Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Desert Getaway: Indian Wells

Last month, we took our annual road trip down to Palm Springs for the BNP Paribas Tennis Tournament. I'm not a tennis player, but thanks for Mr. VE&T, I am a pretty knowledgable tennis fan. Mr. VE&T is a life-long player and fan, and it's super fun to watch tennis together with him. During the normal course of our usual lives, we are quite busy and generally involved in many different pursuits. I always really look forward to this trip, and just enjoying so much time together. Even though I'm not always a road trip fan, I love this beautiful (and long!) drive down through California together. 

Road Trip! 

This year we stayed with a yoga student of mine, which was lovely. I prepared lots and lots of food ahead of time so that I wouldn't have to worry about wasting time looking for proper vegan food.

I made a big batch of Banana Chia Pudding with Caramelized Bananas and Coconut from Vegan Richa. I'd had my eye on this recipe for a long time and was happy for an "excuse" to finally make it! I think I doubled it - and ended up with about 6 servings: including one for the morning we left home, and I even got to leave one for our beloved housesitter. I topped each bowl with cashews, red walnuts, and shredded coconut. It was great to have such a healthy, filling and special breakfast all lined up and ready to go every morning. 

Miles and miles of almond trees in bloom.

Our drive down south was just so beautiful... from the sea, through rolling green hills, and into the rich agricultural land of California's Central Valley. We drove past miles and miles of almond trees in various stages of bloom - so gorgeous. 

OMG. Grapefruit Trees Galore!

Even though I have lime trees and orange trees in my own yard, grapefruit trees require a warmer climate and still feel very exotic to me. The neighborhood where we stayed with my student was filled with grapefruits. Amaze! While we were off watching tennis, our sweet host scampered around and picked about 6-7 grapefruits for me to bring home. You guys. They were SO GOOD - beautifully red inside, so sweet they were barely tart, just absolutely perfect. What a great gift to bring home after our trip! 

lunch fixin's

I also brought along lots of supplies to make lunch every day. There are actually several vegan food options inside the BNP Paripas Indian Wells grounds, but in previous years we've noticed that the lines can long, and the food can be expensive. I'd rather pack my own lunch, and the security at the grounds seems to have no objection to bringing in your own food. 

I love my special "tennis sandwich": whole wheat bread, mustard, avocado, tomato slices, baked tofu, and even some special Violife spicey Provolone that I had picked up at an all-vegan grocery store in Berkeley recently. Simple and satisfying! 

ready for a long day of tennis appreciation! 

Here's a day's worth of lunch and snacks - a sandwich, a primal strip, some veggies, some popcorn, an orange, and a Larabar. We often arrive early and spend the whole day watching tennis before setting out for a late dinner... you gotta be a real tennis fan to keep up with us! ha ha. And you need a lot of snacks to maintain a proper energetic fan appreciation level! 

two dorks

We are super careful about not getting too much sun when we're there. One year Mr. VE&T actually got sunstroke from too much sun, and that was no fun at all. So we wear sunscreen and cover our legs with light towels, and we even have these special wet towels that stay wet for a long time and slowly provide cooling effect as they dry off. They are really great! 

I am very chic.

My delicious tennis sandwich, with a Denis Shapovalov match. What a great afternoon! 
We really had a great time and tried to watch as many young up-and-comers as possible. What fun.


Joshua Tree National Park

On our very last afternoon we decided "enough tennis!" and we scooted out for a late afternoon hike at Joshua Tree National Park. We went in the south entrance (Cottonwood) and took a 2-mile loop hike. Oh my goodness, it was sooooo beautiful. The sky was dark and stormy and it just made the whole thing so dramatic and amazing. 


A Return Trip to Sam Cobb Date Farm! 

You may recall a post from two years ago when we first went to the Sam Cobb Date Farm. This year we stopped by again, on our way out of town, and stocked up on lots more dates! Mr. Cobb wasn't working that day, but we got to meet his wife Maxine, who was also wonderful. There are a lot of very fancy date farms in this area, with huge gift shops and major tourist infrastructure. But where's the fun in that? I'd rather support a small-scale family-farm operation like this. They have some cute signs along the road, helping you find your way. Once you get there, you can sample the varieties of dates that they have available... which you should definitely do! 

it's a date date!

Dates Dates Dates! 

As always, I stocked up on my very favorite date - the Black Gold Date, which is a variety that only Sam Cobb Farms grows. I love them so much - they're rich and chewy, smaller and not as moist as a medjool, but not too dry either and dense with chocolately rich flavor. Man, they are good! We also got a container of Mr VE&T's favorite - the Sahara date, which is much more dry with a lovely nutty flavor. And of course we also got a carton of Medjool dates, because they are a true classic and I just couldn't stop myself. 


Brunch with Dan and Mike! 

Wonderful Dan! ~ look at those beautiful dishes!

I first met Dan (of the wonderful, thoughtful blog thegayvegans.com) at Vida Vegan Con and as soon as you meet Dan, you love Dan because Dan is the best. Dan and his also-wonderful husband Mike live in LA, and so we planned a morning friend date together. Their house is just right there on our way home! And their house is so beautiful and adorable. Dan made a big special breakfast - puffy pancakes, vegan sausages, hashbrowns (special treat!), OJ, coffee... what a wonderful time together. 

It was an absolute treat to see Dan, finally meet Mike in person (although I felt like I already knew him after reading Dan's blog for so many years), see their beautiful home, and meet all their fuzzy pals. I'm already looking forward to another (and hopefully longer) visit next year! 

Lily urgently needs all the snuggles in the whole world right NOW
and little Agnes (in the back) wants to get scritches while she chews on your hand. 
Such sweet softies!! 

Little Ludwig was still recovering from a dog attack (scary!), but he was absolutely sweet and adorable - such a good patient. Just a few days later, he was given the clean bill of health to get his cone off, so you can feel happy knowing that he is doing better now! What a sweetie pie! 

Dan & Mike & Lily & Agnes & Ludwig!

ha ha. my excellent photography skillz
too busy eating popcorn to be bothered! 

Dan has been doing some really interesting work interviewing different vegan and vegan-friendly companies about their policies on hiring trans people and has found some companies that he feels really great about supporting. One of the companies that he was telling us about is Angie's Boom Chicka Pop Popcorn - and then he generously procured a bag of it and gave it to us as a gift! That's because Dan and Mike really are the sweetest people ever. As we carried on with the next 6 hours of our drive (8 hours in total!), that poor bag of popcorn didn't stand a chance. Ha ha. Thanks again guys! When we got home, we noticed that our neighborhood grocery store has a huge display of Angie's popcorn... so I have already enjoyed another giant bag of tastiness!!


I also really want to thank all of you for the beautiful and heartfelt comments you left on my memorial post about Yummers Potatoes - both here and on Facebook. I read every single one, and they helped so much. I really miss Yummers, especially when it's sunny out and he's not there to enjoy the backyard with me, or when I eat asparagus and he doesn't materialize out of nowhere to demand some for himself. But his place in my heart is there forever. Thanks again, friends. It really meant a lot to me that so many of you took the time to read that post and leave comments for our heavy hearts. 


  1. Oh hi DAN!!! I love DAN!!! And also OMG A DATE FARM (I seriously didn't even know that was a thing — I mean, I know they grow on trees but I didn't realize you could just go there!). What a fun trip. Also, I really want to try that Violife cheese but haven't found it anywhere. May have to order!

  2. I think of that date farm every time I see fresh dates! We really only get medjool dates here, though once I saw some jujube (I think?) dates but foolishly didn't get any. I keep hoping to see some different varieties so I can experience your joy.

  3. sounds like another great trip. I have never heard of red walnuts - can you tell me a little more about them and where you find them? thanks.


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