Day 23: Palm Springs and back

Palm Springs turned out to be sort of a bust for me. Yes, I made the requisite stops at all the big name architects’ buildings — but everything seemed over-restored, mall-like, flat. In fact, the whole town seemed like one big Disney-esque production to me. Pretty little ranch houses. Over-stucco-ed midcentury hotels. No fun. No neon. No rawness. OK — maybe a few still-great things: the Caliente Tropics Resort, the Musicland Hotel, and a couple nice banks. However, I much prefer any of the scruffy little towns I visited this afternoon. Maybe not to live in but they are loaded with photo-ops, things left in their original or poorly altered states. Little mysteries and surprises every few blocks.

Once we got back from the desert in the early afternoon, I really got rolling. Or maybe it just seemed like it since the towns change names about every 10 blocks. But I did get significantly more photos than usual as well despite the time lost in the desert. Normally, I shoot about 100-150 photos per day — today was more like 200. I have nearly finished up with the right-hand-side of my L.A. map.

It will be exciting to start working on the other side of the map. Looking less and less like I’ll get to northern CA on this trip. You might notice that the atlas in the photo above is laying across the body of my dog Fixie. She hardly cares about me using her as a table right now. The dogs are all pretty wiped at this point. Here’s a shot of the dozers in the back today (hey guys, we’re not even halfway done yet!):


The Energizer Bunny however still finds every town and non-town fascinating:


A couple desert shots. Just had to stop at the Shields Date Farm gift shop while in Indio. Stocked up on road sugar: Medjool dates stuffed with walnuts. I didn’t have time for the video about the private life of the dates though:


Just west of Palm Springs there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of these wind turbine things. It is kind of amazing and surreal. Sorry about the bug-kill on the windshield:


I passed a place on I-10 in Redlands that looked like it had a modern but boisterous mini golf — so I had to get off and turn around. Unfortunately, it (Pharoah’s Amusement Park) was closed. I did get a couple shots of stuff near the entrance anyway, including this one:


San Bernardino had a lot to offer for me. So many little block-long buildings in the past few days with these little mini Art Deco towers. It would be fun to do a book on just little gems & beat-up gems like this:


Another example later in the day in Pomona. Maybe this was a church? A movie theatre? A fancy store?


A few signs for you. From San Bernardino — hard to read but it’s the Clover Club:


The Pala Motel in Pomona:


The Taco King in Upland:


The Laundramatic in Ontario:


A couple days ago I saw these great yellow carlot-style lights — about six or so in a row — but I didn’t stop and have regretted it since. Been on the lookout for them and found a couple today. Not quite as nice (not close together, not painted brightly) but the same model. Haven’t seen these outside of CA.


This building was probably much tiki-ier at one time:


And finally, here’s a question. What’s better (worse): a no-frills boxy new building — or a retro-fied new building like this one in Pomona?

7 thoughts on “Day 23: Palm Springs and back

  1. Wow! You did find many great neon signs in the Inland Empire! Foothill Blvd is the old route 66, great to see there are still some deco blocks left in the little towns leading to Pasadena (where 66 is Colorado Blvd and over-restored.)

    I think in 50 years, people will be seeking out and photographing the 1990s retro-fied fake deco buildings.

  2. There’s a lot of interesting stuff amongst the grunge. I’m sure I missed stuff. And I’m sure there’s other stuff buried under plywood coverings, etc. I don’t know about this retro-crap ever being considered “important” though. I think it almost devalues the real thing.

  3. I lived in Redlands in the mid 1980s – the Pharaoh park must be newer than that (from what I could find online, it seems to have been built in the mid 90s or so). I doubt I’d even recognize the town these days. There was a huge amount of construction and destruction going on the whole time I was there. Did Redlands have anything else interesting?

    (BTW I’m SamWibatt from flickr.)

  4. Love these shots…Love the old art deco buildings..MUCH better than a boring old new box building!!

    The gang is sooo cute as they nap!!


  5. Glad you are enjoying my blog. You do understand the question though: the photo is NOT of an old building but a new building that (poorly) imitates an Art Deco building.

  6. Hey Sam — I wasn’t in Redlands long. Everywhere around there is Mall City right now. New development every where. All the same stores that you see everywhere else. The Pharoah’s park does look really new from what I could tell. They were closed so I couldn’t see the mini golf — just got the giant Egyptian head and the Anubis. I suspect the mini golf is not all that exciting — but there was a rocketship that had me doing a long U-turn on the interstate (but then I didn’t get to see it after all).

  7. bad..I was speed reading at work…

    hmmm…well original is better..but I guess even if it’s a new “retro-fied” it’s still got more character than a boxy plaza. As long as it’s done right.

    Not sure the red signage works with the pink and aqua building colour in that photo.. :o/


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