After a week in the desert I needed to smell the ocean breezes so we hit the road and headed for coastal California! After doing some research we settled on Pismo Beach in San Luis Obispo County in Central California. We stayed at Oceano Campground, one of our priciest stays at $42 a night but still a pretty reasonable campsite fee for being on the beach in California. Thanks to the recent boondocking we’ve been doing we could afford to splurge a little here for location. It wasn’t the most spacious campground but it was super clean and had decent pay showers. Of course what we were there for was the beach anyway and it was just a short walk through a scenic, fragrant forest to get there. We ran into a huge fox several times on our walk to the beach. The other campers we met were really nice and everyone (including us) had decorations up for Halloween. We even enjoyed some Halloween candy from a friendly neighbor.
Pismo Beach allows vehicles to drive on it, which I thought would bother me but we quickly got used to the slow traffic and sunk into beach bum mode. We spent our days laying on the beach napping in the sun and walking down the beach looking for shells and sand dollars. It was a popular spot for horseback riding and surfing. On our first day we noticed spouts of water way out in the water and after some investigating with the binoculars we were super excited to see it was whales! I think they were Gray Whales migrating south. We spent a good chunk of time being entertained by the whales and watching them smack their huge tails against the water. It was so neat!
We also spent a morning at the Monarch Butterfly Conservatory. It was located a short walk up the beach from our camp. Every year the Monarch Butterflies migrate to the conservatory from the Rocky Mountains to spend the winter. They arrive in late October and we were fortunate enough to be there as they were starting to arrive. Walking through the conservatory the trees are covered with Monarchs, so many in fact that we thought we were looking at clusters of leaves on the trees but it turns out they were clusters of butterflies! The staff at the conservatory were super nice and extremely knowledgeable about the Monarchs. They set up spotting scopes so people could look up into the trees to see the huge clusters of butterflies. Touring the conservatory was free and a must do if you are in the area.
I also have to give a shout out to the folks at Trans-King Transmissions in Arroyo Grande, close to Pismo Beach. A big part of having an enjoyable road trip is making sure that your rig is well maintained. After 3 months on the road it was time to get the transmission serviced and the oil changed. They got us right in, had reasonable prices, offered to drive us somewhere so we wouldn’t have to waste our day in their waiting room. When we were picking up the truck the office manager inquired about what we like to do. When he found out we like to hike, he immediately pulled up a map of his favorite hike and printed out directions to the trailhead. Talk about service!
Our evenings in Pismo Beach were consumed by the World Series. Being on the West Coast the games started right around sunset so we watched the sunset on the beach and then scurried to our camper to watch the game every night. I’m sure our neighbors were wondering what we were doing in there every night, but I think the Illinois license plates and the cheering and groaning gave it away. We are Cardinals fans but it was still super exciting to see the Cubs in the World Series. We actually decided to extend our stay at the beach for two extra days so we could finish watching the series. We were pretty sure we wouldn’t pick up any TV channels at our next location. It was worth it, that was some good baseball and of course who could pass up a few more days of being beach bums?
Well with the World Series completed and our camper full of sand, it was time to truck on down the road again. Time to start working our way home to Illinois for the holidays. No reason to sweep out the sand though because the desert was calling again. Next stop, Joshua Tree National Park!