To close out this tour, I was tempted to linger in one of them with a highball or some sauce-drenched midcentury dessert. But instead, I did what a retro traveler in 1959 would have done.
I hopped in the car, headed south and 20 miles later pulled over in Indio, at the feet of the armored knight who stands at the roadside (with his shield) to announce the Shields Date Garden.
By 1959, Floyd and Bess Shields had been running the Shields Date Garden for more than 35 years. Visitors were no longer startled by the idea of a date crystal shake, and those in the know were unfazed by the Shields' semi-continuously running promotional slide show, "The Romance and Sex Life of the Date." It was quaint.
Now, I'm sorry to say, the founders have passed on and the free slide show is a 15-minute video. But the feel is still Old School -- the blenders, stools at the counter -- and they still sell about 300 date shakes on a typical day.