Saturday, September 12, 2009

Our Summer, Part 1: Landscaping & La Brea

Thanks to all of you who got in touch after the first post last week. It’s great to hear from you!

We spent most of this summer settling into our new home—which included removing lots of plants from an overgrown yard. These photos show some of the clay

sculptures we inherited from the former owner (a retired English teacher-turned-artist). We love his work—his sculptures have an organic quality that fits right into the desert landscape.

In August, we took a day trip to the La Brea Tar Pits to explore one of my recent obsessions: camels. They were native to the California desert during the last Ice Age—in fact, this is where they first appeared on the planet! There were multiple species, from small to extra-large. Many of them literally got stuck in the Tar Pits. (Also, camel fossils have been found throughout the desert, including Joshua Tree National Park.)

This photo shows a panel that's above the entry to the Tar Pits' museum. The camel in the front is mired in the tar. I'm not sure what the animal to the right is, but I'm guessing a bear. In the right rear are a couple of giant sloths. The big bird is a teratorn, which had a wingspan of around 12 feet.

We had a great time at the Tar Pits. They have skeletons of saber-tooth tigers, mammoths, dire wolves, etc., plus you can watch people cleaning new finds. (They were working on a new mammoth skeleton nicknamed “Zed.”)

You can walk around outside and watch methane bubbles rise to the surface on the pond above the pits. It's definitely surreal, what with the billboards and traffic all around. We ate lunch and saw a few exhibits at LACMA, which is right next door.

Next week: a trip to Arizona that uncovered some fascinating family memorabilia.