08/24/16 – 09/06/2016
We were never really much into traveling, camping, and all that jazz until we got our MINIs but it didn’t take long before it all drove us a little nuts, pun intended. We decided to do a really big road trip on our own.
I thought of a lot of places I wanted to see which included big names like Yellowstone and Yosemite. Those are really far apart which makes it hard to do in one trip. I could however do either one with a lot of other things added on. The most, however, was if I did Yosemite and picked up a bunch of stuff along the way. Making it even more enticing we could take Route 66 instead of the typical interstates all the way.
With a route now in mind, we had to fill in all the places we could along the way there and back, what follows is a very small overview of our big adventure down Route 66.
So on August 24th we headed out. To start with we headed north to Oklahoma City, OK so we could catch Route 66 there and head west.
The National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, OK was a nice stop shortly after getting on Route 66. Lots of information, stickers, and other souvenirs were there to be had, and we bought our share. What I found interesting is that there really is no one complete map of Route 66 because it changed over time, some of those sections of the road no longer exist, some are now interstate, so following the entire route now depends on the route from which year you want to follow.
The next really interesting stop was the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX. Every day people spray paint these cars stuck in the ground meaning every day they are different. We got really lucky in that it was not that crowded so we got to play by ourselves for a while, climb on some cars, take some pictures and generally have a great time.
For some reason, this gas station was out of gas or just didn’t work. Either way, I had to find another place to fill up Buster.
Every time we go near Santa Fe we have to eat at The Shed, and it never disappoints.
The painted desert looks exactly as its name implies. Colors in the rocks and ground are just amazing, and the sky really helped give it that awesome look.
Although not a large park compared to Yosemite or Yellowstone, there are lots of overlooks and places to stop for pictures. Our biggest problem of course was time. We did make sure to visit several of the nicer overlooks and their little information center which was just outstanding.
Concrete tee pees with window air conditioners and classic cars parked out front in excellent condition. Not something you expect to see driving down the road but on Route 66 it was not that far out of the ordinary.
Do I really need to tell you this was taken in Winslow, AZ?
Nothing like seeing a giant crater in the middle of nowhere!
We stopped for dinner in Flagstaff, AZ at a roadhouse. I had no idea that we would have to cook our own dinner, or that there was a gun store INSIDE the bar which was all next door to the Harley Davidson dealer. And I thought there were some rough places in Texas.
That’s right, you cook your own dinner. I was confused too. You belly up to the bar, grab a menu, then place your order. The bartender goes in the back, grabs your raw dinner, and brings it out and lights the grill for you before heading back behind the bar. That’s right, you want Steak Tar Tar? No? Cook it your dang self!
Funny enough it was actually a lot of fun.
You just can’t do Route 66 without getting a picture of the section of the road where there are still some of the original painted logos. Technically probably illegal to stop in the middle of the road and take pictures, but you know, some things are worth the risk.
Joshua Tree National Park is a fairly small but amazing little park. Yes, there are lots of the little Joshua trees but there are also incredible rock formations and just plain neat campgrounds.
There are also some amazing scenic overlooks at Joshua Tree like the one in the image above.
Finally, we reached the end of Route 66 on the Santa Monica Pier just outside Los Angeles, CA.
The Santa Monica Pier is a huge attraction and was just shoulder to shoulder packed.
If you look just above Sue Ann’s head and to the right a tad you will see the Hollywood sign up on that hill. This is as close as we got to the sign, we were way too busy to try and drive up closer. This picture was taken just outside Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, CA.
Being an astronomy geek I could not go to Los Angeles without seeing Griffith Observatory, it could also have something to do with being a Trekkie as well, heh. We spent quite a bit of time touring the observatory and it was completely fascinating.
Here is a pano off the observation area on the back of Griffith Observatory looking down on Los Angeles. It really was an amazing view.
So what’s so interesting about this picture? Nothing, other than the fact that this is the corner of Hollywood and Vine!
Yup, that’s the Chinese Theater! We didn’t go inside but we did eat lunch right next door at the Hard Rock Hollywood.
On the way to Yosemite National Park you can drive past or through Sequoia, we drove through and it was incredible.
Sequoia National Park is a beautiful stretch of mountainous area with just endless things to look at. If we weren’t on our way to Yosemite this would have been a great place to explore for a couple of days.
They had a few rather large trees in the park, LOL!
Welcome to Yosemite! Time to go find our campsite.
Finally setting up camp 6,200 feet up at Crane Flats campsite in Yosemite National Park.
Sue Ann climbing them mountains!
El Capitan is just as awesome as in the pictures.
We camped right outside Arches National Park in an RV park that had tent camping spots. This was right outside Moab, UT.
Arches National Park is exactly what you would think, red rocks and arches. That doesn’t sound that interesting but trust me it is. It also looks like a completely different planet than Yosemite which we just left.
Yes, you can get right up and personal with some of the arches with just a little hiking. If we can hike it, it is more like strolling than hiking but it doesn’t sound nearly as cool.
While staying at our campsite in Moab we met these two guys; one riding from Canada to Mexico, the other riding from the west coast to the east coast, both of them riding almost exclusively off-road and camping. One of them was from Russia! We had a great evening telling stories and drinking. Somewhere around 1 am I thought we were going to be asked to leave the camp but it all worked out. Bet they won’t underestimate the drinking capabilities of the Texans next time, heh.
Our little camp in the Alvarado National Campgrounds at a little over 9,000 feet in altitude which was located just outside Westcliffe, CO.
That’s right, I am wearing a kilt. Evidently I wear it well as a lady in the line at the gift shop asked me where in Scotland I was from. Guess she missed that Southern accent, heh.
On our way back into Texas we just had to stop at the Grand Canyon of Texas, Palo Duro State Park.
While not exactly the Grand Canyon, it was really nice. Think of a much smaller Grand Canyon, much hotter, less water, fewer attractions, and far fewer people and you have a good idea of what is here. That doesn’t mean it isn’t impressive, because it is! Just be careful driving through here because there are roadrunners all over the place, and they are oh so cool to watch. If you are lucky, you might get to see a heard of wild turkeys!
If you look just below the cave opening above you will see someone in a white or light gray shirt, that gives you an idea of how big that cave entrance is. You can climb right in and it goes back quite a ways. It even has a skylight back a ways from the entrance, very cool.
From Palo Duro, we headed home ending our great adventure out west. While we don’t have the time or money to do this kind of thing all the time, it sure would be fun! Hopefully, we will eventually hit Route 66 and head east and then up into Maine, or at least that is the dream today 🙂