Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Story Of Water

  I've seen museums about ancient people, animals and cities. I've seen airplanes, dinosaurs and even rocks. This, however, is the first time that I've come across a museum about water. What can possibly be interesting about water? Well the folks at Vista del Lago Water Museum will gladly tell you a very interesting story.
  Water is the world's most precious resource. Life to our knowledge cannot survive without it and with a state as large and populated as California there needs to be a lot of it to keep things rolling. The current drought situation is wreaking havoc throughout the state and there aren't a lot of green lawns around here. Now some of you may be asking what California's drought has to do with you. Well you need to remember that a lot of the food you purchase from your local grocer and consume each day probably came from California.
  Okay so all that comes into play at this museum. Here the story of how they get water spread out through the state for farmers' crops and the over 38 million people that live here.
  Displays walk you through the massive feat undertaken to create the California Aqueduct which helps move water from Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (SSJD) to the necessary areas of the state. I would have a very hard time explaining this and making it sound interesting but if you're a construction person it's pretty cool. Any job you have to build custom machinery built to accomplish your objective is pretty cool. Other displays tell you about water conservation, history of the area, and the dreaded topic of the drought. I think the best part was on our way out they gave us a shower timer to help remind us to keep our showers to five minutes. I kind of thought this was funny but in actuality we had already implemented that plan when we moved here.
  Vista del Lago sits above Pyramid Lake, the deepest lake along the California Water Project system.and is just off of I-5 and at the northwest border of Los Angeles County. The wrap around porch allows for great pictures of the lake and if you're into water sports make sure you bring your boat for some summer recreation. The museum is free of charge so there really is no excuse to not stop in and see what it's all about. It really is way more interesting than I thought it would be.
  Well I'm still scrambling to get ready for our next adventure to Yellowstone National Park, which we'll be covering in the coming weeks so I'll keep it short and sweet this week so we can all get to our holiday weekend. Please be careful. Have fun and of course, don't burn down the house with the fireworks. See you Tuesday!

Brandan





Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Desert Gem: Joe Davies Heritage Airpark

  It's Saturday morning and you have no plans. The hot, musty garage needs to be cleaned but that doesn't really sound like fun. The scent of last nights dinner still crawls through the house, a reminder of the pile of dishes awaiting your attention. So what is one to do? Get the hell out of the house of course.
  We chose to take a half day road trip to once again explore our new surroundings and through research we learned of a small airplane museum less than an hour away in Palmdale, CA. So we filled a cooler with water, grabbed some snacks and the camera gear and headed out. I suppose those dishes will just have to wait, there's some exploration to do and we had a destination. We were heading for Joe Davies Heritage Air Park.
  We decided to get there earlier in the day considering the temperatures have been hovering around 108 degrees lately and this is an outdoor exhibit. It seemed that we were rewarded with beautiful sunny skies and only two other people in sight, a rarity here in California.
  Joe Davies Heritage Air Park is located at Palmdale Plant 42. What is Palmdale Plant 42? It is a United States Air Force facility that is home to names such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin (Skunk Works), and NASA. Here aircraft have been designed, built, and tested since the nineteen thirties and is currently where the F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, and others are being put through their paces.
 Plant 42 also has a deep history with NASA and on display is a 747 that was used to transport shuttles from Palmdale's assembly plant to Kennedy Space Center where the orbiter would blast it's way out of the atmosphere.
  Here on terrafirma we can see an F-16, a C-46 Commando, and space shuttle evacuation sled nicely displayed with concrete paths that weave through the exhibit and they've sprinkled in some shade trees to help keep you cool on those extra warm days.
  As an added bonus there is another small aircraft museum just across from the parking lot of Joe Davies. This one is the Blackbird Air Park. This museum is a kind of annex location of Air Force Flight Test museum. This location pays tribute to the Lockheed SR-71, a favorite of mine as a kid. Next to it is an A-12, the predecessor to the SR-71. The small trailer next to the exhibit is full of old photographs, posters and memorabilia that you can browse through. The volunteers inside are really, really knowledgeable about these planes and their history. I didn't get out of there in a hurry that's for sure. I learned a lot about these planes and the fellas inside love to teach you about them so make some time to listen to them. It's fun, trust me.
    Overall it was worth getting out of the house to head up their. We got to learn something about really cool airplanes like the F-100 Super Sabre, once a member of the famous Thunderbirds and we got to get away from the house. This is just another example of the things you didn't know existed until you went looking for them. The bad news is that now we have to go do those pesky dishes.
  Joe Davies Heritage Air Park is free of charge and is open Friday through Sunday 11 am to 4 pm. Learn more at http://www.cityofpalmdale.org/Airpark and http://afftcmuseum.org/visit/blackbird-airpark/ .

Have a great week!

Brandan

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Outskirts Of Town: Fillmore, UT

Photo courtesy of Pam Rowley
  If you've traveled Interstate 15 through central Utah you've passed through the little community of Fillmore. You may have even stopped there for gas or a quick snack. It's a quiet town with plenty of space and a little history.
  In today's crowded and busy lifestyle it's probably hard to believe that this community was once the capital of the Utah Territory from 1851-56. Of course some things never change and the sleepy little town wasn't quite up to par with what the Territory needed to make it as the capital so they moved it to the more populous Salt Lake City. The Utah Territorial State house still stands today as a reminder of to Fillmore's deep historic roots.
  What some people may not know is that Fillmore is an access point to the one of the most popular ATV/UTV trail systems in the country, the Paiute Trail. This well marked and mapped trail system accesses over 2000 miles of dirt roads (not a typo) and travels through four counties. Because of the ease of access from town, Fillmore is a natural fit for an ATV Jamboree and they have a popular one. The National ATV Jamboree invites participants to explore the trails with other like minded folks and a trail guide to help keep getting lost to a minimum (I'm not going to dare say that people haven't gotten lost before, I've seen too much.)
Map Check! Photo: Teressa Rich
   Fillmore, like many other rural Utah towns, is ATV friendly. What does that mean? Well they embrace ATV's and UTV's and allow them to travel the city streets. Of course there are roads you can't travel on and you need to follow all of the speed limits, street signage, and rules of the road as if you were in a car but that's just common sense. If you're a little rusty on your hand signals then I'll suggest you look into the purchase of a street legal kit for your ride. Adding turn signals, a horn and brake light if needed allows you to street register your vehicle for street operation but this isn't a requirement in this smaller towns as of yet. So respect the road if you're their people. The ability to drive on the streets allows you to easily access the trail system from either a camp spot, or one of the hotels in town and you won't be the only filthy ATV rider to enjoy an afternoon milkshake at Larry's Drive In.
Courtesy of Teressa Rich
 
 
  The trails for the most part are pretty easy in this area allowing for more scenic and leisurely trail rides. The clean air is a fresh change of pace and being surrounded by acres of trees seems to have an odd but homey feeling that reaches deep into our suppressed natural instincts of wanting to be untamed and free.
  Deer frequent the forest and if you're lucky you'll come across some of the wild turkey's that pop up here and there. I never get used to seeing them especially when they're standing right in the road, usually around a blind corner. If only it were that easy during hunting season.
  One of my favorite trails in this area takes you up a small creek nestled in a narrow canyon with tall trees surrounding you on both sides. It's not a very long road but the environment is so much fun that you may just turn around and head back down. Warning: This trail is only for vehicles 50" or smaller. They take this very serious and I can promise you that there is a citation in your future if you're caught. If you can get past their gate keeper rocks at the trail heads that is. Also pay attention to the water levels in this canyon. During the spring the water can be deep and you may just find that ATV's don't do well as canoes.
Courtesy:Pam Rowley
  So there's a quick rundown on what you can find in Utah's rural back country. The best part is that this isn't the only small town of it's kind. Richfield and Mayfield also provide access to a plethora of off road exploration opportunities that you should take advantage of. So next time you stop for a fill up in one of our little towns don't be afraid to ask the locals a few questions about the area. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you've been missing.
  Stay safe this weekend peoples! See you next week.

Brandan

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A world with out Fry Sauce.

In beautiful Utah they have a secret treasure.  We don't try to keep it a secret.  I really didn't know it was a secret until I left the state for the first time. We have fry Sauce.   There I sit at a restaurant with my family.  I get a chicken sandwich and fries.  "Is there anything else I can get you?" the waiter asks.  Fry sauce was my immediate reply.  The look on his face said it all.  There is no such thing as fry sauce here.

Its a special blend of ketchup and mayonnaise that can be as simple as that or as elaborate as you want to make it.  When I'm whipping up a batch at home I generally do a mix of BBQ sauce and mayo or Ketchup, mayo and diced pickles.  You can add spices and seasonings to your hearts desire but the basics are all the same. It doesn't look like the most beautiful thing in the world but its tasty and makes me miss home a bit.

The Utah based chain Arctic Circle claims to have invented the sauce that I love so much.  Its always been there for me.  I love it on fries, I've had it on tacos, I put it on sandwiches and I didn't think it would be something the rest of the world didn't know about. Okay not the rest of the world.  I know that parts of Idaho have it because I have had it there before.  Do you have fry sauce too?

Here is a recipe for it but really there isn't one needed.  Just know that this is special stuff.  People have opinions about the right way to make it perfect and sometimes they are strong opinions.  There are no right or wrong ways if you make it the way you want it made.  Try it out and you might love it too.


This got me wondering what other tasty treasures were out there we have no idea about.  Does each state or area have their own secret concoction we would be missing out on if we didn't try as we explored our way through? What are the can't miss items from where you are all from?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Peace In The Big City

When I found out I was going to be moving to Southern California, all I could think about was how many people there would be and how horrible the traffic tends to be. Both of these things are bad for a person like me but I figured that I could tough it out for two years. Easy right? Well I'll have to get back to you on that part but I will say that so far things are going alright. But it hasn't taken long for me to miss my mountains and wish I were wandering my way through their countless hiking paths leading to beautiful vistas and waterfalls. Well you can guess at how red in the face I was when I found out how many places there are here to go hiking and how close they were to my own home.
  With a quick Google search we narrowed our options down to a trail just fifteen minutes from the house and just off highway 14. A former cattle ranch belonging to the Walker family in the early 1900's is now the site of a small trail system leading into the mountains (they call them mountains but from where I come from it's a stretch. Jk.) All that remains of the ranch today are some old troughs scattered through the trees. I didn't see any but they tell me they're there. The hike to the Walker Ranch site is 1.5 miles and is relatively easy so it's good for the kids and those that are just trying to get back into hiking as we are.
  At the ranch the road splits into two more trails allowing you to extend your hiking experience a little further if you choose to do so. We were interesting in taking the fork that would lead us to a waterfall but since California is still in a drought there is no water in it right now and we got a late start so we opted to head back. But I can't tell you how good it felt to feel like we were away from the city. Sure we could see the highway every once in awhile and you might hear it a bit but it was good enough to quench my thirst for some seclusion. Sort of, there were quite a few people out there but everyone we came across was pleasant and seemed to be having a good time as well.
Tiny frog we found at the trail head
 We look forward to coming back on a day we can get started earlier so that we can make it to the waterfall and explore more of the surrounding area. You just don't know what you're going to find until you get out and lay eyes on for yourself. I've since done more research and found even more areas here in the Santa Clarita area and even more down in Los Angeles. I guess I'd have to say that the moral of the story would be something like not judging a book by the cover or some other cliche thing to say but in this case it's pretty much the truth. Stay safe in your adventures this weekend folks. See you next week!
Brandan

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It's An Oddity, Charlie Brown

  We've managed to do it again. We have already come across yet another roadside oddity in a small town called Littlerock, California. Sadly this one had to be pointed out to me because although I've passed multiple times (it's only 45 minutes from the house) I pass it when I'm in a hurry to get to Valencia or as we're rushing to get home to Salt Lake. It was only a flash in my side vision each time. Luckily someone I know that wasn't in such a hurry happened to stop in to check it out. After hearing their story I knew we had to go for ourselves.
  Charlie Brown Farms got it's start as a fruit stand way back in 1929 and over the years has grown into a six acre complex. Here you can find countless goodies to fill your basket with. Whether it's one of their 1000 varieties of candy, vintage toys, old fashioned soda pop, or jerky (over 60 different types) you'll find something for everyone at this place. I'm betting you'll be hard pressed to not buy a little something here on your visit.
  There are three buildings overflowing with merchandise to look through but keep in mind each building is full of stuff so watch your step and mind your kiddies and hope your lucky enough to be there at a slow time. We spent a lot of time trying to be skinny as we passed by other people and saying "excuse me" soon turns into a smile and a nod because after five minutes it feels like you've overused the term to the point no one cares but that's part of the charm of this place.

  Do you like honey? Maybe you fancy some Maple syrup? They have it here on tap. Pick your poison and fill up a container you won't regret it, I've been eating honey for lunch for a week now because it's so good. If salad dressings or sauerkraut is your thing they have that too. If none of that tempts you then how about funnel cakes, fresh fudge, or Texas BBQ. Yes BBQ. We were there for lunch so naturally we chose to eat here. I've been on a tri-tip kick lately and I kept the streak alive here. I am a little sad I didn't go for an Ostrich burger and I can't believe I passed on a Bison burger. I never do that. Just trust me that there is something for everyone in this place and you have to see it to believe it.
  So if you ever find yourself looking for something a little different and you happen to be traveling through a little place called Littlerock, stop in and stretch your legs. You can't miss it. It's the building with the Velociraptor standing out front. If your into that sort of thing make sure you walk through the back area with all the life size statues and stuff. Crazy fun. Charlie Brown Farm's is a neat little place that is definitely worth seeing at least once but considering how close it is to my place here in California and that I have to pass it on the way home to Utah, you can bet you'll find me in there again soon.
  See you Friday!

Brandan



Friday, June 10, 2016

Technology Is Great, Until It Isn't

  I happened to read across a story in the newspaper last week about Geraldine Largay, a 66 year old hiker who found herself in worst of circumstances a few years ago. She disappeared while hiking the Appalachian Trail in Maine back in July of 2013. She had been hiking with a friend when unexpectedly an emergency at home called her friend away. Rather than go back with her, Geraldine decided to continue alone on the trail. Unfortunately this decision proved to be a fatal one. Her body would not be found for over two years and roughly 3.000 feet from the trail that eluded her. It's bad enough that this story has a sad ending but it's even more depressing after you learn that she survived for at least 26 days and left behind a journal documenting her struggles.
 
   We can criticize, ask countless questions about the decisions she made, and scoff at her plight but of course in the end we'll sympathize with her and her loved ones. As someone that has been lost in the wilderness I know some of the things that run through your mind when you're in a situation like this and many of you can relate but what I really want to focus on here it how technology failed Geraldine.
  Technology is great. We use it every day whether we're binge watching old TV shows, sending work related emails, or posting funny cat videos to YouTube we can't escape it. It's just part of our lives these days. We're so integrated with technology that we sometimes forget that it can fail us, for one and there are still places on this planet that it doesn't work. Geraldine tried to send multiple texts to her family asking for help from police. The test never sent. She couldn't get a signal even after trying to get higher in elevation. Yes, in the end the technology that makes communication so simple had betrayed her in the end.
 I'm not interested in getting into the what if's and why didn'ts. It doesn't matter but the lesson we need to take away from this story is that we should be prepared for as much as possible when we take on a back country adventure. Cell phones may not work deep in the woods. GPS has limited signal in thick trees and definitely in canyons. CB and HAM radios are limited to line of site and a compass is only good if you learn how to use it before trying it in the real world. A road trip can end abruptly even if you are religious about changing the oil and rotating your tires. Ahhh! There are just too many variables. All I'm trying to say is please, please plan ahead. Tell others where you're going and how long you plan to be gone. Whenever possible travel with companions and study maps of the areas you're going into. Take a little extra food and water with you and make sure you know how to build shelter and can start a fire. If you you don't know how to do some of these things you can always find a course locally or online that can teach you some of these things. There's no shame in admitting you don't know something and there are plenty of wilderness and preparedness courses available to teach you things that could save your life someday.
  One of the last entries in Geraldine's journal was the following:

"When you find my body, please call my husband George and my daughter Kerry.  It will be the greatest kindness for them to know that I am dead and where you found me - no matter how many years from now.  Please find it in your heart to mail the contents of this bag to one of them."

 I'm sure this was one of the hardest things Geraldine Largay ever had to write and to be honest it's creepy in a way. She had been alone long enough, without food or water that she knew no one was coming to find her. Accepting her fate, she wrote down her final wishes in a small notebook in a place that in any other circumstance would probably be a very beautiful spot to be sitting. Please take her story to heart before venturing into the wild. Learn from it but don't fear the great outdoors. Instead, take an opportunity to brush up on some skills and teach others to be a little more cautious. Now let's go find something cool to do this weekend! Safe adventures to you all and we'll see you next week.

Brandan

R.I.P. Geraldine Largay

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Beat the heat in Hurricane Harbor.

When the news tells you that you are going to be experiencing your first over 100 degree day in your new surroundings, don't panic!  You know that whole saying "When life hands you lemons make lemonade".  Instead of lemonade we jumped into a giant chlorine filled pool of awesome sauce and had an adventure.  I'm talking about Hurricane Harbor in the beautiful but warm Valencia California.

Back home in Utah we spent a lot of our warm days at a local water park.  It was filled to the brim with children every day it was open.  It was a constant job to watch which bobbling head belonged to your little person in a sea of bobbing heads.  Here in California, where the world is a just a bit bigger and more crowded, I assumed that the water park would be ten fold what we experienced at our home park.  I'm assuming that we experienced a miracle this week because the park was peacefully packed.  As we drove up to the parking lot my sweet daughter was counting school buses as they dropped off their loads of passengers.  She made it to around 40 before she gave up and lost count.  Im not sure where they hid everyone but I'm not complaining either.

This is a picture of their lazy river.  Is that what it is called?  I can't  really remember, but that is what I am calling it because I can lay back and float along in a very lazy way while the river takes me on a trip around the park.  The water was shockingly cold.  Maybe it was just the difference between the air temperature and the water but it was a hard few steps in.  After that we were giddy with excitement.  We played shark which is where I hum the tune of Jaws and chase my kids down in the water until they can get to a safe point, then I go after the other kid. This is why I needed the lazy river.  Its a tough workout to run in water!

The lazy river goes around the little kiddie area.  I wish I had a tiny one to play in at home. It had everything you could want to keep your littlest of friends excited to play here.  It was complete with a giant bucket of dumping water and pretty big slides that dropped out in to a shallow pool.  Really just this small area was a park in itself.  One thing that Hurricane Harbor does very well is to give you a lot of places to sit that are close enough to watch the action happen.  I am an admitted Diet Coke addict.  I know it's  awful for my body but its therapeutic on my soul.  I was able to get a soda and have my choice of a bunch of places to sit where I could still keep a good eye on my kids.  They had a lot of lounge chairs that we shaded as well.

We spent the first half of the day discussing whether we wanted to get tubes for $7 a day or a year rental for $35.  We talked about how often we thought we would visit the park and how often we would want a tube.  We opted for no tube at all on this trip.  As it turns out, Hurricane Harbor has tubes for you to use on tube friendly rides.  This was mind blowing to me.  In the past if we wanted to ride the slides that needed the tubes we needed to provide our own.  Its one of the ways the park gets its money form us right? The tube would have been cool in the wave pool and the lazy river for sure but it wasn't at all necessary for a great time.  The yellow tubes are kept at the bottom of the slides and where you enter the lines.  You pick one up at the bottom and leave it there when you arrive at the
They had a great amount of rides to choose from, each with its own theme and feel to it.  We didn't get to ride on this ride.  We ran out of energy before hitting everything at the park.  It's a rapids ride.  You get a big blue raft and you ride down a huge slide full of twists and splashes.  This is a must do for our next time here. It is a huge park full of fun options.  In the link I placed in the first paragraph you can explore the park and all of its slides and rides.  The list is impressive.



When I was younger I had no fear.  I could tackle any big ride with excitement and eagerness.  I'm not sure what happened.  Its not that way anymore no matter how much I'd like it to be so.  It was like a switch was flipped in my mind when I entered mother mode and suddenly it mattered if my life was cut short when I drowned in a freak slide accident.  I try to hide it for the most part but there are times when it takes over and you aren't in control anymore.  Enter the slide part of our adventure.  Its just a water slide.  I tell the kids that the park is all new to us and I walk over to a set of stairs going up.  The plan was to see where this path takes us and experience what it had to offer.  These blue and yellow drops of doom were waiting for us at the top of the stair way that went on forever. You literally stand in a tube that they lock you in and after the right amount of water fills the tube up the floor drops out and gravity takes over.
Absolute fear was all I could feel, but youcan't  admit that to a 14 year old boy and an 11 year old girl.  They smell fear and suddenly you are not the authority figure any more.  I already look up to both of them since they passed me in height eons ago.  Chickening out was not an option. Luckily there was another option.  The Black Snake Summit offers two pitch black slides that you lay in and glide your way down.  This was my way out and I was very grateful for it.  As the men in line before us got in the drop slides and we listened to them howl in surprise I knew that this day I made a wise decision.  I entered the black snake with full confidence.  That confidence was soon dashed.  The slide is dark and not visible to others.  This is a good thing because I was doing my best to keep my composure but I was failing. At 75 feet high and 500 feet of twist and turns this was no kiddie ride.  There was sudden drops and turns so fast you were tossed about like a washing machine.  I ended the slide with my sunglasses half way off and on, my swim suit rolling up my stomach and my composure visibly shaken.  It was a roller coaster without a lap bar.  It was fast, it was dark and if I was brave it would have been the best water slide I had ever been on.  I'll pull up my courage and try again next time,but we're  all friends here and so there is no judgement right? I might even attempt the drop slides when I've built up my courage enough.

 The park offers lockers for $20 if you need a family size or $14 for a small size.  You can get in and out all day long so its worth the cost.  We got a small locker and it held a backpack with three towels, three pairs of shoes and my wallet.  We could have jammed a few other small things in there but it was a tight fit so not  much more.  We grabbed my wallet and ran to the gift shop to buy water shoes.  The ground was scorching hot and unbearable to walk on barefoot.

With money in hand we went right over to the food stand.  It seemed like it was us and everyone else in the park waiting there to eat.  Many of us were toting the 2016 refillable drink cup.  We bought it at Magic Mountain but it works here as well so yay for free sodas! Free refills all year for around $25 was a steal of a deal. It was a hot day and I needed it. We also got some food but it was nothing overly special.  We were fed and happy and that is all that really mattered.  Burgers, chicken fingers, salads,  hot dogs and nachos were our options.




For those who are looking for adult beverages there is a Grub and Grog place.  I'm not sure if the food options are the same or not.  I'd think there would be a menu online but I couldn't see one anywhere.





After eating we went back to the wave pool to end our day of fun. Its huge!  There is a big screen television at the far end allowing you to watch Looney Toons cartoons and VH1 music videos.  This was a little weird since the sound was of to the screen and instead music was playing.  As you sit and watch a music video different music plays through the pool area.  In the summer nights they do this awesome thing where they play movies on this screen and you can watch them from the surrounding areas. It's called Dive-In Movies and my son is so excited to try this one out.  We will for sure get a tube that day!

 Overall it was a great park that way over delivered on fun for what we expected.  We can't wait to go back.  As you played in the water Magic Mountain roared in the back ground.  You could hear the screams as Goliath rushed down its 255 foot drop.  They share a parking lot so if you get the annual parking pass then your parking is as easy as your Magic Mountain days. 

 I'm a lucky gal to have a hubby that works hard so that I can have so much fun with our minis.  I really am so blessed to have him. We have lived here in California for about two months now.  The kids and I have enjoyed about a dozen days in amusement parks of one kind or another.  Brandan on the other hand has visited Universal Studios after work days and Magic Mountain on weekends.  Part of me feels guilty for all the fun we have while he slaves away.  There is another part of me that knows that he loves us and wants us to cram all the fun we can into our lives and live them to the very fullest.  This is the part of me that I am going to follow.  There is a lot of adventure out there and were going to find our share.  

Live your life so that you have memories and not dreams. 

XOXO
Misty

Friday, June 3, 2016

My What Big Teeth You Have: Le Brea Tar Pits

The La Brea Tar Pits are something I've heard of all my life and they have been on my list of must see places for a long time. As a kid I'd let my imagination run wild with thoughts of saber toothed cats and large mammoths venturing in to the sticky goo and meeting their end. Of course this was before I knew how agonizing a death like this would be but hey, I was a kid. Don't judge.
  With a three day weekend upon us we took a break from the boring and headed into L.A. to check out the pits. This was the first time in the big city for most of the family and they were pretty excited to see some of the famous Hollywood landmarks and streets that you hear about in songs. My daughter found seeking Ferrari's and other exotic cars to be quite a fun game. This makes me want to take her to the Peterson's Automotive Museum which I came to find out is pretty much right across the street from the tar pits.
  We parked on the street, fed the meter some change and walked in to an open park. Here you'll find plenty of manicured grass and trees and if it weren't for the odd fenced areas scattered here and there you would think you were passing through just another city park. But those fenced areas are what you've come to see. The pits. Leaves and dust cover most of the pits and can make it difficult to see them until it's too late. This fact has always been true which is part of the reason so many animals met their fates here, although the odor emitted from the pits should have given them a pretty good idea something wasn't right. It isn't an odor that you smell from the street but you don't exactly have to have your nose in it to get the idea.  

    After walking the grounds we headed to the museum. Here we got to see just what they found inside the pits. The skeletons of horses, sloths, saber toothed cats, and a mammoth are the highlights of the museum but there is so much more. They have a display filled with tar and some large pistons that you can pull that give you the sense of just how sticky the tar is and how difficult it would be to escape it's grasp. It wouldn't be impossible to escape if you had a friend but as one ancient woman discovered being alone can be fatal. Her remains are the only human remains found in the pits and in case you were wondering, there are no dinosaur bones in the pits.
  In the center of the museum is a glass walled lab where much of the sorting and cleaning of fossils takes place every day in front of your eyes. It's a neat feature that kind of puts you right in the heart of an active dig and allows you to see what it takes to care for these delicate treasures.
  In 2006 construction crews broke ground on a new underground parking structure and soon uncovered yet another treasure trove of fossils proving that there is still a lot to be discovered in the heart of the city. The fossils were removed in order for construction to proceed and are now being cleaned and catalogged behind the museum in an area named "Project 23." This is an interactive exhibit but at the time of our visit we didn't have the chance to see exactly what's going on.
  We spent 2 and a half hours there but you could be be longer if you wanted to really dig deep into each exhibit. We didn't spend as much time as we should have learning about the mining or Native American history. I guess I'll have to go back and take care of that. 
  Be safe this weekend and find something cool to explore in your own back yard and we'll see you next week.

Brandan