Pits, Tar, Dinosaur Bones with a side of Soul Food

Football free Sundays are reserved for Church, Love, Food & Family. Something about being able to just go to breakfast and then end up at a park or a festival, museum or farmer’s market is just the absolute best. I mean usually I am a planner of all planners. I like things organized, mapped out and evenly timed out! But then there are those days when you just take a breath and let the wind take you on a little journey. You may do a lot, you may do very little. And when that happens, that’s when you experience the most magic! Yesterday was one of those magical days!

Hippo, UmMa (my mother) and I decided to trek over the hill for a little brunch at CJ’s Cafe on Pico. Now if you don’t know about eating Catfish, Grits & Cheese Eggs w/ a coffee & fresh squeezed carrot/celery/apple/ginger juice after church on Sundays at CJ’s  than you’re not a true Los Angeles Angel! Roscoe’s ain’t the only thang on Pico Blvd! CJ’s Cafe is one of those local food gems like King Taco, Hugo’s, The Griddle Cafe, Toi On Sunset, Mom’s BBQJohnny’s Pastrami on Adams, Vivian’s Millenium Cafe or Bay Cities. These places make up the food fabric of Los Angeles. On any given day you may visit a place like this and you will definitely see someone you know or knew. Places like this make it seem like our little city is nothing more than the little orange grove town it started out to be. So yesterday seemed like the day for a little CJ’s catfish and grits. However when we got there the line was out the door, it was more packed than Roscoes! So we decided to head to the one in Baldwin Hills which has less café feel, but still all the great food and drinks from the original cafe’s menu! I went in with my heart set on Catfish and grits, as usual, but then something made me change to the chicken wings & waffle! I guess a little switch up never hurt nobody! A little chicken wing and waffle and some greens hit the spot! Jax had chicken wings as well and french toast with mama’s MacGuyver vanilla milk. All I did was add 1.5 Vanilla creamers to his milk and then stirred it up. It went as fast as that french toast he inhaled.

Afterward, we had planned on just coming back over the hill and taking a relaxing day on the couch so we could watch the Oscars. The Oscars for me are an inspiration, for her (the hairstylist) they’re homework! On the way, I asked if she could drive by the LaBrea TarPits so Jax could see the Mammoth Statues on the outside. But when we drove by, it was a little hard to see, so we decided to park and play in the outside park so we could get up close to the outdoor pit. What a great idea! The park was filled with families, kids, kites, laughter and sunshine! Jax took off from the energy around him. Once outside the museum, Jax followed the tracks to the big tarpit that faces Wilshire Blvd. and found himself staring at the big Mammoth display! Little did I know that that would only lead to a string of questions. “Was that?” “That Dinosaur?” “Where Dinosaur, Mommy?” “Where Teef-Wex (T-Rex)” “That Dinosaur Train?” By that point my mother and I realized this kid wouldn’t be satisfied until he saw some more dinosaurs and with a kid’s free admission price, we decided to take a stroll around The Page Museum.

I’ve never heard so many “WHOA!’s” and “COOL!’s” come out of my kid! He was beyond excited about all that was happening in that small museum. The first thing you’re hit with is the Saber-Tooth Tiger hologram. It’s a hologram of a Saber-Tooth tiger that will change into the bone structure of the Saber Tooth tiger. It’s a sweet quaint interesting place. It’s actually the first place I ever went to on a school field trip waaay back in 198…*Cough*! To Jax’s dismay, there was no T-Rex! The exhibits are made up of the fossils that have bubbled up in the tar that lives below the surface in that area. Apparently the Mid-Wilshire district was the real setting of ICE AGE! It would seem that Saber-Tooth tigers, Sloths & Wooly Mammoths were chasing each other up and down Fairfax Blvd. It had been some time since I had been in the museum and they had some pretty cool stuff. The animatronics reminded me a little of the old It’s A Small Small World, where you’re kinda wishing you had brought your can of WD40 with you, but Jax didn’t mind. He was blown away by each exhibit big and small. He ran around pointing and reading all the signs out loud, dragging my mom around back and forth with glee! We didn’t sit in the theatre for whatever the presentation was because Jax just had too much energy and he was also on a quest for this Teef-Wex he was sure would be here with the rest of the prehistoric creatures. One of my favorite parts was the area where the scientists bring the bones back to the lab, restoring and prepping them for exhibition. In that area they had the large leg bones, skull and vertebrae of Zed the Mammoth! I’m not sure how much Jax absorbed when I tried to explain to him that the vertebrae fossil was apart of a Mammoth’s back, but the part he did understand I think blew his mind. He kept looking at it and then reach back to feel his own spine! Yea, kid, his is definitely bigger! I still get amazed when I see things like that. Any kind of document, or fossil or artifact that’s over 100’s of 1000’s of years old! That’s definitely the nerd coming out in me!

Once we circled the museum, the three of us went back outside and Jax took off running on the grass, up and down the giant hill. Across the park is their observation pit where you can see the original digging site where they began gathering fossils from the raw tar years ago. It went from an 8ft. dig to a 15ft excavation dig. Between the Page Museum and the Observation 91 Pit is a great landscaped park with some fun statues, nice trees and trails with fun animal tracks. Jax ran, skipped, hopped and danced all the way over to the observation pit, greeting other kids along the way. Once we got to the Observation 91 Pit and he got to see the bones coming out of the Tar and some of the tar bubbling we were pretty much done. The food in his belly had settled, he had danced until his legs were exhausted and the missing nap time came to a head! It was time to go!! The carriage was turning into a pumpkin and the dress back to rags, it was midnight, honey! Poof! But, my kid had explored, dance, run and read every word until his heart exploded with glee! And he jump started a little life into UmMa & Mommy with his infectious laughs. It was an amazing day! Even through a small colitis flare up, with another person there, I was able to enjoy myself because the place is small enough to walk through, but has plenty of places to sit! Another great thing about that museum and area is that it’s in a really great family friendly/art friendly area. The LACMA butts up against The Tarpits, The Petersen Automotive Museum across the street and the Grove & Farmer’s Market is just down the street on Fairfax. Then further east on Wilshire there are a lot of restaurants, coffee shops and stores. Such an amazing little area to live in and/or spend a lazy afternoon with the family or your sweetie. The great thing about LA is that the weather usually allows you to lead an outdoor lifestyle, so we should start taking advantage more often! Take one of your weekend days to get out and just walk or drive. You’ll be surprised at what adventures await you!