DAY THREE: The Grand Canyon to Laughlin
The next morning we got up early and headed back to the Grand Canyon for one last long gaze of its fantasticness at sunrise, and then we dragged ourselves away to venture on down the road. We stopped in Williams to get gas, and from there we got our kicks on Route 66. By the way…Williams is the cutest little cute, cute, cute, town, nestled in the pine forrests with the rugged hills and mountains all around. One of the funner things about a road trip is visiting such places and thinking out loud, “Wow, wouldn’t this be a swell place to live?” Williams sure looked like a swell place to live, if you’re the type that judges a book by its cover and doesn’t bother to read the pages in between.
Route 66 – Williams to Oatman
The old route really started out with a bang at Williams, was a yawn at Ash Fork, and then picked up again at Seiligman, with the kind of ageless kitchyness that one expects of this old nostalgic road. The Roadkill Cafe in Seiligman, AZ, where “You Kill it, We Grill it” sounded like a great place to stop for lunch.
I really couldn’t remember all the quirky things on the menu so I googled it to see if there was anything on the web from when we were there (I can’t believe I didn’t steal a menu for a souviner). Here’s what I found: “Tried-to-pass-me-bye on Rye” – basically a patty melt, “Varmint Vittles” – a chicken wrap – “No Luck Buck” – a French Dip sandwich. “Rack of Raccoon” – an 18-inch rack of ribs – “Long Gone Fawn” – a 6 ounce sirloin steak. “The Chicken that almost crossed the road” – basic fried chicken – and “Rigor Mortis Tortoise” – fried shrimp. And on the kid’s menu: “Donald Forgot to Duck” – biscuits and gravy – and “Poached Bambi Burger” – just a plain old hamburger. Yep, it doesn’t get more gimmicky “Route 66” than that. I do remember, hubbie had the burger, and I had the French Dip, and both were generous portions, and he loved his, but I wrote in my journal that mine was just average. Giving that some extra thought…what exactly would push a French Dip up above average? It is what it is.
Seiligman was a small town that didn’t seem to want the old highway to end up in the Route 66 graveyard. They seemed pretty darned and determined to keep the longest remaining stretch of it alive and well (The Birthplace of Historic Route 66), but from what I remember they were pretty much carrying that load all by themselves. Well, them and Williams anyway. It would be fun to revisit and see how much has changed.
From Seiligman one could either take the old route, or the Interstate to Kingman. I think the old route was only about 20 minutes longer to drive than the Interstate and the views as I remember researching were pretty much the same, a two lane highway in pretty nice condition -vs- the 4-lane Interstate. I mostly remember it being Indian Reservation (somewhat like our Painted Dessert experience only a little better). The country fades from hills and mountains and pine trees to flatter, more open prairie/desert.
Kingman was another little oasis. Well, not “little” like Williams. Kingman was a much bigger town than that, with restaurants, shopping, and a few throw-back Route 66 things to see. Hubbie and I had always talked about where the perfect place geographically would be to live that was as close to his family as mine, but also close to fun stuff, and we had decided once that it would be Kingman. Close to Vegas (cheap airfare, entertainment, restaurants), and close to the Grand Canyon and the mountains, etc. It was a lot different than what we had imagined.
From Kingman we followed the old route down to Oatman, and the road really became a narrow, winding paved trail through the desert in that area. It was kind of neat to see the giant saguaro cactuses growing all over in the wilderness. There were also Joshua Trees (or yucca palms) in abundance. And I wished we’d have done our research about Oatman before we got there, because when we arrived found the traffic through town slowed to a snail’s pace, and everyone had their windows down holding carrots out to feed the donkeys. Darnit, we should have gotten carrots so the girls could have fed the donkeys. (Google it. It’s crazy. The town is filled with free roaming donkeys jamming the streets). Oatman was like an old west town in a land time had forgotten, except for the modern day cars and trucks that were pressing through.
Driving on to Lake Havasu City the desert got more and more crowded with those yucca trees. Our little dog Pete I think thought they were some strange breed of cactus people with crazy spiked hairdos, and he was not at all happy that they were loitering around our vehicle. He stood on his hind legs with his nose pressed against the window, lips pursed into an O and snorting in and out through his nostrils with his funky little mad growl. The hairs all along his spine stood straight up from his tail to his skull. Oh, if we would have just stopped the car and let him out he was sure he would have torn those cactus people a new one. Ha!!! He had us all giggling.
Lake Havasu City
I was never so shocked as when we arrived at Lake Havasu City and I pulled into the parking lot to make a quick dash into Wal-mart for something. I had noticed as we were driving into town that no one had lawns. The houses all seemed new and richy, but they were all landscaped with rocks and varieties of cactus. Running right through the middle of town though was the beautiful Colorado River, which was a gorgeous clear turquois/jade color.
I pulled our car into a parking place at Wally World, leaving it running for my family who were just going to wait in the car, and I opened the door to get out. WHOA Nellie. It took my breath away. I got back in the car immediately and closed the door, and informed everyone that the earth was on fire outside. It had to be – it felt just exactly like a blast furnace. The hugest marvel to me was seeing all the people who were walking around as if this was no big deal. It was not only a big deal it was ungodly.
I wondered how I was going to make it to the front door of the store without spontaneously combusting. I mean, the slightest friction between my thighs would have been the spark to ignite me. It was the most radical thing I’d ever experienced. I opened my door again and made a run for the front doors, narrowly escaping the dragon that was apparently breathing fire at my backside. And in just a few minutes made the mad dash back to the car.
From Wally World, we drove down to the London Bridge and took the dog for a little walk. The whole point of coming here was to see that bridge. As the dog pranced around sniffing and peeing and enjoying his little romp we spotted signs everywhere that warned pet owners to slip some little booties on their pet’s feet to keep the pads from blistering from the extreme heat of the sidewalks. Boy howdy, they aren’t a kidding. You could fry and egg on those sidewalks. We didn’t have any booties. Thank goodness little Pete had pretty tough feet. He didn’t seem to be bothered by it at all.
The heat was fairly tolerable under the shade of the London Bridge and along that beautiful Colorado River, but you’re going to laugh when I tell you…this was the place where I had planned for us to camp for the night. I obviously had no clue.
When my family found out about my plan they just looked at me like I had a third eye and a horn growing out of my head. There was no freaking way in Hades they were going to camp HERE! I could just forget about that. They all looked at me like I was joking, and trust me, I was right there with them. We all made a resoundingly unanimous decision to drive up the road to Laughlin and find a cheap casino room for the night. And that’s exactly what we did.
We did not find Laughlin to be any cooler, in fact it might have been hotter, I don’t know, but the room was cooler, and cheaper actually than the campground. The crazy thing was that the hotel room we got was your typical 70 degrees, which was a solid FIFTY DEGREE temperature difference from outside. It was a complete shock to our systems leaving the room and a total shock coming back in.
The kids thought they’d like to swim in the pool. I told them to knock themselves out. Their dad sucked it up and went with them and I was super happy to just sit with the dog in the room and write in my journal while they had their little experience in the BOILING water they called a pool – the pool that was packed to the gills with people. Lord, what an unforgettable experience.
When they’d had enough of the splashing and playing in the butt soup pond of sweat and pee we all got cleaned up and went out to eat at the hotel snack bar. The kids’ dad decided to plug some coins into the slots, and we girls decided we’d walk the dog around and feed the big pink and white sucker-mouth fishes with whiskers in the fish pond outside. I bought a deck of cards at the casino next door, which would give me something to do besides watch TV the next time I got stuck dog sitting (I really didn’t mind).
The sun finally sat on our blistering adventure and we all tucked ourselves in for the night in our arctic room, which felt like heaven!
***If you’ve missed the previous days of our fabulous car camping vacation and want to catch up, just click on the links to the right—> under RECENT POSTS for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. And then be sure to “Follow” or “Subscribe” – there should be a link that pops up at the bottom of your screen, or there is a button under my photo and profile on the right side column – so you don’t miss the rest of the story! 🙂