CC Kids: Blaine H. On the Big Road Trip Out West in the New ’66 Chevelle

Taken in Yakima, that’s a barefoot, 11-year old me with my Washington cousins Peter and Paula in front of my older sister Jane’s brand-new 1966 Chevelle Malibu. We were on a 2,000-mile family vacation from North Dakota to Washington and back, five of us in the middle of summer, in a non-air-conditioned car, in pre-Interstate highway days .

Some of my memories of the trip include harrowing twisty mountain roads shared with logging trucks, roadside stands selling fresh picked tree-ripened Flathead cherries, the unforgettable smell coming from pulp mills in Montana and Idaho, and my Mom complaining about the unusually-high dashboard on the Chevelle. It was on this trip that I saw my first drive-in movie, “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”, in Hardin, Montana.

Back in those days, there was no GPS, Internet, or cell phones, and you didn’t make hotel reservations in advance. You just rolled into town, hoping there was a motel with a room available. If not, you drove to the next town, and the next.

What became of the Chevelle? Jane moved from ND to Minneapolis, where it quickly rusted away. The car’s lifespan was less than ten years.