January has finally assumed its rightful place as a month distinct from the Christmas-New Year's domination. But for those of us in Pasadena, the days leading up to the Rose Parade may include watching the Bandfest at Pasadena City College, navigating alternative streets to avoid the set-ups for the parade, or wondering how many more RVs can cram into the USMC-adjacent parking lot. On January 1, the Rose Bowl game causes traffic to tilt to the west side of town. After that, we'll host two more days of visitors who come to admire the just-retired floats on the east end near Pasadena High School. When the floats are towed off to Duarte or to their cities' storage points, when the trash is collected, and the Christmas trees are mulched, January can officially behave like any other month.
To celebrate that normalcy, last Saturday I took a drive to Cabazon. The little town about 90 minutes east of here was once best known for its giant dinosaur statues (i.e., "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure") and Hadley's Date Shakes. But nowadays the destination is Desert Hills Premium Outlets. I visit that shopping behemoth perhaps twice yearly. I plan my incursion with military precision because shopping is not that much fun when left to chance. Usually I check their website to look for promotions and to verify that stores open at 10:00 a.m. No sense in arriving too early. Yet the parking scene is Darwinian, so a 10:00 a.m. arrival is prime for finding a good spot. If you park in the West Wing, you are close to the customer service office. This office is destination #1. Show your AAA card, and the lady there will give you a killer coupon book that may set your heart pounding. At least for me the adrenaline surges as I chart my course for bargains and acquisitions.
I began at the Bass Shoe outlet and progressed to the Gap. Onward to J. Crew! Nine West! My own relentless Sherman's March of shopping, driven onwards, minus the destruction. This shopping center has three linked segments, but it's wisest not to move the car and risk losing a place. Instead, plan on making little sallies to drop your purchases in the car. You can get lots of walking in with this style of shopping. In fact, I brought a Trader Joe's salad along so I could fortify without having to enter the sensory-overloaded food court. I am happy to say I shopped feverishly for six hours. I think I found some relatively hip school clothes and a pair of sexy lace-up nun shoes. And now I won't have to go shopping until maybe August. I can continue other January pursuits, like turning my own mulch pile, finishing off semester 1, trimming roses, and oh--making credit card payments.