Hot rods took to flat highways in packs. Fathers drove, wives gripped CBs. Children shivered in wind-blown rumble seats. Summer long weekends meant destinations: Swift Current, Canmore, Ponoka, Sylvan Lake, Fort Macleod.
The rest stop picnic tables had views of man-made lakes. Dads tugged beers out of Styrofoam coolers, joked about teenagers trying to steal their hubcaps. I waited, protective, by Red Rooster, our shiny '34 Ford. Her sun-soaked running boards warmed my bare feet.
The Moonlight Motel, the Sandy Beach Hotel - it always had a nearby bar. Waiting in the rooms, older kids took command of the television sets. My brother and I laid under cool sheets watching horror films on cable. We fell asleep before last call.
On Saturday mornings hot rods lined gravel lots. Fathers lifted bonnets, opened suicide doors, slid under chassis. Talked years, models, engines, repairs. Wives gathered in lawn chairs, sweating under striped halter tops. Some ran games for the kids - bean bag tosses, water balloon fights. My mom had us chuck dripping O'Henry bars into training potties.
Parents returned to motel rooms Saturday nights humming Runaway, Wipeout, Blue Moon. Rum-breathed fathers clutched plaques mounted with Hot Wheels cars. Mothers dressed as Indian Princesses or Surfer Girls quietly shut bathroom doors. My dad laid on his back, snoring as polyester drapes drifted out half-open windows.
On Sunday mornings children in rumble seats wrapped themselves in blankets. Suitcases jabbed at small ankles. Hot rods rumbled out of parking lots, headed for prairie highways. By sunset, fathers would be fitting sky-blue car covers over bumpers and locking the garage door.