The King Of East Buttonwillow

…it was a very small kingdom

The Trip to DogCon 3: Day 7, Part 1, In which we have a bit more temporspatial trouble, visit a rainforest, see huge metal wildlife and have a picnic.

(Note: All comments by Flash are in italics)

Today, we ate breakfast on the bus and hit the road about 7:30. We were just outside Williston, heading north on Highway 2, when the bus slipped realities again. This time, however, everyone else was awake to see it.

Being awakened, even for food, at 7:00 in the morning is cruel and unusual punishment.

One moment, we were driving through North Dakota soybean fields under a cloudless blue sky, the next moment, we were driving along about a 10 lane expressway in a city that looked like Gotham City and The Emerald City of Oz had a love child.

Holy Shit! Dude, that was…I mean…DUDE!

Naturally, this caused a pretty high amount of anxiety among Grace, Sharon, Lucy & Flash. Winker didn’t seem to care much and I was too busy yelling for Joe and dodging traffic that was whipping along at about 150 mph. I tried to explain to the womenfolk that this was only a temporary thing and everything would be ok, but they seemed to be disinclined to believe me.

Scared? You bet your hairless ape ass we were scared! I ought to crap in your shoe for doing that, Dad.

I got in what passed for the slow land and floored it. When we reached about 95 mph, the oddly human looking blue skinned people driving the egg shaped cars stopped honking at us and giving me the finger.

The city, while bizarre looking, still had what all cities have: parks, tall buildings, residential areas and advertising. I saw no ads for deep fried fleems, but I did note that it was an election year and I should vote for Yiz Maguboni because he would end the glikki payouts.

Just as Joe came up the spiral staircase, we shifted to what I’m pretty sure was North Dakota again, but before roads and during the bison migration. I yelled for everyone to hang on and I hit the brakes, skidding to a stop on a hill overlooking maybe 2 million bison. It was incredibly cool to see, but the mood was broken by cursing women, barking dogs and a yowling cat.

My nerves will be shot for days! I skidded nearly the entire length of the bus and ended up under Lucy’s butt!

Anyway, while Joe rejiggered things to bring us back to our proper reality, I did my best to calm everyone down. A phaser on stun would have been very useful.

I need a good stiff shot of milk, with a melted ice cream chaser.

Once things were back to what I like to humorously refer to as “normal”, we proceeded down the road towards the best roadside attraction so far, The Amazon Jungle Of The North.

The short story on this one is that Eric Gunderson, son of a very wealthy railroad baron, inhereited lots of money in 1924 and went on a world tour of the great wilderness areas. Apparently, old Eric fell in love with the Amazon rain forests and decided to replicate them back home in North Dakota.

By 1928, he had built four connected buildings totalling 300,000 square feet and containing a real rain forest full of Brazillian plants & animals, all shipped up north at great expense. The tallest two buildings are 100 feet tall and housed the main forest. The other two housed a clearing and a swamp. A small river flows through it all.

When the stock market tanked in 1929, Eric lost most of his wealth, but still got by over the next few years by letting folks tour his jungle at a dime a head. As you might imagine, in the great snowy underpopulated northern tier of Our Great Nation, this was a very popular destination.

Eric got rich again thanks to WWII and later, land speculation. He expanded his jungle several times, as did his children and grandchildren. It now covers 2.5 million square feet and is the home to 112 species of mammals, 141 species of reptiles & amphibians, 98 species of fish, 1,538 species of insects and 2,604 species of plants.

The tour took an hour, was fascinating, cost $12.00 each and ended in the inevitable gift shop full of wallet emptying stuff. By the time we finish this trip, I will need never buy a t-shirt again.

Meanwhile, The Girls and I were locked in the bus with only a Nintendo Wii and 60-70 games to play.

After that bit of utter coolness, we went about 90 miles down the road to The Giant Wildlife Preserve. It would seem that some artistic and bored silly North Dakotan sculptors got a hefty government grant back in 1985 and started building huge metal versions of the local wildlife. There are about 31 sculptures here, with the bison being the largest ar 62 feet long and 35 feet high. My favorite was the 8 foot tall prairie dog. Grace liked the giant fox and Sharon was pretty impressed by the coyote that was just smaller than our bus.

I think I never want to meet an 8 foot tall prairie dog.

As I now write this, we are picnicking at a park on the outskirts of Minot. Our plans include a couple of more roadside stops before we get to Fargo. I am also told that if I want to maintain my good health, there will be no more side trips out of this reality.

Mmmm…picnic food…yum!

More bloggage later.

Destination Sign: Sherwood Forest

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