hazard canyon

Update on the Monarch Butterflies

Beachy Keen decided that the monarch butterflies at Pismo Beach are too phenomenal to discuss just once.

So many pictures were taken; some great, some blurry (if you can imagine the insanity of chasing around a flying insect with your 18-55 mm lens). But here’s a favorite:

So graceful. Image by Avrah Baum.

So graceful. Image by Avrah Baum.

Now that it’s the second half of February, they’ve slowly begun leaving their colony in Pismo to head back up north, many to Canada. They travel in groups of thousands, and the Pismo Beach Monarch Grove is one of the largest in the nation, where about 25,000 monarchs have called home in the past 5 years. The monarch butterflies that come down to Pismo originate from west of the Rocky Mountains. The butterflies that migrate down from east of the Rockies fly all the way down to Mexico for the winter.

Justin Trabue, a student at California Polytechnic State, San Luis Obispo appreciates the rare opportunity to see monarch butterflies. “I’m from D.C., so I don’t get to see this at home,” Trabue said. “That’s why I think it’s so cool to be able to come here and see thousands and thousands of them in one place.”

Michael Chen and his wife, Tiffany Chen are tourists that enjoy observing the natural wildlife at the many places they’ve traveled to. They brought their own cameras, binoculars and tripods with them and set up along the wooden bar separating the grove from the walkway. “I could stand here all day and look at them,” Chen said. “We invest a lot of money in our equipment to take excellent pictures to show our family.”

You don’t need a fancy camera to experience the beauty of the grove. Just go, and enjoy a few peaceful minutes with nature without a gadget in hand. It does wonders for the soul.

There are still butterflies preparing for their journey, so if you hurry, you can still see them for the next couple of weeks when the skies are clear and the weather is warm. Although the weather along the Central Coast is a bit fickle, don’t be too discouraged if it isn’t a good day to see the butterflies…

The monarchs are keeping warm in clusters high up in the trees on foggy days. Image by Avrah Baum.

The monarchs can be seen keeping warm in clusters high up in the trees on foggy days. Image by Avrah Baum.

You can easily see them from your own window!

If you want to create a mini monarch grove of your own, David Coon, a docent with San Luis Obispo State Parks (Beachy Keen just loves this guy) has some advice. “They like to eat nectar from flowers. They don’t usually need to eat in the winter, but if you have any flowering plants, it’ll attract them to your yard.” Beachy Keen spots monarchs across California Polytechnic State University’s campus all the time!

Good luck spotting the monarchs as they migrate north, and don’t forget to pick up some potted flowers for your garden!

Stay tuned: Beachy Keen has crazy plans throughout the next few weeks. Get ready to see Santa Cruz, California and Monterey Bay!


Review: Sun N Buns Bakery


Beachy Keen visited Sun N Buns Bakery in Morro Bay, California, and the well-known coffee shop did not disappoint. Besides coffee, they offer pastries, espresso, ice cream, and even dog treats! This family-owned business has been here for years and is a favorite among locals and travelers alike.

IMG_7865Sun N Buns Bakery. Image by Avrah Baum.

Their mochas are excellent, and their ice cream is a real treat. Their prices are fair and the indoor seating offers a sunny atmosphere to chat with friends and enjoy some of their pastries and sweets.

If it doesn’t sound good enough, they sell T-shirts and tank tops that read, “Everybody wants my buns”.

If you were wondering, yes, Beachy Keen definitely bought one.

An interactive map!

To give all of Beachy Keen’s adventures some perspective, take a look at this interactive map of the Central Coast! You can glance at some of the locations where many blog posts have been done. Using ThingLink was tricky at first, but it provides beautiful interactive graphics for a multitude of purposes within educational, personal, and professional uses. Enjoy!

Click the image below to view more pictures from Beachy Keen’s adventures.


The background image is from Wikipedia.org, used with permission by the Creative Commons license. All tagged images are taken by Avrah Baum.

The Hazard Canyon Reef Tide Pools

Beachy Keen spent a glorious afternoon at Montaña de Oro State Park exploring the soft sand, breezy air and of course, the sea creatures. The park is home to Hazard Canyon Reef, where within its tide pools hide sea anemones, urchins, sea stars, and crabs, just to name a few. Finding the tide pools can be a bit tricky, however. The trail begins by a dirt parking lot off of Pecho Valley Road, labeled by a wooden sign that reads, “Hazard Canyon”.

Once parked, head north on the trail on the far right. The journey to the tide pools is just as awe-inspiring as the pools themselves; the air is moist yet refreshing, and the greenery surrounds you on all sides. photo 2 copy

Overlooking the tide pools. Photo by Avrah Baum, free to use/share.

The brief journey down to the beach ends with the path opening up to a breathtaking collection of huge rocks with a peculiar wavy pattern and a crashing shoreline.

The air sits still next to the side of the cliff, yet there’s a deep humming of energy that invites you to come and explore…


MDO. Photo by Avrah Baum, free to use/share

The rocks are slippery, so take time and step carefully, or a nice cold bath with the fish may ensue.

As the water pours over the cavities in the rocks and slowly retreats back, a collection of critters can be found, squishy and prickly alike. Taking caution when stepping down into the crevices is necessary, as the life within them don’t like to be disturbed.

Collections of sea anemones are the most prevalent creatures in the pools, and they come in a multitude of colors and patterns. A gradient of green to purple is a common color scheme seen in its tentacles. If touched, they’ll coil away, revealing an underside decorated with small rocks and bits of shells.


Waving hello. Photo by Avrah Baum, free to use/share.

The sea anemone is a favorite of Justin Michelle Trabue, a student at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. “I love their vibrant colors,” she told Beachy Keen, “there’s an entire rainbow inside of them! You don’t see that a lot in sea animals,” she adds.

While exploring the pools, Beachy Keen had the pleasure of running into a pair of brothers who enjoy spending their time at the calm beach. Daniel and Jack Cimo are originally from Chicago, Illinois, and Jack lives in the area as an avid surfer and personally-acclaimed expert on the tide pools.

“You have to come around low tide when you can see more of not only the anemones, but urchins and stars as well,” said Jack. “I’ve been living here for years and I never get sick of it.”

His brother Daniel was just in town for a few days to see him, and chose to spend his visit at the beach with him.

“Every time I fly out here, we make a point to come to Montaña de Oro,” Daniel said. “Obviously the animals in the tide pools are amazing to see, but there’s so much else at the beach, like the eucalyptus trees and the succulents.”

Besides the anemones, there are thousands of crabs that thrive in pools that latch onto the rocks so they aren’t swept away by the tide. Sea urchins and stars can be seen at low tide, in the late afternoon.

It’s hard to get bored at the pools, so if you’re looking for an exciting and engaging afternoon on the Central Coast, paying a visit to the Hazard Canyon Reef tide pools will not disappoint.

Hazard Canyon Reef entertains and enthralls folks of all ages, but keeping an eye on small children is definitely recommended.

Happy pool hopping!

photo 1-3Making a tiny friend. Photo by Avrah Baum, free to use/share.