LA was on the list of destinations although I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why. It seemed like another stinking apocalyptic urban wasteland to me… It took me days to realize it was probably marked off because of the La Brea Tar Pits. I have wanted to see the La Brea tar pits since I was a tot. I drove in and found the tar pits parking lot. It was almost full with maybe four or five spaces that could only fit the tiniest of cars, not a bloated Jeep. I drove around in circles around and around until the parking attendant made us a spot that didn’t technically exist before. We thanked him and headed towards what looked like a park.
There were kids swarming everywhere but I couldn’t have expected any less. The whole place reeked, a stench like no other. It was the tar pits bubbling away. I walked over towards it. There was indeed a big nasty mud puddle of a pond, it’s top layer covered in thick black goo, and bubbles belching from the deep. It really did smell as bad as it looked. To one corner there was a recreation of a mammoth getting stuck, it’s little mammoth family on shore going, “Noooooooo!” I could tell the mammoth that was stuck was actually floating…
I went into the museum and was told I was getting free admission because it was the first Tuesday of the month. This explained why there were so many children. I walked in and was greeted by a giant ground sloth skeleton. He was a huge beast with very odd feet. I walked around and read the signs and looked at the skeletons. They had everything here from every type of scavenger birds to hundreds of dire wolves, saber toothed cats, jaguars, weasels, mice, amphibians, mammoths, and even one woman.
There was a large laboratory in the middle of the building surrounded by plexiglass so that visitors could watch the paleontologists do their work. There was a woman in there separating grains of sand, one at a time, with a paintbrush, picking out the most minute of bones. She had managed to find maybe four or five miniscule little mice bones. I moved on and saw a mammoth back on display. Poor dear had arthritis of some kind. There was another display showing a mammoth bone next to an Asian elephant bone. I had no idea mammoths were so much bigger!
I stopped to watch a 16 minute documentary that was playing in the theater. It explained how most of the bones came to be here, with one animal getting stuck and then scavengers and predators trying to eat the stuck animal while getting trapped themselves. It also had interesting little tidbits about what the tar pits actually were… raw asphalt basically. Apparently the local Indians used the substance to waterproof their living quarters.
I ended up in the gift shop and decided to buy a magnet. As I sat in line I watched a baby in a stroller play with a blob of black goo, apparently some sort of mock tar toy. I laughed as I said, “Watch her eat that thing.” There was jars of the stuff at the counter and I decided to look at it to see what it actually was. There was no ingredients listed, only a label saying non-toxic. There was a sample smushed in a petri dish with two little dinosaur toys stuck in it. I poked at it and a bored cashier came by and started talking. I don’t really remember what he said initially but someone asked if the woman was on display here. He said she was taken down seven years ago due to political strife from local Native Americans. Seems right.
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