Monarchs & Dune Driving...

One goal on this trip was to be here, in Pismo Beach, to experience the Monarchs. Each year thousands of vibrant orange and black Monarch Butterflies flock to here, seeking shelter from the freezing northern winters. From late October to February, the butterflies cluster in the limbs of a grove of Eucalyptus trees at Pismo State Beach.


Seeing these magnificent insects isn't easy. They form dense clusters with each one hanging with its wing down over the one below it to form a shingle effect. This provides shelter from the rain and warmth for the group. The weight of the cluster help keeps it from whipping in the wind and dislodging the butterflies. It really isn't until one opens its wings, and a glimpse of orange is seen, that this dense cluster is seen as being butterflies.


Pismo's colony is one of the largest in the nation, hosting an average of 25,000 butterflies over the season. They are a very special variety as they have a life span of six months as opposed to that of common Monarchs who live only six weeks. This can be attributed to a unique fat storing system. However, even with an extended life span, those butterflies that leave here will never return again.

I have to agree with R.H. Heinlein who said, "Butterflies are self propelled flowers". Tomorrow, on a promised sunnier day, we will return to the Grove and hopefully see the Monarchs in flight. I'm excited.
While Steve likes butterflies, I think he was more excited to get the Arctic Fox onto the beach (we've been trying to do this since Daytona). As we were waiting for our campsite to become available, we visited the Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area. This off road area is among the most popular and unique of California State Parks. The 5 1/2 miles of drivable beach draw people here from all over the United States.
Oceano Dunes is the only California State Park where vehicles may be driven on the beach. This will be something else we do again tomorrow, when the sunshine is out and we can explore the shore more.

We are both very happy campers, here in Pismo Beach!

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