Wednesday, June 15, 2011

La Brea & Hollywood Boulevard

Giving the morning peak-hour a miss (a good excuse for not getting up too early) we left San Diego behind, eventually, & headed north. Although a much shorter & quite different visit than my previous one, once again I really enjoyed my stay there – if in some horrible circumstance I had to choose a big US city to live in, I dare say San Diego would be it.

We are aiming for San Luis Obispo today on Chip’s recommendation (great riding), so that makes for 500 km/300 miles of freeway to get to the coast somewhere between LA & San Francisco. Getting through LA wasn’t nearly as bad as last time I drove from San Fran to San Diego in one day (via the Pacific Coast Highway), & no doubt the traffic would have been a lot better if we hadn’t got distracted around Hollywood. Valerie suddenly remembered that she really wanted to see the La Brea Tarpits, which really aren’t far from Hollywood Boulevard.

We knew a little about the tarpits beforehand but were blown away by just how extensive the paleontological finds were. With the biggest collection in the world (use a Clarkson voice) of fossils in the range of 11000 to 50000 years old, there really are a lot – three million, with at least as many to come from Project 23 (twenty-three big boxes excavated from a parking garage construction). There were sabre-tooth cats, mammoths, mastadons, really big sloths, a giant jaguar & on display over four-hundred dire wolf skulls. That really emphasized just how many animals got trapped in the tar. Coming up from an oilfield below the surface, the tar/asphalt/heavy oil still finds its way to the surface – you could touch some of it as you walked around the park outside the museum. The animals didn’t get trapped & then sink, they got stuck up to a few inches in before dying of starvation, dehydration, exhaustion or ending up as prey (the predators would often get stuck too, so you’d end up with so many different fossils in one big tangle). All in all a great & very interesting place to visit.
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Harlan's Ground Sloth - that's well taller than me

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Californian Sabre Tooth Cat

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A Mammoth - of course

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Still bubbling away - if you look closely enough in this particular picture

We headed back to Hollywood Boulevard to have a quick peak. I was staggered just how many stars there are on the Walk of Fame – but with such a long history of entertainment, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. Also with so many names, I didn’t recognize many of them. We also spent a bit of time checking out the hand & footprints outside the Chinese Theater before heading back to the car to hit the freeway.

Quite a bit of the first part of the 101 followed the coastline, but we had the fog to obscure our view. Since getting through Santa Barbara & giving up the driving, the road has turned north inland & the countryside is beautiful in the early evening light. Lots of rolling hills are now playing host to many vineyards – just when we’ve almost finished those six bottles from Grand Junction.

*It turns out San Luis Obispo is a really, really nice big town with beautiful scenery, lots of bars & restaurants & a great feel to it. We had Moroccan for dinner - the tangine was superb. That & the four cheese meal I had last night reminded me of a few dinners out in Auckland with ye of little Faith... I have a sneaking suspicion that I stopped for lunch in this town two years ago, the streets seem familiar somehow. It must have been when I'd abandoned the foggy Pacific Coast Highway & headed for the 101.

Yes, I was right - "Lunch in San Luis Obispo - a very nice little city & I stumbled upon a great Italian restaurant. I would have stayed the night in San Luis Obispo if I didn't have to get back for court tomorrow as the riding is supposed to be very good." Speaking of the riding, I'm all prepared to hit Montana de Oro State Park tomorrow - I hope the weather is fine for some great views.

Yet another sidenote - it looks like Joel & Kristy (friends from up in Canmore) are planning a roadtrip down this sort of way - might get to see some mates soon, I hope around Tahoe somewhere.

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