Roadside attractions….the perfect distractions to make you forget the miles and miles of travel behind and ahead. There’s something so fantastic about the bizarre-ness of most of these attractions. Perhaps that ‘something’ is as simple as, it makes you feel slightly more normal. Whatever it is, it’s a welcome addition to the mundane yellow lines in the road. Speaking of YELLOW, on the Northern edge of the Salton Sea, sits a peculiar little spot in the sand, where yellow flowers, lead to a yellow building, and inside, a big yellow surprise!
Welcome to the International Banana Museum in Mecca
You better bet I’m going to dress the part
There’s all sorts of goodies inside
It’s a tropical fruit paradise inside, where banana paraphernalia comes in all shapes and sizes. And by all, I mean…a BUNCH. It’s the International Banana Museum, don’t let this one slip by. There’s just banana everything! Anything and everything ever done in banana form is in here. B-A-N-A-N-A-S ~ I’ll spell it, and you name it, because it’s probably in here.
There are so many bananas!
Banana flavored food
You simply can’t escape them…the bananas that is. There are boat loads of them, everywhere where you look, every way you turn. Books, toys, food, all themed banana. The counters are bursting with what seems like billions of banana goodies.
Banana tchotchkes everywhere
This banana gal, dancing on the ceiling
YES they have some bananas, not just some, but more than 25-thousand banana related items. The International Banana Museum owners, Kym and Fred Garbutt brought the Guinness Book of World Records banana collection from a seller on Ebay, and in 2012 opened up the museum.
The owners serving up some banana treats
Kym Garbutt says, “When my customers walk in, first I see their big eyes, and then it’s amazement because they don’t expect it.” The people come in bunches and we met quite a few folks during the length of our shoot.
Banana fans from Los Angeles
The fantastically friendly and adventurous threesome (pictured above) were from Los Angeles and were in the area looking for something different and fabulous. They checked out Salvation Mountain and camped by Slab City and couldn’t escape their curiosity when they spied the Banana Musuem on the way out of town. Melanie Willing (left) even has a banana tattoo that she was super excited to see was the exact same banana that the museum uses for their logo.
Keep your eyes peeled, along with endless yellow trinkets, there are some pretty fantastic fruit costumes as well!
I look regal don’t I?
The owners profess that their museum is a fun place that evokes happiness in everyone young and old, “No matter your age you’ll find something to bring you a smile. If not, you’re probably truly bananas!”
a curious coconut monkey, with bananas of course
Saying farewell to the banana mascot at the front of the museum, we got close during the shoot
I must admit, I like this place a whole bunch…I grabbed a hand-dipped chocolate banana for the road and then it was time to SPLIT. Plan your visit, the museum is open Fri-Mon 11am-7:30pm. Admission is $1 but if you buy any of their banana goodies…admission is FREE.
I have an infatuation with things that don’t necessary go together, being put together. I feel it brings out the uniqueness. Things standout, they sparkle more, or they serve as a stark backdrop to that sparkle. Like an outfit off a mannequin, I don’t want it…I want the unexpected.
The expected is always there…that’s why the unexpected is extra special and precisely why I love Gubler Orchids in Landers. I have visited the orchid farm on more occasions than I have fingers to count and find myself wanting to go back again and again to experience the kaleidoscope of color and surprise.
Embraced by the Mojave Desert and surrounded on all sides by its sand lies a tropical wonderland almost too bizarre to believe. Orchids…every size, color and variety…Every shape, scent and texture…There are thousands of these exotic flowers, thriving here, in the middle of where you would least expect them to be.
Rows and rows of orchids
This sea of showy blooms and delicate clusters is the life’s work of one family that has tended to these flowering plants for three generations. Chris Gubler is carrying on his family’s legacy. Gubler Orchids was started by his grandfather in Switzerland in 1918. In the 50s his father brought the business to California and in 1974 moved East to the high desert where the air was clean and the sky blue.
Gubler family photos, when it all began
The Gublers are considered one of the top quality growers in the world. And their blooms, thousands of them ship out every week from right here in the desert.
Do you see the fancy lady? Hint, she’s wearing a yellow dress!
There are 20+thousand different species of orchids. Vanilla bean is one of them, another is named for Chris and according to the orchid expert himself, the delicate beauties have been around for millions of years because they’re hardy.
Vanilla Bean Orchid
This one smells like chocolate
A sea of green
Along with the hundreds of varieties of orchids here, is a fantastical crop of carnivorous plants like Venus Fly Traps. Also lining the aisles, the family’s own botanical collection, including Staghorn Ferns, and a rare, giant bloom producing Stanhopia Orchid.
It’s a true flower dreamland, a spot where beauty and color only becomes more showy and vivid set against this backdrop. Now that I’ve told you to expect the unexpected with Gubler Orchids I assure you, I haven’t ruined the experience, I will tell you with much certainty you will still be surprised.
Gubler Orchids is open for greenhouse tours…no appointment is necessary. Be warned though, there’s a shop on your way out and you will absolutely, positively want to take home an orchid in every shade.
To learn more about the countless amazing adventures in Greater Palm Springs click HERE!
I wonder how many minutes of my life I have spent starring up at the tip top of Mount San Jacinto. As a kid I used to pretend that the little furry pine trees on the ridge-line were actually a troop of khaki clad adventure seekers looking down at me. I have even shared that idea with my kids, wanting them to carry on the silly make-believe thought. I typically say, “Oh can you see them waving at us? Maybe we should just walk up the side of the mountain and meet them up there”. I would get a courtesy ha ha from the kids, but all joking aside, I probably would have ditched whatever errand we were currently on to meet those ridge-line hikers (trees). After all, you only live once…right?
All of our stuff! SOOOO Heavy! There are like 50 sandwiches in there (Brian made all of them)
That above is precisely the reason this story even happened. I’m not much of a thrill-seeker but I do love hiking, and climbing to the peak of Mount San Jacinto was one of the few thrills that I’ve always wanted to seek. So we loaded up on supplies, (everything including the kitchen sink seemingly) from backpacks to camping gear, to enough snacks to fuel a football team. FYI, I’ve never been much of a camper and I have never backpacked before. I do exercise regularly so I feel like I’m somewhat conditioned…ha! And just like that, along with my film crew of three, we headed into the wild for a 33 hour adventure off the grid.
The standard here we go shot
Forested path into the wilderness
It’s always about the path you choose. Some are straight and narrow. Some are curvy. Some make your heart drop but of all the paths you take, make sure some of them are dirt. This is my new favorite thing to say or saying…however you say it, it’s SO true. There is something so satisfying about the sound of dirt poofing out from under your shoes.
So there we were jumping on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to head 8,500 feet into the clouds. That was just the first leg of the leg workout. It’s always a wild ride no matter how many times you have been on that tramcar. I’m impressed every time.
PS Aerial Tram, I love you! Director, Brian doing his thing
Once we got to the top, we glanced at the amazing vista and hurriedly got on our way as we were carrying our homes and all our water on our backs, two miles to camp. Not going to lie, adjusting to the new altitude was not easy with such loads.
Some people look at the mountains and see a two dimensional backdrop to Greater Palm Springs. San Jacinto’s giant stature appears almost artificial but don’t be fooled…with a couple twists & turns, the urban world is left behind and the wilderness is the only way forward.
The view from our campsite
I’m thinking maybe I will sit here the rest of the day and these guys can go on…tough climb
Mount San Jacinto National Monument is truly a land of extremes, with its weathered granite spires, unbelievable vistas and unending carpet of pines. You can’t be here without finally understanding why so many artists and writers have been inspired by this landscape. You’re almost living the words written by naturalist John Muir.
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves…Camp out among the grasses… in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings.”
Script writing in the wilderness is a must
So we camped…it was a beautiful clear night with more twinkling stars than freckles on faces on earth. The tent was a tight squeeze and a good lesson to those people (me) who choose not to open the vents due to chilly air…you will wake up at 2:30am with cold condensation dripping on you. Not perfect! It was a good thing for the damp roll of toilet paper next to my head. It was used to wipe the drippy ceiling that had buckled from the dampness. Note…not my favorite moment of the adventure.
Here comes the sun, thank goodness, it was cold
Up before sunrise, it’s a wild feeling being so isolated in the piney forest. There’s a peaceful silence here beyond quiet that can’t be explained, it should only be experienced.
With plenty of layers and a slight bone chill, I was beyond ready to watch the warm rays fall onto the damp forest floor. After capturing a few AM shots on video, we were off to the summit. San Jacinto Peak is the 2nd highest in Southern California and the climb…breathless. It’s actually the largest elevation gain over such a small horizontal distance in the contiguous US.
When you have this view, stopping to rest often is a must
Taking in the beauty and thinking…are we there yet?
Looking out to where we’ve come from and seeing where we’re going was pretty inspiring. Along the way I also became enamored by the notion that this same trail system pioneered by Native Americans has been shared by prospectors, cattlemen, bohemians and adventurers.
I think we’re pretty high here!
Just before the summit, there is a really cool little rustic rock emergency shelter. It also doubles as an inspiration spot with thousands of messages left on note cards, in notebooks and carved into the wood ceiling. Perhaps it was there more to inspire those making the trek to press on just a few minutes more to the summit.
Rock emergency shelter with some style and plenty of inspiration inside
After camping and sweating a whole bunch it’s always a great idea to shoot some on camera moments
So we pressed on and used our last bit of football team snack fuel to crest the peak & then fully absorb the 360 degree view, all 10,834 feet and beyond of it.
John Muir is quoted as saying, “The view from San Jacinto is the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth!” I would like to now quote myself as saying, “Hello Greater Palm Springs…you’re looking good from up here”…oh and “WE DID IT!” Not quite as eloquent but whatever.
Cresting the peak, Videographer, Ian Hughes capturing the very moment
The cast and crew, Ian, Greg, Brian! I look (tired) and worried, the nice man taking our photo was covered in bees
Taking direction from Brian to not laugh (The sign almost fell over)
So I’ll never really know how many minutes I spent pondering, planning, and pretending to be at the summit of Mount San Jacinto. Since I grew up in Palm Springs and have lived here most of my life, I would say it’s probably a lot of minutes and even more seconds. But what I can answer for myself, for my kids, and for my imagination right now, is what it looks like to be on the top, what it feels like to conquer one of my desires, and what breathtaking, gasp-worthy scenery those cute khaki-clad climbers (trees) on the ridge-line have been experiencing all these years.
To learn more about the countless amazing adventures in Greater Palm Springs click HERE!
My we made it moment! I laid down after taking this photo and didn’t want to move…
Khaki-clad climbers (Trees) this is what they look like up close