Dates Suck…and other SoCal Discoveries

Day two in Indio, CA dawned much like day one…bright-n-shiny.  It seemed appropriate, in honor of that big blazing orb in the sky, to start our day in the community pool.  That’s the happy California girl waving wildly from center-pool.


There are worse ways to start a day.  While we bobbed in the pool I was educated about the sports of Palm Springs.  Golf is a given.  As is tennis.  Have you heard of pickle ball?  I had not.  Pickle ball is played on a court smaller than tennis.  The paddles resemble oversized ping-pong paddles.  The ball is small-ish blue rubber.  The rules?  No idea.  However, it’s serious business….tournaments and everything.  As I tilted my head back and drank in the sun I could hear a distant yelling.  Pickle ball lessons were being given to a court full of residents.  We’ll ignore the broken bones sustained by some new players, as relayed to me by my girlfriend.  Serious.  Business.


After a swim we cleaned up and headed to a local nursery.  What’s the difference between a garden (like Sunnylands) and a nursery?  In my book, not much.  I love both.  Love, love, love.  We wandered among plants that would shrivel and die in a matter of days in the great Pacific Northwest….succulent, bougainvillea, citrus trees, and the ever-present cactus.  My eyes goggled at the geranium, petunia and snapdragon, none of which I’ll be planting until late May.  I may have had to wipe the drool away a few times.  P.S. my pot-o-pansy is currently in the garage because it’s snowed a number of times this week.

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After the nursery we stopped by the polo fields.  You read that right.  Poe-low fields.  First thing that came to mind?  Pretty Woman, of course.  If the Empire Polo Club doesn’t sound remotely familiar, perhaps Coachella rings a bell?  Or Stagecoach?  Every April the polo club gives way to two massive concerts.  My friend and her husband could hear Lady Gaga last year (not enough to clearly make out the words, but enough to know if was Lady Gaga) from their house.

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The polo club plays for only a few months in the spring.  I do wish we’d been able to go.  It would have been so fun to have put on a sundress, bought a big hat and gone out to the beautiful grounds and tailgated (that’s what they do).  Wait.  Let’s go back to “only a few months.”  The weather is weird in Palm Springs.  Not weird.  Different.  Very, very different.

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Here, we plant our garden in May and begin to harvest late-June.  Know what would happen if you planted a garden in Indio in May?  It would burn up.  From April-ish through October-ish it is blazing hot there.  Let’s Google the average temperature in Indio in August, shall we?  Just for funsies.  106 degrees.  Though I’m sure it only feels like 100 because it’s a dry heat.  Crazy town.  I will admit, I was sucked in by the February temperatures.  And the grapefruit hanging from the tree in my friends’ back yard (I drank gin-n-grapefruit juice every night).  But, I’m pretty darn sure I couldn’t do Indio in the summer.

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After wandering the beautiful grounds we headed to Old Town La Quinta for Art on Main.  La Quinta is cute.  Super-cute.  White stucco.  Bright pink bougainvillea.  Palm trees.  Craggy hills in the background.  And, I’ve mentioned the sun, right?

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We took in the art.  I sooooo was prepared to spend some money, but I found absolutely nothing that I had to have.  I looked at some beautiful photography, but I have a hard time buying photography these days.  I mean, I could just print some of my own stuff, right?  What a concept.

However, even in the spring that sun can be a bit toasty, which leads to dry throats, which is how we ended up sipping beer on a patio at La Quinta Brewing Co.  I’m not a huge beer person, but let me tell you, it tasted mighty good.  And the conversation was better than the beer.  Love that girl.


The beer made us realize we should have some food, so we moseyed down the street for lunch.  Afterwards, we made our last stop of the day at Shields Date Farm.  I had such high expectations for Shields.  I was going to buy dates to bring home as a treat for the husband!  Dates!  Now, my only experience with dates is when they’ve been stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in bacon.  I looooove them when prepared that way, so was quite certain I would like them any old way.

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First, did you know that dates grow on palm trees?  They do.  Now you know.  The Shields Date Farm was among the first established in the Coachella Valley (in 1924) and is still going strong.  We entered the visitor center and proceeded to the tasting counter.  I tried a myriad of dates and date bars and….they weren’t particularly good.  I can’t really explain why.  They’re super-sweet.  They taste like…I guess they taste like a date.  A taste that I don’t particularly care for.  I did buy one of their “famous” date milkshakes.  It was okay.  And we watched the movie, “The Romance and Sex Life of the Date.”  Then…we left.  Dateless.

As we left I noticed that the sign says, “Don’t miss IT!”  If in the area maybe it’s okay if you miss it.  Maybe sit on a patio and drink beer or some other delightful cocktail instead.


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