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Memories of the Cabazon Dinosaurs


Deborah Dawson

About the Author

Deborah Dawson and her husband remanufacture VW engines. In her rare spare time she paints and does ceramics. She enjoys reading and hiking and like many of us, surfing (the net).

When I first saw the dinosaurs, they were only steel-like framework. We were just moving to California from Michigan and guessing what they were building there was a welcome diversion for a road weary 12 year old. We got to watch the framework become dinosaurs. You see, dad was a "desert rat" and every other weekend he would wake us up early (too early) for a drive out to the desert. We always stopped at "the dinosaur restaurant" for breakfast. I wasn't fond of the desert.. it was hot, sparse, and often windy, but I loved the time spent with dad, and I was delighted to see the dinosaurs take shape, then "grow" flesh and hide. I was so pleased when they made them look realistic. I didn't know you could go inside until years later when I saw that Pee Wee Herman movie with my kids. (Dad wasn't much on gift shops.) Yes, we took our kids inside for a look. I think we were all more excited to be inside the dinosaur than about the mostly touristy items for sale. Climbing that thing was something I'd wanted to do since I was 12 and I felt childlike enthusiasm doing it. Those giants bring back good memories, memories of riding behind my dad on his Goldwing Honda and nearly being blown off the road; we took cover in the restaurant in the shadow of those friendly creatures... memories of the waitress serving me coffee like a grownup and heart to hearts with dad... the look of wonder on my son's face when he first sighted them and his delight when he realized that yes, we are stopping to take a look!!!

I haven't been out there in years, my little boy is 23 now. What a terrible shame that fast food restaurants obscure the dinosaurs from view. Children who get excited about seeing golden arches won't know what they've missed.

© 1999 Deborah Dawson

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