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The Cabazon Dinosaurs: A Surprise in the Desert

For more photos of Dinny and Mr. Rex, explore the Cabazon Dinosaurs location page.

For any adventurous road-tripper making the 157-kilometer (97.5-mile) drive between Los Angeles and Palm Springs, California, there are three surefire signs that you’re on your way: vast expanses of desert, fields of industrial windmills—and dinosaurs.

Dinny the Dinosaur and her companion, Mr. Rex, tower over the horizon of Cabazon, California. The pair were created by sculptor Claude K. Belle as a roadside wonder to attract customers to his Wheel Inn Restaurant located beneath their feet. Belle led the project without the help of external companies, opting instead to work with a few friends to complete his vision.

Dinny, an Apatosaurus, came first in 1981, built from salvaged interstate materials over the course of 11 years. In all, she measures 46 meters (150 feet) in length and stretches 14 meters (45 feet) into the sky. Mr. Rex, who is slightly taller at 20 meters (65 feet) came next in 1986. Made from concrete and steel, both dinosaurs weigh more than 100 tons each.

In addition to their photogenic exteriors, the dinos were designed as hollow structures that visitors can explore. Dinny’s belly contains a gift shop and adventurous Instagrammers can scale Mr. Rex for a shot of the desert horizon through the Tyrannosaurus’s mouth.

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Remembering a Generation with @notmynonni

To view more photos and videos of nonni all over the world, browse the hashtag #notmynonni and follow @notmynonni and @tianapix on Instagram.

Italy Instagrammer Tiana Kai Madera (@tianapix) captioned one of her photos “not my nonna,” using the affectionate word for “grandma” in Italian. When her community was amused by the happy nature of the shot, she started the account @notmynonni (nonni means “grandparents”) to capture quintessential Italian scenes of elderly people going about their daily lives—in the streets, in winter coats, or standing next to old cars. “The older the nonni, the more moved people get—and I hope to capture Italy and all of its nonni,” she explains.

Tiana’s grandfather, to whom the account is dedicated, had Sicilian parents. She says she feels closer to him after moving to Florence from Miami. “I see my grandpa in many nonni that I photograph,” she says. “Some I stop and chat with, others I smile and move on and sometimes assist them if they need help down a step. Each of us has a nonno or nonna inside these strangers.”

Other Instagrammers joined in, using the #notmynonni hashtag to share photos of other people’s grandpas and grandmas.

Tiana feels the love for the account comes from the fact that “everyone has an elderly figure that they love,” and she enjoys seeing people share affectionate photos of nonni all over the world.

"This project reminds us to be kind, to love our family and others."