What Is “The Thing?” The Shocking Mystery Of Arizona’s Desert Is Revealed Here! My Road Trip Across America Pt. 2!

Arizona’s Mysterious Signs!

Part 2 of my trip across America involved the mystery of “The Thing!”

See what I see? It’s part of a roadside sign, one that eluded me for almost a hundred miles…it all began as I was driving cross-country with my son, and just outside Tucson, Arizona I was taking shots of some of Arizona’s unique rock formations:

I noticed a sign up ahead, with a cool 50’s horror movie vibe to it, and I tried to get a shot:

The Mystery Of “The Thing” Begins!

The signs went by so quickly I couldn’t get a clear shot of them, which only made us more and more curious…as we drove on, I kept trying, with mixed results…

“The Thing” Revealed!

As we got closer, the signs were more and more frequent, until I was able to get a better shot, and that’s when things turned REALLY CREEPY:

Well, that’s one unsettling little person there, but the sign promises “happiness ahead” – and more importantly it signaled we had arrived, so we pulled in to find this:

Once inside, we found ourselves in a gift shop that had a lot of unusual things for sale, like this wine bottle holder fashioned out of two six-shooters:

Guns, but no “Thing!”

Yes, the large store was filled with western souvenirs of all kinds, including lots of stuff made out of guns – but no sign of “The Thing”…literally. There were NO signs inside the store showing where “The Thing” was waiting for us…we walked back outside, went around the building to make sure there wasn’t another entrance, then headed back in and saw this:

We raced back inside to discover the “museum” housing “The Thing” was being refurbished….we were crushed…so after all of this setup, there was no “thing?”

“Oh, it’s right back there”, the woman at counter said when we asked, pointing to where a couple was standing over what looked to be a wood-framed freezer…

“And”, she said plainly, “since the museum’s closed, you can see it for free!”

Wait, “The Thing” is actually here, and we don’t have to pay? Score! With that good news, we raced over…

“The Thing” Revealed!

After a hundred miles of teasing, and a frankly confusing store housing it, we got to peer into the abyss and see “The Thing!”

Here is what we saw:

Behold “The Thing!”

And there you have it: what appears to be a mummified woman holding a mummified hat…nothing to see here, folks, thank God we didn’t have to pay the fee they normally charge:


I think we laughed our way all the way out of the store…but if you must know, wikipedia actually has information on this unique roadside attraction:

“The Thing” is an Arizona roadside attraction hyped by signs along Interstate 10 between El Paso, Texas, and Tucson, Arizona. A large number of billboards entice travelers along this sparse stretch of desert highway to stop, just to find out what the mysterious Thing might be. The object, supposedly a mummified mother and child, is believed to have been made by exhibit creator Homer Tate for sideshows.

OK, look at it again:

That’s not a child, it’s a hat! Either way, we bought tho amazingly wrinkled souvenir T-Shirts and a mug as well:

Now, in fairness, New Mexico was also filled with many signs enticing us to stop and buy a variety of things, like these Pueblo Indian Kuchinas, available to purchase right on the continental divide:

Yes, there were also many signs for knives and guns as well…we didn’t stop, perhaps exhausted by the mystery of “The Thing.”

This cross-country trip offered up many adventures, like Arizona’s “Dust Devils”:

I got some video of one racing across the highway in front of us – check it out here:


Let me know if you’ve see “The Thing” up close yourself!

Categories: Art, Books / Media, Exotic Travel, Funny Pictures, Memoirs, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

21 replies

  1. That’s a great ‘con trick’ in the tradition of the ‘American Sideshow’ of course, and the shops that display snakes in tanks, or 2-headed sheep. And you bought the souvenirs, so it worked! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The signs are the best!! I’m wondering how I missed it on my previous trips to Arizona! No worries as we have Sylvester at Ye Old Curiosity Shop in Seattle for free! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was interesting luring you to a spot, I hope there was ice cream in that fridge too. The THING is something you probably wouldn’t see in England ever. Though adverts for knives and guns were somewhat worrying at least you would know what you were getting at the end of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s quite a boring stretch for the eyes. How could one not be mesmerized by the exciting promises of the billboards? Thank you for sharing so I don’t have to stop…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cindy, they were nonstop for a hundred miles, and because it was July 1, there were tons of Fireworks ads, but the signs for knives and guns were the real eyeopeners…more than you would expect!


    • Cindy, they were nonstop for a hundred miles, and because it was July 1, there were tons of Fireworks ads, but the signs for knives and guns were the real eyeopeners…more than you would expect!


  5. Thanks for the warning! We were sucked into the Peculiarium in Portland, but loved its weirdness!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a build up! Loved the thing actually but only because it wasn’t as freaky as real mummies. I spent a summer in South America and mummies pop up everywhere frightening the life out of me!

    Liked by 1 person


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