When you think of a classic American road trip, you think of Route 66.
So when it came time to map out our JourneyxJourney quest across the U.S., this kitschy-but-historic highway was an absolute must.
It didn’t disappoint. In fact, it exceeded our wildest, wackiest and wanderlust-est expectations.
We expected to see eerie abandoned gas stations with outdated signs advertising a gallon of gas for less than a dollar (#TBT to the good ole' days), photo-op oddities like a giant ball of yarn, and sketchy motels like you see in horror movies. We also expected to see a whole lot of, well, nothing – endless miles upon miles of flat, barren land.
What we didn’t expect to find…? Massive dinosaurs in a field of teepees (Arizona); a truck stop that doubles as treasure chest, with gems like the tragic, yet fabulous, bedazzled jean hat pictured above (Oklahoma); and a legitimate Route 66 selfie campaign called “Selfies on 66” (Illinois).
That’s just the beginning. Our road trip tip – take the scenic route. Here’s a snapshot of what you’ll miss if you don’t…
Driving through Oklahoma, we noticed two figures coming up in the distance – “What the… are those… dog statues?” Oh yeah they were. A bulldog and what looked like a white lab stood side by side watching cars whizz by. We had to stop. It wasn’t even a discussion.
When we pulled over, we were surprised to find these oversized dogs were part of a larger pup park equipped with a fenced-in area for man’s best friend to hop out the back seat and release some built up energy. It also had an obstacle course that looked tempting to try even for a human. If you’re traveling with a canine companion, definitely check out #OnCueDogs and let your fur baby experience a little heaven on earth. For those traveling without a Fido in tow, it’s still worth a stop. Giant dog statues make for some fun pics. And let’s be honest, we’re always on the lookout for social media gold.
If you prefer beauty shots over funky photos, driving through the Southwest offers plenty of opportunities for these as well. From tumbleweeds in the desert to wild flowers in the plains, there’s no shortage of beauty to soak in and capture.
Enchiladas for the Win with the Salsa Twins
The twins took us through every aspect of growing the perfect chile, from nurturing the soil with wiggly earth worms… to peeling roasted chiles by hand… to then, of course, eating them. You want to talk about a party in your mouth? Try one of El Pinto’s chile enchiladas and your taste buds will be doing the salsa. So if you’re in search for some crazy good eats on Route 66, make a stop at the largest restaurant in New Mexico! And say hello to the twins for us.
Beware the Giant Hare
We warned you – beware. The Jack Rabbit Trading Post in Joseph City, Ariz., is a peculiar little Route 66 roadside photo op. Yeah. Right. Or so we thought.
The giant bunny looked innocent in the pictures we saw online. And maybe it is during the day. At night, though… that’s a different story. The scariest part is not the bunny, it’s getting to it – driving through the black abyss of night in the middle of nowhere, looking for an animal statue that Siri couldn't seem to find and knowing that at any moment you‘re probably going to see a ghost in the middle of the road.
We didn’t see a ghost. But we came up on something just as creepy – a hand-painted billboard letting us know: “HERE IT IS.” And across the street – there it was – a giant jack rabbit statue wearing a saddle. There were a few empty cars around, a TV on in the trading post, but otherwise, no indication of life nearby. It was eerie but we had to get a pic. The saddle sold us.
“I, 2, 3 – GO!”
Meagan ran, mounted the rabbit, and “rode” the bunny like a bucking bronco (and also may or may not have screamed in terror). Emily bravely captured the weird moment before both raced back to the car seeking safety from whatever in the world made this whole experience terrifying. Afterward, we laughed the entire way to our hotel.
So if you’re looking for a funny photo-op, check out the Jack Rabbit Trading Post. And if you want to throw in a ghost tour in the mix – go at night. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Having a Grand Ole (Canyon) Time
Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch
Elmer doesn’t advertise his ranch – he doesn’t have to. Over the years, visitors have helped spread the word through online reviews and by word of mouth. He also doesn’t charge for entry… or have official hours of operation. If the gate is open, you’re welcome in. If not, come back again.
So the next time you’re looking for adventure, head out on the highway and get your kicks (and LOTS of pics) on Route 66!