Wild West Road Trip {Days 7-10}


After two and a half years of planning and saving, we finally took our big Wild West Road Trip in July! We drove 8,775 miles over 35 days, spent 203 hours in the van, stayed in 26 different hotels/cabins/Airbnbs, and visited 12 national parks, 1 national historic site, 4 national monuments, 2 tribal parks, and 16 states! It was a crazy awesome trip - of course there were a few rough patches here and there, but overall it was amazing to spend so much uninterrupted time with my favorite people and having such gorgeous views made it even better!

I'll eventually get through blogging the whole trip, because so many people have asked for details, but it's going to take a while to get through it all because I still have thousands of photos to get through! By the way, some of these photos I'm posting were taken by my husband - he has a great eye and he took a TON of photos! 

If you want to see more of the story, click here to start with Day 1!

Day 7

We started out Day 7 checking out one more overlook at the Grand Canyon - I'm pretty sure it was Yavapai Point, but I could be wrong about that. This was the 4th of July, so a family photo with the flag was a must!

Our destination for the day was Williams, Arizona, but we made a little detour to drive down to Black Canyon City to see the saquaro cactuses. It took about 4 extra hours, but it was totally worth it!

This trail was pretty short, and for some reason we decided to do it before having lunch. So, it was about 105 degrees, we were hungry, and we failed to take water with us (we had some in the van  - we just didn't grab our bottles for some reason). So, needless to say, we were all a little grumpy and we didn't go very far! But I'm still glad we took the time to see them! There's nothing that says "southwest" like a saguaro!

This night, we stayed in a caboose! We stayed at the Canyon Motel & RV Park. This was a surprise for the kids, and they LOVED it!

There are a LOT of "Maters" and other Cars characters along Route 66!

Williams is a super cute little town right on Route 66. We didn't take time to check out any of the shops or restaurants, but what we saw outside was really cool.

There was a parade on Route 66 (it was the 4th of July) so of course we had to watch that! Honestly, it was cool because of the setting, but the parade itself wasn't great. We're used to the Little Italy parade back home in Clinton, Indiana, with the school bands, tiny dancers, etc. This one wasn't nearly as long or as good.

The fireworks display that night was pretty awesome though! We could see it from outside the caboose, so we just sat out in the grass with blankets and watched from there.

Day 8

The next day, we drove from Williams to Twentynine Palms, California. Most of this was on Route 66 and since it was our last day on the Mother Road, we made a lot of stops! First up was Seligman, Arizona.

We had lunch at the Sno Cap Drive In. It's a pretty cool little place, and the employees love to play practical jokes! Make sure to ask for a small drink, and definitely get some mustard! Jonah was on a mission to find the best chicken nuggets in America, and he said these won - even though I'm pretty sure they were just regular old Tyson nuggets!

Angel Delgadillo is kind of a big deal on Route 66, and Daniel was hoping to get a shave while we were there, but unfortunately Angel was taking a day off. Luckily, they have a cardboard cutout of Angel in the barbershop for people to get photos when he's not there!

Here's some more Cars stuff! I told you, these characters are all over Route 66!

We stopped at the Hackberry General Store for some photos. It was a pretty cool spot, but we spent way too much time in Seligman so we kind of rushed through this stop. If we're ever there again, we'll definitely spend more time there!

We made a super quick stop for a photo with Giganticus Headicus.

We took Sitgreaves Pass, an older part of Route 66, to Oatman, aka Donkey Town.

Oatman is an adorable little town with wild burros roaming the streets. All the stores sell little bags of food for them, but the babies have stickers asking you not to feed them because they're still nursing.

We bought this cute little cactus antenna ornament in Oatman and named him Sammy Saguaro. He's still on the van, and now I'm thinking I need to find a tiny little Santa hat for him for Christmas.

Seeing the famous Roy's sign was a surprise - somehow we didn't realize we'd still be on Route 66 at this point and we thought we'd miss it.

Our next stop was Joshua Tree National Park! We all loved these crazy trees and thought they looked like something out of a Dr Seuss book!

At this point in the trip, we were still trying to see everything on our list, which meant a lot of rushing through things, and it was starting to get a little stressful. Since we saw everything earlier in the day, which took more time than we expected, we ended up getting to Joshua Tree right before the sun set. When I made our itinerary, I tried to be mindful that we wouldn't be able to be everywhere in perfect light - there's only so much golden hour to go around! But the one place I really wanted to see in golden hour (the hour or two before sunset) was Joshua Tree. When we first got there, I thought we missed the best light and I actually cried. But this is what we saw, which was pretty darn awesome. So now I feel ridiculous about being upset about it, but I learned a lesson and for the rest of the trip we were a little better about realizing we'd have to cut some stuff out, and for the most part we were ok with that.

We stayed Sunnyvale Garden Suites in Twentynine Palms, and it was really nice! It had a living room, two bedrooms, and a full kitchen, so it would have been great for a longer stay, but we just had one night there.

After a late supper and settling in at the hotel, we headed back out to the park for some stargazing. We were all so tired by then, but I was determined to get some night sky photos, so we did. The kids slept in the van while I spent an hour or so trying to take the perfect photo. I don't think I succeeded, but they're pretty cool I guess.

Day 9

Our original plan was to head straight to LA this morning and check out an art museum and some other stuff, but we wanted to see more of the park so we switched our plans. We cut out a couple of things from our LA plans and decided we'd do a quick trail at Joshua Tree then head straight to the beach and relax.

Spoiler alert: it didn't work out that way.

We only made a few stops in the park, but they all took longer than we planned (of course - if you haven't noticed by now, we are not great at time management!)

The trees were really cool, but I think the kids might have liked the giant rocks even more!

This was on the Hidden Valley Trail.

It was well after noon before we left the park and we still had to stop for lunch before heading to LA. So it ended up being around 6:00 by the time we made it there.

We stayed at the Embassy Suites just south of the airport. The hotel was gorgeous and Jonah loved the tiny little balcony in our room where he could watch the planes take off and land. They also have a really good (and free!) breakfast. The only real downside to this hotel was the parking situation. There is a parking garage, but the clearance was way too low for our van so we ended up parking on the street 2 or 3 blocks away.

We had nothing but blue skies all day...until about 5 minutes before we made it to our hotel. By the time we made it to the beach, it was 69 degrees, overcast, and only about an hour before sunset. Not exactly the best conditions for our first view of the Pacific Ocean...but it was still fabulous and we definitely made the best of it!

Abbie and Jonah were pretty cute taking selfies - or maybe they were talking to someone? I'm not sure, but whatever they were doing they were cute!

We had a super late supper at IHOP that night. No photos were taken, but it was a great time - everyone was in a great mood and there was lots of laughter (and delicious food of course - I love their butter pecan syrup!). I think it was around midnight when we got there, so 3 AM Indiana time! We stayed up too late almost every night.

Day 10

The next day was Sunday, so we started off with church...at the beach!! It was my favorite church experience on this trip for sure. What could be better than worshiping while watching dolphins play? The service was great, the people were friendly, we knew most of the songs, and the setting definitely can't be beat.

For lunch, we had In-N-Out for the first time. It was pretty good and I loved the reference on the bottom of the cups!

Our next stop was the Petersen Automotive Museum. Daniel was super excited about this one. As far as car museums go, it was pretty cool. It looks more like an art museum, and the building itself is really cool.

If there are Legos around, my kids will find them, and they will lose all interest in anything else!

Just down the street from the Petersen is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. We didn't have time to check out the actual museum, but we did walk over and get a few photos of the Urban Light installation.

Our next stop was Hollywood! Not gonna lie - I kind of hated it. It was way too crowded and parking was a nightmare. I'm glad we saw it, but also glad we didn't stay too long.

The only thing Joey asked to do on this trip was to to go Flight Club, so we made it happen - even though the traffic and parking situation was pretty horrible. We drove around for quite a while trying to find a parking spot, but we finally gave up and Daniel just dropped us off. While Joey and Abbie tried on shoes, Daniel took Jack and Jonah to see the Hollywood sign. They also thought that was a bit underwhelming, but it was important to them so I'm glad they got to see it.

Once again, it was sunset by the time we made it to the beach! Don't get me wrong, I love a good beach sunset, but I also would have really loved a sunny afternoon spent relaxing at the beach. That's my only real disappointment about this trip - 35 days, and not one relaxing beach day. We saw a lot of beaches over the next 2 days, but they weren't beaches that were good for swimming. Next year we're just going to sit on a beach somewhere for a week!

After the sun went down, we headed to Santa Monica Pier to ride some rides and get a picture of the end of Route 66 sign. We all rode the ferris wheel. I wanted to love it, but all I could think about was what would happen if there was another earthquake while we were on it!

There is a booth at the pier where you can buy Route 66 souvenirs and get a certificate of completion - we got one, even though we haven't done the Illinois section yet. Hopefully we'll get that done next year.

Daniel and the guy that runs the booth had a very long conversation - Daniel even got his phone out and showed him photos of the places we'd been. We teased him through the whole trip for his friendliness - he made friends everywhere we went!

Overall, I'm really glad we came here, but LA was one of my least favorite parts of the trip. I think if we had had more time there and could have seen more of the city and enjoyed the beach more, then I probably would have liked  it more. But we spent a ridiculous amount of time fighting traffic and searching for parking, which was made even harder by the coolers on the back of the van and the luggage box on top. It was all really pretty though!

Next up is two days on the Pacific Coast Highway and a couple days in San Francisco! Click here to check it out!

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  1. Jack hung out with us doing the star pics at Joshua tree. Oh and the random guy at the service on the beach asked if he could pray with us for safety on the rest of our trip. Cool dude!


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