Tonight I'm off to see the Pee Wee Herman Show on Broadway (!) so in honor of PW, I give you...
The Cabazon dinosaurs. I was pretty excited when I found out that these dinosaurs from Pee Wee's Big Adventure were right on the way out to Palm Springs (which is where we were headed on Wednesday).
Well, they weren't glowing, but they were still pretty awesome. I got curious about their history and learned that they were built in 1964 by Knott's Berry Farm sculptor Claude Bell in an attempt to bring in customers to his restaurant, the Wheel Inn (the diner where Pee Wee pays off his meal by washing dishes, hair net and all).
After re-watching the movie when we got home I remembered that Pee Wee and Simone pass the night up in the T-Rex's mouth, which made me sad that we didn't try to go up there. (A search on flickr shows that you can get up there, though there is no seating and the teeth are covered in chicken wire.)
We did walk up into the apatosaurus (named Dinny), which is actually a giant gift shop. And that's when we discovered something rather surprising.
It seems that the dinosaurs changed ownership in the mid '90s following Bell's death, and the new owners are using them to promote creationism. You can buy T-shirts and books that say "by design, not by chance," and there are signs telling you that "creationist scientists" have found evidence that man and dinosaurs lived at the same time (6,000 years ago, at the same time Adam and Eve first hit the scene).
We went into the Wheel Inn to see if we could find any real souvenirs and we certainly did. These T-shirts were available in every color imaginable. I settled on a nice baby blue.
The restaurant, by the way, was absolutely deserted. I didn't see a single customer. No shrine to Large Marge either.
Just behind the dinosaurs are these wind turbines lined up as far as the eye can see (well maybe not that far). They look pretty awesome, and together with two other locations in the state, they are responsible for producing much of the world's wind energy. ( In 1995, these areas produced 30 percent of the entire world's wind-generated electricity--I don't know what the stats are today, as for some reason they're not listed on the website.)