It’s true—I’ve been in love with cars my whole life. My first car, a 1978 Mustang II was pumpkin colored, somewhere between orange and tan. Not pretty, and it had a bad transmission, but I loved it. Later I would fall for a 1969 Corvette Stingray convertible and a 1970 Pontiac GTO (that ran circles around the ‘vette). I’ve often said that I’d be happy with a one-bedroom house and a seven-car garage—a different car for each day of the week. One of the first cars I loved belonged to my parents. It was a 1976 Malibu station wagon, and my memories of it are full of adventure and my view of the road as a kid, with my sister, from the back of that station wagon.
My dad was an engineer and kind of a RadioShack nerd. I remember him rigging up a small black-and-white television in the “way back” that my sister and I could watch intermittently when we came into the range of a station we could reach on our antennae. We could catch “Charlie’s Angels (whose Jaclyn Smith drove the same Mustang II I would eventually buy) or “Three’s Company” as my parents drove us down the highway.
Before our road trips, my sister and I would have fun going to the dime store to get sketch pads and magazines and games that were magnetized, like checkers, to play in the car. I seem to remember much more about the ambience in the back of the car than I do about wherever we went on those summer trips!
From coast to coast, there are so many amazing road trips in this country. Classics like Route 66, California’s Highway 101, two-lane roads closed in the winter that are open in the summer through the mountains of Colorado, Montana’s Going-to-the-Sun Road, the forever blue views from the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys—all scenic masterpieces. I wonder as cars are converted from gasoline to electric and learn to drive themselves if the summer road trip will change. Will we be even more empowered to take in the views when we aren’t in charge of the driving? So often today families fly and drive a rental or fly and use rideshare at their destination. It’s great to have options, but I’m happy to have my memories of that 1976 Malibu and the time we spent as a family on the road.