• Travel

The Thing? An Alternative Roadside Attraction – Travel Diary 6


I slept like a baby in our comfortable bed at the Lodge on the Desert in Tucson, but it was an early start for the first of many crazy long days on the road. Grabbing our complimentary hotel buffet breakfast we filled up on the typically rubbery eggs and dry toast before jumping back in our rented Dodge SUV.

Soon after hitting the highway I convinced Pablo that we just HAD to go and see The Thing – The Mystery of the Desert, a roadside attraction which is advertised on huge billboards for miles along the road with enticing slogans such as “What is it? The Thing?”  “The Mystery of the Desert!” and “It’s a Wonder!

From trip research I already knew that this was a grossly underwhelming ‘museum’  but this kind of tat really appeals to me, so we took the exit, parked up and paid our dollar entrance fee.

Following the large yellow footsteps we entered the first corrugated iron barn which featured an exhibit featuring tortured wooden sculptures and a Rolls Royce once used by Adolf Hitler. Next up was a room of what were described as critters, which were large wooden animal like creatures in contorted positions with crazily painted faces.

Last was what we had paid for, finally, The Thing? would be revealed to us…

To be honest it is still a bit of a mystery; what was contained in a glass box under another large sign was some sort of mummified human/doll. The main attraction was followed up by a few more tortured figures and critters before bringing us back into the large gift shop. The Thing? was tacky, dated and not well maintained but was an entertaining way to break up the monotony of the long drive that was to follow.

The remainder of the day was spent in the car listening to podcasts, trying not to go insane from boredom. Pablo finally got hooked to My Favourite Murder which I think made him feel a little more at ease with my true crime obsession.

We had been told that El Paso didn’t have much going on so we stopped at what seemed like the largest Walmart in the universe to grab dinner before heading to our Airbnb which was in San Miguel, just outside of the city. Driving down a dirt road in the pitch dark was like a scene from a 90’s horror movie but was a scary kind of fun. Parking up there were strings of colourful lights illuminating a pretty courtyard and two gorgeous doggy hosts to welcome us to our casita. Our little apparent was so cute that we were happy to stay in and try and book the rest of our trip as we were fast running out of accommodation. The next day was another 11 hour drive so I was grateful for our peaceful surrounding to bed down for the night.

2 comments

  1. I don’t know why “The Thing? was … not well maintained” made me laugh so much, but it did. Everything looks like it needs a good dusting, and this from me, the person who practically regards dust as a homely safe space 😂

    1. Emma says:

      It was so terribly amazing!

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