Medlin 2013 Family Trip to San Diego travel blog

A bunch of Monarch butterflies

The historic boardwalk at Santa Cruz

Sunset at Santa Cruz


I spent this morning catching up on my diary because I was too tired last night & had a lot to write about Fort Ross. While I was doing that I could also put through a load of washing so it was quite a productive morning.

After a quick lunch I went to find a Visitors’ Centre to get some maps & information about what to see. I love coming to an area which I know absolutely nothing about & seeing what I can find. If I’d known about Santa Cruz’s reputation for an ‘alternative lifestyle’, I probably wouldn’t have come, just like I probably wouldn’t have gone to Glastonbury a couple of years ago but I would have missed out on some interesting places.

Santa Cruz has a long history as a surfing Mecca. Some Hawaiian princes visited here in the early 1900s, made surfboards from redwood & astounded the locals with what they could do. Later, the wetsuit was invented here & they even have a surfing museum in the old lighthouse, which I don’t think I’ll bother with. Obviously, the surfing culture is alive & well with some very strange characters around but I think they’re all pretty harmless.

But one thing I didn’t know was that Santa Cruz is the winter home for the Monarch butterfly. As winter approaches, adult butterflies migrate southward from Canada or the northern US & because of the mild climate, will spend the winter here. In early spring the females are the first to leave & travel north, laying eggs along the way. Monarch broods born in the spring or early summer will live on 4 – 5 weeks. Several generations will live & die before the flock reaches its northern destination.

The overwintering generation, born in the late summer may live up to 5 or 6 months & in early autumn they will continue the annual migration & begin their journey southward. They don’t become active until the temperature reaches at least 55F & it was a bit chilly today so they were mostly in clumps, keeping warm. Interestingly, one of their favourite trees is the Australian Blue Gum but they’re very hard to see because they just look like a bunch of dead leaves.

So I learned all that today & saw my first bunch of Monarch butterflies. Also, there were thousands & thousands of birds flying overhead. I found out they were Brown Pelicans & that shoals of sardines had come into Monterrey Bay so it was almost a feeding frenzy. The girl at the Visitor Centre said they’ve also brought in whales, dolphins & orcas but I didn’t see any today.

There was lots of dappled cloud & it looked like it would be a spectacular sunset so I walked a couple of blocks to the ocean but it wasn’t as good as last night. It was still beautiful though.

Dinner was Clam Chowder cooked by Shirley out of a can, accompanied with toasted sour-dough bread which was much superior to the overpriced, lukewarm offerings of the Chowder House at Point Arena. Now that I’ve finally found out how to work the TV, it’s time to relax.



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