Back at Dos Palmas

Indio Travel Blog

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The milky turquoise pools of deep geothermal water are still milky, but a little darker now since the area burned last year, depositing black ash on the bottom.

Updating one of my first Travbuddy entries!  I'm back working at Dos Palmas, the fan palm oasis in the California desert, east of the Salton Sea, at the base of the Chocolate Mountains (yes, these are real places...)

Today's excitement included classifying vegetation communities, resampling habitat reference stations.....  and more importantly, a stop at a different date place, Oasis Date Gardens!   I usually go to Shield's Date Garden on the other side of town, but we were near this one on the way back.

The palms lost their fronds and looked like burned matchsticks, but they survived and look nice again.

Date gardens??  They seem to be something left over from the 1920s, built to promote dates (the fruit...) to people who probably didn't know what dates were.   There was one in front of each of the major date plantations in the area.  There are a few surviving date gardens, two are Shield's and Oasis.   Both have little theaters featuring... movies about dates.  Shield's is famous for "The Romance and Sex Life of the Date", a film, scandalously titled for the 1940's, which is shown continuously behind the "date showroom".  Mr. Shield explains how dates are grown and hand pollinated...   There was a whole date culture out here, still thriving when I was a kid, but mostly gone now - downtown buildings were "Arabian style", there's the annual Date Festival fair, a date queen, the date harvest parade...   Not many dates left now I noticed, most of the groves are now cheesy shopping malls and golf courses, more profitable than dates I guess.

Oasis is almost identical, maybe just a little less commercialized.

Welcome shade in the otherwise unrelenting sun of the eastern desert.
  They have the theater (except hosted by Raul Medjool, a scary giant date), date showroom, and amazingly a date SAMPLING ROOM!   There are buckets of all of the varieties of dates they sell, I think 9 today, just sitting out for visitors to try.   I finally got to sample some of the varieties I'd never tried like Zahidi and Saidi, some were good, some tasteless.  The common varieties like Medjool were still the best, but there were a few good enough to put a few into the mix.

Got a few bags of various dates to bring home, about half the price of the supermarket and fresh, and a date shake.   We used to drive 4 hours out here to get date shakes in college with 8 guys in the car splitting the gas : )    These were especially delicious, dates and vanilla ice cream, no sugar or "shake mix" like some of the others here. 

Oh yeah, and the actual work I was here for today - really horrible.  It was 106 degrees F, the maps didn't work out, the GPS unit failed, the soles of my boots actually melted off so I was left with a flapping piece of rubber to walk on.  We finally gave up and came back to the motel to regroup, happily stopping by Oasis on the way back.

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The milky turquoise pools of deep …
The milky turquoise pools of deep…
The palms lost their fronds and lo…
The palms lost their fronds and l…
Welcome shade in the otherwise unr…
Welcome shade in the otherwise un…
An artesian well bringing warm wat…
An artesian well bringing warm wa…
... then there was the rest of the…
... then there was the rest of th…
This frightening creature is Raul …
This frightening creature is Raul…
Raul, looking even more disturbing…
Raul, looking even more disturbin…
End of the season, but still a lot…
End of the season, but still a lo…
Dates
Dates
The dreaded dried fruit trays you …
The dreaded dried fruit trays you…
Wall of dates, with even more vari…
Wall of dates, with even more var…
Date shake counter where delicious…
Date shake counter where deliciou…
Date groves with the date clusters…
Date groves with the date cluster…
Indio
photo by: DanielOostdijk