This may be controversial but we discussed, analyzed and decided to take a road trip in April to visit family that we haven’t seen much of after returning to the U.S. and then pandemic and a trip cut short last year.

Starting in San Diego, we drove to Flagstaff, AZ and drove Route 66 over to Gallup, NM to stay the night. My husband had scouted out an old hotel there for us to stay which turned out to be quite an adventure.

The El Rancho Hotel is an old stop from the days of the old western movies and many actors and famous people have stayed there. Steeped in old west history, the hotel has kept the ambience of the time with antique items displayed and a lot of photos of the legends who stayed there. Each room has a plaque of the actor who stayed in it at one time. The room we had was once Jane Wyman’s room and across the little hallway was Kirk Douglas. In the lobby we eyed an old player piano, shoe shine and cigarette machine and so much more.

The décor and feel of the hotel was spectacular, the room was minimalist and very western styled. We truly enjoyed the look and feel of the hotel, it was a joy…until we tried to get to sleep. We had ended up with the one room in the hotel that looked out on the front patio which they had speakers set up and music playing. The front desk said it plays all night, we complained and they eventually turned it off. Then someone started up the player piano and our room just didn’t buffer any of it. We found out it was a security guard showing off to a couple of young women. We ended up moving upstairs to another room. Other than that, it was a good stay. Just would suggest the staff consider guests a little more but I would still definitely recommend to anyone to stay there, worth it!

The next morning we headed back on Route 66 toward Amarillo, TX. The scenery was beautiful with the red rock mountains and buttes and then we got to Texas and it all just became desert. Stopping in Amarillo to visit a cousin, sleep and make our way to Louisiana. I was looking for a great place to stop for a Route 66 souvenir on our drive and we passed an old car museum so we pulled in to take a break, see what they had and hope for a cool souvenir. It paid off.

Our awesome souvenir magnet

A long full day of driving, and a detour in Dallas to have lunch with my best friend’s daughter and her fiancé, brought us to our finally to our destination and we crashed hard at the hotel. For about a week we were in my husband’s hometown visiting family, friends and eating Cajun food. It was wonderful. I can’t express enough how amazing this area of the country is. I know many go to New Orleans and party but there’s so much more to Louisiana. The country life, the food, the voices, the music, the amazing and difficult history of these people. The culture is truly separate from anything else I’ve experienced in the U.S. I’m proud to be a part of it, if only by marriage.

I tossed around whether to post photos of the visit but decided against it, posting photos of other people without their ok is not my style. Plus, I failed at taking photos most of the time and was just enjoying the moments.

Fried alligator tail, two crawfish boils, time with the granddaughter, family and friends and a week later we headed back on the road for a quicker drive home straight down I-10. Nothing scenic about this one we just needed to get back quickly.

I definitely recommend driving the northern Route 66 part through New Mexico, the scenery is spectacular.

Some food photos:

We stopped at a diner on Route 66 and found Frito Pie and a smothered open face sandwich! It was glorious. Third photo on the top is Catfish PoBoy and I was so ready for that! Bottom row starts with a lunch at a local place in the small town we stayed in, meatball stew with all the southern sides: mac n cheese, blackeyed peas, greenbeans and of course cornbread. I was introduced to Peach Crown Royal which surprised me with how smooth it was. Reminded me of the sweet Japanese white peaches. Next is what’s left of a table full of crawfish from the boil, it was dark out so the photo isn’t great but man it was so yummy. Finally, we stopped for lunch on the road in Arizona at a food truck for some serious Mexican food. Tacos done just right.

It was a great trip and something we both really needed before going into the next few months of preparing for retirement, career change and possibly moving.

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