All I Know, I Learned From Old Jim, Who Lived In A Dumpster Behind A Beer Joint

…with his dog, Amos

 

Day 10: In which we say goodbye to friends and our trip ends on an unavoidably sad note.

After breakfast and a few hours checking out Vegas, we took our friends home via the old spacey wacey trick. Brian, Caroline, Lauren and Sadie were dropped off at home in Canada, with Sadie giving all of our critters kisses, especially Lucy. Upon taking Leon home, he stopped to slap paws with Flash, then rubbed himself on Lucy’s leg, confirming something I suspected. We then took Sharon home.

Last off the bus were Spike and Mary, then we popped back to Casa Cross.

(Lucy: Hey, Flash, let’s take a little walk.)

(Flash: Okay, sis.)

Now the Magic Bus is stowed away in the Doc Cave, Grace is going through the mail, Abby & Bea are in their imaginary goat barn, Flash is nowhere to be found and Sasha is off somewhere. Lucy is sleeping.

Lucy.

You folks in the real world know that she was the elephant in the room, being sick with cancer and all. I had hoped she’d live until after this was finished, but it didn’t work out. Since she died while the story was already started, I decided to keep her in it, but now reality and fantasy catch up to each other, as they did with Daisy & Winker. Next year we’ll have a new real girldog on the trip, but we’ll remember Lucy. She was a very good girl in both worlds. Unless you were a squirrel.

There will be another report next year, for DogCon 7, even if a miracle happens and I get to go to GenCon.

This ends my report for 2013. Doc out.

(Lucy: Hey, folks, the last 5 years have been wonderful, but I’ve gotta move on to whatever is next. Be good to each other and adopt a shelter animal. Goodbye.)

CatCon 6 is over

but the Cross Family & Friends will be back next year for…

DogCon 7

(Sasha: Kobayashi Maru, Kirk style, folks. I don’t like losing.)

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It’s All Fun And Games Until The Garden Gnomes Crave Human Flesh

…and that’s why I don’t have any of the little bastards.

 

Day 9: In which we travel westward, see strange stuff and cause a small riot in Needles, CA.

After a nice big breakfast at the Big Texan Steak Ranch, we drove over to see the Tin Can Giant, which looks much the same as I reported in the DogCon 1 report. After a few pics and a couple of hours drive, we were in New Mexico, at which point we stopped at The Invisible House. Of course, it’s not really invisible, but it is painted to perfectly blend in with the rocky landscape behind it. You have to get right up to it before you see the house. It’s one of the coolest things any of us has ever seen.

(Sasha: Meanwhile, we critters stayed on the bus and frolicked in the shoe room.)

(Bea: Where Flash got stuck in a cowboy boot for like, the 15th time.)

(Flash: Hrumph!)

The next stop was in Albuquerque, or actually about 20 miles east of it, to see the Giant Map Of America, which you have to view from about 300 feet up on a hill, because it covers 12 acres and is made entirely out of rocks, gravel & sand. It’s pretty darned accurate, too, even moreso than it was in 2008. We took some pictures, then bought all that gift shop stuff we love.

At Albuquerque, we took a left turn (I know, I know) and spent a half hour marveling at Dome City, yet another place created by hippies back in the early 1970s. It had twelve bigass geodesic domes, some of them made of glass, back in 2008, but now it’s up to 14. The now aging hippies live and farm in them, as well as running some sort of spiritual center. All very interesting and green energy educational and stuff. We all bought tie dyed t-shirts there, except Spike & Mary, who bought LOTS of tie dyed t-shirts.

We drove on to Gallup, where we ate lunch and I entered a tamale eating contest. I came in third with only 9 tamales eaten, but still won ten bucks.

(Lucy: Dad was a tamale eating machine!)

Our final roadside stop, aside from Meteor Crater in Arizona, was to see not another Giant Jesus, but a Giant Ganesha. It’s just about 100 feet off the highway, sitting on public land and…nobody knows who the hell built it! Whoever did it managed to put up a 50 foot tall statue of Ganesha on the night of June 5th, 2013 between the hours of midnight and 4:00 am. He looks great and there is a donation box, the key to which was mailed to the state of Arizona Wildlife Department. Since the statue apparently rakes in over a hundred bucks a day, the state has left it where it is and even put up a protective fence. No stuff to buy, sadly.

We arrived in Needles, California just about dark. There was a street fair going on, so we all decided to check it out. Everything was going swimmingly until Avis popped out of our world in front of about 200 people who were looking at us and the critters.

(Leon: How the hell am I gonna get home now?)

(Sasha: Don’t worry, Leon, Dad will get you home tomorrow.)

This caused a few faintings, some screams and a bunch of running around. As such things do, the panic spread fast. We all hightailed it back to the bus and popped into a world where everyone looked like Stepford People. A few minutes later, we popped back into this world just outside Las Vegas.

(Lucy: You know, I’ve always loved a good riot.)

Now, dinner has been eaten and we’re all just hanging out. Avis has been called and told that Leon will be home when she gets there. The critters all seem to be heading to the Meadow room, except Flash, who ate too much and is asleep on Grace’s lap.

(Lucy: Come on you guys, I have something to tell you.)

(Sasha: This is a good time, Lucy, but you can tell Flash when we get home.)

Final blog entry tomorrow.

Destination Sign when we started: Deep Space 9

Destination Sign when we ended: Atlantis

Radio Station of the Day: Spock & Roll Radio

The Rare And Beautiful Drooping Red Pine Of Potawango Island

…the natural nesting place of the Surly Parakeet

 

Day 8 (Con Day 4): In which we consume hella waffles, Spike & I do seminars, stuff is purchased, a BIG announcement is made, pie is eaten and we hit the road.

Our final breakfast in Critter City was at the “Interdimensional House of Waffles”. No, really, that’s the actual name and they make some big delicious waffles. They made special fish waffles for the cats…

(Flash & Leon: We never want to leave this place!)

…meaty delicious waffles for the dogs…

(Lucy: I’m just sorry I couldn’t eat more.)

(Sasha: It’s ok, sis, Sadie and I finished yours off.)

(Sadie: I predict me needing a walk in a couple hours.)

…and veggie waffles for the goats.

(Abby: Mom has GOT to get the recipe for those!)

(Bea: I will dream about those waffles.)

Once we got done gorging of waffles, everybody went off to play a few last games, attend a seminar or two and/or shop. For Spike and I, that meant back to back seminars.

First up was the always popular “Ask A GM ANYTHING!” panel, which this year moved to a much bigger room and included 15 GMs. Our moderator, a funny young lady named Annabelle, introduced us all and read the questions that had been submitted in advance by audience members. I was asked if I had ever used and Doclopedia entries in a game, to which I answered yes, a few. Spike got asked to describe an All Canadian Modern Strangeness campaign setting, which was pretty funny and had mostly various aliens infiltrating Canadian politics. The final question, submitted by our moderator, was “As you file out one by one, can you give the audience a special geeky goodbye?”. Mine was to sing “We Will All Go Together When We Go”. Can’t recall what Spike said.

After that, some of us went right back into the same room for the “We Hates It/We Loves It” bitchfest/lovefest. As always, it turned out to be about 75% hating and 25% loving, but gamers, what ya gonna do with ’em?

In the Dealer’s Room, we found that Grace & Mary talking over renting a large truck to haul all of their purchases out to the van. From there on, more stuff was bought, including dice of all sorts.

Just before the Dealer’s Room closed, it was announced throughout the con and Critter City that next year, DogCon 7 would happen two weeks before GenCon. This elicited a “Holy Crap!” that you could hear all over town. The reason for this change? The ConCom wants to go to GenCon, simple as that.

Once the con officially ended, we whiled away the next half hour texting friends at GenCon, including the original Avis. Then, the main boardgame hall opened back up for the annual After Con Pie Party. As in years past, we all ate crazy amounts of pie and filled out the “Rate The Con” questionnaires.

At 6:30, we got on the bus and headed out, another Cat/DogCon under our belts.

(Lucy: I’ll miss this convention.)

(Flash: What are you talkin’ about? We’ll be back next year?)

We arrived in Amarillo a mere two hours later, thanks to the judicious use of dimension hopping. We visited a new roadside attraction, “The World Famous House of Bones”, which is, indeed a full sized ranch style house built out of clean cattle bones. It looks creepy as hell from the outside and, well, creepy as hell from the inside, too.

At 8:30, we all ate a light dinner on the bus, still being partly full of pie. After that came some movie watching and then bed. Breakfast tomorrow will be at the Big Texan Steak Ranch, one of our annual stops.

The blogging, it will continue tomorrow.

Destination Sign when we started: Hobbiton

Destination Sign when we ended: Sodom

Radio Station of the Day: Country Music From DogEarth

 

Deep In The Lonely Nights, He Remembered The Dancing Elks

…and then he would smile and take another drink.

 

Day 7 (Con Day 3): In which we eat a big breakfast, do some shopping, then hit the spa before getting back to gaming and Old Time Radio.

We all got together and ate a big breakfast at the aptly named “Big Breakfast”. It was great, but we all agreed we needed to walk off the calories, so we decided to hit some shops.

(Sasha: I may have added a couple of pounds at breakfast.)

(Flash: Me too.)

Sasha: Dude, you only weigh 6 pounds to start with. Two more pounds and you’d be a furry bowling ball.)

(Abby: You should have eaten fruit, Flash. Much less fattening.)

(Sasha: Not the way you chow down on it.)

(Abby: Hush, puppy.)

(Lucy: Mmmm…hushpuppies.)

Among the shops we visited were book stores, a magic shop, a hat shop, an art gallery that features paintings & sculptures of pets and a t-shirt shop.

After we had walked around for a couple of hours, it was everybody off to the People & Pooches Spa (which does all pets, not just dogs. While we humans soaked in hot mineral mud before having massages, the critters were washed up and made pretty.

(Flash: Once again, I was washed in soapy water, then assaulted with a blow dryer, then massaged. I was mortified. Well, ok, the massage was nice.)

(Leon: Thanks for warning me, Flash. I just gave up trying to fight when that big mofo named Gary stuck me in the water. It was…degrading. Except for the massage.)

(Sadie: HA! Both of you mouse-eaters fell asleep during your massages. You were purring like kittens.)

(Lucy: I love going to the spa. They were very gentle with me and I felt better than I have in weeks.)

(Bea: Me too, Lucy. They cleaned up Abby & I and even polished our hooves!)

(Abby: I think this ribbon sets off my eyes.)

(Sasha: I needed a good bath, to get the smell of…stuff off of my fur.)

(Sadie: Yeah, same here.)

A couple of hours later, clean, relaxed and smelling all fragrant, everybody headed off for games or amusement parks or whatever. Spike & I mostly toured the Dealer’s Room again.

At 2:00 pm, most of us got together for a run through of this year’s Old Time Radio performance “Tales Of The Wild West”. This one hour program featured about 14 players, a 7 piece band, 3 sound effects guys and a live studio audience. The story was “The Phantom Lawman” and had elements of both steampunk and pulp heroes. Besides the main story, there were commercials for real products and businesses in Critter City, a first for this event. Everything was done to sound like radio in the late 1930s and the whole shebang was broadcast on the local radio station KRTR, which means folks up to 50 miles away could hear it. Pretty cool.

(Lucy: That show was very good. Dad did a fine job as both “Your Host, The Old Cowboy” and “Deputy Hank Wilson”.)

(Sadie: My dad was great as “Old Doc Milburn” and “Mr. Olson”)

(Sasha: And don’t forget Auntie Avy as “Mrs. Biggs”.)

(Leon: I was sure that Milo, the stable boy, was the Phantom Lawman.)

(Bea: So was I! But he was just sneaking out at night to court Julie Biggs.)

(Flash: Me too, right up until he was revealed to be Mr. Tuttle, the undertaker. Who knew?)

(Abby: I like that Sheriff Cates decided not to arrest him or reveal his secret identity. The Phantom Lawman can continue to ride the range, bringing in bad desperadoes!)

The show went off with only a couple of minor hitches, then we all went to dinner at India Underground, which is indeed an Indian restaurant in the new and expanding underground mall. The food was excellent.

At 9:00, the “Bigass Saturday Party” started up and after that it was all about us humans dancing and partying and such until the wee hours.

(Sasha: Meanwhile, we critters all watched movies with Lauren and some other little girls.)

(Lucy: With Arcadia keeping an eye on all of us.)

(Leon: Ya know, I woke up at about 3:00 and didn’t see you or Sadie or Bea in the room.)

(Sadie: We were there, silly. We were just sleeping behind the couch.)

Tomorrow is the last day of the con and I’m part of two seminars, “Ask A GM ANYTHING!” and the ever popular “We Hates it/We Loves It!”. After those and some games, it’s hit the Dealer’s Room, say goodbye to folks, then eat pie at the After Party. And then we’re on the bus and heading home.

More bloggage later.

Rabbi Bob Steals A Pig

…not sure why, cos he sure as hell wasn’t gonna eat it.

 

Day 6 (Con Day 2): In which I do my annual attempt at suicide by GMing, Grace rides a horse and Mary & I rap about teddy bears.

Most of my Friday was spent thusly…

8:00 am: Ran the two hour Toon game “Robot Rampage”

10:00 am: Participated in the “This Ought To Be A Game” panel. Many of the ideas the audience tossed out were very good.

11:10 am: Joined my musical partner in crime, Mary, to stand in the middle of the Dealer’s Room and do a Run DMC inspired version of “Teddy Bear’s Picnic”. Yes, we pretty much stopped traffic for 3 minutes.

11:20 am: Eat Mexican food brought to me by Zach.

Noon: Ran the four hour D&D game “Castle In The Desert”. Much fun was had and those players will fear sand for years to come.

4:00 pm: Lead the panel at the “OK, So Tell Me About Your Character” seminar. This one is always a mix of torture and joy. Thank goodness for the three minute per person time limit.

5:00 pm: Ran another two hour Toon Game. This one was “Kill The Wabbit?”. Nobody managed to kill the wabbit.

7:00 pm: Dinner at “Thai One On!”. We husbands & friends dutifully listened to Avis, Caroline, Grace & Mary complain about their butts hurting after a long horse ride. Lauren did not complain and, in fact, was ready to ride a horse again.

8:00 pm: Ran the six hour steampunk adventure “Agents & Empires!”, with Brian, Avis and Caroline among the players. It was action packed and stuff.

2:00 am: Sleep, wonderful sleep.

Grace’s day was a mix of gaming, visiting various pet exhibitions and going on a three hour horseback tour with most of the female contingent of our party. They all really enjoyed it, except the part about the sore butts.

The critters had another fun day of gaming, pet amusement parks and other activities.

(Lucy: We ate pet style pizzas!)

(Sadie: Oh man, those were good. My tummy was happy.)

(Sasha: I’m glad we ate ’em after the trip to the water park.)

(Leon: Pizza with fish & shrimp! Daddy like!)

(Flash: I might have to nap for a day or two.)

(Abby: Who knew a veggie pizza could be so good?)

(Bea: Man, that thick crust was the bomb.)

More bloggage tomorrow, which is Spa Day for all of us.

Chapter 499: In Which Our Hero Sails To The North Pole In Search Of The Legendary Snow Frogs

…he brought them a gift of port and sausages

 

Day 5 (Con Day 1): In which I condense the Cross family day and night.

After waking up and eating brekky at Baconville, the family did this…

Grace: Cruised the Dealer’s Room, played board & card games, went to watch Abby & Bea in the first “Goatapalooza” LARP (which had 45 pet goats in it), did some shopping, played in a Blue Rose RPG game.

Critters: Besides the above mentioned LARP, there were trips to pet amusement parks, Round One of an all dog LARP, walkies all around town (Sharon was assisted by our long time con petsitter, Arcadia) and plenty of food & snacks.

Doc: Cruised Dealer’s Room, chatted with many folks, robbed a diamond exchange in a very cool LARP (Spike, Caroline and Avis also played in this), ate chili dogs, playtested a new card game/RPG, went to the “Cast “CatCon 6: The Motion Picture” seminar, ate pizza, played in a “steampulp” game with Brian, Avis, Mary and Grace, went to bed at midnight, got up to pee and checked critters, saw no glowing dots on any heads, noticed that both Sasha and Bea smelled of chemicals, made note to schedule a trip to Critter Wash.

Always Slug The Biggest Goon

…it’ll throw the rest off for a moment

Day4 (Con Day 0): In which we see cowboys versus monsters and arrive at the con.

Because I’m running a day late on my con reportage, this is for Wednesday and it’s rather short. I hope to catch up tonight.

Synopsis of Wednesday

Got up…ate, etc…Critters behaving, with Sasha, Sadie & Bea hanging out downstairs with Joe and the two cats entranced and entangled by yarn.

(Flash: You’ll not get the better of me, yarn!)

(Leon: Fear not, my friend! I’ll come to your aid once I’m untangled.)

At 10:30 we stopped at a new attraction not far from Critter City, “Cowboys VS Monsters”. It’s a full on replica of an 1870’s Texas town being attacked by such things as the walking dead, werewolves, swamp creatures, vampires, mummies, Frankenstein type monsters and bug eyed aliens. All of the figures were created by skilled artists and look very realistic. The scene of two cowboys blowing holes through walking dead guys is very cool (and gory) and several of us took pics of each other smiling through those big abdominal shotgun holes. The entrance fee of $5.00 each was waived for us because the owners are gamers who were getting ready to head to the con.

At noon, we entered the big dome covering Critter City…checked into the Hilton…critters have their own room…got con badges and swag…went to lunch with many other gamers at Ring of Fire…wenty back to rooms and rested, then hung out discussing con plans…Dinner at Chez Mom’s…went to pre-con party, the theme of which was “All Singing, All Dancing!” and yes, pretty much everybody got dragged on stage to sing & dance a bit. Unfortunately, all available video of Spike, Brian and I in a chorus line seems to have been accidentally deleted.

Returned to the hotel at 1:00 AM…checked on the critters and thought I saw tiny blinking lights on Lucy’s head, but decided it was a delusion brought on by the free booze these damned Texans had provided…went to bed.

(Sasha: That’s right, Dad, it was the booze.)

More bloggage soon

Destination Sign when we started: The Cotton Club

Destination Sign when we ended: Fillmore West

Radio Station of the Day: Alt. Beatles & Stones