Feeling the need to cruise Pacific Coast Highway

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I had never ever had a desire to own a certain car until I saw the Saturn SKY. The first time I opened a flyer advertising the “Saturn SKY Roadster,” I immediately fell in love with the car. It was everything that I ever wanted: small, unique, and fast!  And more than anything else, driving this car would fulfill a life-long dream.

As a Southern California teenager of the 60s, I did what we all did. I cruised. Not in a ship or boat on a river, lake, or ocean; but in a car. We would travel slowly on Bellflower Boulevard, swing over to Lakewood Boulevard for a stop at Hody’s, and return to Bellflower Boulevard to drive the route all over again.

You could call it the 1960s version of social networking. This was how we met one another, spread the latest gossip and flirted with the boys in the next car all while driving slowly and blocking the traffic. A honking horn was our “like” and sitting right next to your boyfriend was our “love.”

However, Bellflower Boulevard wasn’t anywhere near as exciting as the pinnacle of cruising: the place of which we all dreamt:  Surf City, Huntington Beach and Pacific Coast Highway (PCH)!  However, we knew to cruise there you needed a convertible. A car in which you could feel the wind blowing through your long blond hair while your blue eyes sparkled every time you glanced at the boys looking your way. Our dairy pickup complete with “cow chips” didn’t quite fit the bill.

Thirty-eight years later, as I looked at the SKY brochure, I had found my dream car. A perfect “cruising PCH car” and it was as near as the auto mall in Riverside!

For the next two years, I left hints all over the house. I would stop at the dealership and pick up brochures.  I would leave a list of what I wanted: Red Line SKY, Turbocharged, Midnight Blue, Black Leather Interior, CD with six speakers)

This all worked because on our 40th anniversary, Pastor Pete gave me a turbocharged Red Line Saturn SKY.

My first move was to purchase a Beach Boys CD and invite my best friend Judi to “Cruise PCH” with me. Pastor Pete made it clear that he had no desire to be “crammed into that little car.” Judi and I decided that we would dress up like old ladies so that everyone on PCH would remember that we were there. We went to a thrift store to purchase some “old lady clothes” but discovered that all of the “old lady clothes” were exactly like what we had in our closets at home. We came to the conclusion that we didn’t have to “look like old ladies” because we were old ladies!

Our cruising adventure was successful. We played “California Girls” loudly and many of the pedestrians did turn their heads to look at us. Some of them even shook their head in sympathy. We got a thumbs up from a grandfather walking with his grandchildren, heard a “way to go” from a couple who were aging “flower children,” and outraced a woman using a walker.

We knew we were successful because on the way home we were stopped by the highway patrol. “Being stopped by a cop while cruising in a convertible” would have made us a legend in the 60s! We were only doing 50 MPH in a 45 MPH zone, and we did notice that this young officer was rather surprised at whom he found speeding down the road with music blaring. As he walked up to the car, we could see the disappointment on his face as he uttered a discouraging “Oh.” We realized that he didn’t expect to see women of our mature age in a sports car and was really disenchanted. But the “icing on the cake” was when a carload of teenagers drove by and yelled “Give them a break and let them go! They’re old!”

I have now had my SKY for 10 years and some things have changed. I wore out the Beach Boys CD. You can only play “Help Me, Rhonda” so many times before you finally realize that Rhonda has no plans of helping you.

I find getting in and out of the SKY takes planning and time. I was told several years ago that every five to seven years your body makes a slight shift in size and function. The past 10 years, my body didn’t make a “slight shift.”  It had a major earthquake that measured at 8.9 on the Richter scale!

I now have sound effects whenever I get into my SKY provided by the popping of my joints, the straining of my muscles and creaking of my hips. I do have to take off my shoes before I get into the driver’s seat because my knees won’t bend like they did 10 years ago.

But one thing hasn’t changed in 10 years. I still look good driving a convertible! People may comment “Why would a grandmother want to drive a convertible?”  My answer is “It’s a hard job, but someone has to provide PCH with some humor!”

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