Before Halloween itself, we took the family, plus a niece and nephew, to visit L.A.’s La Brea Tar Pits and the Page Museum for the first time.  The Museum’s vast fossil collection and the existing active tar pits scattered around the grounds made quite an impression.  Weeks ago, I intended to post these very photographs to get us in the mood for the spooky day, but after the fact will have to do.

tiny tar pit

tar and gas bubbling to the surface

AAH! Mastodon in trouble!

Beyond the smelly pits, the Museum grounds were full of just the right kind of entertainment for kids, with twisted trees to climb…

strange growing tunnels to explore…

and a steep grassy slope, begging to be run up and rolled down.

up hill

down hill

and thanks to LACMA, plenty of public art to peruse.

Is it a Calder? It moves like one.

Inside the Page Museum is a treasure trove of bony creatures dug from the depths of the pit:

ground sloth


naturally stained ribcage

sabertoothed cat


including my favorite, the Dire Wolf skull display…

wall of fossils

Dire Wolf skull

these remind me of toothy running shoes

and for the strong among us, a tar strength-tester:

pull up on handle

if you can

could you pull your legs out of the pit?  Not likely.

Perhaps most intriguing of all was the fishbowl lab, where we could peek in on volunteers hard at work sorting and cleaning and gently picking away at the specimens.

delicate work

sign detail

green gloves

origami and tools of the trade

desk detail

I want to touch the paper art


bird skeleton blond

A grand day out was had by all, and this was just the beginning.  Stay tuned!

group shot

L hugs the ground sloth good-bye

more pits to plumb