August 13, 2022

Can't Wait to "Take It Easy!" (National Parks Trip #3)

This post represents another installment in the series documenting our West Coast National Parks trip in the summer of 2017.  Alan and I, along with our 18 year old daughter, Kyra, logged a total of 8,513 memorable miles of adventure over the course of five and a half weeks during the months of July and August.

At the end of Day#6 of this expedition, Alan, Kyra and I had overnighted at the Enchanted Trails RV Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  That quick overnight stop in New Mexico marked the first time we had ever camped there, which allowed us to color in yet one more state on our “On Our Way to Everywhere!” map.  Actually, this trip allowed us to color in a number of new-to-us states.  It really was a road tripper’s dream come true.  (It seems to me that “road tripper” should be all one word, but the folks at Merriam-Webster disagree.)

The following morning, we hit the road early, knowing that Day #7 would be a l-o-n-g one.  The day’s itinerary included a couple of more stops along Historic Route 66, an impromptu visit to the Hoover Dam and our magical feat of sleeping in two places at once.  Well, we didn’t actually sleep in two places at once; we just stayed in two places at once.  Well, we didn’t stay two places at once . . . Never mind.  Just wait, you’ll see.

We cruised along on Interstate 40 through New Mexico and on into Arizona to our first stop in Holbrook.  We wanted to see one of the last remaining Wigwam Village Motels on Historic Route 66.  The original Wigwam Village (#1) was built in 1933 in Horse Cave, Kentucky, by Frank Redford.  Allegedly, it was inspired by a teepee shaped restaurant Redford saw in California.  Redford’s Wigwam Village included just a lunch counter and gas station at first.  A couple of years later, he added 6 concrete teepees in which guests could sleep.

Wigwam Village #6 - Holbrook, Arizona

In 1937, he built Wigwam Village #2 in Cave City, Kentucky, near Mammoth Cave National Park.  Number 2 was a larger and improved version of #1.  When the concept proved successful, Redford franchised it.  Eventually, seven Wigwam Villages were built around the country from the 1930’s to the 1950’s.  Numbers 3, 4 and 5 (in New Orleans, Orlando and Birmingham, respectively), no longer exist.  Sadly, neither does the original #1.  But three Wigwam Villages remain: #2 in Cave City, #6 in Holbrook and #7 in Rialto (San Bernadino), California.  My understanding is that all three motels are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are open for business.  If you’re a history buff or a fan of Historic Route 66, Wigwam Villages provide a delightful opportunity to step back into the past and enjoy a unique traveler’s experience.

Note the vintage vehicles!

Continuing westbound on Interstate 40 through Arizona, we arrived at the next (and highly anticipated) stop.  As Baby Boomers, Alan and I cut our teeth on rock & roll, and the Eagles were a staple of the musical diet of our youth.  Our kids, in turn, grew up with the oldies, rock & roll and country music.  Kyra truly enjoys many genres of music; even today, her playlist reflects the music of several generations.

As we made our way to Standin’ on the Corner Park in Winslow, Arizona, Kyra cued up “Take it Easy” and had it ready to go when we arrived.  We mugged with the statues representing songwriters Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, took photos of the flatbed Ford parked on the street and the mural of a girl in such a truck that provides the backdrop for the little park.

There are a number of destinations in our travels that evoke an instantaneous reaction whenever I see a photo of a particular place or, as in this case, hear something that brings one of those destinations to mind.  Any time I hear the opening notes of the Eagles’ first single, “Take It Easy,” I’m immediately transported back to that corner in Winslow.  I don’t need a photo to remember; the movie reel of our visit plays through my mind with perfect clarity as an accompaniment to the music.

Not shown in the photo: an eagle perched on the windowsill above the "W"

Also in Winslow is the La Posada Hotel.  In the 1920’s, Fred Harvey decided he wanted to build a major hotel of the highest quality in Arizona.  He chose Winslow, where the Santa Fe Railway was headquartered, as his hotel’s location.  (Harvey developed and ran all of the hotels and restaurants owned by the Santa Fe, elevating rail travel in the country from mediocre – or even crude – to a much higher standard of quality.)  Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, a well-known and well-respected architect, designed La Posada to help Harvey realize his dream.  Colter, allegedly, considered the hotel her masterpiece.  We strolled past, but did not visit, La Posada while we were in Winslow.  Portions of its buildings, but not the hotel’s true character, can be seen from the street.  Despite the fact that we passed it by, many people consider it an important stop along Historic Route 66.

Ever onward!  We fit in so many memorable experiences on this trip that it still boggles my mind whenever I think about it.  Our next destination was the Lake Mead RV Village in Boulder City, Nevada – another state this trip allowed us to color in on our map.  (Although we didn’t camp in Arizona on this trip in 2017, we had visited the Grand Canyon on our 2010 National Parks trip and had stayed at the Park’s North Rim Campground.  So, Arizona was already colored in.)  Notice that I didn’t say the RV Park was our final destination of the day.  That’s because, although our travel trailer would be sleeping at the Lake Mead RV Park, Alan, Kyra and I had other plans.

Waterfront sites for transients at left (that's us!) - additional transient sites behind park models on right

Despite the fact that we prefer public campgrounds to private RV parks, our accommodations on this trip were a combination of both, depending on our location and itinerary.  I would not hesitate to stay at Lake Meade RV Village again.  As I was drafting this post, the RV park was enjoying an 8.0 out of 10 rating on RV Life’s  It was a nicely run and well-maintained RV park that had both permanent sites for park models and lovely sites available for transient travelers.  Although we had a lake view site at the RV Park, the shoreline was pretty far away.  I can’t even imagine what it looks like at this point in time.  The site itself was great, the view was spectacular and the location of the RV park put us very close to Las Vegas.  Yup, these nature lovers were hitting the Strip!

The view of Lake Meade from the dinette window in our old Jayco

We hadn’t even arrived at the RV park before Kyra began lobbying for a visit to the Hoover Dam.  Touring the Dam was definitely not on the itinerary, but her enthusiasm was palpable.  Alan and I figured that it was already a late night and a stop at the Dam was going to make it even later.  But so what?  Travel is all about exploration so, in the spirit of adventure, we decided to explore s’more.  We also knew that Las Vegas wasn’t going anywhere any time soon.  Back to the Dam it was.

The Hoover Dam was built during the Great Depression in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River on the border between Nevada and Arizona.  Construction began in 1931, and the Dam was dedicated in 1935.  The Hoover Dam is a National Historic Landmark.  Additionally, in 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers named the Dam one of America’s Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders.  (In case you’re wondering, the others are the Golden Gate Bridge, the Kennedy Space Center, the Panama Canal, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, the World Trade Center and the Interstate Highway System.)

Even to someone without a background in engineering like me, it was obvious that this incredibly impressive facility is a marvel, and we were happy we took the time to explore it.  According to the National Park Service, “the amount of concrete used in building it was enough to pave a road stretching from San Francisco to New York City.”  The Dam is simply massive.

Thanks to our impromptu (but worthwhile!) stop at the Hoover Dam and its Visitor Center, it was closing in on 10:00 p.m. when we hit the Strip in Las Vegas – that’s on Pacific Standard Time and WAY past my bedtime!  Anyone who calls New York City “the city that never sleeps” has never been to Vegas.

So, what’s up with the sleeping arrangements?  Well, I checked the RV parks in and around Las Vegas, and didn’t really find one I liked.  I did like the Lake Mead RV Village at Boulder City, but that was at least a 30 minute drive from the Strip, so it wasn’t ideal.  That’s when I came up with the idea of leaving the travel trailer outside the city and reserving a hotel room for a single night.  We planned to spend only one day in Las Vegas; staying at a hotel and getting an early start on our exploration of the city the following morning sounded like it might be a good idea.  Guess what!  It worked like a charm!  If we ever return to Las Vegas, I’d book it that way again.

Maybe not as impressive as the mega-resorts on the Strip, but . . .

As a fan of the American West and its history, I was drawn to Main Street Station, a hotel, casino (of course!) and brewery in the older section of Las Vegas.  The glitzy mega-resorts along the Strip held a certain appeal, but once I saw what the interior of Main Street Station looked like, it was a done deal.  Actually, it was a good deal, too.  I’m guessing that many of the city’s visitors prefer to stay in the center of the action directly on the Strip with all of its razzle-dazzle.  The hotel rates at Main Street Station proved to be better than reasonable, and I coughed up a mere $50.00 for a room in a hotel jam-packed with the western ambience I love.  I just checked, and the price has gone up.  Inflation, right?  A room with two queen beds is now $50.25, not including a 13% hotel tax and a $28.24 per night resort fee.  Still, a bargain!

I'd go back in a heartbeat!  (This is a view of the lobby and registration desk.)

So ended our very long Day #7 on the road.  Our travel trailer spent the night at the Lake Mead Village RV Park, and Alan, Kyra and I slept in Las Vegas.  So, we kinda sorta, but not really, stayed in two places at once!  The plan was to check out of Main Street Station early in the morning and spend the entire day exploring Las Vegas before returning to the RV park to tuck ourselves into bed.  As first time visitors to “Sin City,” we couldn’t wait to get out there and start sinning!  Oops!  Did I say that?!  I meant sightseeing! 



  1. I was wondering if you had seen the teepee motel in your Route 66 travels. Of course you did! :-) We also couldn't resist a photo in Winslow "Standin' on the Corner." If you ever head back that way, La Posada is definitely worth a stop. The hotel is beautiful and interesting, and we had lunch in the Turquoise Room and it was delightful. You were so smart to do Vegas the way you did—sinning or sightseeing, LOL.

    1. Ah, lunch would have been a perfect way to experience La Posada - that idea never occurred to me, Laurel! As for our sleeping arrangements, it really would have been more convenient to stay at an RV park right in or on the outskirts of Las Vegas, but I just couldn't bring myself to settle for something that didn't feel comfortable. As off the wall as the plan sounded, it really did work out perfectly for us!

  2. Enjoyed the replay of our very similar experiences at most of the places you mentioned. Unfortunately, I was an early Boomer, so the Eagles were just beginning to be popular as I exited my youth. I didn't know just how popular they would become. Aren't we glad for all these memories?!!

    1. Mike, I can't tell you how many times I've commented to Alan that we are SO fortunate to be able to enjoy this lifestyle. We've been exploring together for more than four decades, and I'm astonished at both all we've seen and how many amazing places there are left to visit. We are so blessed!

  3. Mary, when Tom and I went to Las Vegas MANY years ago in the Motor coach, we stayed at a campground right near the strip. It was basically a concrete parking area!, definitely NOT your style and not really ours was...convenient. They had a shuttle to the strip, and one or two days/nights was probably enough for us! We enjoyed the Hoover Dam as well, and Vegas is fun, glitzy, something to see, but for us, not for long! 🤣

    1. I agree that sometimes it's all about convenience and location, and I was prepared for a place similar to what you described when we hit Vegas. But every RV park I looked at either had poor reviews, security concerns or just didn't feel right. I'm just ornery enough not to "settle," and I'm glad I kept looking because we really did like Lake Meade RV Village. Your comment reminded me of our visit to St. Louis to see the Gateway Arch. Just across the Mississippi River was the Casino Queen RV Park on the grounds of, you guessed it, a casino. It, too, was literally a parking lot, but it was perfect. Security was good and we were able to walk right across the Eads Street Bridge to the Arch and the Old Courthouse. Definitely not our regular cup of tea, but I'd stay there again without hesitation, assuming the reviews were still good. Love to you and Tom!

  4. Mary, your pictures of Lake Meade are fascinating because the water levels have dropped so dramatically with the drought that is devastating the area now. I'd be willing to bet that the water has dropped at least 20 feet since 2017. Helen and I love Las Vegas and always work in a trip when we visit our California kids. We got our rooms comped on the last visit. They got it back from our Casino experience however. I owe you a phone call. Be patient. Joe

    1. Joe, it would be interesting to me to see photos of Lake Meade taken in the same locations today. I'll bet the differences would be terribly disconcerting. I was actually thinking of you and Helen while I was drafting my (next) post about our day in Las Vegas - laughing because I knew we'd be spending the same day in two entirely different ways! No rush on the phone call. Remember, we're on retirement time!


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