(Part 1 in a 4 part series)
The Wigwam Motel and other Southwest Adventures (Continued from Part 1 – Road Trip West: Introduction)
By Megan Ritchie
After Americana bliss in Emporia, Kansas, Chris and I continued south for our second day on the road, skirting through Oklahoma along with David Sedaris (Me-Talk-Pretty-One-Day), and resting at last in scenic Amarillo, Texas. Amarillo was, as far as we could tell, simply a freeway lined with chain restaurants, a few strip clubs, and an impressive amount of abandoned fake hair.
We tiredly checked into our hotel, the Super 8, and both quickly realized we’d hit the jackpot: It was, hands-down, the nicest Super 8 either of us had ever had the privilege of staying in. Truly. They gave us a suite for no reason. There was a mini-fridge. There were free cookies. Okay, our standards might be low, but it was still fantastic.
Next on the agenda was dinner. Now, Chris had lived in Texas for a year serving with Americorps and had one requirement for the night: Bar-b-que. We settled on a place a few storefronts down and wandered over. I’d never had real, authentic Texan BBQ before, and went for the pork sandwich. And it was de-licious. Maybe not delicious enough to move to Amarillo, Texas, but darn near close.
The next morning, we regretfully left Super 8 heaven and were up and at ‘em again.
The day passed fairly uneventfully as we made our way across New Mexico…
…and into Arizona.
I’d never been to the Southwest before, or not to that extent, anyway, and fell in love with the blues and reds of the place. Simply gorgeous. That night, we made it to lovely Holbrook, Arizona, where we checked into what is quite possibly the coolest motel of all time.
Now, when mapping out our route the previous week, we’d booked hotels based on ease and reliability—chains, we decided, would work for our purposes, since they’re generally clean, inexpensive, and just off the freeway. There are, however, some spots where the chain hotels don’t roam—and one such spot is smack dab in the middle of Arizona. Not to be deterred, I poked around for a while online, and stumbled across the historical Wigwam Motel. One look at the pictures, plus the motel’s signature catchphrase (“Have YOU slept in a wigwam lately?”) and Chris and I were on board.
As we pulled in to the Wigwam Motel’s parking lot, we struggled with where to park the Focus and trailer combination.
Each wigwam also features its own vintage car, which, as far as we could tell, didn’t work, didn’t unlock and, generally, didn’t serve any purpose whatsoever. I generally love cars-as-decorations, so I was sold instantly.
We found a spot and, stretching our stiff legs from another eleven hours in the car, trudged into the motel’s office to check in.
The office turned out to be part gift shop (all the t-shirts were double-XL though, much to my sincere disappointment) and part museum. It featured displays on the motel itself (it’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places!), but also on the nearby Petrified Forest. Since Chris and I hadn’t been able to stop at the national park earlier that day, we found it pretty thoughtful of them to have arranged a private viewing of some of the rocks from there for us. We got our key and made our way to our wigwam, which is perhaps the most fun word to say ever.
Okay, so it might not have been the nicest motel on the inside. We might have discovered over the course of the night that the air conditioner sounded like it was going to take off, and that the shower tiles were in need of a good scrub, and that the doorknob jiggled a bit more than we would’ve liked, but it was a wigwam, okay? A circular, cement, stand-alone motel room in the shape of a teepee, with a dead blue vintage car parked out front, and for that night only, it was ours. All ours. It doesn’t get any better than that, you guys.
Ready for More?