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.)

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.

I’m Back

…still mourning, but back.

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

Bronze Prawns Sitting On Lawns

…that belong to Dons and Dawns

 

Day 3: In which we visit several goofy places in Texas, but not until after chasing critters through the desert.

(NOTE: Despite the real world passing of our beloved Lucy, she will continue on awhile in this con report.)

We were just about to get on the bus at 7:00 this morning when, as it so often does on these trips of ours, all hell broke loose.

(Flash: I must agree with Dad’s assessment of events.)

It seems that a big old jackrabbit chose to sleep under the bus and as we approached across Aunt Pearl’s lawn, he took off running. We humans, of course, were holding leashes loosely and talking and didn’t see the rabbit.

But Lucy, Sasha, Sadie, Flash, Leon, Abby & Bea did.

(Lucy: Humans can never know what madness comes over a dog when a rabbit takes off running.)

(Sadie: I dunno. You’ve never seen my dad at a used game sale.)

(Sasha: But we’ve seen our dad at a used book sale.)

(Lucy: Yeah, I guess you guys have a point.)

(Leon: I’d never seen a jackrabbit before! Holy crap, they’re big!)

(Flash: And I’ll bet they’re tasty, too!)

Lucy had Flash riding in his usual place on her back, while Leon was riding on Abby’s back. The whole mess of them took off like a shot after the rabbit and we all took off after them. I have no idea why the goats were involved in the chase.

(Abby: Because it’s fun to go running. Also, Leon was yelling “Giddy up!”)

(Bea: Plus, it’s a known fact that a couple of running people can gather up a bigass crowd of runners.)

Sasha was in the lead when the lawn gave way to open desert. She was determined to get that jackrabbit. Sadie was not far behind her.

(Sasha: Chasing rabbits is what a basset hound was born to do. Being a sporty model basset means I can chase ’em faster!)

(Sadie: It was thrilling!)

The rabbit was pulling ahead when suddenly, three more rabbits jumped up and ran in different directions. Naturally, the critters split up to chase them.

(Flash: As we have noticed on previous trips, Texas is full of jackrabbits.)

We had been chasing them for about 15 minutes, with Sasha & Sadie being completely out of sight when Grace yelled to me “Use the stun thing, dummy!”, at which point I cursed myself roundly and pressed the clicker on my keychain that both stunned all of our critters AND teleported them to lockdown in the Meadow Room.

Then we all got on the bus and headed out, sweaty, swearing, dirty and considering the advantages of goldfish as pets. The amount of critter love was at a low point. Later, there will be baths, oh yes. And for the critters, too.

(Flash: Son of a bitch! It happened again! Back in the friggin’ Meadow Room!)

(Sasha: Dogdamnit! I nearly had that long eared bastard!)

(Leon: What the fuck just happened? Abby and I were about to cut off a rabbit. I was ready to pounce!)

(Bea: I had just leaped over a rock, then POOF!, I’m back here.)

(Sadie: Ok, that right there was some strange stuff! How did we get here?)

(Abby: I don’t know, but enjoy it, because Mom says we are in for a long stretch.)

(Flash: Well, if we’ve gotta do time, this beats the hell out of a cage.)

(Lucy: Well, I’m damned tired, so I’m gonna nap.)

(Sasha: Yeah, Sis, you get some rest.)

While Data drove, we humans took showers and I had the SmartBots wash up the critters.

(Flash: Torture me all you want, you mechanical screws! You’ll never break me!)

(Leon: Give me a bath, eh, you damned Dalek? I will SO pee on you first chance I get.)

(Sadie: Well, you’ve got to admit, the SmartBots are fast and efficient.)

(Flash: So is a laxative, but I don’t want one of them either.)

Cleaned and refreshed and with the critters drying off in Pet Prison (I swear I heard a harmonica)…

(Sasha: That was Leon playing “I’m In The Jailhouse Now”)

…we humans got out of the bus to visit the World Famous Cattle Museum. I believe that we all learned a great deal about beef cattle and the ranching thereof. No fridge magnets, but the t-shirts were pretty cool. Oddly, right across the street was a Barbecue joint, but we were all still full from breakfast.

(Sasha: Dude, let us at that barbecue! I could eat the hell outta some ribs and brisket!)

(Sadie: Yep, bones right here, please!)

Our next stop was the West Texas Museum. For about an hour, we learned all about the history of western Texas, much of which involved settlers braving the harsh environment, which included marauding Native Americans, Mexicans, people from other states, outlaws, coyotes, drought, starvation….

(Sadie: Who the heck starves surrounded by cows?)

(Abby: Apparently, Texans did.)

…disease and rattlesnakes. All told, West Texas was a pretty fucked place to live back in the day. And parts of it aren’t much better today.

(Sasha: If you are a dog, pretty much all of Texas smells like either a cow or a jackrabbit, but West Texas smells like dry & dusty cows and jackrabbits. And rattlesnakes.)

(Bea: NOT a fan of rattlesnakes!)

We bought a bunch of gift store stuff and were about to depart town when we spied that most dangerous of road trip encounters, a used book store.

(Flash: Oh shit, we can kiss at least an hour goodbye here.)

(Abby: Yep, time for a siesta.)

(Sasha: Hey, Sadie and Bea, come take a walk with me across the meadow. I want to talk to you.)

The book store was small (the 10 of us pretty much filled it up), but had some good finds, including pulp reprints, ACE Doubles sci-fi paperbacks and a rather surprisingly large mystery section. All told, we dropped a bundle there. The owner said it was more than he usually made in a week.

By now, we were getting hungry, but good eating was still a couple hours away, so we raided the Chocolate Closet. Just a nibble, mind you, but yum yum!

After that, we settled in to play some card games (“Set”, “Falling”, “Zombie Fluxx” and “Aquarius”) until we reached our lunch stop “The Best Damned Chicken Fried Steak In Texas”. Yes, that is the actual name, which was gotten when they won a statewide competition. Now, there were other places nearby to eat, but I would risk the unholy wrath of my ancestors if I didn’t try the best CFS in Texas, so in we went, accompanied by the now on parole critters.

(Flash: I’m so hungry I could eat a whole steer!)

(Leon: Me too, brother cat!)

(Abby: WTF? You guys just ate like, a dozen meadow mice each.)

(Flash: Mice are but a snack, eater of plants.)

(Abby: How about I butt your tiny tiger looking ass across Texas?)

(Lucy: Hahahahahahaha!)

Inside the place, the staff was great and had our grub to us in no time. The critters got plates of food and we all chowed down.

Folks, if I die right now never having eaten another thing, I’ll go happy. Mom, Grandma Bertha, I love you and your chicken fried steaks, but this place would school you. Mmmmm by God mmmmm!

(Sasha: Holy Moley! Dad ate a CFS that would have taken me 5 minutes to walk across!)

(Lucy: And he still finished all of the mashed potatoes and fried okra!)

(Leon: The rest of the humans ate like starving wolves, too.)

(Abby: Not one of them ate a salad.)

(Flash: Of course not, because…)

(Abby: Shut it, furball!)

(Flash: Purrrrrrrrr!)

(Bea: Heehee. Abby: 2, Flash: 0)

Despite us now being waddle inclined and feeling drowsy, we locked the critters on the bus and went over to a small roadside attraction with a sign that said “See the Underground House!”

(Sasha: WOAH! Pentallian high security force fields!)

(Sadie: With Argizian Industries sleep gas backups!)

(Flash: Yep, Sadie is infected now. Next thing you know it’ll be a Star Trek vs Star Wars debate.)

(Sadie: No it won’t! Sasha and I both agree that Trek beats Wars any day.)

(Lucy: Now just wait a damned minute there…)

Underground houses are always pretty neat and this one, though small, was very nice. It was also at least 30 degrees cooler that the 110 degrees above ground. We almost had to pry Avis out of it.

I don’t know what the hell happened back on the bus, but Sasha, Sadie & Bea were barking and baaing at Lucy, Leon and Abby, who were barking, yowling and baaing back. Flash looked as though he was amazed or maybe disgusted by it all. Even three of the SmartBots were making noise. There was no damage done to anything, so I suppose it was some critter argument.

(Flash: I love these guys, but I will NEVER understand geeks.)

After shutting up the critters, Data started driving and we all settled in for a couple of hours of watching alternate universe episodes of Doctor Who, which dogs, cats & goats all seemed to agree on.

(Flash: Please, Ceiling Cat, do NOT let anyone ask who the best Doctor was. We all know it was Pertwee.)

These episodes were titled “Revenge of the Beastmen” and starred a thirtysomething Diana Rigg as a rather steampunkish Doctor. All four episodes were excellent. Some of us may have napped a bit.

(Sasha: Mom hit the sack halfway through the first episode.)

Around 6:15, we pulled into the Pecos Bill Campground and parked the bus for the night. As I write this, prep cook Zach is getting things ready for a dinner of pasta, veggies, sausages and refreshing beverages. For desert, I shall be making fresh peach ice cream.

(Lucy: Did he say “sausages”?)

(Abby: Did he say “veggies”?)

More blogging tomorrow, on the short final leg of our trip.

Destination Sign when we started: Valhalla

Destination Sign when we ended: The Wrong Side Of The Tracks

Radio Station of the Day: Oldies Radio, Philly Sound Edition

Eating Crab Salad In A Gum Tree

…it’s a long strange story.

Due to major computer problems, I’m posting three days of CatCon 6 posts at once. Hopefully, by Tuesday I’ll be able to post from home on a daily basis.

CatCon 6

 

Day 0: In which I give you a quick update before going to bed.

Once again the Magic Bus is loaded up with sleeping people and all ready to set out for Critter City, Texas, home of CatCon 6. This year, our band of merry travelers includes…

Spike & Mary Jones (but not Miranda, who elected to go on vacation with her grandparents and other relatives)

The Misiaszek Family & new dog, Sadie

Avis Crane 2.0 (because she’s a duplicate) and her cat, Leon

My nephew and helper, Zachary

Our super petsitter, Sharon

Grace, myself and our critters: Lucy, Sasha, Flash, Abby & Bea

Once again I thank Grace for not adopting another pygmy goat.

(Abby: Boo!)

(Bea: I think you cannot have too many goats.)

 

Everyone has been here for 3-4 days and we’ve been sightseeing all over Northern California. We’ve also been playing all sorts of games and doing all sorts of other tomfoolery, including sliding in the Slide Room here on the bus.

(Leon: Great googly moogly, the Slide Room is wicked fun!)

(Flash: I told you it was crazy, bro.)

(Sadie: We were sliding ON THE CEILING!)

Our route this year will be the exact same route that Grace, Daisy, Winker & I took in 2008 when we went to the very first DogCon 1. We’re hoping to find a few new roadside attractions to visit.

Anyway, it’s time for me to hit the sack so I can get up and drive in a few hours. More bloggage tomorrow.

 

 

Day 1: In which we drive through California, stopping at many interesting places.

As planned, we all got up before daylight and ate a hearty breakfast prepared by Zach and myself. Rather than drive down the quicker, but deadly boring Interstate 5, we took off down much older, much more scenic Highway 99.

(Flash: Mmmm…vacation breakfast food is great!)

(Leon: Oh hell yeah! Scrambled eggs with tuna? I’ll take that any day!)

(Sasha: And Dad’s biscuits with canned dog food gravy was delish!)

(Sadie: Oh my that was tasty. The portions were big, too.)

(Lucy: Yeah, Dad & Zach don’t mess around when they serve up chow.)

(Abby: Dad made corn cakes with veggies & fruit for Bea and I, and we are full now.)

(Bea: Yeah, I feel like I’m going to pop.)

Our first stop was a few miles off 99 in Lodi, where we saw the World’s Largest Wine Glass. It’s like, 180 feet tall and actually made of glass. See, Lodi is famous for vineyards (and Creedence  Clearwater Revival songs), so the local grape growers & vintners had the glass built back in 1990. It costs nothing to see, but the gift shop at the base of it was not open yet, so we could only take pictures as souvenirs.

(Sasha: Yeah, because we really need more refrigerator magnets and tee shirts back at home.)

(Flash: Our fridge is already nicknamed Magneto.)

(Sadie: My mom & dad mostly bring home books and games. Well, actually, that would be mostly dad.)

(Leon: My mom brings home lots of books & games too.)

(Lucy, Abby & Bea: Our mom & dad have entire rooms full of books & games!)

(Sasha: I have it on good authority that Spike & Mary are the same way.)

(Flash: Yeah, humans love the books & stuff, but do they ever bring home boxes of cat & dog toys? Oh no, they don’t!)

A bit further down the road we turned off for a half hour drive southeast of Stockton to visit the World Famous Spider Ranch. I had called ahead a couple of days earlier to arrange this special tour of a place that raises 967 species of spider for research, movies and the pet trade. They even let us bring the critters inside with us, once they were properly harnessed & leashed. The goats had no reaction to the spiders and the only time the dogs reacted was when we saw about 50 Bird Eating Tarantulas in one room. The cats, on the other hand, don’t seem to like spiders much.

(Leon: What the hell, man? WHAT THE HELL!)

(Flash: My nerves are shot! I mean, a tiny spider crawling across the floor is one thing, but 80 zillion spiders in one place…some of them bigger than my head…is just too fucking much. I’m gonna have nightmares every time I sleep.)

(Bea: That’ll be about 75 times a day.)

(All Critters Except The Cats: HAHAHAHAHAHA!)

A couple of our human contingent were a bit freaked out, too. Maybe I should have told them what the place was full of before the tour started. I might have to watch my back for the rest of the day.

(Lucy: I think Mom invented three new curse words.)

(Abby: Dad inspires people that way.)

We did get to buy fridge magnets, tee shirts and bumper stickers, as well as big stuffed toy spiders.

(Flash: I’m gonna claw that thing to bits as soon as possible.)

(Sasha: Aww, I think it’s kinda cute.)

(Flash: Yet more proof of your insanity.)

Since our next stop was down past Fresno, we had enough drive time to play a rousing game of Ticket To Ride. Actually, two games, because we had so many players. Driving was handled by our newly refurbished autopilot, Data.

(Sasha: Data was refitted to not only look more human, thanks to a nanoplastic epidermis, but with the NeoVenusian flexible morality program, he’ll act more human when making driving choices.)

(Lucy: What the hell does that mean?)

(Sasha: Basically, that if there are no cops around, he’ll break the speed limit. Of course, with the new Omniscan technology that Joe and I installed, along with the short range emergency telejumpers, I doubt he’ll ever get caught speeding.)

(Sadie: Does she always talk like that?)

(Flash: Yep, unless she’s talking about Star Trek or Doctor Who.)

(Sadie: Wait! Sasha is a Whovian? Cool!)

(Sasha: The Third Doctor is my Doctor, but I really like them all. David Tennant can rub my belly any day.)

In my game, Brian won, but only just. Both Spike and Avis were both just a turn shy of winning. In the other group, the win went to Grace. After the game, we put the critters in the Meadow Room, which now connects to the Shoe Room and the Slide Room.

(Leon: Man, these rooms are wicked cool! After a nice snack of mouse sushi in the meadow, we went sliding in the MOST FUN ROOM EVER!)

(Sadie: I know, right? You can slide up a wall and across the ceiling! How cool is that?)

(Bea: If I’m not mistaken, the Shoe Room is bigger this year and has way more shoes in it.)

While the critters were living it up, we stopped south of Fresno at Milkshake Heaven and the name is no lie. Not only are the milkshakes big, but they have 150 flavors of ice cream to make them with. I had a Bittersweet Chocolate Cherry shake that was so good I nearly swooned.

After that, we drove over to see the World Famous Giant Jesus. I’ve lost count of all the Giant Sons of God we’ve seen, but this one is the biggest according to the record books. 300 feet tall and made entirely of recycled aluminum! Even better, he’s standing there giving a peace sign. The only thing bad about this Giant Jesus is that you can’t go up inside him…yet! The owners, a local Church of God, only finished him in 2008. The elevator they want to put inside him costs big bucks, so it won’t go in until about 2018.

When we got back on the bus, the critters were raising hell in the Shoe Room, so everybody but Zach and I went to join them. I took over driving from Data and started us on the way to Bakersfield for lunch and a look at the World’s Longest Garden Hose.

(Lucy: Hey, it was pretty fun when all the humans came in the Shoe Room to play with us.)

(Leon: Yeah, my mom was tossing shoes for Sasha to fetch and Grace & Mary & Spike were sliding down the biggest shoe pile.)

(Bea: Lauren was playing “Chase the Goats”, then we played “Chase the Human”.)

(Flash: I got my head stuck in a child’s boot, but Brian pulled it off of me.)

At Bakersfield, everyone got off the bus to have lunch at the Feed Bag restaurant. We arranged for the critters to get fed with us and the Feed Bag did a great job of it.

(Flash: Full…of…food. Must…sleep.)

(Sadie: That was a whole lot of beef stew. BURP!)

We only had to drive a mile to see the World’s Longest Garden Hose, which was 13.25 miles long when we saw it back in 2008, but has since grown to 23.5 miles long. We were told by the young fellow manning the gift shop that if it gets much longer, they’ll have to build a whole new hose reel to hold it. The one they have right now is about the size of a kiddie ferris wheel.

Yes, we bought all the usual swag, including a tee shirt that says “You ought to see the size of my hose!” Well, ok, only I got that shirt.

(All Critters: Zzzzzzzzzzzz!)

It now being noon and all, we drove straight on to Banning to see The Magical World Of The Little People, which is pretty much three acres of land done up to look like some magical kingdom inhabited by these little 4 inch high figures that are made out of terracotta and painted up by the owners of the place. They’ve been making ’em for twenty plus years and there must be 15,000 of them. They look pretty much like tiny garden gnomes and there are houses, forests, farms, lakes, mountains, etc, etc. for them to inhabit. We all liked it, especially since the critters were all still passed out on the bus.

Swag purchased? You bet!

Our next stop was Palm Springs, mostly so lots of pictures could be taken of us standing near street signs bearing the names of folks like Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope. After that I set Data to drive us to Grimly, Arizona so we could be part of their annual Potato Throwing Days. During the drive, we watched a couple of movies: “Gamera vs Chicken Boo” and “Attack of the Elvis Clones”.

We rolled into Grimly about 5:30 and promptly took about 5 pounds of mashed potatoes to the windshield. Before we got out of the bus to go into our hotel, we all armed ourselves with potato products. Being the first one out of the bus, I took a ball of smooshed french fries to the shoulder, but got the woman throwing them with a baked tater to the ass. From there on, it was like we were storming the beaches of Ireland. Nobody reached the hotel lobby free of tater, including the critters.

(Leon: I had mashed potatoes all over me!)

(Abby: I had a wedge potato stuck in my ear!)

(Sadie: I was covered in home fries!)

(Lucy: Winker had told me about this place, but I thought she was kidding.)

(Flash: I barely dodged a handful of french fries, but got hit square in the face by a potato puff.)

(Bea: I got lucky and only had a bag of crushed chips dumped on me.)

(Sasha: I look like the survivor of an Ore-Ida factory explosion.)

We all got cleaned up and then rested, ate dinner and went to bed early. Well, except Flash and Leon, who apparently didn’t think their baths got them clean enough.

(Flash: Not clean enough!)

(Leon: Must get cleaner!)

Destination Sign when we started: Gasoline Alley

Destination Sign when we ended: Munchkin Land

Radio Station of the Day: Klingon Punk

 

 

Day 2: In which we see monsters, check out junk, listen to creepy rocks and eat Tex Mex food.

We piled into the bus and headed out of Grimly at 6 AM, hoping to avoid any early rising tater tossers. After carefully negotiating the tuber strewn streets, went through an automated car wash, since the bus looked like Idaho had exploded on it. Aside from one hungover looking dude who halfheartedly tossed a baked tater at us, we made it out of Grimly clean.

(Flash: Yo, Dad! Breakfast? There are starving carnivores here!)

(Abby: Starving herbivores, too!)

Our route to Texas calls for us to drive Interstate 10, so today, we;ll be crossing half of Arizona and all of New Mexico before stopping in west Texas at my great aunt Pearl’s house. Well, actually, “house” is a bit of an understatement, since you could put my house in her parlor and still have room for two sheds and a dog kennel.

(Sasha: Winker told me and Lucy about Pearl’s place. It’s humongous and full of dogs and she fixes up great food.)

Our first stop of the day was the Gila Monster World roadside attraction near San Simon. No pets allowed inside, so I set everyone up to play Critters & Castles on the X Box.

(Sasha: We kicked ass on a dungeon full of ogres!)

(Lucy: I got some phat loot when we finally killed that Boss Ogre.)

(Abby: My Elven Firemage went up a level!)

(Sadie: My Goblin Rogue was a backstabbing fool! Respect my daggers, ogre scum!)

(Bea: Let’s not all get cocky. We still haven’t gotten to the Turbonium Dragon yet.)

(Leon: That was SO cool. At home, I have to wait until my mom leaves for works before I can play online games.)

(Flash: Leon, my brother, you’ve got to set up your own computer that piggybacks on Auntie Avy’s wifi. Not sure what that means, but I learned it from Sasha.)

(Sasha: SIGH! It’s like trying to teach a snake how to ride a bicycle.)

So, as the name implies,  this place has a whole bunch of gila monsters on display, plus several of the other only poisonous lizard, the beaded lizard. They don’t do a hell of a lot, although the last time we were here we did see one big gila monster eat a small mouse. They have added some rattlesnakes and scorpions, which also didn’t do much, to the place, which might explain why it now costs $2.00 to get in. We bought the usual t-shirts and fridge magnets and bumper stickers, which are rather surprisingly of a higher quality and design than most places

The next stop was Junkville, a small village built by old hippies starting about 1976. It has a store, a saloon, a post office, a gas station, a church and several houses, all built out of found materials scrounged from the surrounding desert. The village also has sorts of whimsical creatures made out of junk. It’s a lot of fun to tour, as much for the characters who live there as the creative use of junk. There’s no charge to visit Junkville, but we did buy t-shirts and bumper stickers. During our first visit five years ago, Grace had said she wished they had fridge magnets, so an old guy named Pete told her he’d make her one in 15 minutes. He did it and now they sell fridge magnets made of all sorts of things. We all bought at least one and I think Brian and Grace each got 3 or 4. Soon, our refrigerator at home will start pulling in small nickel-iron meteors.

(Lucy: That place was too cool! Everyone there was giving us treats and petting us.)

(Sadie: It sure was! We don’t have deserts in Canada. I kind of like them, even with the dry heat.)

(Leon: Hey, I could get used to this dry climate, even though it does make me want to take a nap.)

(Bea: Alert the media! Hot weather makes cat want to nap! Film at 11:00!)

(Leon: You goats are a laugh a minute.)

(Abby: Some of those nice folks smelled a bit funny.)

(Flash: Oh, the irony of a goat saying somebody else smelled funny.)

(Sasha: You know, among that junk they found in the desert, there was a Groogonite pulse generator, minus the energy cells and the spatial focusing ring. They probably think it’s some strange sort of hub cap.)

(Sadie: Sasha, do you think I could read some of those tech manuals you have?)

(Sasha: No problem, Sadie. Later, we can go down and watch Joe calibrate the stabilizers for the chameleon unit.)

(Flash: Great Ceiling Cat! Now there’ll be two of them speaking tech geek!)

Leaving Junktown behind we took off at a high speed for New Mexico. While Data drove all of us humans got into a huge game of Arena Battle using little mind controlled robots about 3 inches high to fight little robotic alien monsters controlled by the game computer. The fact that every 5 minutes a new wave of monsters enters the arena made for a frantic game. Fortunately, weapons and spare parts get dropped into the arena at random intervals. We defeated Wave 6 just 12 seconds before Wave 7 would have been dropped, thus ending the game.

That game will also go down in history for the fighting maneuver known as “Stumble & Hack” and the war cry “Remember the cheese!”. You had to be there.

(Flash: Meanwhile, we critters were in the theater room watching the “Home For Unwanted Pets” Christmas 2002 Special. I always choke up watching it.)

(Lucy: If, by “choke up” you mean “cry like a kitten and need a hug from your big sister.)

After about two hours (and games of  Dark Cults and Bohnanza) we arrived at the World Famous Singing Rocks. We visited here in 2008 and the only difference is that there are even more piles of rocks that make eerie noises in the wind. The story behind this roadside attraction is that a husband and wife, Gus and Willie Bixman, were out walking in the desert one day back in 1905 when they heard a strange “moaning whistle” coming from a pile of rocks. Upon further investigation, they realized that the sound was being produced by the desert wind blowing through the cracks in the rock pile. Inspired by that, the Bixman’s then spent the next 40 years piling up rocks so as to unleash the musical potential therein. This sort of behavior is very common amongst the folks whose efforts later become roadside attractions.

As we strolled through the 411 piles of stone which, thanks to strategically placed bigass shop fans, were moaning and whistling away. It’s impressive, but also creepy. It didn’t help that Spike, Mary, Brian and I were making nonstop zombie, monster movie and Lovecraft comments. After everybody, including the critters, had a good case of  the heebie jeebies we bought…well, you know.

By now everybody was crazy hungry, so we stopped at a place called “Joe’s Tex Mex” and ate about 3 tons of great chow washed down by pitchers of horchata, soda and iced tea. The owner, Dom (his grandad, Joe, founded the place) even made up some chow foe the critters.

(Abby: Mmmm, lettuce, spinach and nopales salad!)

(Bea: And apples! I do love me some apples.)

(Sasha: I was loving those beans with rice.)

(Flash: I wonder if there’s a gas mask to fit me in the Warehouse?)

Our last roadside stop, which was in fact 15 miles off the road, was “Spaceport Xeno”, which is a “spaceport” built starting in   early 1973 and finished in 1994 by a lady, her husband and a few friends who think that the “Celestial Love Prophets” from the “hidden planet” Xenon will be here soon to lead us all to a higher plane. I think there’s a similar place in California. The spaceport is pretty much 3 acres of flat concrete with “Xenonian runes” cut into it. Surrounding it are several unusually shaped buildings, one of which is a gift shop. You can guess what happened there.

Big props for my fellow travelers not cracking up with laughter while the nutty lady went on and on about how the Xenonians first contacted her in a dream.

(Flash: I think Mom was pinching herself to keep from laughing.)

(Bea: Auntie Avy snorted once, but made it sound like a cough.)

(Lucy: Dad was not making it any easier not to laugh when he kept asking goofyass questions that the lady and her husband took seriously.)

(Leon: No kidding! When he asked if the Xenons kept kaiju as pets, I thought everybody else was going to lose it for sure.)

(Abby: That’s our dad, always stirring the pot.)

(Sadie: Meanwhile, Sasha and I stayed on the bus to watch Joe calibrate those stabilizers and then lubricate the SmartBots.)

(Sasha: Wait until he tunes the fusion power plant, Sadie. He has to wear a Dirubian exoskeleton for that!)

Once we all piled on the bus and laughed ourselves silly, Data got us on the highway to Great Aunt Pearl’s house. When we arrived, Pearl (who is 108 years old) had a huge dinner all ready for us. While not as spry as she once was, the old gal is still full of piss and vinegar and was cracking jokes and stuff all through the meal. The main theme of her monologue was how she had arranged 30 years ago for her 15,000 acre ranch to become a nature preserve once she passes on, but she has not told her “greedy assed money grubbing” kids, grandkids, great grandkids and great-great grandkids. Fact is, she owns almost nothing but “a damned big pile of money” that will go to the preserve.

After dinner, we all just sat around for awhile before going to bed.

(Lucy: Aunt Pearl has like, 7 dogs and 5 cats and 3 pigs. We were all playing “Crazy Critter Chase”! )

(Leon: That was fun. Pearl’s house is huge!)

(Bea: You got that right! It was a hike just to cross the parlor.)

(Sasha: After all that running around, I’m ready for snoozing.)

(Sadie: Me too!)

(Abby: Me three!)

(Flash: Yep, sack time for me, too.)

Destination Sign when we started: Mongo

Destination Sign when we ended: Space…The Final Frontier

Radio Station of the Day: Psychedelic Bluegrass