We set off early this morning once again on our quest for donuts. This time we were victorious and happened upon Donut Depot. They had tons of donuts to choose from and they were all superb. It’s a good thing places like this are few and far between in Kansas City or we’d be in trouble.
Stuffing our faces with donuts, we drove off toward Oatman. We decided to take the old alignment through the mountains on Oatman Road/US 66. It was one of those long, winding mountain roads where you think you’re going to fall off the cliff to your death at every turn. Maybe we should have taken the I-40 route. I was so nervous I thought I was going to throw up. I think Josh thinks that I think he is a bad driver. It has nothing to do with that. He was driving super slow and safe, but the curves were wicked. It was a beautiful view though!
Finally we arrived in Oatman. There wasn’t a burro in sight. We were a little bummed but decided to peruse some of the shops for a bit. After walking around the tiny town for about 45 minutes, we decided to give up and head on to California. Everyone was pouting and whining. Even Josh.
Luckily, just as we got to the edge of town, we saw the burros. They were all hanging out in the parking lot on the East end of town. We got out and fed them all the carrots we had. The kids really enjoyed it, though a few of the burros were pretty aggressive. A couple of times, I got bumped in the butt by a burro. We decided to only feed the polite burros.
After we ran out of carrots, we got back on the road. Luckily, it’s not curvy mountain roads on the way out of town. It’s just curvy desert roads. There are only a couple of small towns out in the desert between Oatman and the California border. I still couldn’t help but wonder, who the heck would live in the desert on purpose?!
As we crossed into California (on I-40 since that’s the only way now), you cross over the Colorado River and you can see the Needles Mountains. It’s a beautiful view. As you continue into California, it’s desert and mountains as far as the eye can see.
We drove through Needles and stopped for gas. It was $3.79 a gallon! I guess they know everyone is going to get gas before heading into the desert. We continued on the old road alignment through Goffs, population 23. I wonder if they update the sign every time someone dies, is born, or moves out of town. It’s kind of lonely driving through the Mojave desert. And hot! Ava kept asking if we could buy popsicles, but we didn’t even see a place that was open.
We continued to drive through the desert and realized that there really is nothing here. Somewhere between Danby and Cadiz Summit, we got out of the car and added our name ‘The Solars’ to the rock graffiti the raised levees that run along the North side of the road. If you ever pass by this way, look for our mark! And while you’re at it, head over to our other blog and check out the video we made!
As we headed into Amboy, CA, we finally found a place open for business, Roy’s. It used to be a cafe, motel, and station. Now it’s just a gas station. But they sell ice, cold drinks, and a few snacks. It’s a welcome sight after a couple of hours in the desert. They also have bathrooms! And the owner was super nice. He said he is also the town sheriff, so we made sure not to speed through town 🙂
We continued driving through the Mojave desert. Several times, we attempted to find landmarks that were in one of guidebooks. Apparently the directions are either not very good OR we suck at directions. Take your pick.
We continued on into Barstow and immediately started seeing palm trees. Ah, California. There’s really not much to see in Barstow either, save a few old neons. There is a Route 66 visitors center there, but our kids would never last in a place like that.
So we headed on to Oro Grande to see the Bottle Tree Forest. It’s a bunch of ‘trees’ made out of scrap metal and old glass bottles in some guy’s (Elmer Long) front yard. It was really cool and very eclectic. Elmer even came out of the house to come chat with us for a bit. We happened to be there shortly before sunset, so the light coming through was awesome!
As we got back on the road, we decided we wanted to get to San Bernardino tonight so we could stay in the wigwams. We headed through Victorville and down I-15 (which is the only way now) and through the mountains. At dusk. It was gorgeous. Unfortunately there was nowhere to stop and take a photo. We soon arrived safely in San Bernardino at the Wigwam Motel.
Tomorrow, we are headed to Santa Monica and the end of our Route 66 road trip.
Things I learned today:
1. Apple juice will ruin a Leapster.
2. Ava (who doesn’t normally throw fits) will throw full-on kicking and screaming in the floor fits when she is overly tired and you tell her no she can’t get any candy at the gas station this time.
3. Baby toe popsicles are very tasty.
4. We get great phone signals out here in the middle of the desert. AT&T must really love the 23 people who live out here in the middle of nowhere.
5. Lia thinks it’s hilarious when I burp.
6. Some people brought their own rocks to the desert for the rock graffiti, bright blue and white. You can read their names really well. If you ever make this trek, bring your own rocks!
7. Most gas stations clearly advertise on the door that bathrooms are for paying customers only. They have no problem though with letting us use their microwave to cook easy mac though. Even though we didn’t buy it from them. Interesting.
8. I had forgotten how much I hate winding mountain roads that don’t have guard rails. I remember now. It’s a lot.
Donut Depot, Kingman, AZ 5 stars – If you love donuts like we do, this place is great! They had tons of donuts to choose from and every single one we got was delicious!
Oatman, AZ 5 stars – We were so close to being disappointed in Oatman. We were actually heading out of town when we finally saw the famous burros. We immediately pulled off and jumped out to feed them the carrots we had brought along with us. The kids were really excited to feed the burros and they sure enjoyed it. Remember though that the burros are wild, and some of them are aggressive. None of them bit anyone or kicked, but we did get pushed around a bit. The town was what you could expect from a tourist stop… lots of kitschy gift shops, saloons, and even a tattoo parlor. The whole town is about a block long. Now, I will warn you that it is a long, crazy drive down the mountain to get there if you take the historic route. It’s not for the faint of heart, so take the interstate if you get nervous like I do.
Roy’s, Amboy, CA 5 stars – This is the ONLY place you see for what seems like forever though it may only really be a couple hours. They sell gas, ice, cold drinks, and a few snacks. The owner was super friendly. And they have bathrooms. It’s a welcome sight and a must stop on your way through the Mojave.
Bottle Tree Forest, Oro Grande, CA 5 stars – Elmer Long’s forest of glass bottle trees is super cool. It’s totally different from any kind of art you are probably used to seeing and I think that adds to the flavor. Elmer himself came out and gave us a bit of history. I think he could have talked for hours. He made the trees from scrap metal and other various things and on all the branches are glass bottles. There were lots of things that were blowing in the wind and making beautiful noises. And so much to look at! This is definitely worth a stop!
Wigwam Motel, San Bernardino, CA 4 3/4 stars – This motel is awesome! If you have kids, you. need to stay here sometime. They are a lot bigger inside than they look from the outside. Our room is very nice, has a mini fridge, tv, a/c, and WiFi. The only reason they don’t get 5 stars: I booked our room online and when we got here they said they were out of double bed rooms. Turns out I actually booked s room for tomorrow night on accident. Their cancellation policy is 24 hours and they were at first iffy on whether they would make me pay for tomorrow night even though it was a mistake. Then, when we got the correct room booked, they would not honor the 10% discount I had gotten online. But they did get us a rollaway bed so we could all fit in the room.


  • I presume it was Albert Okura you spoke with at Roy’s… and he actually owns the entire town! 🙂 He bought it a few years ago. He also happens to own the Juan Pollo restaurant chain and the McDonald’s Museum in San Bernardino (at the site of the original McDonald’s restaurant.)
    He’s been fixing Amboy up for a while now. Can’t wait to see Roy’s once he gets it all up and running. It looks great already… he’s done a terrific job.

  • Boy that little girl loves being naked! I think it is that age because Lucas is always taking off his clothes too!
    I love the bottle forest! And the burros! And the random office chair out under the pine tree! LOL

  • Oh, and Happy Mother’s Day, Jenny! What a fun thing to be doing with your kids and husband on Mother’s Day!!!

  • Wow, amazing pictures! Amazing pics x 2! I love them. Looks like you had a lot of fun. Haha trust me, the desert gets old. Kingman gets old. I hate it here.

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