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What the Heck is a “Rod Run” she innocently asks….

I’ll be honest here – I have never been a car aficionado.  Now don’t be a hater- in my defense, I hadn’t grown up around classic cars or muscle cars, and definitely hadn’t met the avid and passionate owners!  It turns out that cars are a big thing on the Peninsula, so it was definitely time for me to jump in and see what it was all about.  Actually, even before Becky and I moved to the area, I had heard of the annual Rod Run to the End of the World car show.  It’s a main pillar of the vacation and tourist season in the area, and typically signals one of the final weekends before fall takes over and the tourist season quiets down a bit. I had never really given it much thought and due to work travel, had never been in town over the Rod Run weekend, so this was the first chance I’d had to experience it first hand.

This year was the 35th year running, with the Beach Barons Car Club hosting a car show of epic proportions, with swap meets, raffles, crafts, music, food, beer garden, and judging of cars across a number of categories.  This event literally takes over during that weekend, and it’s a unique taste of the area that really shouldn’t be missed.  Other than maybe a 4th of July parade in Small Town USA, I’m really not sure I’ve seen this type of community spirit and involvement before.  For two solid days families and people from all walks of life literally line the main highway from Long Beach to Ocean Park, sitting in garden chairs, barbequing, watching the cars drive by, and having a great time with friends and family.  Restaurants in the area hold special menu’s, RV parks and hotels are booked solid, event merchandise is worn by most, and the events associated with the Rod Run (including the surprisingly fun “slow drags” in Ilwaco) are packed to overflowing. 

So off I went with my camera and a wide-angle lens to see the cars on display and find out what makes this event so popular.  As is typical for this time of year, the weather changes every few minutes.  It was sunny, windy, then overcast with a periodic sprinkling of rain.  Not necessarily optimal, but not unexpected either.  The formal judging event was held outside in a large event field and I was a bit worried about attendance given the weather, but that didn’t seem to lessen the thousands of people attending the show, much less the other events over the weekend!  One thing I’m learning that the Pacific Northwest is that the weather does not stop anyone from doing anything.  It simply dictates what they wear to do it!

I walked up and down the rows of cars, talking with owners and really having a terrific time learning about all the love and elbow grease that goes into preserving and customizing these machines.  Included in literally a sea of hand buffed, shined, polished and tuned cars were a ’39 Lincoln Zephyr, ’37 Chevy Rat Rod Pickup, a ’28 Ford Model A, ’62 Chevy Impala (I think I went to my prom in that one!), ’56 Ford Thunderbird, and ’65 Shelby Cobra.  There were even some working John Deere tractors on display that were part of only 12 ever made!  The crowd was fun and positive and for the most part, this was a family affair, with sometimes three generations showing their vehicles and talking about their experiences.

There were a number of takeaways from my photo afternoon at the show.  First, I am definitely taking Becky and her parents next year- we will have a blast I’m sure!  Second, I think I’m becoming a car fan after all because… well these cars are sexy!  The lines and curves are simply beautiful.  They are expressive, explosive, and extraordinary in every way.  I’m still thinking about how best to shoot them next year to show off their unique personalities and beauty, which brings me to my 3rd takeaway – I need to bring a bigger memory card!  

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