How I spent my summer vacation, Part 2

Yes, I am a savvy blogger, and I understand the old adage that “Sex Sells”.  So, as I promised in the last post, here is the rest of the story of our second week in Southern California, including a visit to a date farm, and details about the sex lives of dates.

One of the best features of Jojoba Hills RV Park (besides being a part of our camping club, and that it has no-hookup spots for $5/night) is the location.  It’s between L.A. and San Diego, and there’s about a million options for day trips.  Over the mountains to the northeast lies the Coachella Valley, home of Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and Indio.  It’s a major agricultural area, and where 95% of the dates are produced in the US.  The main highway through the valley was lined with fruit farms as early as the 1920s, and the businesses needed a hook in order to get folks to stop.

Shield’s Date Farm presented a daily lecture about “The Sex Life of The Date”, with the owner pontificating under a huge beach umbrella for his audience, who apparently just sweltered in little bleachers in the hot sun.  The talk was a hit, and it next became a slide show, and now the farm has a dedicated theater, with the movie version running continuously. (Which allows you to have the chance to say “this is where I came in”, for perhaps the only time in our modern world!)

If you really, really want the scientific version, I’d recommend a trip to Wikipedia.  But if you’re here for the Rayn version, read on.  Dates are one of the older cultivated crop, and they largely seem to have forgotten how to reproduce on their own. Human involvement is required from start to finish, and they are extremely laborious to produce.  They need both super hot and dry climates, and also flooded with water at certain points in their reproductive process.  Humans have to collect the pollen from the male palms and then apply it to the female palms.  When the dates start to grow, they are covered with a waterproof jacket until they’re ripe, which doesn’t happen all at once.  The pickers have to check on the clusters once a week, and only pick the ripe fruits.

Besides the racy date sex life movie, we also enjoyed the retail shop, where you can try every kind of date the farm produces before you buy.  We agonized over just what to get…there were options like marzipan stuffed dates, chocolate covered dates, and beautiful gift sets.  In the end we chose a box of a variety called Black Beauty, and a box of date rolls, covered in coconut and chopped nuts.

If you need eleven pounds of dates, they can fix you up:

You can also stroll through a lovely manicured garden behind the store, through citrus trees, flowering trees, and also with life-of -Jesus statues.

We also went to Palm Springs to see a quirky little museum, Ruddy’s General Store Museum, which is the collection of a fellow who was obsessed with 1930s general stores. It was crammed full with oddities, and we loved looking at the crazy products and nostalgic packaging.

Apparently, most of these drug containers still have the original product inside:

The tobacco display:

Beautiful thread display rack:

Food that is probably really, really past its sell-by date:

To round out our week, swam and chilled in the hot tub, read books at the library, walked a lot, and had dinners with our friends Dave and Max. JJ was thrilled to go see some action movie with Dave, and Max and I were perfectly happy to miss it and stay home! We watched sunrises and sunsets, and Soupy went out with JJ for daily jaunts. It was very relaxing, and a great way to come down after a summer of very hard work.

Next up: we finally leave for our winter spot in Tucson!

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