Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Butterflies and Bubblegum

Just south of Santa Barbara is the small beach town of Pismo Beach – ah, perfect for our next stop along the Golden States’ gorgeous coastline.  After four days inland exploring the beautiful sleepy wine country in the Santa Ynez Valley and gorging on delectable danishes in Solvang, it was time to smell the salt air and hear the roar of the pounding surf.

Pismo Beach is a throwback beach town that hasn’t changed since the sixties where the boardwalk and pier are the lively heartbeat of the town.  If you stay in this town too long you will be heading to the nearest surf shop to purchase a long board as you are humming a contagious Beach Boys tune. 

The RV park we stayed at (Pismo Coast Village RV Resort) was located behind a large sand dune and sandwiched between downtown and a state park.  It is nice (and somewhat of a rarity) when an RV park is located within walking distance of stores, restaurants and attractions.  We had a wonderful Valentine's Day dinner in town at the Cracked Crab where when you order the special seafood bucket, they pour the entire thing on your table and you crack away.  Oh yum! 

One morning we ventured over to the nearby Pismo Beach State Park to check out the massive monarch migration that happens every year.  What a marvel for such a delicate creature to fly nearly 100 miles a day to reach a winter destination that they find every year.  The monarch migrations are legendary in the realm of that natural world.  The grove of eucalyptus and cypress with a nearby fresh water creek provide just the environment that suits the monarchs.  Once the sun warms the earth the butterflies leave their clustered roosting spot and begin to dance in the warm air.  The butterflies come every year but in varying numbers.  Like so many sensitive species their numbers have declined since biologists have been counting.  While there are natural fluctuations the decline from 230,000 individuals in 1991-92 to just over 23,000 in 2011-12 is quite drastic.

What appears to be dead leaves and branches is actually clusters of
butterflies.  Clustering protects them from strong storms and lessens
the chance of being blown around in a storm.

Butterflies arrive in Pismo starting in October from as far away as Canada.  They come for the warmth
and the food that is found in flower nectar.
Always ones to be interested in the obscure sights, we decided to drive to San Luis Obispo to see Bubblegum Alley.  The origins are in question but essentially this is a 70-foot long narrow city alley with bubblegum stuck on the wall.  (Yes, mom this is one of those places where you would be thoroughly grossed out.)

The masterpiece started sometime after WWII but after business owners complained the wall was
"unsanitary and disgusting"  it was cleaned twice in the 1970's.  Alas, the tradition prevailed and is now
a popular tourist landmark.
Yes, the black stuff is grime growing
on old, used bubble gum (a.k.a ABC gum).
I had every intention of contributing to this fruity masterpiece but upon closer inspection decided there was no way I was going to put my fingers anywhere near this sticky canvas.  I would leave that to the professional artists.

By the way, downtown San Luis Obispo is a really cool area and we strolled around, had lunch, and took in a little window shopping.  Great day!

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