Mom made me buy the four-door model which was painted the same color as dried mustard when caked around the French’s squeeze bottle for a week.
The choice was between two 1972 Datsun 510’s known as Nissan today. The 510 was priced as the “poor man’s BMW” a handling machine that stuck to the corners like corn batter in a hot baking dish.
I wanted the bright orange two-door with two black racing stripes that worked their way from the trunk to the front bumper. Just the appearance of speed was all I needed, and it was calling my name. I lost the battle.
The 510 was a replacement for the 1961 cream over turquoise Ford Falcon that I had inherited somewhere in high school. Using my underdeveloped skills in auto shop, I somehow was able to funnel all the exhaust into the cabin of the two-door when climbing hills. It was a cheap high, and made for more subdued friends.
The vehicle served me well over the years through my first newspaper job and my epic journey from Canada to the Mexico border satisfying my wanderlust as a photographer.
There was plenty of room for all the needed camera equipment; camping gear; boxes of books and the guitar.
The price for a gallon of gas was thirty-five cents and with a little money in the bank and fueled by a lost love I started north towards the Oregon and Washington coastline. Over the next several week I was soon headed for Glacier National Park just as winter was setting in.
The night was no colder than those I had already encountered on foot in the backcountry during the earlier three weeks. I was at least back to the campground with a table and fire circle. My 510 and I were the only man and machine left in the campground.
It was around two in the morning when I glanced at my watch. I was awaken by the type of quiet that could only ride on the shoulders of trouble. I tried tossing back the small green door of the canvas tent to grab the lantern left sitting outside just hours earlier and was surprised by an icy wall of snow that stopped just below the tent’s peak.
Looking towards my buddy only bits of mustard yellow poked out from the hood and roof creating some pretty ugly yellow snow.
I dug to the front doors to find them frozen solid, like blocks of ice. I was able to just to pry one of the back doors open enough to squeeze through to the front seat and fire her up, warming the engine.
It took three more days to dig out to “Going to the Sun” road and I guess mom was right about the four-doors.
I only wish she would have prepared me for surprising a grizzly the next day while on the upper McDonald Creek trail.