La Brea Tar Pits

Right in the middle of Los Angeles’ “Miracle Mile” lies one of the oldest sites in North America.  It’s full of ferocious animals along with baby strollers, grandparents, and sunbathers.  It’s the La Brea Tar Pits. Tens of thousands of years ago naturally occurring tar — also called bitumen — seeped from the earth in the Los Angeles basin.  Dust and leaves would cover the tar and unsuspecting prehistoric animals would wander in and that was the end of that.  There are literally thousands of skeletons of animals from a different age laying around Los Angeles and more are discovered…

Original LA Farmers Market

Old and new come together in West Hollywood at the Los Angeles Farmers Market.  Now there are lots of farmers markets in LA.  Dozens.  But this is the ORIGINAL farmers market that started up in 1934 when a handful of local growers backed their pick up trucks at the corner of 3rd and Fairfax and started selling their produce.  The concept really took off and in a few months people were building stalls and restaurants at the site and it quickly became an institution. Today the market is next to the modern and hugely popular and upscale The Grove outdoor…

Mission Santa Barbara

Recent mudslides in Montecito, just south of Santa Barbara, closed Highway 101 for nearly two weeks.  Kongo tried to visit the old mission there earlier but couldn’t get through.  You literally couldn’t get to Santa Barbara from LA unless you took the train, rode a boat from Ventura, or drove about four hours through the mountains.  Even now there is a lot of construction along the freeway causing large traffic backups. Anyway, the monkey made it yesterday and he was glad he did.  Those guys at CalTrans do a great job! Mission Santa Barbara was the tenth mission built by…

Searching for World Peace in Santa Monica

Santa Monica might seem a strange place to seek world peace.  I mean really, Santa Monica?  Maybe some temple high in the mountains of Tibet or an ashram in Santa Fe, or even the UN building in New York but not Santa Monica.  Perhaps I’m wrong-headed about this but Santa Monica seems more like a live for today for tomorrow we die kind of place.  But yet, indeed there are people searching for peace in Santa Monica.  Right down on the beach next to the famous pier. Perhaps Kongo is just in a cynical mood but he doesn’t think a…

March to the Sea

This week Kongo marched to the sea.  Literally.  From his house to the ocean is an 8-mile trek through Point Mugu State Park in the Santa Monica mountains.  Now maybe “march to the sea” is a too exuberant an expression.  This isn’t much like General Sherman’s historic March to the Sea from Atlanta to Savannah during the Civil War.  This hike is almost exclusively downhill, which is pretty cool for old monkeys.  It’s still a good hike and not nearly as destructive or controversial as the burning of a 60-mile wide swath through the heart of Georgia. The route passes…

A Visit with the Gipper

Today Kongo hauled himself over to Simi Valley (about ten miles from his treehouse) to finally see the Gipper.  That would be Ronald Reagan and his presidential library set on the top of a high hill overlooking the valley.  This was not a political visit.  Mrs. Kongo’s sister was visiting over the long weekend and it was on her bucket list.  Kongo is pretty much a democrat but that’s obviously not working out too well at the moment so, what the heck, might as well relive some of the glory years of the 1980s.  Kongo was a lot younger then,…

Local Heritage & History

There’s more to Oxnard than you might think.  A lot more.   Most people the monkey knows actually don’t think too much about Oxnard.  It’s one of those places you drive through on the way to someplace else and if you do think of this coastal city, it’s unlikely that heritage and history come to mind.  Strawberries and bean fields surround the city.  Migrant farm workers earn their living bent over crops on the large agricultural enterprises on the fertile Oxnard Plain.  There’s an upscale marina district with homes and condos on the ocean but mostly Oxnard’s image is a…