The Great AZ Road Trip

The “Thing”

The thing_southern AZ_7.28.14

Signs relentlessly bombard travelers on the highway in an attempt to lure them into the random flea markets and tourist shops that dot along stretches of road, advertising Native American jewelry and trinkets, or to snag a bottle of “the best bar-b-que sauce in the world.” While there are times where the lonesome stretch of road can seemingly go on forever, the billboards at least help bring comfort that civilization is not too far off.

The least subtle of these roadside campaigns, stretching all the way from California to Texas, is the bright-yellow series of billboards calling attention to “The Thing.” The teasing, taunting billboards stretch for miles, building up the curiosity and suspense: “The Thing? A Wonder of the Desert” – “The Thing? Mystery of Arizona” – “The Thing? Have You Seen It?” – “The Thing? Don’t Miss It!”

Every day, hundreds of visitors passing between Benson and Willcox give in and take Exit 322 to discover just what this enigmatic Thing really is.

Finally, through a mysterious doorway, following the faded yellow feet painted on the floor, past hand-carved figures both miniature and life-size and the gold-dust scales and cracked pottery—you see it. Encased in cinder blocks and guarded by what can only be described as Emperor Bigfoot Horsehead, lies the end to your anticipation. The mystifying …THING. What is it? Is it real? Where did it come from?

As you contemplate what you’ve just seen, true satisfaction comes with the realization that knowledge of The Thing brings the empowering ability to irritate your friends, to withhold its secret until you can goad them into an unwitting road trip