In April of 2018, my now husband and I took a three-week road trip starting from California all the way to the East coast, hitting Virginia, North and South Carolina, Washington D.C., and made our way down to Florida, with many stops along the way. I was a month away from my 40th birthday and had only been to a handful of west coast states up to this point. Bear, on the other hand, had lived in the south when he was in the army and had taken one across the country road trip with his mother and one with his ex-wife. However, there were still plenty of places and states he hadn’t been.
I had expressed to him that driving across the country and eventually visiting every state was on my bucket list. When I was with my ex-husband I knew that was basically just a pipe dream since he didn’t like going anywhere or doing anything. Sure, I could have tried to make this happen with a friend or something but when I pictured this adventure it was with my significant other, my partner in life, my committed cuddle buddy. But, my ex-husband was no partner, and I didn’t even want to go anywhere with him. So, I gave up my dream of traveling.
Until, I left that marriage and moved back to California, which led me to my current and last husband. He loves to travel and luckily loves to drive. He was also hoping to find a partner in life that loved traveling and was as excited about exploring the country as he is. He was also hoping to find someone who was fun to travel with and… … you know someone with, uh, a bit of a personality, which always helps when traveling. I’ll stop there it’s bad karma to speak ill of the dead…personality sufferers.
We’ve talked about all the places we want to go, and when I first mentioned my desire to drive across the country, not for one second did I think it would happen so soon. You see, we had just started our relationship in November of 2017 and by March of 2018, my then-boyfriend says, ‘start packing because in April we are going on a road trip!’
My first reaction was something like, ‘shut the fuck up, haha you’re hilarious.’ But apparently, he was serious. I was shocked, to say the least, but true to his word on April 7, we got in his lifted white truck and hit the road.
The first state we stopped in and stayed the night was Arizona. Our first get out of the truck and walk around stop was Oatman, Arizona. If you’ve never been and ever find yourself stopping there one day, I hope you like jackasses, otherwise known as donkeys. Also if you’re traveling with someone like Bear prepare yourself for plenty of ass jokes, or, if YOU are like my traveling companion, enjoy being the clever one making all the ass jokes and delighting the person you’re with.
As soon as you step out of your vehicle you are more than likely to be greeted by a very curious ass. Don’t be alarmed they’re friendly, at least the ones we encountered were and I didn’t witness anyone getting kicked in the nuts, or anywhere else. The donkeys seem to hardly care about your presence. They wander throughout the little town nonchalantly without a care in the world. They might even stop and let you take a selfie with them.
Besides getting to pet a donkey (being an animal petting fiend, this gave me a boost of serotonin and made me very happy) you can take in the Arizona scenery and browse the little shops and pick up some souvenirs.
While I was snapping pictures and enjoying what the town had to offer my Bear wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to get the perfect Facebook post picture. It was my own fault really, I should have known better to A. Turn my back on him around signs with the word ass on them. And B. Turn my back on him and stand in front of this particular sign. I take full responsibility for this picture. And I apologize for including it. But I, like him, can not help myself. I admit I found it somewhat amusing. Well, I should add after I was done being mortified, I found amusement in it.
Soon we were on our way and eventually stopped to eat at Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner, in Kingman, Arizona. It was decent food, but the best part was the real cherries in the cherry coke! I love me some maraschino cherries!
They also had a fun ambiance, with walls decorated with 50’s memorabilia. I, personally love diners like this. Unfortunately, one of two things I did not love about Mr. D’z was the restrooms. I only went in there to wash my hands before eating and when I came out I actually felt dirtier. I didn’t take any pictures of the restroom, which are right behind Marilyn and Elvis. To be honest I would only want to stop here again in a pinch. For the most part, these types of diners have good food, and you can’t NOT love the fun decor, but when I say they had decent food, I mean it was edible, but not entirely enjoyable. The picture I took before biting into the bbq western burger was much better than the actual taste of the burger. Now we come to the second thing I didn’t love, the bun was dry and oddly enough, even with all the bbq sauce, it was bland and tasteless. The saving grace of this sad burger was the onion ring, without it I probably wouldn’t have been able to choke down as much as I did. The bacon didn’t even help, can you believe it! Bear and I agreed the best part of this meal was definitely those cherries.
That night we stayed in Williams, Arizona (or nearby) so in the morning we could visit Flinstones Bedrock City. If you have little ones (even if they’ve never seen the cartoon) I recommend stopping here on your family road trip. Or, if you’re like us and big kids at heart who grew up watching the Flinstones, I think you’ll also get a kick out of it. (UPDATE: I just learned after the summer of 2019 it will be closing and will be turning into Raptor Ranch, for birds of prey. Bummer. Couldn’t they put those damn birds somewhere else.) Anyways…
After playing around and reliving our childhood we set off towards New Mexico, but first stopping in Holbrook, Arizona at the Wigwam Motel to snap a couple pictures. (Which I do constantly because I’m a picture and documenting addict. I was already this way before social media.)
When we reached New Mexico we stopped at a couple of large travel stops where Bear admired all their fun big boy toys. He was so sad to leave them behind.
But life goes on and so did we, all the way to Amarillo, Texas that night. Where we had dinner at The Big Texan Steak Ranch, home of the 72oz steak challenge. Bear had been there once before and really liked it, and this was my first time, also my first time being this far east. I was a Texas state virgin, and I think my anxiety was starting to kick in. But, let’s get back to the restaurant because I need to express our disappointment. I hate to say it, especially since I had such high hopes after seeing this place on the Travel Channel, but I wasn’t super impressed. Bear agreed, he had a better experience before. Now maybe it was because we arrived at 9:30 pm and they close at 10:30 pm but they should still put in as much effort taking care of the customers and without a doubt making sure the food was on point. The wait staff were very busy, however not with patrons, with gossiping, and doing so loud enough for us to hear.
The staff aside I really wanted to love this experience and be able to rave about the food. But, I suck at lying. I know I’m kind of repeating myself saying how much I wanted to like it, but that’s how much this food hurt my feelings. My Ceasar salad, the dinner rolls, and his baked potato were the most decent parts of the meal. We would have liked a bit more edible meat on our steaks, most of it honestly wasn’t chewable, and sadly my favorite comfort food, the mac and cheese wasn’t the worst but extremely far from the best. I needed to add salt and pepper and even after that it barely had any flavor. It was noodles coated with yellow stuff, it doesn’t even deserve to be called mac and cheese. I know it could have been worse because on our last road trip I had worse at Lambert’s Cafe in Missouri. That mess was straight up Kraft (or an off-brand) boxed macaroni and cheese. It was pitiful. Not to mention the fact they have the nerve of charging three extra dollars to get that crap as a side dish. For $3 extra it better be some southern grandma home cooking mac ‘N’ cheese! I’ll get to my full review of the “Home of the throwed rolls” later on.
Now I know many people love and adore The Big Texan, but they were off their game that night.
After this disappointing meal, we found a motel and settled in for the night. The next morning the restaurant we ate breakfast at more than made up for our last meal experience, thank God in Heaven. That and more will be in part 2. This post is probably already too long, and we’re only in Texas!