Shields Date Garden

Shields Date Garden has been on my radar for sometime, but there was always something else I wanted to do in and around Palm Springs more every time I was there! But this time I was hellbent on going and getting my hands on a famous date shake!

Shields Date Garden was founded by husband and wife team Floyd and Bess Shields in 1924. They were pioneers in the field of date farming in the Coachella Valley. They even went as far as to create their own varieties as the “Blonde” and “Brunette” dates. Shield truly believed in date farming and gave presentations on the process, and later created a slide show. By this time the Coachella Valley was filling up with date farms, and the Shields were in need of a new lure, especially with all of the fresh traffic of people traveling to the new resort hot spot, the Salton Sea. So he created a documentary, The Romance and Sex Life of the Date. The word “sex” was pretty taboo to have in large letters across a billboard or building in the 1950s. But it certainly made people curious and Shields thrived. Today, the documentary (albeit a slightly modified version) still continues to play continuously, and people are encouraged to walk the Garden and indulge in a variety of date goodies!

In 1953, in beautiful classic roadside tradition, Shields added their now iconic large knight to beckon visitors.

One of the things the Shields developed the the date crystal, which went into their very own date shake and date ice cream. All of which is still available at Shields today.

Today, Shields Date Garden even has its very own cafe, serving up breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We arrived early for breakfast, where Patrick had the date pancakes, before we stepped out to tour the actual grounds. I had initially expected to just roam around the beautiful date palms and take some pictures, but what I wasn’t prepared for were the over 20 relatively life size statues documenting the life of Jesus. Yes, Jesus. Like, from the Bible. Apparently in 2011 William and Lillian Vanderzalm of Vancouver, Canada, had recently closed their Biblical garden, and were looking for a new home for their statues in the Palm Springs area. They called Shields, who accepted them, and the statues were installed in 2013. The presence of the story of Jesus isn’t as random as you would initially think, as dates originated in the middle east, becoming a dietary staple for those living in the area, especially in Egypt and Israel, and palm trees are mentioned multiple times in the Bible. As fitting as it is, I will admit I would have loved to have walked the grounds prior to this change.

I honestly cannot recommend Shields Date Gardens enough! It is a must if you are in the Palm Springs or Indio area. It’s only about a half hour drive from the heart of Palm Springs. It also makes for a perfect stop if you’re on your way to another religions folk art oddity, Salvation Mountain! You can check our our visit from a couple years ago here.

That wraps up my Palm Springs post this spring. Unlike previous visits, we didn’t stay at a nifty old hotel (which I usually do a post about), instead opting to stay where Patrick’s company put him up at, which is free! And seeing as we are still making improvements on the house, we kind of need to save where we can!

Dress: Portland Antique Expo, Portland, Oregon
Copper Belt & Tooled Leather Purse: ???
Copper Jewelry: Here and there…the ring with wee little turquoise stones came from my dad
Shoes: Olvera Street.

Bronson Canyon – The Batcave and More

Over the years on the blog, I have made my love of two particular TV shows, Batman and The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., very apparent, whether through cosplay, cons, museum visits, or filming locations. One thing these two shows have in common is the use of the Bronson Canyon and Caves as a filming location, and we recently made the pilgrimage to this famous filming spot.

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Paramount Ranch: Set to Screen

Over the last week my friend Mel (of Deela Designs) was staying with us. Mel is a fellow cosplay friend, with a passion for all things nerdy, and during her stay we had many fun adventures, including a visit to Paramount Ranch. Like me, Mel enjoys HBO’s Westworld, and after she heard about my visit to Paramount Ranch, she wanted to see it for herself. As luck with have it, her visit coincided with a unique tour of Paramount Ranch called “Set to Screen” which gave us the rare opportunity to actually step inside some of the buildings.

The tour is lead by a volunteer ranger of the National Parks, as Paramount Ranch is indeed a National Park, and takes visitors on an hour long tour of the buildings, and includes showing photographs from the various TV shows and movies that have filmed there. Unlike many backlots, which uses facades for exterior shots, and sound stages for interior shots, most of Paramount Ranch’s buildings are practical, so they can be filmed from both the outside and the inside. But Paramount Ranch isn’t without its very own sound stage as well! Which I had no idea existed, as it is inside an old barn. The sound stage was home to some of the interior sets for Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman when it shot at Paramount Ranch during its run from 1993 to 1998. During the show, it developed a westward expansion of the railroad plot, and was in need of a train station, which it built, and left. However, the church that sits in the field is not the one from Dr. Quinn, but, like the train station from Dr. Quinn, was built for Westworld, but left at the request of the park. Apparently HBO was a little reluctant to leave it, so they altered it by removing the steeple, taking off the shutters, and repainting it, so it didn’t look as iconic at first glance. I also learned more about how movies and TV shows work with already established buildings to change them to look totally different. For example, the large orange building was given a brick facade when this area was used in another HBO series, Carnivale, but was of course removed so the building could return to its western esthetic. I highly recommend taking this tour, which is free, you just have to stay tuned to the events page for the Santa Monica Mountains. The tour is an hour, and only involves walking around the western town portion of the park, which is small, with no steep inclines. If you take the tour, please remember to be respectful of the buildings as they are almost 100 years old, and just barely standing, and let’s face it, they aren’t going to get too much funding from the government who is basically having a mini war with the National Parks, but you can do your part by donating if you visit Paramount Ranch, as they have a small donation box near the entrance.

You can check our previous visits to Paramount Ranch here and here.

Hat: Playclothes, Burbank, California
Top, Boots, & Purse: Buffalo Exchange
Tie: The Blues, Redlands, California
Skirt: Dolly & Dotty

Old Trapper’s Lodge

Off the 101 lies Pierce College in Woodland Hills, and on its campus is a unique and downright bizarre sight, a collection of concrete sculptures depicting old west figures, along with a faux cemetery featuring rather colorful epitaphs. What is this exactly? Well, it’s the remains of Old Trapper’s Lodge.

Built in 1941 by a real life former trapper, John Ehn, Old Trapper’s Lodge was a motel with an old west theme. At some point in time he commissioned someone (legend has it Claude Bell of Knott’s Berry Farm and Cabazon Dinosaur fame) to build a statue of a trapper to catch the eye of motorists passing by. After watching the artist work he decided it didn’t look that hard, and began to create his very own statues. Ehn did this from 1951 until his death in 1981. Four years later in 1985, Ehn’s statues, a prime example of larger than life folk art, became a California Historical Landmark, however the motel itself was in the way of the Burbank airport, and while the motel was bulldozed, the statues were rescued and relocated to Pierce College. And over the weekend Patrick and I visited this crazy destination.

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Valley Relics

After visiting Corriganville, Patrick and I headed to Valley Relics Museum. Valley Relics is a museum dedicated to preserving the history of the San Fernando Valley, with a wide array of wonderful and impressive artifacts from businesses from the San Fernando Valley, including a fantastic collection of vintage ashtrays, ephemera, neon signs, and more. And when Patrick told me they had some items belonging to western wear legend, Nudie Cohn, I was even more excited to visit!

The Palomino sign was quite impressive and one of my favorite pieces, as it was where many country-western legends performed, including Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, Patsy Cline, and personal favorite, The Flying Burrito Brothers.

Valley Relics is located in Chatsworth, about 33 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. It is only open on Saturdays, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, and is free to visit, but donations are always happily accepted.


Over the weekend Patrick and I visited Corriganville Park, the former location of Corriganville, a western backlot and amusement park of sorts from 1949 to 1965.

Corriganville was built by movie and TV actor Ray Bernard, but better known as Crash Corrigan. After going on a hunting trip in Simi Valley with fellow actor, Clark Gable, in 1935, Corrigan fell in love with the area. In 1937, Corrigan purchased over 1,000 acres of land, and built his home there. He eventually went on to build an entire western backlot, dubbed Silvertown, and many films and TV showers were filmed there, including Fort Apache, The Bandit of Sherwood Forest, How the West was Won, Lassie, The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, and more. In 1949 Corrigan decided to open his backlot to the public, and the area turned into an amusement park on weekends, while still being a fully functioning backlot during the week. Think of it like a blend of Knott’s Berry Farm and Universal Studios.

He also allowed film crews to build their own sets, as long as they left them standing after filming, which is how the area got a “Corsican Village” after Howard Hughes’ 1950 film Vendetta.

After selling Corriganville in 1965 to Bob Hope, the area suffered two fires, one in 1971 and another in 1979, leaving almost nothing standing. Today, Corriganville is a park, and visitors can walk among the concrete foundations and visit what remains of a man-made lake that was originally used for the Jungle Jim series, but was used in for a variety of films, including Creature from the Black Lagoon and The African Queen, as it featured a camera house built under a bridge with thick glass windows, allowing for underwater filming.

Continue reading for images of the remains of Corriganville, postcards of what it looked like, and more!

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Fun Factory

Recently I found out that another SoCal institution will only be a memory, the Fun Factory at the Redondo Beach Pier, which has been an oceanside attraction since 1972. Much like Gill’s in my last post, I can claim no fond memories of birthday parties spent running around playing the dozens of arcade games or countless rides on its indoor tilt-a-whirl, but some of my friends do.

If there was ever a place that made me feel like I was in an episode of The Twilight Zone, this place is it. Inside Fun Factory you will find a games ranging from an original Pong console to slightly newer things like Dance Dance Revolution, with everything in between. The place is decorated with a massive collection of old signage, from gorgeous old hand painted menus to political signs and other random things, like bicycles and dusty old piñatas. And what can you win with all of the tickets you get? Everything from a little doll to kitchen gadgets to art prints and even mystery boxes filled with the most random assortment of items. It’s just plain bizarre.


It’s unclear just when Fun Factory will shut its doors for good, as it recently negotiated with the City Council, and simply came to the agreement that it must vacate within the next three years. What will take its place? A new shopping center. I am eager to know if there will be an auction, as I would love to own some of the signs that cover the walls and ceiling.

Jacket: Country Roads Antiques, Orange, California
Top: Ross
Jeans: Thrifted
Boots: Antique Alley, Portland, Oregon
Scarf: Belonged to my mother
Purse: Patricia Nash