Ko Olina looking toward Nanakuli Head, Oahu, HI, December 5, 2016

Ko Olina looking toward Nanakuli Head, Oahu, HI, December 5, 2016
Ko Olina looking toward Nanakuli Head, Oahu, HI, December 5, 2016

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Migrating Monarch Monday - October 12, 2015

Oops, forgot to mention a couple of items from our drive south to San Angelo. Bob and I take turns driving. I try to drive on main highways and avoid driving in cities whenever possible.

On Sunday, when I took over driving duties from Bob, we weren't but 10-15 minutes into our drive when I saw something black flapping at the 5th wheel tire. I thought maybe the tire was coming apart. Found a good place to pull over. Bob got out and checked to see what it was. Apparently the cover for the dump tank, that screws onto the outlet, had come loose and was flapping in the breeze.

We took off again and I was singing along to one of our CDs when I looked in the rear-view mirror 45 minutes later and saw the door to our propane compartment swinging back and forth wildly. It had come unlatched. Pulled over to a safe spot again and Bob duct taped that compartment door shut.

There was quite a breeze as we headed south, so the trailer was doing some swaying. Sigh. Time for Bob to drive again. San Angelo State Park was a welcome oasis after six hours on the road!

Our main objective in staying at San Angelo State Park was to see the migrating Monarch butterflies. They're on their way south to Mexico and blogger friends mentioned the monarchs were there (on our -- and their -- way home).

First thing Monday morning, we paid for our night at the state park (and our new yearly pass). We asked the ranger where to find the Monarch butterflies. She told us they were at the north campground but couldn't be more specific than that. All-righty then, we'll find them ourselves.

We drove five miles to the north campground at San Angelo State Park. There were two entrances but one of them had a closed gate so we headed for the open entrance. As we drove into the park, Monarch butterflies were quickly evident flying around the park road. We scoped out the trees, but didn't see where they were hanging out.

Through the campground we went searching for the "butterfly tree" but not finding it. We saw a young family packing up and stopped to ask the mom where there was a tree with butterflies in it. She was very helpful and told us if we drove down to the end of the road we would see lots of butterflies, but the tree was across the river. She didn't think we could cross the river from the side of the park we were in and told us to use the gate on the other side of the river. We thanked her and slowly drove out of the park.

As we were headed out, I was watching prairie dogs on my side of the truck. All of a sudden Bob slams on the brakes and says, "I've got to show you something, you're gonna love it!" He then backed up and showed me this...

SNAKE!
This snake was about five feet long. Not a rattlesnake, no rattle on it, even though the pattern kind of looks like one. It was huge. When it got to the grass, it went around in a circle, looked back at us, then disappeared down into its burrow in the grass. Kind of a "now you see it, now you don't" disappearing act. I'll never walk on grass the same way again...I'll be thinking about what lives in a hole under the grass.

Snake circling the wagon, head toward us on the right.
It's no wonder that snake is so big if it's been feasting on the prairie dogs on the other side of the road!

A little farther down the road, we saw wild turkeys, but I could only capture one of them in the shadows.

Find the wild turkey.
Back out of this part of the campground, we turned left, headed across the river, and turned left at the closed gate entrance to the equestrian part of the campground. Bob got the gate open and we continued our search for the butterflies. I remember someone saying they were near a pavilion. We drove the road all the way to the end, saw a pavilion (and some wild turkeys), saw lots of Monarchs, and I hopped out of the car to hopefully follow them to their tree. Bob kept driving and parked the car on the other side of the grassy area where all the trees were.

More wild turkeys
I found the butterfly tree!! Happy dance! Ever since we vacationed in Pacific Grove, California for seven straight years (another place Monarch butterflies migrate through), I have wanted to see them. In Pacific Grove it was always the wrong time of year. So happy we finally saw migrating Monarchs.

Monarch butterflies in the tree.
When their wings are closed they look
like fall colors or discolored leaves.
So beautiful!
Grove of trees where we found the majority of the Monarchs
Wild turkeys
These turkeys paid us no mind and kept on eating.
The other thing I REALLY wanted to do while we were in San Angelo was the water lily Volksmarch. However, my feet were still so sore from all the hikes over the weekend that the water lily walk was not an option today. We plan to return to San Angelo for a long weekend trip and do the two Volksmarches and other exploration then.

I took one more photo of our site at San Angelo State Park before we hit the road home. I must say, San Angelo State Park (south side) is VERY close to the town of San Angelo. Easy to get to restaurants and stores. The roads into the parks are very nice.

The state park had lots of wild turkeys and quail. I was surprised to see the prairie dogs. Didn't know they lived around here. We had a most excellent weekend and look forward to more exploration in this part of Texas.

Our site at San Angelo State Park
Travel Bug out.

10 comments:

  1. Beautiful photos of the monarchs. What a great experience.

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    1. Thank you, Jan. Experiencing a new area and finding gorgeous Monarchs is one of the reasons we like traveling so much.

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  2. Love the monarchs! We've seen them in California too, didn't know they came through San Angelo. We liked San Angelo SP, though the lake was almost non existent when we were there. We also saw a snake on a hike there...a rattler!

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    1. Being from the West Coast we never knew Monarchs migrated through Texas either, until about three weeks ago. That's when I saw it on the blog and knew we had to go see them especially since we were passing through San Angelo TWICE. Didn't have time to see them on the way north.

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    2. P.S. There's lots of water in the lake now. The storm we just had passed by that way and there was already water in it two weeks ago.

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  3. Loved the monarch photos. Looks like a nice Texas stop, for sure.

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    1. Yes, Sue. We're from Oregon originally like you and we've been surprised by how pretty parts of Texas are. Different than Oregon for sure, but pretty in its own way.

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  4. I was feeling pretty sorry for you on such a long drive and thinking there are few things I'd drive 6 hours in one day to see but then you said Monarchs and I knew I'd definitely do it. Beautiful pictures. Glad you were able to track them down. I just can't get over how tired they must be from that flight. Being from the East Coast, I'm not sure I've ever even known someone who has seen a Monarch Tree. Great stuff!! Thanks!

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    1. Monarch butterflies are very interesting insects. When they migrate south at the end of summer they are not in a reproductive phase. That means they can live up to eight months. Most Monarch butterflies in the reproductive phase in spring and summer live only a few days.The trees the Monarchs rest in during migration could be any type of tree. There is not a tree species called a Monarch Tree (as far as I know).

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    2. P.S. Monarch butterflies migrate on the East Coast too.

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