If you know me, you know I love road trips. I jam-pack them full of quirky roadside stop offs, exploring, and all around fun.
When Jackson told me he had never been to the Grand Canyon, I knew we had to take this opportunity to go and make the most of every moment along the way. I had been once before when I was four years old so this was kind of like my first time too.
On this trip from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon, to Holbrook, Arizona, we traveled more than 1,200 miles, ate way too much diner food and stopped off at some really amazing Route 66 landmarks.
We left Los Angeles around 7am on a Wednesday, grabbed coffee and hit the road. Our first stop was about an hour and fifty minutes in, at Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch.
ELMER'S BOTTLE TREE RANCH
Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch is off of Route 66 in Oro Grande, CA. Thousands of glass bottles turned sculptures create a reflective forest in the front yard of the artist's house.
Pictured here is me with Elmer Long himself. The man, the beard, the legend.
I spoke with Elmer about his art, and he said "I've been doing this for over thirteen years now. I kind of let things get out of control". I chimed in with, "in a good way though!"
He gets visitors from all around the world stopping by, taking photos and chatting. Mainly people on their way to Las Vegas or The Grand Canyon. He even gets some usuals, too; they'll drop off used glass bottles for Elmer to repurpose into art. Maybe next time we're on the road, we'll leave him something, too.
We drove on until we got hungry for lunch, and stopped at The Wagon Wheel Restaurant (and gift shop) in Needles, CA. I got an omelette and a Route 66 enamel pin.
DELGADILLO'S SNOW CAP DRIVE-IN
Our next stop was Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In in Seligman, AZ to get some ice cream. Unfortunately it was closed for the holiday season, the only notice being a sign on their door. But all of the decorations and retro signage around still made the stop worth it.
Here's a photo of me daydreaming about ice cream...
This little peace sign road mural was at a vintage store up the street.
And apparently you can never have too many toilet planters.
THE GRAND CANYON
Then it was the home stretch to the Grand Canyon!
We arrived just past sunset and headed to the Yavapai Lodge where we stayed for the night. Before heading to bed, Jack and I made sure to star gaze for a bit. The sky was way different than the four stars we can see here in Los Angeles at night. The blackness was filled with speckles of light, and we could actually make out most of the constellations.
The next morning at Yaki Point on the South Rim, we watched the canyon reveal itself from a shroud of darkness into a beautiful sun-beam-filled labyrinth.
The sunrise over the Grand Canyon made the 6am wake-up call and 16 degree weather 100% worth it.
Here are some photos I snapped during the stages of the sunrise, focusing on the Vishnu temple on the mountaintop.
Once we finished soaking in the sunrise, we went to Yavapai Point and Geology Museum to take in more views.
Not to sound cliché, but the Grand Canyon was too beautiful for words. And the photos definitely do not do this beauty justice.
As we were driving out of the Grand Canyon around noon, the line to get in was insanely long. I think we did it right by showing up late, staying the night and making an early morning of it.
FLINTSTONE'S BEDROCK CITY
Down the hill from the Grand Canyon is Flintstone's Bedrock City: a diner, "theme park", gift shop and camping spot.
It's $5 per person to go explore the "theme park" in the back. It's basically a life-sized Bedrock City. There is one 'ride' you can go on in a cart through the plaster volcano. Other than that it's exploring the large props everywhere.
You can even slide down the dinosaur just like Fred! I slid down it. Twice!
Bedrock City is filled with fun colors and little nooks and crannies with the most random things. Like giant teeth!
There's also Fred's Diner inside where you can grab a bite on your way out from (or into) the Grand Canyon.
METEOR CRATER NATURAL LANDMARK
The next stop on the way to Holbrook was the meteor crater natural landmark in Winslow, AZ. Honestly, it was a bit underwhelming after just having seen the Grand Canyon. Maybe we should've come here first for a "warm up".
There was an Apollo test capsule, a couple of cool lookout points, and some facts and figures on the crater in a little museum on site. It was an... okay stop off. Unless you're really into meteors, I'd suggest saving the $18 per person entry fee and using it towards your parking permit at the Grand Canyon.
BUCKET OF BLOOD STREET
Yep, just a street named "Bucket of Blood St." This is a real thing, and is the most metal street name I've ever seen. It's just over the railroad tracks in Holbrook, AZ on a fairly empty street. Not really much to do here other than snap a photo, blast some Lamb of God and start a mosh pit.
Our final stop of the day was at the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, AZ on Route 66.
For $69 a night and the pure nostalgia of it all, why wouldn't you pull off and sleep in a wigwam? "It's freezing out there at night!" you might say. But don't worry: the wigwams aren't made from cloth, they're concrete and have comfy beds and heaters inside!
Fun fact: the Disney-Pixar movie, Cars, used the Wigwam Motel as inspiration for the Cozy Cone Motel.
For you Los Angeles folk who don't want to make the trek out to Holbrook, AZ, but still want to sleep in a wigwam I've got good news! There's a closer Wigwam Motel in San Bernadino, CA!
POW WOW TRADING POST
The Pow Wow Trading Post in Holbrook, AZ once was a motel turned geological rock shop. Now it merely acts as a waymark along the Route 66 road.
We stopped off here to check out the massive totem and cool signage on the building before heading to Tom & Suzie's Diner in Holbrook for breakfast.
JACKRABBIT TRADING POST
Jackrabbit Trading Post has been on Route 66 since the 1940s. It's a souvenir shop known for it's strange "HERE IT IS" billboard, and a fiberglass rabbit you can ride.
Make sure you follow the signs for this stop off. We missed it a day prior when we were headed eastbound on the I-40 because our maps were routing us to the wrong location. Luckily headed westbound on the I-40 the next day there were loads of signs for it. If you're headed eastbound, keep your eyes peeled for the "HERE IT IS" sign from afar. I believe it's close to the Jackrabbit Road exit.
When in the gift shop, I bought a cheesy Route 66 beer cozy and another enamel pin.
Now it was time for the long home-stretch. We stopped off in Kingman, AZ for lunch at Rutherford's 66 Family Diner, and did a bit of antiquing where I found a cute wicker plant stand at Gracie's Vintage.
We arrived back in Los Angeles around 7:30pm on Friday. This road trip was loads of fun, and a much needed little getaway. And we did all of this in three days!
I’m not sure where our next road trip will take us, but I’m excited for the ride!