We woke up this morning and headed on our way to Santa Monica, the end of Route 66. Now, I love Southern California, but as far as Route 66 goes, there’s really not much to see. You get to drive through Hollywood and Los Angeles. But I could care less about the big cities and the star appeal.
We drove and drove and finally reached Santa Monica. Now, most people think that Route 66 ends at the Santa Monica pier. It actually ends at Palisades Park which is a couple blocks from the pier. We stopped off at the historic end of Route 66 for a few photos. Then we headed to the pier for some fun.
We spent the entire afternoon and the better part of the evening playing at the amusement park that’s on the Santa Monica pier, Pacific Park. The kids had a great time even though there were only 6 rides for them to ride. Since it was Mother’s Day, the place was packed. It was gorgeous weather most of the day. As the afternoon turned to evening, the wind picked up and it got downright cold.
We were about to head on our way, when we ran into a new online friend, Anthony and his peeps. He is making a Route 66 documentary and was extremely helpful to us while we were on our trip. It was fun to meet him in person!
And that was it for our Route 66 road trip. If you’ve been following along with us, thank you so much! We’ll be taking another trip later this year, and we’d love some suggestions as to where we should go 🙂
Things I learned today:
1. My kids can totally be entertained for hours by the same 6 rides at an amusement park.
2. If your kid is shorter than 36 inches, you not only have to buy them a ride wristband for $15.95, but you have to buy one for yourself for $21.95. So it essentially costs you $40 so your littlest one can ride the rides too.
3. There are 6 rides at the Pacific Park amusement park for little kids. Lia was scared of 4 of them. So I got to ride the same 2 kiddie rides over and over and over.
4. No matter how many times Max says he wants to ride the roller coaster, he will always chicken out at the last minute. Same goes for the ferris wheel.
5. I still think it’s funny when people we’ve never met recognize us out in public because they’ve seen our pictures on our blog.
6. I couldn’t care less about taking a tour of the stars’ homes. Are there really people out there who pay money to do that?!
7. Lia is terrified of the big scary rides at the amusement park. She starts shaking and screaming if we are anywhere near them when they are in motion. Guess where the ticket stand is? Right between the dragon ride and the roller coaster.
Santa Monica Pier Pacific Park, Santa Monica, CA 4 stars – This one was a tough one to rate. On the one hand, my kids had an absolute blast, so I’m definitely glad we went. And I would have gone even if I had known about the downsides. If you have little kids (i.e. 3-6 year-olds), this would be an ideal place to spend an afternoon. That being said, I was annoyed by the experience. So, on the Pacific Park website, they have a coupon for 15% off unlimited ride wristbands. If you don’t buy the wristband, it is $3 & $5 per person per ride. Yeah. So I called and they told me they would honor the coupon even though I didn’t have it printed out. When I got there, they gave me a huge hassle about it. They also said Lia was too little to ride. After Max & Ava rode 3 rides, someone told me Lia could ride too if I rode with her. I went through the same hassle AGAIN at the ticket stand with the coupon. Here’s what really irked me though: I had to buy a wristband for Lia AND one for me. Even though all I rode was the baby rides. The other thing I didn’t like was that they didn’t fill the rides up completely, so there was always a wait, even though there weren’t many kids. That being said, I would probably take them again if we were in the area. But I’d make sure to print out my coupon ahead of time.
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.
This morning we got up and headed for the old road. We really wanted to get some donuts for breakfast, but would you believe we couldn’t find a donut shop anywhere in Flagstaff? So we gave up on our donut quest and headed out toward Bellemont.
We decided to drive the old Brannigan Park alignment. As you head that way on the old road, you enter Kaibab National Forest. It’s absolutely gorgeous there with all the trees, so we stopped to play and take a few portraits.
Our next stop was the Grand Canyon Deer Farm. We stopped in and spent some time feeding the deer. They also had miniature horses, donkeys, llamas, reindeer, and a camel, among other things. Lia was scared at first because the deer all crowded around us. After a few minutes, she was fine and even wanted to feed the deer. Ava fed some deer too, but Max only wanted to throw the food and watch them eat it. The kids’ favorite animals were the goats. They were lazy and just laid around letting the kids pet them.
Leaving the deer farm, we took the old dirt road alignment to Williams, AZ to hit up Twisters for lunch. It’s a 1950’s soda fountain and diner. We got a corn dog and chicken strips. The food was good, but what I was really looking forward to was the ice cream! They had kids size cones for 66 cents. They were super tiny, but the perfect size for our little ones. And we got normal size cones for us 🙂
After lunch, we continued on through Williams, then hopped on what we thought was the old dirt road alignment right after Pine Springs. It’s hard to tell here in Arizona if you’re on the right track or not, as the route is not marked well at all. We were spoiled in Illinois where Route 66 was well-marked. I still don’t know if that dirt road was Route 66 or not, but I do know that we drove it for a several miles and then it became a dead end out of nowhere.
Back on the newer alignment that runs with I-40, we took Crookton Road into Seligman. This is the start of the longest stretch of old 66 remaining, 158 miles long. We got to Seligman and made a beeline for the Sno Cap Drive In. This place is world famous for it’s good food and good humor. We got a strawberry shake, a chocolate shake, and an order of fries.
At the Snow Cap, they do things like squirt you with a pretend bottle of mustard and offer you a handful of straw (hay) instead of a straw for your drink. It’s all in good fun, but the lady two people ahead of me was a real party pooper. That’s a bummer, especially because the place is so well-known for their jokes. We also popped into the Route 66 Visitors Center which is in Angel Delgadillo’s old barber shop.
Heading out of Seligman, we followed the old alignment that runs with AZ 66. There really isn’t a lot to see between Seligman and Kingman, but we stopped a couple times to see roadside attractions, including the Hackberry General Store.
As we headed into Kingman, we decided to stop for the night. We did make a quick trip up to Locomotive Park to see the train before heading to the motel.
Tomorrow, we are headed toward San Bernadino. I don’t think we’ll make it that far, but we’ll see what happens.
Things I learned today:
1. You should not attempt to pour milk from the milk jug into a water bottle while the car is moving unless you would like to have milk all over your lap.
2. Don’t mention bears to your little kids while driving through the forest. Max & Ava are now obsessed with finding a bear (and of course, shooting it).
3. You should not wear a skirt to a petting zoo unless you want to be deer food.
4. I wonder how much it would cost to put in one of those privacy windows between the 2nd & 3rd rows in the minivan. You know the kind they have in limos? That’s what I have in mind.
5. Port-A-Potty’s gross me out. Seriously.
6. Lia has decided that she will start taking her shoes off everywhere we go, but most definitely if we are in the bathroom. What is up with that girl?
7. I love drinking soda out of glass bottles. It seems so vintage. But boy is it a lot more carbonated!
Grand Canyon Deer Farm, Williams, AZ 4 1/2 stars – The kids really enjoyed this petting zoo. You could feed deer and look at all kinds of other animals, including miniature horses and donkeys, llamas, goats, reindeer, and a camel. The deer were fairly aggressive as animals in these parks always are. They weren’t mean or anything, but they kept trying to grab the cup of food out of my hand. And they were pushing and shoving a bit. The only reason I didn’t give this place 5 stars is because I thought it was a bit pricey. It cost us almost $30 just to get in, then another $4.50 for a cup of deer food. What they don’t tell you is that you can buy the deer food for 25 cents a handful once you’re inside the park.
Twisters, Williams, AZ 4 stars – The food was good, the service was good, and the ice cream was fabulous. This place is definitely worth a stop to grab a bite to eat and get refreshed.
Snow Cap Drive In, Seligman, AZ 5 stars – This is definitely a must stop if you are traveling Route 66 through Arizona. If the yummy burgers, fries, and shakes aren’t enough to entice you, maybe the overly cluttered lot is. The whole place is decked out in vintage accessories and cars. Definitely a lot of photo-ops. And they are famous for their practical jokes 🙂
Rhodeway Inn, Kingman, AZ 4 stars – It’s clean, fairly spacious, the internet works, and it was super cheap, $40 including tax. It’s probably nicer than most of the motels we’ve stayed in thus far.
Luckily, Jenny didn’t capture me falling on my face after this jump 🙂
Lia hates shoes. We can’t figure out why.
I think someone is tired and doesn’t want to be Loved on.
My kids are ridiculous. I know I’m biased, but I had to say it.