The Overrated Stop

Years ago, I’d seen Cadillac Ranch on someone’s photography blog. It looked so cool.

Then, a few summers ago, some friends drove Route 88 and stopped there for photos. That year, their family card was a cute picture of the family with those famed, painted Cadillacs in the background.

So before we left, I raided my spray paint collection, imagining the fun we’d have leaving our mark.

Screeeeeech brakes. Enter reality.

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Thing 1: It was unusually cold.

Thing 2: And super windy.

Thing 3: It’s a cool art project on someone’s private land, but the public has kind of trashed it. There are huge dumpsters out front, really lending ambiance. Barber wire protects it, but it just looks trashy.

The kids didn’t even want to get out of the car. Even the promise of spray painting couldn’t entice them. Finally, we resorted to threats.

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Super fun family bonding moment, right there.

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Just picture me screaming: “Stand right there! Out of the wind! Now look at me! SMILE! Hey, Hey HEY!”

We half-heartedly sprayed our initials as best we could, fighting the wind, then high-tailed it back to the car.

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Palo Alto State Park

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Take the detour.

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Take it; it’s worth it.

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As I scoured the map (on my phone, while my husband drove; what, did you think I planned ahead or something?) I noticed a state park near Amarillo.

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Trip Advisor people said it was worthwhile, but it was 45 minutes out of the way. And we’d been driving all day.

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We debated back and forth, but in the end we decided to go for it.

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So. Worth. It.

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Since I didn’t have any expectations, this was a fun surprise!

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It reminded me of a smaller, more accessible Grand Canyon.

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Because it was late in the day, we knew we couldn’t stay long, so we drove into the park and picked a short hike.

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Certain cutie-pies got tired of hiking pretty fast (I think we did a two-miler), but she still had fun.

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The taller one enjoyed scrambling across the rocks with me to take dangerous-looking pictures.

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All too soon, dust was falling, so we had to head back to the car.

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And on the drive back, we realized it wasn’t dusk, it was a DUST STORM! The drive back was kind of intense for us non-West Texas natives. Tumble weeds kept whipping into the car. Visibility was next to nothing. The car was rocking back and forth in the wind.

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We made it back to Amarillo only to find there was a huge brush fire right behind our hotel. We couldn’t even drive straight to the hotel; instead we were rerouted by the fire engines to basically drive right by the fire, which was huge, and intense. The front desk clerk unreassuringly told us she’d let us know if we had to evacuate.

Then we all took baths, made dinner in our little Comfort Inn kitchen, let the kids watch some PBS kids, and crashed for the night.

Spoiler Alert: we didn’t die in the night.

The Slow Road

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Take the slow road through Oklahoma.

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Skip the freeway, take the old highway.

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Traveling Route 66 through Oklahoma is the perfect trip with kids; they’ll love climbing over the statues, posing by the cars and sampling the milkshakes.

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Nearly very little town along the way has a kitschy store or diner with old hotels and vintage cars.

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And apparently Tesla wants you to drive their cars along the way.

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While most of the Route 66 stops in Oklahoma have bustling little businesses and tourist information stops, some of the towns in Texas have a ghost-town feeling.

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They’re the memory of this road’s heyday.

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Back when driving was a destination in itself. When cars were king.

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So slow down for a while. Take the old road and enjoy the journey.

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Walking Tours!

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The best way to see a city is from the streets.

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I love architecture and I love color and I just wanted to drool over all the details and hopefully get invited to sit on someone’s stoop.

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So that last one didn’t happen, but I think we all enjoyed wandering around in the neighborhoods learning about the history as well as the architecture.

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I found a couple of free self-guided walking tour that we could do at our own pace while following the map on our phones, so that’s how we did these.

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It was perfect for us.

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We spent one afternoon in Faubourg Marigny, one of New Orleans’ oldest neighborhoods, and originally not considered part of the city.

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It was refreshing to get out of the French Quarter frenzy and loll around in the residential areas.

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One of the border streets is Frenchmen’s Street, which is supposed to be the heart of the music scene, and also where we spent our afternoon listening to jazz.

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I really, really loved this neighborhood, and I guess the fact that the weather cooperated that day made it even sweeter.

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Tiny little antique homes, saturated paint jobs, jaunty corbels and shutters everywhere.

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This was a highlight, and at this price point, not to be missed.

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And even though no one came out and offered me coffee and a chat on their stoop, no one even had to go to the bathroom!

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