Joshua Tree to Laughlin via Route 66 with a 7 year old

Joshua Tree to Laughlin via Route 66

We picked this trip after some good advice from luxury travel experts. So we sadly say goodbye to Palm Springs and are on the road for our single parent travel. 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. 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 – looks like new. So we fill it with our hotel/home-made ice bags and items we wish to keep cool on this single parent travel. 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 Joshua Tree and we start to see some great Western bars

We get to Joshua Tree and we start to see some great Western bars and old cars and trailers.  It is fun!

We get lost trying to find the 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.
The Joshua Trees are glorious. We make friends with a couple of guys we met at the retro car place in town. So we get our photo taken by strangers and get a friendly waves
as we weave through the park.
There is so much to see in limited time. My son is doing his Junior Ranger book and stays in the car.
This proves to be a lot of work, finding and identifying plants.
We manage about a 1-hour of hiking.
My seven year old LOVES hiking and takes off. He has a new t-shirt from the Thrift store in Palm Springs. Also a new set of Nike shoes for $8 – he puts to good use.
He soon runs out of steam. I love the twisted wood in this trunk he sits on.
It is now getting really hot and we head back.
I rest in the shade – we are on the last of the water.
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 Mac. My son gets really upset that Route 66 is so run down in parts.
We find the Fire Engine “Red” on the side of the road.
It is getting late. We have to get off Route 66 and onto the Highway as we are running out of daylight.

The Ranger at Joshua Tree has told us to stay at Harrah’s in Laughlin for the night. He tells us the accommodation is cheap 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. This is $24.99 plus tax. It is 4 star. There is an outdoor pool and spa as well. It is right on the Colorado River. You can get water taxi’s along the river as an option too. It is great value and we stay 3 nights.
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 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.
We discover that the 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.
He gets to polish the motorbikes.
We discover they have a kids club. I really need some ‘me time’. So we finish the 2nd display room and head for Kids Quest.
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! Lovely man – lovely night – 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 lovely evening.
As a single Mum travelling, it is hard to get time out. Next day, I book my son into another kids club. Alas, we get lost driving there 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 find out I have yet to join another Casino Club but this gives me 1 hours free child care. Rates at kids clubs are $6-$8 an hour and you can also arrange food/drinks. It also gives a single child time with other kids. And bouncy castles, Wii games, iPods and fun stuff. This also gives me time to go and enquire about buying an RV 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. Time to think; plan ahead; or just be me without the constant talking. Travelling is tiring on both child and adult. But the child can sleep while I am driving.
As this is our last day, we have also spent the morning by the pool. and in the heated spa 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. Request a room in the far area near the restaurants. 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 photo’s from this blog was also used in Earth Day – celebrating national parks around the world
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