This summer, my wife and I decided it would be a good thing to take a family road trip to Disneyland. Apparently, we forgot that we have five kids - ages 5 through 16 - that can barely make it out of the neighborhood before they start arguing: "Mom, he's sitting in my space." "Dad, she's breathing my air." This is usually when I say something that my father used to say to us that I swore I would never say to my own children: "I am going to turn this van around and go back home if you don't stop!"
And yet, now we have sentenced ourselves to a 10-hour, 700 mile trek (EACH WAY!) from Salt Lake City to Disneyland. All I can say is, whoever invented portable DVD players deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.
In the past, we would try to drive as fast as we could to Disneyland, but this time we had a five-year-old that, to be blunt, has the bladder of a gnat. Needless to say, we made a lot of stops along the way.
One of those stops was in Baker, California: "Gateway to Death Valley". Baker is home to the World's Tallest Thermometer. On our way through, the thermometer read 114 degrees. I didn't take a picture of it at that time because I just wanted to get my daughter into the restroom and back out to the van without either of us melting. (I also had scenes of The Hitcher and Breakdown going through my head.) However, I did capture this photo on our way back home when it was only 99 degrees...at 11:00 AM! (Now I know why they call it Baker.)
About 65 miles south of Baker is the booming metropolis of Barstow, California. We decided to stay there for the night for two reasons. First, the movies that my children had brought with them had all been watched and they were spending their time annoying each other. ("I swear I will turn this van around!") Second, the music geek in me chose Barstow because of its inclusion in the song "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66". (Right in between Kingman and San Bernadino.)
When we arrived in Barstow at about 6:00 pm, I noticed that the temperature had dropped to an almost chilly 107. (And me without my mukluks.)
While we were there, the wife and I bought Jack in the Box for the kids and left them in the hotel room to drive each other nuts while we went on a date to Lola's Kitchen.
Lola's is located in a strip mall, which you will probably pass and have to flip a U-Turn to get to. (At least I did.) I have eaten my fair share of Mexican food in my life. Heck, I've eaten your fair share of Mexican food in my life, and I have to say that this was some of my favorite. Ever! The green sauce on the enchiladas was almost worth the drive alone. And the chile relleno was perfect. Oh yeah, and the service was fantastic!
So this summer, as you take your family across the country, do some research of small towns and cities to visit along the way. You might be surprised at what you will find.
As for the trip home, it went much better.