Friday, April 22, 2011

Only 34 Days 'til the Horned Toad Derby!

Note: text in red banner appears blurred due to fancy font

Backstory Part I: One of the disappointments on our last roadtrip was the accidental deletion of a single photo.  On the hike back from Cedar Creek Falls, we came upon a magnificent Phrynosoma coronatum blainvillii, sunning itself on the verge of the trail. Horny toads are usually skittish, and this specimen was no exception.  It scurried for shelter in the brush, pausing just long enough for us to snap a picture. Cool!  TSG loves those little guys.

Backstory Part II: Unfortunately, a few minutes later, we were reviewing the reptilian portrait and we hit the delete button by accident. What a bummer! If only we had pulled the SD card out at that point--it might have been okay.  But no, we continued shooting, and the spiky lizard's image file was overwritten. (Recovery software confirmed it; the memory location now held a different file.)

Oh, but there was a kind of serendipity (and lack of same--but more on that later) on the final day of the trip.  Our plan was to visit an oft-passed-by roadside attraction, the R.C. Baker Memorial Museum in beautiful(?) downtown Coalinga, CA.  Well, butter our butt and call us a biscuit, what do we see as we roll into town? A friggin' GIANT HORNY TOAD.  Not only that, but there are banners all down Elm Street proclaiming that Derby Day is nigh! Awesome!

So, after a couple of hours at the excellent museum, TSG stopped in at the sort-of-cool-looking-but-waaaayyyy-overpriced* Campus Drive In for a grilled-cheese-and-chocolate-shake-type repast. The venerable (?) establishment happened to be right across the street from the mega Phrynosoma we snapped off a couple of shots while the Campus Chef/Milkshake Makerette did their things.

Mission accomplished, we scarfed down the meager sandwich, slurped our shake, and hit the road again.  The plan for the last leg was to take Los Gatos-Coalinga Road (the "back way" to CA25) and then on to Hollister and home.  Well, dear reader[s], that ended up being a 2.5 hour side trip--due to 14" of water at a creek crossing 40 miles down the road. The old 4Runner would've splashed across with glee. The Mazda...not so much.

Oh well, it was a nice day for a drive.

*$3.75 for two slices of wheat
bread and a slice and a half of 
processed cheese-like substance?
You've got to be kidding!


Parm said...

There is, obviously, nothing that some town, some where, doesn't celebrate to the max. I, for one, have been keening for years to someday get to the National Asparagus Festival in Oceana County in Michigan!

As microscopically-focused festivals go, however, I must admit that racing horned toads seems a worthy endeavor. I'm rather skeptical of the lean, mean, racing toad featured on their banners, but one could hope for other festival-related items that might be worth scoring.

And, yes, that is a lot to pay for a marginal grilled cheese sandwich. Just like the restaurant atop Seattle's Space Needle, however, one must presume that the price includes that special view you, in fact, took advantage of.

And another "and" - I am pleased, somehow, to learn that this Derby is no flash in the pan event; this year, in fact, is the 75th annual such Derby! I am sure the competition to be named Miss Horned Toad Derby will be sharper than ever!

Willard H.T. Biscuit said...

Hmmm...I wonder if the Derby events might include shooting blood out of eyeballs for distance and accuracy?

SarahBrazell said...

Wow first of all you people have a lot of nerve. one i know Coalinga isn't that great but seriously you don't have to start talking shit about it. i lived there for 7yrs and yea it's small but it grows on you! so ppl if you don't like something don't go there or do it,
and btw The horned toad you see around Coalinga, his name is OSCAR. and he is the masscot for CHS

Willard "Don't Get Me Wrong" Biscuit said...

Whoa...Sarah, this blogpost was not intended in any sense to be a dismissal of Coalinga (other than the meager grilled cheese offering at the Campus Drive-In). Granted, we put a (?) after our description of the town, but hey, that goes with the territory around here.

As we stated in our OP, we were most impressed by the RC Baker Museum -- one of the finest community-run collections of history and local color and culture we've visited. Coalinga should be proud of the work that they've done there.

So, apologies for any hurt feelings--Coalinga is the kind of place that TSG loves to visit, and we think anyone passing through should stop in and check out the museum.

WB said...

Oh, and p.s. --- Thanks very much for taking the time to stop by and post a comment!