Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Rest of the Story...

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may remember a story I posted back on October 24th entitled Get Your Kicks. If you haven't read it, you can click that link you just passed to go to it. In fact, it might be a good idea for you to do that so you'll know what's happened up to this point.

To bring you up to speed on where we are, my friend Wes and I had made the 1,500 mile adventure from Independence, Missouri, to San Diego, California. All the way to the Pacific Ocean. And for two young guys only 18 years old, it was a pretty astonishing achievement. We stayed there for a couple weeks with Wes's dad, Chuck Holden. I can't say enough good things about Mr. Holden. He was a wonderful host and treated me like a son while we were there. I learned that his favorite song was the old Roger Miller tune, King of the Road. Being an immodest entertainer, I enjoyed playing the guitar and singing it for him and his good buddy, Ralph, a few times.

Anyway, I could drag this story out with our exciting trip to Tijuana, the hot sweet potato incident at Knott's Berry Farm, the hilarious Roller Skating Penguin Review, and the Rosy Boa that Darryl found when we hiked up into the Sierra Madre foothills. But I'll save those for another installment.

Today I want to talk about frogs. (Did he say frogs?) Yes, he did. And it is with trepidation that I even begin this tale for fear that my loyal and faithful readers will think this old fellow has flipped his lid. But I assure you, what you are about to read it true. This is the story of the incident that's come to be known as the Million Frog March that occurred on our trip home.

A golden sunset was decorating the western sky, just like in the movies made in those regions, when we started the car and left the Holden residence at 3131 Skipper Street in southern California.

We headed eastward, and soon the darkness began to settle around us. When we got up into the mountainous region, a storm was blowing in. As we came around a curve, a gust whipped through the mountain pass and almost blew us off the road. We slowed down at that point.

It was a dark and stormy night. (I've waited for the right opportunity to use that line for so long.) As it became darker, the intensity of the rain increased. It was a powerful storm, and the rain soon became quite torrential. Suddenly, between the metronomic rhythm of the windshield wipers, we noticed something on the road ahead, illuminated by the headlights. It was moving. As we got closer we determined it was a frog. And it was a big frog, too. A few yards ahead we saw another one. Then two more. Then a dozen. And as we continued driving that night, we were not only putting miles behind us, but also hundreds of dead, or at least critically injured, frogs that we couldn't avoid running over. They were everywhere, and their numbers were increasing as we continued through the night.

I think the storm was traveling with us because it continued to rain as we drove on through the frog swarm. They were all over the road, hopping around like they had gone berserk, maybe trying to prevent us from leaving and going home. And I would have sworn they were coming down from the sky except none of them were hitting the windshield. I don't know what they were doing, but it was the craziest event I have ever been a part of, except for the Roller Skating Penguins. But that's another story for another time.

But the frog story doesn't end there. Keep in mind that the frog incident occurred in 1968. Thirty years later I was at a gas station in Lenexa, Kansas. A storm was raging as I hurried inside to pay for my gasoline. We didn't have the Pay-at-the-Pump option back then. Inside, there was a gentleman, about my age, in line ahead of me. The clerk took his money and made a comment about the storm. The man's reply was totally unexpected.

"Yeah," he said. "This reminds me of the storm I ran into about thirty years ago. I was driving a truck and headin' outa California when it started raining. It was about dark, and it was a storm about like this one. Windy, too. I don't know where all the frogs came from, but I've never seen so many before or since. There was miles and miles of 'em."

So now you have the rest of the story. It was an eventful trip, both coming and going. And if you ever hear anyone telling a story about millions of frogs on the highway in California in the summer of '68, just tell them you've already heard that story. And you know it's true.

By the way, today is the day Ford cancelled the Edsel back in 1959, so I've put a great old Edsel commercial in the video on the sidebar.

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