Joshua Tree to Laughlin via Route 66

Joshua Tree to Laughlin via Route 66

We picked this trip to Joshua Tree area after some good advice from luxury travel experts as we depart, so we sadly say goodbye to Palm Springs and are on the road for our single parent travel adventure. Our faithful GPS takes us the longest and most boring way out of town – something that everyone wants to avoid while on a family travel trip. We stop at Yucca Valley and I have a bit of retail therapy. We also head into a Thrift Shop. We find an esky / thermal bag on wheels – that I think is new. So we fill it with our hotel/home-made ice bags and items we wish to keep cool on this single parent travel jaunt we are on. Until now we had to use the ice machine at the hotel. Then triple layer plastic bags with ice and pop our milk etc in.

We get to the Joshua Tree National Park entrance area and we start to see some great Western-style bars and old cars and trailers.  It is fun and we love the old automobiles too.!

silver bullet

©Exploramum and Explorason – retro heaven near Joshua Tree area

We get lost trying to find the Joshua Tree National Park. So it is lunch time by the time we made the entrance, and we discover we don’t have a lot of drinking water. There are no drinking water stations in this park.
Joshua Tree

©Exploramum and Explorason – Joshua Tree National Park entrance

A Joshua tree is glorious as they spike their way into the blue sky above.
Joshua Tree

©Exploramum and Explorason – Explorason identifying plants

We make friends with a couple of guys we met at the retro car place in town heading to Joshua Tree area. So we get our photo taken by strangers and get a friendly wave as we weave through the park.
Joshua Tree

©Exploramum and Explorason – Joshua Trees a stunning

There is so much to see in limited time. My son is doing his Junior Ranger book and stays in the car.
time for a hike

©Exploramum and Explorason – heading for a hike

This proves to be a lot of work, finding and identifying plants.
We manage about a 1-hour of hiking.
rock formations

©Exploramum and Explorason – rock formations

My seven-year-old LOVES hiking and takes off.
He has a new t-shirt from Palm Springs. Also a new set of Nike shoes he puts to good use.
Joshua Tree

©Exploramum and Explorason – Joshua Tree National Park is fun

He soon runs out of steam. I love the twisted wood in this trunk he sits on.
tired boy

©Exploramum and Explorason – tired boy

It is now getting really hot and we head back down the dusty path and his new Nike pair of shoes don’t look so new anymore.

©Exploramum and Explorason – stunning deadwood

I rest in the shade of a Joshua Tree – we are on the last of the water, so we drink it sparingly.  There is a BIG lesson learned this day about carrying enough water.

©Exploramum and Explorason – resting in the shade

We leave Joshua Tree. My son has a sleep as I drive. We hit Route 66 and I am amazed that so much of Disney Cars movie is found in real life along this road. We cross the railway track where Lightning McQueen falls out of the back of Mack the truck in the movie and storybook.  My son gets really upset that Route 66 is so run down in parts, in fact, he cries.
Route 66

©Exploramum and Explorason – Route 66 is in bad shape

We find the Fire Engine ‘Red’ on the side of the road and that is pretty exciting so we stop for a photograph.
fire engine

©Exploramum and Explorason – Red the fire engine

It is getting late. We have to get off Route 66 and onto the Highway as we are running out of daylight.  Yes, get that kid OFF the road!
Route 66

©Exploramum and Explorason – Route 66 road sign

The Ranger at Joshua Tree has told us to stay at Harrah’s Casino in Laughlin, Nevada for the night. He tells us the accommodation is a great value to entice people to gamble. But it is of great value and on our way out – so we trust him and head there.

We choose to upgrade to a refurbished room. It is a 4-star. There are; an outdoor swimming pool and jacuzzi as well. It is right on the Colorado River. You can get a water taxi’s along the river as an option too. It is fantastic value and we stay 3 nights and this overtired Mum gets to relax a bit.

©Exploramum and Explorason – Harrah’s

They have a fabulous buffet. Alas! you need to join their club to get the discounted rooms and buffet. Yet kids are not allowed (and rightly so) to loiter in the casino. They tell me to leave my son by the buffet cashier and go sign up.

I tell them he is worth more than a buffet and to forget it. So, in the end, they find a staff member who takes my ID and joins me up. It is quite late.  I have stinging eyes from driving and being overtired from  Palm Springs and it is hot and windy.

The downfall of a huge multi-story and multi-building complex like this is that I have had to make 3 trips to drag my luggage and items up to the room. Thank goodness for the new rolling fridge-bag! The buffet is fabulous and good value and Explorason thinks this is really great!  I realize how much happier kids can be in nice accommodation and restaurants, and he really appreciates staying here compared to Palm Spring’s Motel 6.

©Exploramum and Explorason – enjoying the buffet

We discover that the Don Laughlin’s Riverside Casino has a couple of great retro Car Museums/display rooms. There is a very helpful man who lets my son sit in one of the cars. This model was in Back to the Future II and Explorason can’t wait to show his cousins back in Australia.
Back To The Future II

©Exploramum and Explorason – Back to the Future II car

He gets to polish the motorbikes and he loves this USA one especially.
USA motorbike

©Exploramum and Explorason – dusting the motorbikes

We discover they have a Kids Club at Riverside Casino too. I really need some ‘me time’. So we finish the 2nd display room and head for ‘Kids Quest’ – the Kids Club upstairs and sign him in.

©Exploramum and Explorason – chopper

I end up going to find a quiet bar for a drink by the river. Before I know it, I end up being taken out to dinner and have a date! I meet a lovely man and have an equally lovely night plus I am never going to see him again. But it has been wonderful to have been treated like a lady. And to have enjoyed some great male company. I have a time limit to go back and collect my son from the Kids Club. But it has been a perfect evening and just right for this overtired Mum to recharge her batteries.
As a single Mum traveling, it is hard to get some more time out. Next day, I have booked my son into another Kids Club. Alas, we get lost driving there to this Casino and find out we go from California to Nevada to Arizona – all in about 1 hour!
So my son spends that afternoon at Kids Castle. I discover I have yet to join another Casino Club but this gives me 1 hour’s free childcare. Rates for kids clubs are $6-$8 an hour and you can also arrange food/drinks. It also gives a single child time with other kids which are important. And bouncy castles, Wii games, iPods and fun activities. This also gives me time to go and inquire about buying an R.V. and the registration process for our next time here. I fill up with ‘gas’ (petrol to the Aussie readers). I do a bit of shopping and the time is up. I don’t gamble – but I can tell you it is an economical place to have a few days break.
I have found over the past week that as much as I love my son, I need some time out for me. Time to think; plan ahead, or just be me without the constant talking or need to be concerned for his welfare which is so important to traveling is tiring on both child and adult. But the child can sleep while I am driving so I think they win out.
As this is our last day in Laughlin, we have also spent the morning by the pool. and in the heated jacuzzi by the river. As this is a casino, most people are out gambling. So the pool area is empty and nice and quiet. There is also a beach on the river, but the tide is out.
For those of you who are concerned about taking a child to a casino, here are a few thoughts. If you have to register in the hotel near the gambling area, point out the miserable faces of the gamblers to your child. Explain that besides the noise, there are very few winners. Use the rear and side entries to get to your room so you avoid the casino. Request a room in the far area near the restaurants and away from the gambling areas. We had no need to walk through the casino area from the car at any time when we walked to the room or pool.
One of our photos from this blog was also used on Earth Day – celebrating national parks around the world.
Questions and Comments
  • Have you been to the Joshua tree National park?
  • What is your favorite spot on Route 66?
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