Not many people can say they totally missed Los Angeles and ended up in San Diego. Nor can many people can say they stayed in Wigwams on route sixty-six. However, thanks to a five thousand mile road trip my family and I can make both of those unique claims, and a few others.
In February of 2007 when my mother was pregnant with her eighth child, we rented a twelve-passenger van and headed from the one stoplight town of Keystone Heights Florida to the City of San Clemente California and back. The morning we started our trip it was obvious that the van was filled practically to capacity with nine people and their luggage. That day we traveled along the panhandle of Florida and into Louisiana before turning north to Shrevepoint Louisiana where we stayed the night at a Hampton Inn.
The next day we traveled on to Fort Worth Texas where we spent two days visiting friends before traveling on to Albuquerque New Mexico. After one night in Albuquerque we traveled on to the Petrified Forest National Park, which includes the Painted Desert, and Petrified Forest. Once there we enjoyed snow, which is something we never have experienced in Florida! Due to the snow “painting” the Painted Desert white we were unable to enjoy its usual beauty. Slightly disappointed, but not at all disheartened we headed on to Holbrook Arizona where we ate at a local Route Sixty-six Cafe. Fortunately, for us the Petrified Forest National Park runs in a long north south strip. Therefore, we enjoyed clear skies when we visited the south end of the park. That night we slept at the Wigwam Motel on route sixty-six. Due to the size of our family, it took two wigwams to accommodate us.
We stopped at the Grand Canyon and enjoyed its beauty made even better because it was a clear sunny day and much of the canyon had snow on it.
The next day at the Hoover Dam we had to drive down a curvy cliff side road that frankly had me gripping my seat. Living in Florida it is hard to find a dangerous road like that.
After spending the night on the outskirts of the Mohave Desert, we headed on to San Clemente somehow missing Los Angeles and ending up in San Diego along the way. Some of us stayed with my aunt in San Clemente and the others stayed in a singlewide on the back at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base where my father when he met my mother. Our aunt took care of us while our parents enjoyed time together. We enjoyed the San Diego Wild Animal Park this time ending up is San Diego on purpose, the San Juan Capistrano Mission, and the Ocean Institute at Dana Point.
On the return trip to Florida, we stopped at White Sands National Monument near Roswell New Mexico, San Antonio Texas for the Riverwalk and Alamo, Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas, Atchafalaya Swamp in Louisiana.
Oh, yes, how did we miss Los Angeles? Well, we still do not know exactly how. We do know that the more gifted navigators were in the back of the van attempting to establish a wireless internet connection so they were not actually navigating and there was road construction. Therefore, exactly how we managed to miss it remains a debatable issue. However, we solved the issue by driving west until we saw the Pacific Ocean and then turning north.
To this day the infamous episode remains one of our favorite stories to tell when telling people about our adventure!
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