We still had a few things to see from our home base in Santa Maria. Bright and early (yeah, right), we headed out to our first stop - Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve.
They weren't the tallest dunes I've ever seen, but they were extensive. Cecil B. DeMille filmed his 1923 epic The Ten Commandments here, then buried all the massive sets in the sand. He was quoted as saying that he hoped some future generation didn't dig them up and think the Egyptian empire extended to California.
The water seemed especially turbulent here.
But we were thrilled to spot a dolphin or porpoise in the surf. Can anybody tell by the fin?
Next we visited Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area. We followed a boardwalk trail over the lake which is fed by Oso Flaco Creek and dammed up by the dunes.
The loop trail also traversed the dunes where we were amazed at the size of the lupine.
This is it! We discovered later that it is a silver dune lupine.
For lunch, we stopped at this cute train car diner in Oceano.
We were excited to hear there is a eucalyptus grove in Pismo Beach where the monarch butterflies hang out in droves.
Unfortunately, it seems they are only there from November to March. But I bet it would really be cool.
Also in Pismo Beach is Dinosaur Caves Park - a cute park with a strange background story.
Here's that story for inquiring minds like Ron's.
The cliffs are riddled with caves, but no dinosaurs.
Our last stop was pretty Avila Beach. When Ron was living in Santa Maria, he and his friends would go to Avila Beach to unwind. He said it didn't look at all familiar, but he was a young man and was just watching the beach bunnies.