Take the 1:45 to Yuma

I left green T.O. at 9 this morning and landed at 6 p.m. (3 p.m. Arizona time) in the desert. It feels like another planet … spiky brown hills rising in the distance out of what looks from the air like an ancient seabed, dry and cracked. We stepped off the plane into a wall of 40C heat, hot enough to take your breath away. The sun felt like a heat lamp searing my skin.

I’m in Yuma with Toronto nutritionist Theresa Albert and a bevy of top U.S. bloggers for a two-day Medjool Blogger Summit, where we’ll learn all about the fat, juicy king of dates that grow in tall palm trees in the Bard Valley and end up in tubs in our supermarkets.

cheese-stuffed medjool dates

cheese-stuffed medjool dates

Tonight we piled into a van and headed down the highway in the dark for dinner at grower Glen Vandervoort’s home. A few date palms grew out of the pea gravel in his front yard. A caterer had set up tables and chairs in the outdoor room by the pool. We helped ourselves to date and olive tapenade spread on crostini — surprisingly delicious — and prosciutto-wrapped dates stuffed with fontina cheese, always a winner. Butter-tender beef tenderloin and lots of veg followed, and we had date “power” honey balls for dessert.

Though it seems hard to believe, somewhere beyond the beige hills and the Home Depot, Sam’s Club and Target across the street from my hotel lie gardens of date palms, our destination tomorrow morning. But first, I have to try out the Radisson’s special king-size bed, which comes with a remote control to make the mattress softer or firmer. Wish me luck!

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