The very first time I saw the words "Grover Beach" on a California map, I knew I wanted to visit that location, because "Grover" was also the name of my son and my grandfather.
The first time I was able to actually go there was back in the early 2000's, when my Aunt Charlotte and I made a road trip up the California coast, from her home in Escondido. (Note to self: never-ever try to drive through Los Angeles in a rented car on a Friday night!)
Recently, however, I had the opportunity to return to Grover Beach, but this time it was coming from northern California, and I was not the one driving! HURRAH!
Instead, my cousin had borrowed her daughter's big, roomy Ford Expedition for our journey. I teased her, saying how nice it was to secure a car with a name that went along with the travel blog I write----that also has the word "Expedition" in it! For that reason, when we arrived safely at our destination after being on the road for hours, I wanted to get a photo of the chrome "Expedition" logo that was on the back of the vehicle. After I took the photo, I noticed that it had a reflection of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean, and the image of a cross in the upper right hand corner. The cross reminded me of the verse in Hebrews 13:5 that says "God will never leave you or forsake you." (Even on the busy freeways of California!) It caused me to once again give thanks to God for our safe arrival!
My Aunt Charlotte told me that her previous trip to this area had been via train, and as it turns out, that is a very popular way to get here.
One advertisement I saw said "Ride Amtrak California's Pacific Surfliner to Grover Beach to see the Monarch Butterflies, between November and February. There you will be within walking distance from one of the most popular migration spots for the beautiful Monarch Butterfly. People come from all over the world come to experience the Monarch Grove!" The sign in the photo shows the Amtrak phone number, or you can log on to www.amtrakcalifornia.com for more information.
This mosaic in the floor of the station is a reminder to mention something about the history of Grover Beach. It was founded in 1887 as the "Town of Grover" by Dwight William Grover, but the name was changed by popular vote in 1992 to emphasize its seaside location. Grover Beach has a population of about 13,000 and it is part of the "5 Cities" metropolitan area.
The Chamber of Commerce office is adjacent to the Amtrak station, and I noted that it had a public restroom on the trackside-exterior, that is open even if the office is closed. This enables folks waiting at the Amtrak station to use the facilities, if necessary. You can find out more about other services available at www.grover.org .
Amtrak has an extensive fleet of motorcoaches that it uses to carry passengers to areas that may not be have an actual railroad connection. This sign is alerting passengers that their connecting bus, if needed, is located across the tracks. There was also a hotel just across the tracks.
The Grover Beach brochure points out that they are the location to enter the "Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area". That is a big title that simply means "you can drive on the beach"!
The area is famous for its dunes, and unless an area is roped off for restoration, one can walk all through the dunes to do photography or hike.
Since I was taking my morning "constitutional" walk along the beach each morning, I was thankful there were well-maintained restrooms available at strategic locations!
One can also ride their own horse on the beach, or arrange to participate in a fee-based, guided coastal ride.
But you do not have to pay any fees to stand at the ocean's edge, and contemplate the beauty and majesty of God's creation.
Or, for the more adventuresome and skilled, you can try your luck at kite surfing, as this brave soul was doing on the first day we arrived.
This area is said to be the only stretch of beach in California, where it is legal to bring a motorized vehicle. If you do not want to take your own vehicle onto the beach, there are rentals available for all kinds of ATVs and dune buggies.
I am so thankful that the name of this town caught my eye, and caused me to visit it. I have visions of returning at a time when I can see those migrating butterflies! In the meantime, this heart-shaped rock I found on one of my walks there, symbolizes "I left my heart in Grover Beach"! Miles of GROVER smiles! Tricia