Indio, Land of Date Palms and Dinosaurs

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Last weekend was full of crazy and lovely at the same time.  It was Brian’s birthday.  His mom had a timeshare in Indio for the weekend that she couldn’t use, so she offered it to us. I was so relived.  I’ve been so busy that I hadn’t planned the usual birthday party shenanigans, and now I didn’t have to.  A fancy timeshare condo would usually mean two full days of awesomeness, but Brian had to work until 5:00 on Saturday.

I found a cookbook last week on Tumblr, my new favorite thing.  It’s a primer for eating well for $4.00 per person per day, designed for folks on food stamps.  But the recipes looked SO GOOD.  And they were cheap.  So I bought a bunch of things, including a roast chicken and dried black beans.  I spent all of Saturday in the kitchen making meals for the week, and strawberry shortcake for Brian (who hates cake, the communist).

I picked him up at the train station Saturday evening, and we drove straight to Indo.  The resort was a lovely oasis in the middle of the desert.  Our balcony looked out on the prettiest lagoon, and there were birds everywhere.  I made Brian tacos and put a candle in his shortcake, and then we were so tired that we crashed and burned on the plush, king-sized mattress.

We spent the next morning in the lazy river.

“So how long until you think this will get boring?” Brian asked.

“Isn’t the chief virtue of a lazy river that it’s boring?” I said.

But we were hungry, and had resolved to find ourselves a date shake somewhere, via instructions from Brian’s co-worker.

Hence Shields Date Garden, an actual date farm with a stand that’s been there since the 1950s.  We ate burgers on the patio under white umbrellas, sipped our date shakes, and then went inside to peruse the store.  They had every date product imaginable, including date sugar.  There was also a rather un-salacious movie titled “The Romance and Sex Life of the Date.”  Which turned out to be a whole bunch of farm workers spraying down the palms with squeeze bottles of pollen, basically.

It was the perfect day, and I wished we could have stayed forever.  But we also wanted to get home at a decent hour.  We packed up the condo and left for home.  On the way out, Brian saw two giant concrete dinosaurs on the side of the road.  “I’ve always wanted to go to those, but my dad would never stop,” he said.

“Well, let’s stop,” I said.

“Dinosaurs, Palm Springs, California,” he told the GPS on his phone (even though they’re in Cabazon), and it found the place right away.

I don’t know what we expected, but it wasn’t at all what we got.  The giant brontosaurus was a gift shop with a fire-escape on the back of it, with ape and Neanderthal busts at the top of columns on the inside.  It was filled with a host of plush green things with teeth, and other cheap dinosaur-themed toys.  The T-Rex was part of a weird creationist/dinosaur museum that charged a bit of admission.  Animatronic dinos inside bobbed their heads next to cave men.  Some of the dinosaurs had saddles.  In the back, a lion hung out with a couple of velociraptors.  There was a medieval knight on his steed wading through a herd of triceratops.  There was a sand pit where anyone retrieving a rock painted with a dinosaur could redeem it for a prize.

The garden was full of more concrete dinosaurs, reposing with sheep, alligators, and turtles.  The culminating experience was a trip into the belly of the T-Rex so you could survey the scenery from his mouth.  A sign inside tried to claim that good old Nessie was proof that dinos and humans have lived together.  It was awesome, really.  Best $8 ever.

We got home just before the sun set, and had a lazy night on the couch.  A busy Saturday, but a perfect Sunday.

Thanks to all my laborious cooking on Saturday, we’ve been eating pretty well this week too: I heartily recommend the baked beans, the roast chicken, and the lentil burgers (I made ours with black beans and ground turkey instead, but close enough).  We’re trying her eggplant pasta tomorrow night. Yum!

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