US road trip part 5: Wigwam motels and kitsch Route 66 Americana

We left you last in the lush green, mountainous Sequoia National Park where we were lucky enough to spot some bears (and a proper poser of a chipmunk) and had set of on our travels to Hollywood. After spending a couple of days with John’s family in LA, we decided to get what we really came to the USA for – kitsch Americana.

Having spent weeks leading up to the trip dancing around and chanting “Route 66″ to myself, we decided it was high time we hit the highway and all the quirky, cool and retro offerings it brings. We started off at the Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino, the epitome of the kitsch Americana we were seeking. Complete with neon signs, bizarre but cool lodgings and an array of beaten up old classic cars, we spent a surreal night tucked inside a plastic wigwam in ridiculously comfortable and unusual bed with a bean bag-style mattress.

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The next morning we set off down the road again, using a Route 66 app on my phone to find the weirdest roadside attractions possible. I wanted to see it all, the world’s largest ball of twine, a man married to an alligator, that sort of thing.

Unfortunately, those things only exist in my imagination, but we did find Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe, where we had the most indulgently deep-fried, thickshake accompanied feast. My favourite moment was asking where the bathroom was to be sternly but affectionately (with one of those “duh” looks) told that it’s “outside – where it should be”.


By this point, the sun was absolutely baking. So of course, we had to check just how hot it was, and set our sat nav for a small detour via the world’s largest thermometer (of course) in Baker, California.

But it wouldn’t have been a proper Darling Lovely Life road trip if we didn’t get completely distracted by a pretty vintage shop, Linda Marie’s Enchanted Treasures, by the side of the road and spend at least an hour buying everything we could carry back with us on the plane… (so gutted that pink oven wasn’t feasible!) I sorely regret not buying the lunchbox too!

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And then probably, but hopefully not, accidentally trespassing we stopped at an ostrich farm. Because who doesn’t love ostriches? (I’ve been assured these were egg-producing ostriches, not ones that are meant for the chop).


But we got to Baker eventually. And here it is folks – the world’s largest thermometer.

It’s pretty frickin’ big.


Next time we discover the magic dust devils of the desert, find a deserted theatre filled with a dancer’s dreams and stay in real tipis a magical oasis where we can hear the coyotes howl at night… see you then!

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