The Bountiful and Interwoven Life of the Central California Dunes

The Pismo-Grover-Oceano beaches roll landward as a series of dunes. They begin just past the Pismo Beach boardwalk where they support grasses, shrubs and small trees and stretch southward for miles extending further and further inland and supporting less visible flora as they do. Our little team of explorers often bypassed the beach on windy days headed straight off into the dunes in search of just the right protected spot for our adventures.

If we went early enough and if the wind hadn't already repainted the sands we'd see the tracks and paths left in the night by the residents who were hidden during the day. There's the trails of mice and moles left as they hunted bugs and searched for seeds. The mice were being hunted it turn by the hawks and seagulls during the night. Far from a sterile empty terrain, each morning's fresh tracks showed us how bountiful and interwoven life in dunes, like everywhere else, is.

We enjoyed the privacy in the dunes as well. We'd build terraced gardens and castles on the dune sides, play fetch and chase as best friends often do. We'd be warmed by the sun, outta the wind and unable to hear dune buggies and monster trucks. We almost always visited the Pismo area during the mid-week but one year we managed [mis-managed] to arrive there during the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Never again, there were thousands of huge trucks pulling monster 5th wheel RVs who themselves pulled a trailer full of dune buggies. YIKES!

The beach was full of 'em, it was like a freeway, we didn't dare try our usual meander down to the waves, instead we'd leash up Happy, look both ways and make a run for it. It was a whole different feeling, one day the miles of serene beach is home to a few dog walkers and joggers, the next it's wall to wall monster machines and ATVs silencing the surf with mechanical muscle.

Today i've learned a lot from Nell Langford of Safe Beach Now. They are "dedicated to freeing the beaches, Arroyo Grande Creek, and the Oceano Dunes of South San Luis Obispo County, California, from the dangers and egregious depredation caused by uncontrolled and excessive assault by gasoline powered vehicles." Their videos provide background information and a beautiful look at what could be.