Pink abandoned motel on Hwy 89 in Arizona

I’m going to be sharing some of posts from our most recent road trip a bit out of order. This stop was about midway through the trip but it was very very special and I could hardly wait to get home, edit my photos and write it all down.

broken window at abandoned motel

Making our way through Arizona, I started to recognize some scenery when it occurred to me that we were here with my family last year. Two days before my wedding four carloads full of family made their way to the Grand Canyon. It was so much fun to visit such an incredible place together but honestly, my favorite part of the day was checking out abandoned spots on the way back to Flagstaff.

I don’t know who spotted it first but it ended up that all four carloads of folks slammed on their brakes and quickly turned left into the parking lot of this bright pink motel. Eighteen of us in total poked around the property. At the time it was pretty sealed up. Windows were boarded, not broken, and all the doors still locked. Still, it was a great photo opportunity and a fun experience.

Polaroid OneStep2 & found room key at abandoned motel
abandoned motel

We were a couple miles away when I realized that we were heading in the right direction to make another stop at the motel. I wasn’t expecting too much since it was so sealed on our first visit but I was excited just to shoot the exterior again. Who can resist that Wes Anderson pink?!

I was shocked to see how much damage the property had sustained in such a short amount of time. Just over one year had passed and it was pretty well destroyed. Windows were busted. One room was even completely full of trash bags as someone had clearly been dumping on the property. We got to see so much more of the motel this time around because vandals had done such a number on it.

To the right of the main section of the motel is an old gas station and some huge tanks. We were wandering around the tanks that are covered in graffiti, stickers, and tags when Jake pointed out a funny sticker. ‘Fart Bugs’ I don’t know what it means but it made us all laugh. I bent down to take a photo, looked through my viewfinder and that’s when I spotted it…

“Carolyn 2018”

Y’all. That’s my mom. Literally, she wrote that.

I screeched “Jeff! Did you give my mom a marker when we were here?!” Tears streamed down my face. Suddenly it all came rushing back to me. I could see her writing it. A moment nearly completely forgotten but clear as day now. I wasn’t looking for her but she presented herself. I sobbed. Took about four million photos and thanked all my lucky stars no one had covered it up yet.

After this, there wasn’t a single moment that could top it. Anytime Jeff would ask “what’s been your favorite part of the trip so far?” my answer was “finding my mom.”

The motel is in three main chunks. The first time, with my family, we only explored one section. This visit we wandered through an empty lot to the second. It was a lot less damaged. Windows still intact, doors locked. Still, we walked the perimeter searching for photos to take.

The third section has a pool. I didn’t know this until I was lurking the property on Google Earth. Guess I need to go back…

Behind one of the last rows of rooms we walked around I found a crisp five dollar bill sticking out of a pile of trash the wind had whipped up. Thanks, mom.

abandoned motel Hwy 89

I hope to get back someday and explore the area a little further. I really wanna see the pool. Who knows, maybe we’ll end up there on accident again in another couple years. xoxo

Polaroid OneStep2
photo on the left is a recreation of a photo we took in 2018. same spot, same chair, same poses.

Check out my ‘travel‘ tag for roadtrip posts from the past!

Instant photos taken with the Polaroid Originals OneStep 2. Here’s my review on it from last summer.

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Leave a Comment


Meghan Buchman June 27, 2019 - 11:21 am

I wasn’t going to read this post but something told me to & I am happy I did b/c you found your mommy. That is a moment you will forever remember. You mommy keeps an eye on you always. ((HUGS)).

Kristina B June 27, 2019 - 12:33 pm

I love this. Thanks for the fiver, mama!! <3

Cindy Lyon June 27, 2019 - 5:04 pm

This post made me both sob and smile. ❤️

Shelley June 28, 2019 - 6:38 am

I just HAD to comment to say I was already loving the pink and blue vibes of this amazing motel and then BAM, your mom’s name! The way you told the story was like I was right there with you. Thank you for sharing this incredible moment, it’s so lovely. x

Izzy McLeod June 30, 2019 - 3:41 pm

This is amazing, not only is it an awesome place but finding the little vandalism from your mum is really sweet too

grief & road trips - THE DAINTY SQUID July 11, 2019 - 12:49 pm

[…] to time but tried my best to keep it bottled up. …Ya know, until I saw her name on that pole at the abandoned motel. Then all bets were […]

Edurne July 22, 2020 - 10:40 pm

Found this blog after doing a google search on this place. I was wondering what had happened to this motel as it seems the whole surrounding buildings also have been abandoned, it’s practically a ghost town.

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