year to year - the largest being about 230,000!

Arroyo Grande and Pismo State Beach are also famous for sand dunes. People are allowed to bring or rent dune buggy's and drive them over the dunes. But we needed to go take care of that business at Staples (the portable printer I brought with me died), and we'd taken pictures of dunes before - so I skipped that section of the beach, but it sounded like fun

We did take a little time however to walk over to the north beach where we camped before leaving. Mom really liked the funny shaped tree's on the low dune between the campground and the beach.


I walked out in the waves a bit to check them out - they were quite cold! The views were great however.


We also caught this little fellow just as we were leaving the campground - a common animal perhaps, but still cute.


So we reluctantly did finally leave the campground and head to Staples at San Luis Obispo to take care of that business, then got back on the road North to continue our trip. Shortly after passing through San Luis Obispo, we turned off of Hwy 101 again onto Hwy 1, the coast highway. We drove through Morro Bay, which looked quite interesting, but I kept going as it was already fairly late. The coast starts to get more and more rocky up here, but we still passed several state beaches along the way.

As we approached San Simeon, there were some Vista turnouts (no overnight camping) that had splendid overlooks of the rocky coast. I finally gave in and stopped at a couple to enjoy the coast for a few minutes. It really is quite interesting to watch the surf break over the craggy rocks.


We did finally make it to the Hearst Castle Visitor's Center only to find that the tours for today were all sold out. We booked tickets for a tour tomorrow morning (one especially suitable for people with walking difficulties) and headed back to San Simeon State Beach where we'd seen camping signs. Although we didn't get to the Castle today, we had a nifty view of it from Hwy 1 (at 12x zoom again).


Later, as we were driving around the campground we saw this bird. I know the picture is very poor quality, but figured this is a unique enough bird (for us at least), that I'd try posting it. If we see one again, I can try to get a better shot. But this is a Nuttall's Woodpecker, a little smaller than I'd expect for a woodpecker. These are 'common' according to my references, but I don't recall seeing one before.


We found a campsite on a bluff, a long way from the beach but with a peek-a-boo view of the ocean in the distance. Mom and I played a few games of Rummy Cubes and ate. The sun started to go down but we had only a partial view from the RV, so I hiked down a bit to a rocky bluff to get this shot - which seems like such a nice way to wind up the day?



Miles Driven - 67, Cumulative - 17,387
Camped at San Simeon State Beach, Woodburn Campground (Primative)

Provisions Procured - Monarch Butterfly stuff at the Trailer at Pismo State Beach

Posted by jl98584 20:36 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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How do you like traveling in more familiar suroundings? your pix of the CA beaches really brings back memories, but I think I like WA beaches, with more tall trees better. When I was in HS, Grandmom and grandad took me, and I think you as well, Jeanette, to Solvang, the mission and the Anderson soup place when we went to Carmel once. When I was about 3 or 4, I visited Grammie and Uncle Buddy in Santa Barbara. They lived in a little cottage right on the beach, under a rock with a Juniper tree on it. I don't want to think about how little it cost. Another time G'mom and G'dad took us to Morrow Bay. That is a very famous rock at the head of the bay. Why are you in a hurry? It might take a week to get up here if you had to. It sounds like you are a horse that has gone on a long ride and can smell home... Que

by drque

If you're at San Simeon State Beach, you're right near my parents' former ranch, Stepladder Ranch, that I wrote you about earlier. Maybe you could have driven down that road and told them you were related to the former owner and camped overnight? :-) I love your sunset picture and the pictures of the coastline there.

by msj

Also remember taking a trip to Anderson's and Morro Bay and these parts you visited with Que and Gmom and Gdad.

by pjohnston

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