Day 1

Day 1
Saturday, June 19

Santa Monica, CA – Barstow, CA

Our Route 66 Journey began on Saturday at 3:30 AM. We crawled out of bed, got ready, packed up the car and left our town for a two hour drive to the airport located in Houston, TX. There we would meet my parents and brother and sister-in-law for the flight to Los Angeles. Driving in Houston that early on a weekend is both exciting and eerie; there is very little traffic on the roads and for Houston that is extremely rare. 

We arrived at the airport and made it through security relatively quickly. Although my son had his bag flagged because he had brought a large bottle of shampoo and they had to keep that.

The three and a half hour flight was full but very quiet and relaxing. My kids liked it very much, and it turned out to have been the highlight of the entire trip for them. During the Route 66 road trip, they kept asking when we could fly again.

On the flight, we were all scattered around but I sat with my son. He sat next to the window, I had the middle seat and an unknown man sat in the aisle seat. When this man boarded, he had some sort of iced coffee drink from Starbucks with him. He sipped that drink for the entire three hour flight and my son couldn’t believe or understand how he could make that drink last the entire flight.

During the flight I did some editing on a kids book I’m writing. I also saw two guys passing back a page full of math equations, so I wasn’t the only one doing work on the flight.

At one point the plane banked sharply to the right and my son leaned into the turn. So I did too. He laughed and jokingly asked “What would happen if everyone on the plane leaned to the right as well?”

We arrived in Los Angeles around 8:30 AM, which was 10:30 AM back in Texas. We had traveled back in time! We went to wait for our luggage at the carousel and as we watched the suitcases come around, we noticed a brand new cardboard box with a picture of a suitcase on it. I guess in Houston someone had bought a suitcase that came in a box and checked it; I’ve never seen that before.

Outside the terminal, we hopped aboard the Hertz shuttle-bus that took us to the Hertz rental car office where we would get our rental cars. We decided on getting two cars, One for me, my wife and kids and the other for my parents and brother and his wife. We thought this would be better than one large van because with two vehicles we could have the option of splitting up, doing different things, or if one car wanted to linger at an attraction the other car could go on ahead and we’d meet up later. Although on this trip, we ended up staying together the entire time. But what made the trip more fun was changing seats. At different times we would switch people around so we were always riding with different people and not the same four for the entire trip.

There were a lot of people in line at Hertz but it went quickly. The Hertz representative tried to convince us to buy the incidental insurance and roadside assistance but we declined. The cost to rent the car for a week was already more than the plane tickets from Houston to LA, and I didn’t want to add any more daily charges. 


The conversation with our Rep went something like this:

“Are you sure you don’t want the insurance and roadside assistance?”
“No thanks.”
“Uh…you sure? You have the car for a whole week.”
“No thanks.”
“Huh. What about Sirius radio?”
“No thanks.”
“Where are you headed?”
“We’re driving back to texas.”
“Oh? That’s a lot of driving”
“We’re taking the old Route 66.”
“I see, and you don’t want the insurance or roadside assistance?”
“No, we’ll be fine. We’ll drive slow.”
At which point she gave up, and shrugged as if to say “You’ll be sorry.”

From there we got on the highway and made our way to the Santa Monica Pier. The Santa Monica Pier is the official start and end of Route 66; depending on which direction you are heading. We parked in a nearby parking garage, only a block or so away from the pier.

As soon as my kids opened the car doors they noticed the garage smelled like urine and they immediately let us know how bad it smelled.

“What’s that smell?!” exclaimed my daughter, while my son pretended to throw up.

“It’s the ocean!” I said joyfully.

They didn’t buy it.

We walked to the Santa Monica Pier, enjoying the cool, pleasant morning air. My wife overheard a woman saying rather despondently that “it was already warming up.” If we were at home, due to the extremely high humidity, we would have been pouring sweat by the time we made it to the pier, so for us it was very nice. 

We found the Santa Monica Route 66 End of the Trails sign, marking the start of our journey and took some photos. Afterwards we started to explore the other attractions on the pier. There were cafes, shops, an arcade and even a small amusement park. If you’ve seen the cartoon Bob’s Burgers, the Santa Monica Pier reminds me of Wonder Wharf.
My wife and son rode the roller coaster and we walked through the arcade but didn’t have enough time to play any games. 

We munched down a couple churros and then began to make our way back to our cars to begin our Route 66 journey. At the entrance to the pier is a small route 66 gift shop and I bought a Route 66 passport there. You take the passport with you on your trip and various attractions and stops will stamp the passport for you. It turned out the store was my very first stamp. From this point on, any place that we stopped at that was in the passport I would get their stamp. However, not every stop we made was in the passport and unfortunately most of the stops were closed by the time we got there so I only managed to maybe get half of the stamps.

We took I-10 to HWY 110 up to Pasadena and made our next stop at the Gamble House. The Gamble House, built in 1908 is a stunning display of architecture and design, sitting nestled among some lovely pine trees. It is well worth a visit just for its own beauty, but even more importantly to me, it was used as Doc Brown’s house in Back to the Future

We left the Gamble House, traveling East down the very scenic Orange Grove Blvd until it met Foothill Blvd, trying to follow the old Route 66. But with lots of traffic and stop lights at almost every single block it was tiring, time consuming and frustrating.

Finally, more than an hour later, after we passed San Dimas, around La Verne; we got back on the much quicker I-210 and headed East. We exited on Pepper Ave in San Bernardino to visit the famous Wigwam Motel.

The Motel was built in 1946 and is one of three remaining Wigwam Villages in the country. We saw another one later on the trip.

After a quick stop there we got back on I-210 and then I-215 until it merged with I-15 North, heading to Barstow. There was a lot of traffic heading to Barstow but the traffic heading the opposite way, back to Los Angeles was even worse, with bumper to bumper traffic for miles.

At Victorville we left I-15 and got back on the old Route 66. There were very few vehicles on this stretch through the desert and it was a nice drive. We stopped at Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch at Oro Grande. It was very hot and dry but well worth a stop. The property is filled with hundreds of iron stands that have short iron pieces sticking out, like trees. Then the short iron pieces are covered in all kinds of bottles and powerline insulators. The area resembles an iron and glass bottle forest. It was very neat and hard to believe that one guy made all this, way out in the desert. The wind was blowing while we were there and it rattled some of the bottles and other antique items around the ranch, creating a very soothing wind chime sound.

From there we continued through the desert North East to Barstow where we checked in at the Route 66 Motel. The website said they’ve been there since 1922 and that they have round beds. However, none of our rooms had a round bed.

There is a noteworthy McDonalds in Barstow, located in what is called the Barstow Station. Inside the station is a convenience store, souvenir shop, Panda Express, Pretzel shop and a McDonalds. Both the Panda Express and McDonalds have actual train cars connected to their restaurants that you can sit in and eat. How cool is that? Where else can you eat in a train car?

After a stop to see the McDonalds we went to the local Walmart to buy water and snacks for the trip ahead. It’s the only Walmart I’ve been to that had the medicine and baby formula locked up.

Barstow seems to have seen better days and the town looked pretty run down and haggard. 

We returned to our hotel around 9 PM to retire for the night. We heard sirens several times and fireworks which my kids were convinced were gunshots.

I was too tired to get excited about it, “If they’re gun shots, they’re far away, we’re fine.”

My kids were less than pleased at my response. But I soon fell asleep while they stayed up and Googled Barstow and discovered just how dangerous and crime ridden the town actually is.

It had been quite a long day, and sometimes a trying day, but overall a good start to our Route 66 journey.

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If I had to change anything on this day, I think I would have just got on the highway after the Gamble House instead of trying to drive straight through LA along the old Route 66, there just wasn’t enough Route 66 stuff to see to make it worth it. I think it best to drive down I-210 and perhaps we could have picked one or two well known sights and drove straight to them instead of trying to drive all the way through town. LA is a lot bigger than it looks and takes a long time to drive across.

An alternative would have been to stay in the LA area, see the sights there and then start the drive to Barstow early the next morning.

Day 2

Day 2
Sunday, June 20

Barstow, CA – Kingman, AZ

We left Barstow around 8 AM and drove just a few miles East on I-15 to eat breakfast at Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner, built in 1954.

The food was delicious and had really large portions but the atmosphere and decor of the place was the most memorable. Pictures of old Hollywood stars and visitors of the restaurant adorned the walls. Out back, behind the restaurant was a garden-like area with a man made pond with several dinosaur statues.

Across from the diner was a large military installation and we spent a few minutes watching them load tanks up onto railroad cars.

From there we took Ghost Town Road North to the Calico Ghost Town Regional Park. And I have to say, this place is amazing! It’s an entire Old West mining town set at the foothills of a mountain range where they did the actual mining. Calico was started in 1881 and was famous for silver mining.

Inside the old buildings are a number of gift shops, cafes, candy stores, and they even have an old school. There was hardly anyone else at the town so it really did feel like we were in an old West ghost town.

They have a Mystery Shack, which I won’t spoil, but is great fun and if you visit Calico, you have to do it. There is also a short train ride around a large hill that highlights and showcases some of the history of the old mining days. Calico also has a self-guided mine tour through a real mine, which was also a lot of fun and highly recommended.

Next we drove South on Ghost Town Road, back down past Peggy Sue’s to connect with I-40 again.

A few miles further East down I-40, at Daggett, we explored the old airport and saw the large wooden hangar there. The last of four, quarter mile long, open sided wooden hangars; it was used to refit Douglas A-20 Havoc’s to give to the Soviets prior to our entry in WWII.

And just outside the airport is the old state inspection station that California used to inspect incoming travelers and make sure they didn’t bring in any fruit flies or unwanted fruits and vegetables. It was also in the late 30’s where they turned away Dust Bowl migrants that they didn’t want entering California.

Continuing down Route 66, between Newberry Springs and Ludlow is the Bagdad cafe, which was used in the movie Bagdad Cafe. We stopped by and visited with the woman that owns the place. She didn’t have any food or drinks, and it looked like she hadn’t served food in quite a while, but we had a nice visit with her. We had wanted to sit and have a cup of coffee with her and chat for a while, but with eight people just standing around her it was a bit crowded and awkward so we cut the visit short and hit the road again. It’s hard to imagine how a cafe like that could exist out in the desert.

Further down the road we paid a visit to the Amboy Crater and Lava field. You can see the extinct volcano from the road and there is a parking area with a scenic overlook and a trail that leads to the volcano. We stopped in the parking lot to take some photos, and the temperature gauge said 120 degrees. The hike to the volcano was 3 miles round trip and unfortunately we didn’t have time for that so we continued on down Route 66.

Next up on our trip was the famous ghost town of Amboy, where the iconic Roy’s Motel and Cafe sits. It is no longer a motel or cafe but the old motel and lobby are there along with a gift shop. It’s a great place to take photos. They kept the old motel lobby looking just like it did in the 50s/60s and it is beautiful to look at.

While we were walking around the temperature was still 120 degrees and the wind was blowing steadily. It felt like I was standing in front of an open oven. The wind was so hot it was hard to keep my eyes open half the time.

The whole time we were at Roy’s, there was always at least one person stopping to take photos of the sign and motel.

We then followed the old Route 66 East for a bit but we got to a point before Cadiz where the road was closed so we had to turn North and get back on I-40. The drive North was very scenic though, so not a total loss.

We took I-40 to Needles and stopped at a gas station to fill up. This gas station also had a Subway inside and inside the Subway was a large statue of Spike, from the Peanuts comic strip. Spike is Snoopy’s brother and apparently he lives around Needles, so that’s why they have his statue inside. That was a fun discovery to stumble across.

We kept moving until we reached the Arizona state line and stopped to take some photos at the welcome sign. The sign is right next to the Colorado river which is pretty blue and in stark contrast to all the brown landscape around it.

At Topock, outside Needles, we got back on 66 and headed North to Oatman. We passed a dusty city park that had a large, rather worn down Route 66 sign that you could drive a car through; so of course we did just that.

On the way to Oatman, we saw some of the famous wild burros off the side of the road. Closer to town one of them even came up to our window and put his head inside, looking for food. My daughter rolled up the window but he wouldn’t give up until just his lips were inside the rolled up window, still smacking, trying to get some food. I can’t really describe it well so here is a picture:

Unfortunately when we arrived in Oatman everything was closed and the entire town was empty. We walked the main street anyway, the only people in sight and it seemed like we’d found another ghost town. There were several wild burros around and we pet a few of them. One got angry and chased my wife and tried to bite her.

But since everything was closed we didn’t have a reason to linger and got back on the Mother Road.

Route 66 goes through and over the Black Mountains, with many sharp turns and steep ascents and descents. It was a very scenic and hair-raising drive, and we were the only ones on the road which made it very enjoyable and stress free. Outside Oatman we passed a working mine and stopped to watch it for a few minutes. 

After Sitgreaves Pass we came to the iconic Cool Springs Station gift shop, which was also closed but we stopped to admire the stone building and the views of the surrounding mountains.

Back on the road, we arrived in Kingman around 7:00 PM or so and went straight to Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner for dinner. The building has a neat sign and is painted turquoise and pink with a few old cars parked out front. You can’t miss it if you drive by.

After dinner we headed to the Ramada hotel for the night. The hotel has a lot of Route 66 and old Hollywood themed murals painted on the outside of the hotel. They also have a pool with the Route 66 logo painted on the bottom.

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It’s hard to say if I would do anything different on this day, every stop we made was enjoyable and interesting. If we had really wanted to see Oatman, then we would have had to spend a lot less time at the Calico ghost town, other than that I can’t suggest anything different for this day.

Day 3

Day 3
Monday, June 21

Kingman, AZ – Holbrook, AZ

I got up early, while the family slept and walked around the Ramada hotel and took pictures of all the different paintings on the wall. It took almost thirty minutes to see them all. Although the hotel may not be an original Route 66 hotel, the artwork more than makes up for it and if you’re in Kingman, stop by and check it out, there’s a lot of art to see.

On the way out of town we stopped at the El Trovatore motel and I took some photos. It was built before WWII and has the world’s longest map of Route 66, which is painted along the front of the building and across some of the motel rooms. They also have Looney Tunes paintings on one of the other motel buildings as well.

From there we visited the Powerhouse Visitor Center that contains a small Route 66 museum as well as a small museum of electric cars. The electric cars were a favorite of my son and they had some pretty unique samples on display.

Outside the museum a huge steam train was also on display. One of the wheels was as tall and wide as I was and my son couldn’t understand how they could make a train so large; he was convinced it was a fake train.

On the way out of town we stopped at Beale Street Brews Coffee Shop for some caffeine and then it was back on Route 66.

Outside of Kingman we paid a visit to the Giganticus Headicus, a neat looking A-frame shaped gift store that has a giant green head outside. The giant head reminds me of Squidward’s house from Spongebob. Inside, along the back wall was a row of tables with some large windows that provided a great view of the landscape behind the store.

Just down the road from Giganticus is the famous Hackberry Store with plenty of old cars around to photograph. Inside is a plethora of souvenirs.I bought another Route 66 passport, but this one is strictly for the state of Arizona and therefore it has more stops in Arizona than the other passport i’d bought.

Continuing down Route 66, we visited The Cavern Inn and it had even more old cars out front to photograph. They have a store, a motel with a pretty blue swimming pool, mini golf, and they even offer tours of a large cave. You can also spend the night in the cave! We didn’t have time to do the cave tour so instead we went inside their store. It was funny to me, no one bought anything in the store except for Rylan, who bought five tiny Slim Jims for a snack. There is also a small museum of antiques and other interesting old stuff in the back of the store.

From there we took Route 66 to Seligman. We ate lunch at the famous Snow Cap and John Delgadillo joked with us while we ordered our food. Some of the jokes:

“I’ll have a burger.”
“No, you have to pay for it.”

“I’ll have a burger and a fry.”
“Just one fry? Like one giant French fry?”

Of course there were more jokes and pranks but I won’t spoil them for you. It was definitely the most fun I’ve ever had ordering food at a restaurant.

After lunch we visited Angel Delgadillo’s famous barber shop/gift store. Angel is credited with getting Route 66 classified as Historic Route 66 and creating renewed interest in the old Mother Road. We checked out a couple of the other nearby stores while my mom and daughter went walking further down the street, past a row of houses until a pit bull charged at them and they turned and came back.
Up until this point, Seligman is where we saw the most tourists on the trip.

Our next stop was Williams. On the way there we left the desert and entered a more mountainous terrain complete with large green trees! The scenery totally changed and it was quite beautiful; one minute it was desert and the next it was the Kaibab National Forest.
North of Williams is a recreation of Bedrock, the town from the Flintstones cartoon; but it was too far for us to visit so we had to skip that.

Instead we went downtown and walked around, visiting some of the shops; one of which has the world’s largest Route 66 shield inside. By the rail yard they have a bridge made out of a red box car, which is neat. This town had a lot of tourists but I don’t think it was because of Route 66. Williams is also known as “The Gateway to the Grand Canyon.”

As we were leaving Williams, just South of I-40 the Kaibab National Forest was on fire and the smoke was covering the sky and the highway. It turns out there were over 26 forest fires burning. We were getting evacuation warnings on our phones but had no choice but to keep driving East. The smokey haze obscured the sun for the next couple of hours and provided some rather interesting lighting to our pictures.

Continuing East down I-40, we stopped at the famous Twin Arrows Trading Post to get some pics and explore the derelict store and diner. The hazy smoke from the forest fire made the sky brown and it felt like we were in some sort of post-apocalypse world.

After that was the Two Guns ghost town which was a neat place to poke around. We didn’t have a lot of time so we could only explore some of it.

Next we passed through Flagstaff but the visitor center had just closed minutes before we arrived. We drove through town but didn’t see much Route 66 stuff. I did see a Sizzlers though; I haven’t seen one of those since I was a kid. 

Our next stop was Winslow. We had to visit the famous “Corner in Winslow Arizona”, made famous by the popular Eagles song. The town put a real flat bed Ford on the corner as well as a statue of a man standing there waiting. Quite a few people were taking pictures on the famous corner.

Just down the street from the corner is the old La Posada hotel, considered by some to be the most beautiful building in the Southwest. We went in and walked around the hotel. It was really neat and had a lot of galleries, stairways and balconies to explore. One stairway led down to a hallway covered in mirrors which exited into the gift shop.

From there we continued on to Holbrook where we checked in at the Traveler Inn and crashed for the night.

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This day was pretty packed with activity. We didn’t get to spend too long in Williams and even less in Flagstaff. If you want more time in Williams I might suggest stopping there for the night and you could spend more there time which would leave more time for Flagstaff the next day if you wanted.

Day 4

Day 4
Tuesday, June 22

Holbrook, AZ – Gallup, NM

Our main attraction for the day was to visit the Petrified Forest National Park, located between I-40 and HWY 180.

But first, on the way out of town we stopped by the Wigwam Motel for some neat pictures before driving over to the Holbrook Visitor Center to get my passport stamped. The Visitors Center is located in the old courthouse building and to our surprise the entire building is a free museum with displays and exhibits in each room. It was fun exploring the rooms and my Dad even put on a judge’s robe and sat behind the bench.

Afterwards we made a coffee stop at Thanx-a-latte where the super friendly ladies gave us two good tips: To visit Jim Gray’s rock shop on the way to the Petrified Forest National Park and once in the park to take the Blue Mesa hike.

And taking their advice, we drove a mile or so past the coffee shop and there was Jim Gray’s. It was like stepping into a rock museum. The large building was full of rocks and fossils! It seemed like they had samples of every kind of rock imaginable. There was even a fantastic display of rocks and fossils from Jim Gray’s own personal collection. It was quite a sight to see and a stop we wouldn’t have made if the coffee shop ladies hadn’t recommended it.

We continued East on HWY 180 to the South entrance of the Petrified Forest National Park. We drove into the park a mile or so and stopped at the visitor center. Behind the visitor center was The Giant Logs Trail that wound among small hills covered in pieces of petrified trees. There were pieces of petrified wood everywhere! One of the logs, Old Faithful, is 35 feet long and weighs 44 tons.

You’re not supposed to take any rocks home and we didn’t, but it was hard not too.

After that we drove North through the park making stops along the way:

-Crystal Forest, which looked a lot like the Giant Logs Trail.

-Jasper Forest, here you looked down into a valley littered with pieces of petrified trees.

– Tha Agate Bridge, a petrified tree that fell across a ravine that people used to walk across.

– Blue Mesa, pretty blue and purple hills with a short hike to the bottom. We hiked to the bottom of Blue Mesa and despite warnings of a steep trail and running across several people that said they couldn’t do it, we had no problems. It was a paved walk to the canyon floor and while it had a few switchbacks it was no issue for us. The blues and purples were beautiful and I’m glad the coffee shop ladies recommended this.

The very North of the park resides on the other side of I-40 and that section of the park is called The Painted Desert. The scenery and colors are very different from the South section of the park. There are several scenic overlooks where you can take pictures and admire the different shades of colors that make up the rocks.

We also took a look at the closed, Painted Desert Inn, which is built in the Pueblo Revival style and was a popular stop during the heyday of Route 66.

The visitor center on the North side is a lot larger than the South one. They also have a gift store but inside they have a cafe where we bought some delicious Indian Fry Bread.

Back on I-40 we later discovered an abandoned Pancake House restaurant which had a very unique sign and octagonal shape. Right next to it is the abandoned Fort Courage tourist stop. The fort was a replica of the one used in the TV show F Troop. Long closed, we walked around the remains of the old fort and I really wanted to walk up the dark wooden tower but I was nervous that someone might be living up there.

Next on our trip was the Yellow Horse Trading Post. I had seen some videos of this and was expecting something totally different than what was there. I expected animals and a huge space full of things to see but it wasn’t like that at all, so I was very disappointed with this stop.

We continued East until we got to Gallup where we were going to spend the night. Our hotel was the historic and famous El Rancho. The hotel was built back in 1936 and a hot spot for all the movie stars filming westerns in the area. All the rooms are named after movie stars that stayed in the hotel.

It was super fun to explore the hotel and it even had an old style elevator that had a metal door and brass screen you had to manually open and close.

After check in we drove down the street to eat dinner at the 66 Diner. It was not not an authentic 66 establishment but it did have good food.

We drove down main street to look at any old signs or buildings we could find and then retired back to the hotel where we explored some more and I did some sketching in the lobby.

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Another full day, but we got to spend enough time at each place that we wanted. If I were to do it all over again I would skip Yellow Horse and spend more time at the hotel.

Day 5

Day 5
Wednesday, June 23

Gallup, NM – Tucumcari, NM

On our way out of Gallup we made a stop at Glenn’s Bakery for some breakfast. Then it was back on I-40 until we reached the Continental Divide where we stopped for some photos with the sign. 

Next up was Grants where there was a nice Route 66 sign you can drive a vehicle through so we did that before stopping at the New Mexico Mining Museum next door. We had been planning on visiting the mining museum, but unfortunately it was closed. So instead we spent a few minutes walking around the nice park next to the museum where we saw a Muskrat swimming in the creek.

Down the road we stopped to take pics at the old 250 foot long Rio Puerco bridge, which was built in 1933.

Then it was on to Albuquerque. We went to the New Mexico Steam Locomotive and Railroad Historical Society where a crew of volunteers has been spending the past 18 years meticulously restoring a giant steam train, bigger than the one we had seen at Kingman. Mike, our tour guide, took us around and explained what was being done and how steam trains work. We got to climb up in the engine and look around too. It was very informative and quite funny as well. We also got to ring an old Steam train bell and blow the whistle.
On the way there we thought we were going to visit a train museum; we didn’t realize it was a restoration of a single engine in progress.  But it turned out to be so much better and more memorable than a regular museum.

On our way out of Albuquerque, on Route 66, we stopped for lunch at Clowndogs Gourmet Hotdog restaurant. It’s pretty neat; you can customize your own hotdog with a wide variety of toppings, including Fruit Loops and chocolate sauce.

Next down route 66 was Moriarty where we paid a visit to the Lewis Antique Auto and Toy Museum. There were probably a hundred or more vehicles parked around a huge barn and with paid admission you were free to wander around and look at them. There were so many different kinds; trucks, cars, semi-trucks, antique cars, and many more. All of them were just sitting outside, slowly rotting and rusting away.

The owners of the museum told us nothing was for sale which seems sad to me. Someone might want to buy one of the old cars or trucks and give it a new life and save it from rusting away.

Next up was Cuervo, a ghost town where we explored several old, abandoned houses. It was pretty neat and made for some great pics.

Then it was on to our final stop for the day; Tucumcari.

We checked in at the Historic Route 66 Motel while my parents and brother and sister-in-law checked in at the Roadrunner Inn. We ate dinner at a Pizza Joint called Cornerstone First Edition Pizza & Subs, which fittingly enough, happened to be in an old Pizza Hut building.

Day 6

Day 6
Thursday, June 24

Tucumcari, NM – Shamrock, TX

First stop of the day was breakfast and coffee at the old school dinner; Kix on 66.
From there we got back on I-40 and drove to Russell’s truck stop. We had seen billboards for Russells the day before advertising a free car museum inside the truck stop and we wanted to stop and check it out.
As we went inside, there was a claw vending machine inside the foyer. My kids tried their hands at it and they almost got a shark but it fell out of the claw when it was in the air. So then I tried it, same thing; once in the air it fell out of the claw. 

We were so close. 
So I tried again; same thing. 
One more time, same thing. It was so frustrating. 
On the way out I tried again; same thing!

On a better note, the car museum was actually quite impressive! There were a lot of beautiful cars inside along with memorabilia hanging on the walls and from the ceiling. 

Then it was back on I-40 until we reached Glen Rio, a ghost town that straddles the New Mexico/Texas border. We explored the remains of a store and motel while we were there.

From Glen Rio we continued East until we reached Adrian, which is the midpoint for the entire Route 66. There is a nice sign on the side of the road showing where the midpoint is, exactly 1139 miles to Santa Monica and 1139 miles to Chicago.

Across from the sign is the Midpoint Cafe where we had some of their famous “ugly crust” pie and a rootbeer.

A block past the Midpoint Cafe is the old Bent Door Cafe. Long since closed, it has a neat design element to it; the front of the cafe is built using an old air traffic tower.

It was back on I-40 until we reached the famous Cadillac Ranch, just outside Amarillo. There was a trailer there selling spray paint and souvenirs and another one selling drinks and coffee. We walked out to the buried Cadillacs in the field and did some spray painting before getting back in the car and driving down the road to the Big Texan.

The Big Texan is where they have the free 72 oz steak challenge. If you eat a 72 oz steak, shrimp cocktail, roll with butter, baked potato, and a salad in one hour or less it’s free. They also have an arcade shooting gallery inside, a gift store (which was crowded) and a western themed restaurant. By the bathrooms they have a hallway covered in photos that change from regular people to ghosts and monsters as you walk by.

Continuing down I-40 our next stop was Groom where we saw the giant, 19 story tall cross. We also walked around the grounds, looking at the various religious statues. 

Just down the road is the leaning Britten water tower. It was meant to lean on purpose and was used to promote a long gone truck stop. It’s a pretty neat thing to see and if you see it from the opposite side of the highway it will surely cause you to do a double take.

A little further down the road is a highway rest stop that is entirely Route 66 themed. The outside is designed in the art deco style and inside they have a lot of old signs on display. And, there are two tornado shelters inside.

Our next stop was McClean where they have the very first Phillips 66 gas station; which is tiny! There is also a barbed wire museum called The Devil’s Rope Museum, but by the time we got there it was closed.

Then it was on to our last stop for the day and for our Route 66 road trip; Shamrock, TX.
We stopped at the famou U-Drop Inn, just 5 minutes after they’d closed, much to our dismay. But we took some pics and then went across the street to check into our last motel for the trip; the Western Inn. We decided since we were only 18 miles from the Oklahoma border we should finish Route 66 all the way to the border. So we drove to Texola, right across the Oklahoma border and then went back to Shamrock to eat dinner at the Mesquite Canyon Steakhouse.

Back on day three, while we were driving past Hackberry, towards Peach Springs, we stopped at an old remodeled gas station. It was closed but there was a man outside working on some things and we got to talking. He told me that Shamrock, TX was the only place McDonalds serves Shamrock Shakes all year. I have never had a Shamrock Shake so I had been looking forward to getting to Shamrock, TX and going to McDonalds for a Shamrock Shake.

McDonalds was just down the road from the restaurant where we had dinner so after we were done eating we pulled in and I asked for a Shamrock Shake. 

They didn’t have any. 
I was very disappointed

But, moving on, we went to Shamrock’s downtown area, where they have a piece of the Blarney Stone from Ireland. We all kissed it for good luck before walking around a bit. I found a pizza place called Tower Plaza Cafe & Pizza that was still open and we went inside and got some ice cream and a Slush Puppie. I haven’t had a Slush Puppie in a long, long time. So I had a rootbeer float and a Slush Puppie. Just as the waitress was delivering my Slush Puppie, my mom was commenting that I looked like a pig with two desserts. The waitress, laughing, agreed.

We went back to the hotel and I did some sketching of the U-Drop inn. While I was out there the hotel manager walked by and we had a nice chat and then another couple doing Route 66 stopped by to talk. They were the only people we’d gotten to talk to about Route 66 the entire trip. A big majority of Route 66 travelers are foreigners and covid has apparently put a stop to this, momentarily.

The next day we got up early and began the 10 hour drive back home. And the drive consisted of mostly congested highways the whole way. It was not nearly as fun at Route 66, not even close.

Tips for the Road

Stock up on plenty of water and snacks at a grocery store or big box store at the beginning of your trip. It saves on money and extra stops when someone is hungry or thirsty.

Route 66 entails a lot of driving. The road time is just as much a part of Route 66 as the old hotels and pit stops. Make it fun, joke around, play music, talk. We actually spent a lot of the road time looking up the history of the places we were going to visit so we would know something about them when we arrived. If everyone has headphones in or is playing games on their phones the trip won’t be the same.

On our trip I created a Google spreadsheet with a possible trip itinerary. On the spreadsheet, each town we went through was listed and then under the town was a list of anything interesting to see or do.
I then shared this spreadsheet with the rest of the trip goers and anyone could add to it. Then when it was time for the trip I had a rough outline of things to see and do. Some we did and some we didn’t but at least we never had the issue of getting home and then discovering we’d missed some great attraction.

It also helps to have one person sort of leading the group, like a tour guide. This person is not in charge but steers the voyage. Otherwise you’ll waste a lot of time arguing over what to do and for how long etc.

When you travel with a group you have to be flexible and patient. Sometimes you have to spend more time at a spot than you would normally do and sometimes you have to rush. But you have to go with the flow and enjoy the journey.

We booked our hotels in the car, the day of arrival. We never knew how long we would be at a place or even where we would end up for the night until later in the day so there was no way to book any hotel in advance.

Artwork

Caverns Inn, Peach Springs, Az
Caverns Inn, Peach Springs, AZ
Caverns Inn, Peach Springs, AZ
El Trovatore Motel, Kingman, AZ
Roy’s Motel & Cafe, Amboy, CA

Western Motel, Shamrock, TX
Midpoint Cafe, Adrian, TX
Peggy Sue’s, Barstow, CA
Mr D’z Route 66 Diner, Kingman, AZ
Kix on 66 Diner, Tucumcari, NM