I'm back in the desert after my annual pilgrimage to West Coast Meet. It's been twenty three years since I first ventured out to "Road to the Forties" and while I have not been able to attend every one, it was my eighteenth time at the show. It's more than the largest gay and lesbian car show on the planet, it is the annual meeting of my tribe and it's my favorite place to be on this particular weekend. Whether I arrive in a classic, a modern car, or an ambulance, it's all okay once I roll under the Porte' Cochere.
The West Coast Meet, technically a meetup between the Great Autos of Yesteryear and the Freewheelers of San Francisco began as the "North-South Meet" in Cambria in 1985 and was officially renamed "West Coast Meet" in 1987. It quickly outgrew Cambria and moved to San Luis Obispo in 1988 where, with only a couple of exceptions, it has remained ever since.
The event itself doesn't vary dramatically from year to year. We've had a cornucopia of themes, ranging from Autorama Tropicana to Camp Dipstick, taken a CARnival Cruise, Returned to Dodge City, flown Rocket 88 to Outer Space, celebrated Christmas in July and turned the resort into the unforgettable Disco Obispo.
We've had high school reunions and Surfin' Safaris and the Texas State Fair. We've joined the circus, gone Back to the 80's, spent a weekend at the Motorama and what happened in Obispo, stayed in Obispo. This year we celebrated the James Bond with "The Car Who Loved Me." Not my favorite theme by any means, but well executed - complete with tricked out DB-6, genuine Toyota 2000GT (current asking- $1 Million plus) and a hotel full of authentic Bond memorabilia. And most importantly, we had fun as we always do.
It's just the best weekend of the year. The welcoming party, the drive tour, the cocktail hours, the ginormous car show, the once a year chance to be with my tribe of LGBT gearheads and celebrate the automobile as only we know how to do. The hair is a bit grayer these days (when present) and the mid sections a bit larger, but it's a very grand reunion.
And we're not alone. There are poignant reminders of those who once celebrated with us but are no longer present- at least in the physical world. "Did that car used to belong to..." We open our photo albums from years gone by and see so many familiar faces. Do they come back for West Coast Meet as faithfully as we do? One cannot help but wonder.
As long as I am able, I'll make the trek up to West Coast Meet on the second Saturday in July. It's my tribe, nothing less. And there's no better way to share it then just let the pictures speak for themselves.
So come spy on "The Cars Who Loved Me:"