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Friday, January 23, 2009

Coronado Butterfly Preserve

This past week my wife was invited by some friends from the westside to join them at the Coronado Butterfly Preserve, just north of Santa Barbara. We didn't even know what this was, but it sounded interesting and an opportunity to connect our kids with the local natural environment.

The Coronado Butterfly Preserve gets it's name from the street it's on: Coronado Street, a small residential street in Goleta (off the 101, just north of Santa Barbara). You just park on the street (free) and walk in. Directions and information and be found here:

It's hard to get lost, just follow the signs - or the people walking to and from the grove. According to another site "The 9.3-acre preserve is among the largest monarch butterfly wintering sites in southern California. Thousands of monarch butterflies hang from the eucalyptus trees in thick clusters and fly wildly around."

There were definitely other people there, including a large school group that was just leaving. The time to see it is November through February.

You can click on any of these photos to see larger views. It was amazing seeing hundreds, no - thousands, of butterflies. This is their winter home and they'll be gone by March.

Several of the trees were thick with butterflies. Really amazing. The trees with butterflies were roped off, allowing you to look but not touch (these photos were taken with a zoom lens).

As a Christian, I'm reminded of the places where God uses the natural world to illustrate a point. "Go to the ant ... and observe it's ways" said Solomon. "Consider the birds of the air" said Jesus.

The simple butterfly is never mentioned in Scripture, although Paul uses the Greek word "metamorpho" (where we get the word "metamorphosis") to describe the transformation that takes place, or should take place, in the life of a follower of Jesus Christ.

Our desire as parents is to help our kids integrate their faith into their daily lives, and bring it into the world around them.

Was it worth the drive to see the monarchs? According to my wife, our kids (ages 9 and 6 1/2) liked but didn't necessarily love the experience. It's probably one of those things they'll appreciate more when they get older. There is also a beach immediately next to the preserve, and they really enjoyed exploring and playing with the other two families they were with. If you go, you'll want to make sure it's a sunny day (or at least not raining).

Here's a link with some additional information:

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