Packed up our things to plant our roots back home in Michigan.
Dec 25, 2018 - Day 1
After waking up to a completely empty house (the movers already came and packed up our things before our Punta Cana trip) on Christmas morning, we headed to our neighbors for breakfast and soaked up our last hours in California watching the boys play with their new puppy from Santa. Pulling out of the driveway of our California home was bittersweet. We had made some really amazing memories in the last 3 years. Endless adventures, hikes, road trips, making new friends, and enjoying that beautiful sunshine every second we could. It was hard leaving but we knew that we would be making an entirely new set of memories in Michigan where it all began. Derrick and I met 15 years go when we lived in Michigan but let's save that story for another time.
Our plan was to drive up to Lake Tahoe, through Nevada, down to Vegas and hop onto Route 66. We purchased several maps and a book to guide us through Route 66 and although there certainly wasn't enough time to see everything, we picked and chose what we wanted to see most.
First stop on the list was Lake Tahoe. After a quick lunch in Heavenly Village we were on our way, taking a few last pictures of our favorite place to visit!
Dec 26, 2018 - Day 2
After breakfast we hit the road, there was a lot to see this day! A lot of wild donkeys kicked off the morning.
Our first stop was the famous Goldfield Hotel in Goldfield, Nevada. It's said to be the most haunted hotel in the Nation. Goldfield is somewhat of a ghost town of what a booming mining town it was in the 20th century. Not many people around but a cool place to stop.
The hotel was the largest building in the area, surrounded by smaller shops. There wasn't much to do so we didn't stay, gotta keep moving!
Not far from Goldfield is the International Car Forest of the Last Church. A unique place where cars are balanced on top of one another, some drove halfway into the ground, and all have been vividly painted. Created by Goldfield resident Mark Rippie, a really fun art installation to walk around!
After walking around for a bit, letting the dogs stretch their legs and explore we, we hit the road. Our goal was to make it to Las Vegas by the end of the day and we still had a few more stops. Continuing down interstate 95, the next pitstop was the Goldwell Open Air Museum in Rhyolite, NV. Created by prominent Belgain artists in a small ghost town outside of Rhyolite stands 7 large outdoor sculptures. You could get some pretty interesting photos here, definitely some pretty hilarious ones! Click the arrows to see some of the exhibits!
We had a fun time running around the grounds, taking funny pictures and soaking in some of the art history in this bizarre ghost town. Next stop was Las Vegas. On our way, we were passing through a small town and there were wild donkeys walking about the parking lot. Most of them were enjoying some garbage in a nearby dumpster, but a few were more curious of us. I'd have to admit, they were pretty darn cute. They were circling our car obviously looking for handouts. We had nothing to give except a few head scratches. I begged Derrick to let me take this one home! One quick last stop was the famous Pawn Stars pawn shop in Vegas. We didn't see anyone famous, but it was cool to say "We've been there!".
Dec 27, 2018 - Day 3
Once you get to highway 40, it is basically a zig zag of tourist spots. Most of Route 66 has been rerouted. You can follow the signs on the highway to hop on and off of Route 66 depending on what you want to see. Some of the historical things are a little off the beaten path but thats what makes the road trip so fun and interesting! The Hoover Dam was a big thing on our list, you can't NOT see it on your way if you haven't already!
Although we didn't get there early enough to avoid the line for the tour, we still had a great time walking around both the dam and the museum. Such a grand structure to witness!
A quick decision was made to head south and check out the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, AZ. We were so glad we did! Neither of us even knew this existed here in the U.S. and the history behind it is absolutely fascinating. This bridge was originally constructed in London, England in the 1830's and spanned the River Thames. In 1967 it was purchased by Robert P. McCulloch, dismantled and shipped to Arizona. Each granite block was numbered before it was dismantled so that it could be properly reconstructed.
After enjoying a quick lunch and admiring this amazing piece of history, we were on our way to the next stop. Hackberry General Store is a Route 66 icon, a very popular stop for Route 66 travelers.
Upon pulling in, they were locking the doors so we didn't get to wander around inside which was disappointing. Little did we know this would be the first of many places we would miss out on along this trip. Either we were arriving too early or too late, or the attractions were closed because it was the middle of winter. I highly recommend if you are planning on traveling Route 66, that you do it in the summer, spring or early fall. As sad as we were that so many things were closed, it's just an excuse for us to come back and see all of those things at another time in life!
Dec 28, 2018 - Day 4
Started the day off with a ride to Bearizona Wildlife Park. A 3 mile drive takes you through the park where you can view several animals such as deer, wolves, bears, bison and many others. All of the animals were running around so having your windows up was a requirement! Sleeping bear on the left and a deer on the far right.
Traveling with 2 medium-large dogs can be difficult, so we loved stopping at places where they were able to explore with us. Flintstones Bedrock City, another roadside icon that includes a gift shop, campground and several structures modeled after the show was a must see! The dogs were able to walk around with a leash and stretch their legs for bit! Aubrey loved it and Toby, well he wasn't amused that we used him as a prop for photos!
Unfortunately after 50 years of operation, Flintstones Bedrock City has been sold and the doors are closed for good. A new attraction is slated to open up for the tourist season of 2020. We are so very thankful we stopped here and have these memories!
There was a lot on our list for this day, next up was the Grand Canyon. After being an avid hiker for the past few years, it was tough pulling into the viewing area knowing we didn't have backpacks ready for an epic adventure through the canyon. The views were gorgeous, and we soaked in every minute knowing we will be back!
A few attractions we were looking forward to but missed were the Meteor Crater National Landmark and the Petrified National Forest. We arrived too late to view the Meteor and decided to skip Petrified National Forest due to the fact that it was dark by the time we were close.
But we did stop and take a quick picture at the Twin Arrows Trading Post! You really can't miss these babies sticking out of the ground next as you're driving. Once a gift shop, diner and gas station in the 1940's and early 1950's, it was a popular roadside attraction for travelers until the interstate highway was constructed and these kitschy stops were less appealing. The buildings and arrows still remain but the grounds have been cleaned up.
Dec 29, 2018 - Day 5
There wasn't a whole lot on our list of places to visit in New Mexico, it was mostly restaurants. We started the morning off at this really cool Route 66 Diner. The food was great and the waitress was super sweet. The restaurant has since been permanently closed.
We had attempted to visit the Tinkertown Museum and Acoma Pueblo, both of which were closed. On route to a restaurant that was recommended as a popular stop, we passed this hot dog restaurant that had a sign that stated "Best Hot Dog in New Mexico". THAT'S IT we were stopping for that and man we were not disappointed! It really was and probably still is the most memorable and delicious hot dog!
It was reminiscent of the coney dogs back in Michigan, a brown chili sauce with onions. The kicker, it was spicy! Not too spicy but just the perfect hint that make us smile from ear to ear knowing we picked the most bizarre and amazing place to stop! Do yourself a favor and go there, and bring us back a few!
Dec 30, 2018 - Day 6
First thing on the list for this day was heading to the Midpoint Cafe for breakfast and much to our surprise, it was also closed ha ha! Could you have guessed that by now? We grabbed breakfast elsewhere and stopped for a quick photo outside the Tee Pee Curios before we were back on the road! Top left photo is the Midpoint Cafe.
We then headed to the Route 66 Auto Museum. The hours on the door said they were open but there was a padlock on the door. Maybe these places were just among the others that were closed for the winter so they will stay on the list of potentials for next time.
Magnolia Service Station wasn't too far away, not a super popular stop on the list but a cool historic gas station to see!
Cadillac Ranch is a famous landmark. Ten half-buried Cadillacs in the middle of a field covered in spray paint. There were a ton of visitors out there with their spray cans in hand, marking up the ice and snow covered cars, a super fun art installation!
We had no idea we would be visiting so many buried and tagged vehicles on this trip! Don't worry, there's more to come! On a really serious note, if you are into meat you HAVE to stop at the Big Texan restaurant. If you're not into meat, thats cool too just keep going! This was probably the best steak we had ever eaten. I'm not sure if they soak it in butter for weeks or what but OMG. We ordered steaks for lunch which is kind of weird but, when in Texas... They were out of this world!
One final stop for the day was the VW Slug Bug Ranch. Super similar to the Cadillac Ranch, only smaller and not as popular. Not only were the cars tagged but the buildings surrounding them were too which created some pretty fun art! Reminds me a little bit of the Heidelburg Project in Detroit, MI. If you've never heard of it, Google it. It's a very unique art installation in a suburb of Detroit.
Dec 31, 2018 - Day 7
While we were in Texas, Derrick proposed an idea of heading down to Waco to see the Magnolia Silos. He knows Fixer Upper is one of my favorite shows and figured since we were only a few hours away we could make our way down there and stay the night! Of course I wasn't going to say no!
After a 4 hour detour south we made it to Magnolia Silos! It was extremely busy, which we weren't expecting since it was only a few days after Christmas! We were able to take the dogs onto the grounds but there was no area for them to relieve themselves. Dogs are not allowed on the artificial turf and there weren't any designated areas so keep that in mind if you plan on taking your animals!
We spent a good amount of time walking around the little shops and had a really delicious lunch from one of the food trucks! A few sweaters and coffee mugs were all that would really fit in our jam packed explorer after shopping around. You can barely see Toby behind our mountain of things! When we left California, we could only take the clothes and things that would fit inside the car and above in the roof box, which meant we couldn't collect much along our road trip.
A quick stop to Clint Harps shop was also a must since we were in the area! After our adventures we had dinner and headed in for the night.
Jan 1, 2019 - Day 8
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Well we were halfway through the country on day 8! After looking at a map, we decided to stray off of Route 66 and head up to Memphis, Tennessee. From there we would hit Nashville and then head home. By the time we arrived in Memphis and checked into our hotel it was evening so we had time for dinner and a little stroll down Beale Street! You have to have bbq for dinner if you're in Memphis.
Central BBQ had great reviews on Yelp so we gave it a try. P.S. Yelp was amazing on this trip. Besides recommendations from blogs, yelp landed us at some really great restaurants! There was a little room in the back with live music so we listened to some awesome tunes while we ate!
Beale Street was pretty empty, I'm sure people were at home recovering from their New Years festivities the night before. Having the street to ourselves, the bars were ours for the picking! BB King's Blues Club seemed to have a pretty good crowd and live music. We had a great time! This would definitely be a place to revisit!
Sad we didn't have more time to visit but from Memphis we were headed to Nashville. Time was running out on our trip. We wanted to get back before the weekend so that we could unpack and settle in before the work week and real life set in.
Jan 2, 2019 - Day 9
Nashville was also a really fun town that I wish we could have spent more time in. I think if we weren't traveling with dogs we could have explored these cities a little more, but cities full of bars aren't really a great place to hang out with pets, especially in the winter when there isn't any outside seating. We did however find some really great dog parks to let them run wild in! Nashville had a great one just off the main strip! During the whole trip we were able to find dog parks, an awesome bonus to let them stretch their legs after being cooped up in the back of the car.
After visiting Nashville we were starting to get super anxious knowing we were so close to home. We decided to hit the road hard and make it home!
10 full days of traveling from California to Michigan, endless adventures in new places, it was a truly unforgettable trip! In the future we would love to travel the entire Route 66, taking our time hitting all of the best spots. We made it home safely and with a huge future ahead of us!
Along the way I had pinned each place we visited on a google map. The map includes places that were recommended as part of Route 66, as well as places we had or intended on visiting. Feel free to take a look, hopefully it's useful to you! Just click the map below!