If you have driven on Interstate 10 in Arizona or New Mexico, chances are you have seen at least one of the thousand billboards advertising The Thing, a roadside attraction / tourist trap in Southeastern Arizona. I can remember seeing these signs as early as 2002 when I was first stationed at Fort Huachuca, but probably saw them much earlier than that while passing through the Southwest with my Dad. Since we were about ready to leave Arizona, the girls decided that we needed to stop in and see what all the fuss was about.
While we have driven by at least a hundred billboards advertising The Thing and the accompanying “museum,” we had never seriously considered going, due to either the drive, the cost, COVID, or whatever reason we came up with at the time. That is, until my parents went, and let us know that it was awesome. They said that it was only $5 each and well worth it. So with my parents’ endorsement, we decided that we would stop in next time we drove back from Texas.
While I knew what The Thing was, due to looking it up many years ago, I figured it was still one of those things on the Arizona bucket list we needed to check off. Since the girls were pretty stoked about it (mostly because of the billboards portraying aliens and dinosaurs), we made our pit stop, browsed the gift shop, and entered the museum.
So, the museum is just bonkers, which made it extremely enjoyable. It was so crazy, in fact, that I regret not taking more pictures (which is highly encouraged) because I cannot remember everything that was in there. They let us know exactly what we are getting into right up front, with an alien riding a velociraptor (since I grew up with Dino-Riders, the single greatest toy line ever made, this was just awesome). The entire premise of the museum is the question of “What If?” for all of pre-history and history, with kind of a proverbial shrug. Aliens landing at the time of the dinosaurs and then fought a war against them? Sure. Winston Chruchill being supported by extraterrestrials in order to save humanity in World War II? Why the heck not? While the girls just wanted to look at aliens and dinosaurs, I was content reading the alternate histories, where every major event in the past 400 years seemed to be secretly facilitated or impacted by aliens. But we had to hurry through, because the aliens and dinosaurs were a little too realistic (and much too big) for Elaina’s comfort level.
We had much more fun than expected, and since we did not buy anything at the gift shop, it was $5 (military discount) well spent for an hour of off-the-wall entertainment. The girls both had a great time, but Elaina was getting a little scared at the end, almost missing the actual The Thing. I have to applaud the owners for taking a very obvious tourist trap and completing leaning in on the concept. It worked on us, and we had a great time. And not the least bit ashamed to say so. Looking forward to finding additional Arizona bucket list attractions before we pull up stakes and head to Kentucky in June.
Thanks for checking in on us.