They slow up traffic, they rev their engines and they drink a lot of beer... all in plain sight of the Vancouver Police. The noisy hot rods are welcomed with open arms in Vancouver, Washington once a year. This is Cruisin' the Gut and it's a huge event.
Crusin' the Gut was founded in 2009 by Phil Medina, 36, who used to cruise Highway 99 as a teenager. The event held Saturday is part classic car parade and part street party. People come from all over to show off their cars, share stories, meet old friends or just hang out.
Early Saturday morning as I drove south from Longview, I saw them. Interspersed within the normal traffic of new cars and trucks, were flashy hot rods and beautifully restored classic cars. They were headed to Vancouver. Early in the day, car clubs set up in parking lots, residents got their folding chairs out and businesses erected pop-up beer stands, mostly along Vancouver's Main Street.
It's a festive time. You can walk the streets and find classic cars with their hoods popped open to accommodate the inspection of admiring visitors and friends. You'll find families sitting on camp chairs in a circle on a street corner sharing sandwiches and potato salad from a cooler. And you'll find fifties music blaring from the amplifiers in front of a night club.
By evening, my friends said, you could hardly walk along the normally deserted sidewalks. It was party time... well into the night.