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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

24,000 Monarchs–Who is in charge here, anyway?

Every 2-6 weeks, Carol has to go to get a lab test on her blood.  She had open heart surgery in 2009 to replace a heart valve and now she has a medication to thin her blood which has to be adjusted based on what she has been eating. When we are at home, she can just duck into the nearby Kaiser clinic and have it done.  But when we are on the road, it can be a problem.

Being in Pismo Beach for 2+ months exceeds the time-between-tests, so she obtained a “travel letter” from her doctor to give to the local clinic to get the test done.  Problem is, the nearest Kaiser clinic to Pismo Beach is in Ventura, CA, about 3 hours away.

We were planning on making a day trip to Ventura tomorrow for the test (which takes about 90 seconds!).  But during the night, Carol got the great idea to just see what a local lab would charge for the test.  With our insurance paying for the test at home, she only pays about $11, but we were fearful of what the total cost would be.

So this morning we went to the local medical lab to ask about the cost and availability of the test.  Yes they could do it, but the bad news was the cost.  It was $14.97!   For $3.97, we are not driving 6 hours round trip to Ventura.  So she had the test done there and we saved about $70 worth of gas plus 340 miles of wear and tear on the car and got back the whole day tomorrow.

After we came back to the RV, we went for a walk to the Monarch butterfly preserve just south of the RV park.   We walked on a nice path most of the way there.


Once you get to the preserve, you start seeing lots of butterflies.


Above is a super monarch with a wingspan of about 2 feet.   OK, this one isn’t real---it is just a wooden enlargement of a monarch mounted to show you are entering the preserve. 

Monarchs come here in November from the Rocky Mountains in November.  Monarchs from other eastern areas go to Mexico to migrate.  They stay here for the better weather until late February when they begin the 1,500 mile trek back to their summer areas.

They cluster on the branches for protection.  When the temperature get below 55 degrees, they cannot fly so they huddle together to protect themselves from being blown away during storms.  Carol and I think they actually invented “snowbirding” way before it became popular with RVers.


Above is a picture of a cluster of Monarchs in the Eucalyptus trees which they favor for their wintering. 


Above is a close up of the same cluster.  There are about 24,000 butterflies in this preserve this year.  That’s up about 7,000 from last year.  It seems to vary by how severe the winters are.  While there are numerous areas where they migrate to on the California coast, the Pismo preserve is thought to have the most butterflies.

The video below gives a better idea of what we saw.

Monarchs of Pismo Beach

Below you can see some of the Monarchs sitting on a lower bush in the sun.  Later as it cools, they will return to the cluster.


After visiting the Monarchs, we walked out to the beach along a path with some rather interesting trees.


Here is one I call the tree sculpture.  It looks really strange.


As you can see, we had great weather for our walk.  It only took about 90 minutes total and in the warm sunny weather, it really felt good to get out there.

Tomorrow we are thinking of going to Solvang for the day.  Stay tuned for more of our adventures!


Judy and Emma said...

$3.97 is definitely worth staying in the neighborhood.

I'd like to see all of those monarchs.

Sue B said...

great video of the butterflies!!..glad that the two of you are enjoying yourselves!!

Donna K said...

Great post Dave and a wonderful video. You did a fine job narrating!!

Insurance is funny stuff. We have found we can get some of Russ's diabetic supplies cheaper at Wal-Mart rather than going thru the insurance. Weird!! Glad Carol got her test and you didn't have to travel to do it.