Monday, December 7

California dreaming

I'm back in California. I finally caught a flight to Los Angeles this morning after an unplanned 24-hour delay. Yesterday when I arrived at Heathrow I discovered my flight had been rescheduled several months back. Somehow I'd lost these updated details and as a result the only LA flight for the day had already departed. British Airways took pity on me and rebooked me on today's flight.

It's rather chilly in Los Angeles at the moment. I cannot recall it being quite so cool on previous visits. The weather was sunny earlier today despite the cold. It seemed a shame to pass up an opportunity to be outside for a few hours and so I caught a cab to Hancock Park, home of the La Brea Tar Pits. This is an amazing natural phenomenon right in the heart of Los Angeles. It's a series of pits where crude oil and asphalt have been seeping slowly from the ground for more than 40,000 years.

The sticky black sludge has been collecting in shallow pools, trapping animals tempted by surface rainwater. Once ensnared these unfortunate creatures eventually succumb to the elements and die. Over the centuries thousands of unsuspecting animals suffered this fate including giant Ground Sloths, Mammoths and Sabre-tooth Tigers. Since 1914 their fossilised bones have been excavated, cleaned and catalogued. You can also see a just some of these remarkably well preserved specimens in a purpose-built museum at Hancock Park. I'll share more details tomorrow.

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