Day 1- Los Angeles to Kingman

Photo by Stephanie Roberts,

Hill Top Motel, 1901 E. Andy Devine Avenue, Kingman, Arizona 86401, 928-753-2198


I DID IT!!!  We’re ON. THE. ROAD!

343 miles today. Temperatures as high as 115 degrees; gas as high as $4.99/gallon — both in the same place (Needles, California).

Kingman is full of Route 66 spirit and history, and the Hill Top Motel is one of the classics, here since 1954.  And they still turn on their neon signs at night. Clean and functional — nice hotel staff. It is definitely an “authentic” Route 66 experience.

Got here in time for a beautiful fireworks display in the distance behind the hotel.

MAJOR NOTE:  I bypassed many ultra-cool California Route 66 stops because I’ve already done them. But there are so many can’t-miss California spots. Check out my Route 66 – California gallery here  A few snaps from today (note to my Mom:  Make sure you scroll down below the Kingman Club photo!) —

Photo by Stephanie Roberts,

I have a history in Kingman. My mom and I first stopped here in 1981, in my first epic road trip — five weeks on the road with my mom/bestfriend from Missouri to California. I was just out of college, my first year teaching high school (a nightmare!), and a bad break-up (stupid boyfriend!). We stopped in Kingman to visit my great-aunt Beryl (my maternal grandpa’s sister) and my great-uncle Elmer.

I’ve never met a more interesting couple than Beryl & Elmer. They originally moved to Kingman because of Elmer’s health issues (asthma, I think). Elmer built their house by hand, by himself, even digging the basement with a hand shovel. Beryl worked all her life as a waitress at a local cafe, and I can’t imagine a waitress/employee who would have been more loved. She was absolutely the sweetest, kindest, most generous, happiest person I ever met. I inherited my love of red (her favorite color) from her.

And there were lots of reasons for her to not be happy, but she ignored them. They didn’t have much money, but somehow they found a way to eventually buy the house next door to them when that couple died. But, even though it was a newer, bigger house than theirs, they didn’t move into it – they just used it for storage. She took us up there once and it was full of canned goods, paper towels, soap…they stockpiled when things were on sale. These are the people I come from, I’m proud to say.

Elmer was fascinating. He loved cats and fed about a dozen strays every day, but he didn’t like people much. Beryl & Elmer took us on our very first trip to Las Vegas (yes, the Grand Canyon was RIGHT THERE, but we went to Vegas). We arrived at night and I was mesmerized (remember…1981). Beryl had a jar of nickels that she had saved from her last trip to Vegas, and that’s what she spent on the slots. Elmer didn’t gamble, but seemed to enjoy watching us. This might be when my mom caught the slot bug. (Hi, Mom!).  🙂



“Sleep in a Teepee”


The famous Wigwam Motel on Route 66 in Rialto, California, which asks the universal question, “Have you slept in a teepee lately?”

It’s exactly what I’m hoping to do when I take off for my West to East Route 66 pilgrimage next week!  Join the Journey by following me here — I’ll post daily photos and all the adventures Colby the Wonder Dog and I run into in my Lil Red Prius.

Rialto, California, 

Each of the Wigwam Motels (only 2 of the original 7 remain) is independently owned, and this one in Rialto is immaculately maintained and pristine.  The grounds are beautiful, with some interesting historic displays — signs, old cars.  The teepees are necessarily small, but surprisingly not claustrophobic.  Anyway, you’ll want to throw open your door and join the community of other teepee travellers for the evening. When we were visiting, it was almost sunset when we arrived and there were kids on skateboards out in the parking lot and running around the grounds, just like a cul-de-sac!  The small motel lobby/gift shop has fun Route 66 memorabilia and books for sale.  It was completely charming.