The Wig Wam Motel: My Introduction to Route 66

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An absolute treasure trove of hidden gems that were once bright and shiny diamonds along America's favorite highway

Route 66 roadside motel built in 1949. Fabulously creative architecture!

An absolute treasure trove of hidden gems that were once bright and shiny diamonds along America's favorite highway

An absolute treasure trove of hidden gems that were once bright and shiny diamonds along America’s favorite highway.

 

 

The Wig Wam Motel is quite a sight! Resembles a Native American community smack in the middle of old town Americana.

The Wig Wam Motel is quite a sight! Resembles a Native American community smack in the middle of old town Americana.

 

19 individual teepees make up this kitschy Route 66 Motel

19 individual teepees make up this kitschy Route 66 Motel.

Another concert, another city, and so it began … my introduction to Route 66. Headed out to San Bernardino to FINALLY experience Senor Julio Iglesias live in concert! I chose the Wig Wam Motel based on reviews, for its historic status and charm. This dog-friendly motel is a true gem of the road, a real blast from the past. This would be my home base for a weekend of roadside research. They gave the option of staying an additional night upon check-in. What a perfectly campy little compound. Nicely manicured and lush lawn. Nineteen individual teepees standing loud and proud for all to see since 1949.  A small pool area and further back is an open lot that apparently was at one time filled with orange trees. What a find! The prices are unbelievably inexpensive, though they do tend to fill up fast with so few rooms. Got settled in to our teepee. Miniature antique bathroom, small sitting room and a double bed. Very cute! Elliott rolled and played in the grass and then we lounged by the pool for a bit. Just a lovely afternoon in the hot dry sun. Left little furry man at the teepee and drove over to the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino to listen to the ultimate Latin Lover, Julio! Fantastic concert, slightly strange crowd, slightly weird vibe in the area in general. Sidenote: San Bernardino from first glance is an incredibly depressed area with a lot of poverty. While driving around looking for Route 66 sights I saw people literally roaming in the middle of the street, countless closed businesses, abandoned houses and even one house that had BURNED DOWN and was left there to continue to rot. There is a relatively prominent “druggy”/tweeker vibe in this town. Such a shame.

But I digress … Julio looked and sounded MUY CALIENTE! Please see my review of the show for more details. Returned to the Wig Wam and jumped in bed for a good night of shut-eye before a full day of exploring ahead. Around 4am … I was jolted awake by … A KNOCK AT THE DOOR? I wasn’t even sure I heard what I thought I heard. I looked at Elliott. He was sitting straight up and we were just looking at each other like … what was that? A few seconds later…ANOTHER KNOCK?! This time somewhere along the wall of the wig wam. Elliott started barking like a maniac. He brought it with a German Shepherd style bark, which was impressive for a 12-pound Yorkie. I was FREAKING OUT. Do I call the cops? What could I use as a weapon? I finally reached for my cell phone and called the front desk. The man who answered did not seem fazed even one tiny bit by my call and said he would come take a look around the outside of my teepee. A few minutes later he rang the room and said he didn’t see anything and he was “sure” it was fine. Needless to say, Elliott and I were SCARED. I basically didn’t MOVE, BLINK or SLEEP until the sun came up a few hours later. Sheesh! So much for a restful night at the Wig Wam Motel. Needless to say, I lost any desire to stick around for a second night. Upon checkout an older woman, presumably the owner, asked me how my stay was and I said, “well other than having a stranger repeatedly knock at my door at 4 in the morning, it was fine.” TO WHICH SHE ANSWERED “oh, that’s good.” Whoa. Ummmm … while I would absolutely love to give two thumbs up to The Wig Wam Motel in San Bernardino, I honestly cannot in good faith do such a thing. Cool, historic and vintage feel, but a few too many shifty characters roaming the streets to really enjoy our stay. Thankfully I didn’t lose any steam on my quest for historic Route 66 sites…stay tuned!

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