The Pits

LA IMG_1418I love the smell of California in the morning. It’s this light freshness that tricks me into believing the day will be cool.

Not so, these past August days.

Today, while tooling around Los Angeles I took in the dichotomy that defines this city. An IHOP that has complimentary valet parking for those that cannot bear circling the block for their rooty tooty fresh and fruity. Art work adorning so many of the buildings, mixed with Spanish-style architecture. Strolling the streets are Louis Vuitton carrying women of means passing the obviously down-trodden, the streets the only common denominator. As far as any of us can tell.

Plopped right in the middle of all of this are the La Brea Tar Pits. They are, as the name announces, actual tar pits, but they are also part of a much bigger park and museum system and much more than a few bubbling black pools.

Variously throughout the property are bright green cones covering tiny little puddles of nearly hard tar for kids, big and small, to poke around and coat some body part or a shoe. There is a museum specifically for the tar pits, an amphitheatre where later there will be a Latin jazz concert and a secret space hidden behind a fence.

Inside the museum on the property were the bones of all the unfortunate animals to get stuck in the muck for the past hundreds of years. A giant jaguar, a bison, a dire wolf and a fully hairy, woolly mammoth stand around looking impressive among their bony friends.

But perhaps the most tantalizing area of this park was Pit 91. That space behind the fence. Nothing brings the bones to life like an active dig. In this 15 foot deep pit the bones of a horse, a saber tooth cat, a giant ground sloth and a dire wolf are all in the act of being recovered. A very tired archeologist sits in one corner as if contemplating his next move while we stare down from high above waiting for something to happen.

When it’s clear this is more of an exhibit than a show, we wander the grounds. My niece wants to climb the trees, but most are covered in tar.

The day is hot and it’s beginning to take its toll on us so after purchasing an ice cold bottle of water we found our way back to the car.

Back on the streets of LA we were brought to some sort of version of the present that could easily be mistaken for equal parts past and future. But that’s just LA.

4 thoughts on “The Pits

    1. There is so much to see and do in LA. the tar pits are pretty cool. Venice Beach is an experience, Hollywood should be seen but it’s probably nothing like you think. Seedy. Griffith Observatory affords a great view. The Getty museum, Santa Monica. So much! The tar pits can fit in between other things. Enjoy the craziness that is LA.

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