Cabazon Dinos Loved By Locals; Loathed By Gamblers
Somewhere down the 10 freeway they stand waiting. When you spot them, a scant 80 minutes outside town, you know your addictions will soon be sated. They are…the world’s biggest dinosaurs.
Returning home from the Labor Day holiday I did something I hadn’t done in five years: I stopped in the desert to check out the Dinosaurs of Cabazon. For those of you who haven’t been, Cabazon is basically an oasis of addictions in the fertile crescent where the Mojave and Sonoran deserts meet. One minute you have nothing but sand and cacti. The next minute you have rash-like casino growth, acres of outlet malls and top-rated golf courses as far as the eye can see. These afflictions begin in Cabazon and worsen throughout the Indio valley as you travel eastward. You there, I-10 driver: You, gamble-holic: You, Palm Springs weekend golfer…You there, outlet mall addict: You know the Dinosaurs all too well, don’t you? Oh yes, my friend. You know well the Dinosaurs, and you loathe them with the seething rage of third-eye-blindness. A deep-seated hatred that you cannot form words for. When the time comes for you to return to Los Angeles, as it always does, they’re there. They’re always there and they seem to be mocking you, grinning slyly as if saying ’You’ll be back. As soon as possible. And I’ll be waiting.’
For the rest of you, I offer photos.
Pop culture junkies will note that these are the very same Dinos that were placed into our collective consciousness in 1985 courtesy Tim Burton. I remember well my excitement the first time I saw them. It was like being in the theatre in sixth grade all over again, as if that whole Rubens-got-caught- whacking-off-in-the-theatre chapter was never written. Long live Pee-Wee’s Dinos. Ahr-RRrarr.
This time we walked slowly, cautiously to the Apatosaurus and eventually ventured into the belly of the beast wherein lies a gift shop of most bizarre nature. Thinly-veiled Christian themes collide with charts of continents and busts of pre-modern man. Stuffed gorillas commingle with diplodoci as you are offered the chance to buy all manner of dinosaur shoes, creationism coloring books and, for some reason, farm animals.
We browsed for hours and hours, whiling away the day in the nine-by-sixteen-room. Time seemed to stand still. There was too much to see; too much to do. Finally it was time to take our leave. We turned, walked down the stairs and out the ApotoTail and I could swear I felt a salty mist in the air, almost as if a tear had been shed so high above us that it was half vapor by the time it reached terra firma. This was followed by a bellow that could easily have been mistaken for the forlorn cry of an Apatosaur, were it not very obviously the horn of a pissed-off freight trucker being cut off on the interstate.
From what I understand, Indio valley gamblers loathe the Dinosaurs of Cabazon to such an extent that they are actually forming a petition to get them relocated chest-deep next to mama mammoth in that patch of tar on the Miracle Mile. Such a move certainly begs the question ’How would you get inside the gift shop if the Apatosaur’s tail is submerged in tar?’
Fine question, indeed.