Hastily laid plans had been made among friends at the Beaches Cruise In. Two days later it was time to go and the hastily laid plans turned out to be not so well laid. But all the same, wildfires were raging, and PGE had announced their plan to cut off power here on the mountain (Mt. Hood) for days. So, it came time for this writer to make his own adventure, throw a tent and bags in the trunk of his Corvette and bug out.
We rolled through rush hour in the intervening cities and towns and the temp rose as we drilled further up into the state of Washington. We tripped across a blown GTO sitting at a gas pump in the little town of Clatskanie. He had a downed battery. The trusty little Viking battery jumper came out of the trunk of the Corvette. Unzipped and attached, it fired up that bad boy and sent them down the road to the Napa for an alternator. Come nightfall we rolled on into the little town of Long Beach, hungry and thirsty. And oh boy howdy, what we saw then …
The whole place was packed with hot rods on every street anywhere around! Revving engines and all manner of other ecstasy echoed up and down the main drag.
Getting grub inside the packed Long Beach Tavern proved to be an ordeal. But not so bad, what with the free drinks being offered by happy hot rodders. And the very capable bartender, Connie came through with the grub.
One fellow, I believe his name was Mike, related as to how, he and his Hotrodding friends had been getting together for years at this event. They rent an entire house next to the museum and just steps away from the main drag. They all get together and have a grand old time reenacting all the good times from times past. On this night, these fellas could make their way out of the bar and on to the strip with no worries of cops and their dastardly handcuffs. The cops – and there were plenty of them, were busy with other mischief. The cruising would continue full steam ahead up until the midnight hour.
Come Saturday, the car show would commence up the peninsula. There would be a 10 mile procession of hot rods leading to the Beach Barons’ property in Ocean Park. The drive was not so bad – until you hit the town. There you would find a traffic backup from the show property back into the center of town, all morning long. Cars that were parked all along the roads radiating out from the fairgrounds numbered in the thousands, easily!
Inside, the property is expansive. Bisected by a long narrow waterway of some sort, full of crickets and critters. There are several wooden bridges to accommodate the cars and people. And the cars and people – they were plentiful! The final car count came to somewhere not too far shy of 1,000! But that does not include a good couple thousand more hotrods remaining out in the towns! I mean if the all mighty Creator were to throw a cast net down over this peninsula he’d be coming back with thousands of keepers.
Inside was a kaleidoscope of color. So much variety and creativity to see. Not to mention a blazing sun looking down upon us like some kind of a blurry red eye, deformed by the wildfire smoke that had spread all through the area, humidifying the air. It fell upon the creations in the form of some kind of ash mixed in with some other condiment, resulting in this slurry, some kind of a seaside gumbo. Perhaps the addition of a little salt and pepper might make for a tasty appetizer if one were to sample a convenient hood with one’s tongue. Slurp!
No really, all that smoky humidity did result in a certain sort of underarm – shall we say, claminess. All of this adding to that sort of seafood ambience. Alas, in time all of that would clear. And shiny paint and chrome would once again radiate all across the valley.
It would seem that batteries were the theme of the day. We came across a ’68 Camaro fresh from the Napa store with a new battery going in. The old Optima sat on the grass. It had breached its end of life date stamp and was headed for hospice. The setup in this ride required 10.5 volts cranking. Without at least that, there would be no RPM signal to the ECU. Yes, this old Camaro had a whole lot going on with the power plant. Dave White with the NW Classic Chevy Club had purchased an LT4, supercharged Corvette motor over the counter a few years back. A sweet package that was tuned to some 700+ RWHP!
Oh. And the supercharged GTO (Lemans) mentioned earlier, made it out of Clatskanie to the show with a fresh alternator. Oh. And my old Castlerock friends, Ron and Pam from Street Fantasies car club, saw the Facebook post I made on that incident and texted me. So, we hooked up at the event after so many years.
Once it came time to wrap up the day’s activities, it was time for the long procession of hot rods to make their way back down the peninsula to Long Beach. All along the way would be the droves of excited viewers in their lawn chairs, along with the more devious ones standing roadside with the bleach bottles, holding signs that say – Burnout Here.
Did anybody see the young gal with the halter top, holding up the sign that was saying something about showing something for something … not sure what that was all about?
Once you have approached some 2 mi outside of Long Beach, traffic rolls to a halt. And you know what’s coming – a repeat of Friday night’s cruising action. Mayhem is approaching. Spirits will be uplifted. Life will once again be good. All of that Americana that helped America be so great is here again. On this night, we relive another little slice of hot rod heaven.