The Rare & Beautiful Hopping Red Barrel Cactus Of Potawango Island

…try to stay out of their way

CatCon 8

Day 5: In which we recreate a hair raising ride, experience nature & Stupid Tourist Tricks and then just eat the hell out of ice cream

Glacier National Park, so far: To start with, I need to point out that on our first trip here (DogCon 3, in 2010), our Magic Bus was 32 feet long. This meant that it could’t traverse the Going To The Sun Road, the only road that bisects the park. This is because, due to the narrowness of the road and the steep dropoffs and the lack of guardrails along much of it (due to winter avalanches), no vehicle over 21 feet may go all the way through the park. To solve that problem, we simply made the bus into a shorter, 19 foot bus.

Now, the Going To The Sun road is cut right into the sides of the mountains, with steep hills on one side and steep drops on the other. Many of our party back then were a bit put off by this.

(Sasha: Having heard Mom, Auntie Sharon, Lucy & Flash recount the ride, I’d say “terrified” is the proper word.)

So as to prep everyone for this year’s drive, I ran us all through a cool virtual reality version. The results were less than great.

Grace hid in our bedroom. Silky joined her.

(Silky: NOT a fan of long drops!)

Leon disappeared for the whole trip.

(Leon: I was hiding in a cupboard. Flash was right, Uncle Doc is insane.)

Avis read a book and only looked out the window twice.

(Daisy: Auntie Avy is not insane.)

Spike seemed unfazed.

(Sasha: He even brought us drinks.)

Daisy buried her head under a pillow next to Avis

(Daisy: When my death comes, I don’t want to see it.)

Mary & Sasha sat right up front next to me and made ghoulish jokes about crashing off the mountainside.

(Sasha: And we sang a couple of songs, like “She’ll Be Crashing Off The Mountain When She Comes” and “Sixteen Pieces” (to the tune of Sixteen Candles).)

(Sasha: I’ll also not that in a rare showing of common sense, Daddy barely broke the speed limit throughout the entire trip.)

Things are indeed scenic and wonderful and natural and fucking near glacier free here. Thanks a bunch, global warming. We saw a fair amount of wildlife on the way up (we are now at about 8,200 feet altitude). When we got to the scenic viewing area at the top of the road, everyone left the bus (some faster than others) and we took in Nature’s Splendor. We also took in, as with last time…

Stupid Tourist Tricks!

Trick #1 was some dipstick trying to take a selfie with a couple of bighorn sheep in the background. The sheep did not find that amusing. Seconds later, they were chasing the doofus down the mountain. He escaped them by rolling and bouncing about a mile.

(Silky: Several of us who have either given birth or are just old laughed so hard we peed ourselves a bit.)

Trick #2 involved yet another dummy, this time a hipster guy, feeding marmots. Allow me to recount how this went in 2010.

There was the woman who was feeding peanuts to the marmots. After a few minutes, there were about 50 peanut jonesing marmots around her. Then she ran out of peanuts. You’d be surprised how fast a chubby middle aged woman can run when pursued by a seething horde of high altitude rodents.

When the hipster ran out of nuts, the marmots were on him like zombies on a slow runner. Luckily for him, he panicked and ran right off the side of the mountain. He rolled almost as far as the bighorn sheep annoyer, shedding marmots the entire way.

(Leon: I will still laugh about that when I’m old and dying. What a maroon!)

(Sasha: Talk about saying “Fuck you, hipster!”)

Trick #3 was the big finale as a teenaged girl, pissed off because there was no cellular coverage way up there, threw her iPhone way out into the open air off the mountainside. I’m guessing it went 2-3 miles before hitting a big rock. She realized what she’d done almost immediately and started to cry. Her parents & two younger brothers were no help, doubled over with laughter as they were. Then, to really ice the cake, a ranger told her she’s be fined $1,000.00 for littering unless she walked down and picked up all the pieces. As we were leaving, she was just passing Marmot Boy and Sheep Guy as they were staggering uphill.

(Daisy: I think her parents might have laughed themselves sick.)

(Leon: Bet your tail that her brothers will never let her live that down.)

After all that fun, everyone went back into hiding/whatever on the bus for the ride down to St. Mary’s, which was pretty much all on fire, necessitating us to make a jump to western North Dakota, where we decided to have a Pig Out On Ice Cream And Play Boardgames night. I think we must have eaten 40 kinds of ice cream.

(Leon: Tuna flavored ice cream? Hell yes!)

(Daisy: I like how Auntie Avy kept saying “well, maybe I’ll just have a bit more of this non-dairy ice cream”. That Fresh Peach had her hooked.)

(Sasha: Some day, I shall do a monograph on how much ice cream Daddy can eat. I think it defies laws of physics and biology.)

Now, it is time for bed. More thrilling trip reportage tomorrow!

Destination Sign when we started: The Sea Of Green

Destination Sign when we ended: The Motara Nebula

Radio Station of the Day: MERB, Martian Rock & Roll Radio, circa 2109



…dogs love the stinky sauce

CatCon 8

Day 4: In which we revisit a legendary roadside attraction and a tear or two of joy is shed.

It was in Dufur, Oregon, in 2010 that we went to see the World’s Largest Toilet paper roll, which was actually TWO huge competing rolls that were destroyed minutes later when their creators went batshit crazy. We all shed tears of sadness

(Sasha: I heard from Lucy that only Daddy shed any tears.)

For three years, the world was bereft of a giant toilet paper roll, but folks, I’m very happy to report that there is now an All New World’s Largest Toilet Paper Roll! HUZZAH!

Created by grandsons of the two original loonies, with help from several of their Cal Tech buddies, this roll was made in only 3 years and is twice the size of the other two COMBINED! No kidding, folks, it’s like 110 feet tall and set up in a weatherproof, climate controlled building. It’s beautiful!

(Daisy: Can you guess which of us chose this place to stop at?)

(Silky: Our Daddy is “special”.)

We paid our $25.00 group rate and went in to see things up close. There is a really nice presentation on the original rolls, with pictures and home movies. Then you see the story of how they were unraveled (much like the two old farts who did the unraveling) and how the grandsons vowed to rebuild this World Famous Roadside Attraction. There is an in depth explanation of the robotic toilet paper roll switcher that they built, as well as the rolling mechanism. It is inspiring.

(Sasha: Mom said it nearly inspired her into falling asleep.)

(Daisy: Auntie Mary wondered how many butts you could wipe with that huge roll.)

(Leon: I’ll never understand the human butt wiping thing.)

The place also has a well stocked gift shop, where we bought bumper stickers, fridge magnets, t-shirts, etc. I will wear my “I saw the World’s Largest Toilet Paper Roll in Dufur, Oregon” t-shirt with pride.

After seeing that attraction, we pretty much just hung out in the bus the rest of the day. Really, what could top what we had seen?

(Sasha: Ok, folks, here’s the real lowdown on Daddy. See, he REALLY likes goofy shit and that goddamn bigass toilet paper roll seems to hold a special place in his heart. So when we all got back on the bus and we all saw how satisfied Daddy was, we just didn’t have the heart to suggest going on to another place. Instead, we all went sliding in the Slide Room, explored the Warehouse, played games and had dinner at the Cobalt Club in an alternate New York, circa 1933.)

Destination Sign when we started: Mystara

Destination Sign when we ended: Frostbite Falls

Radio Station of the Day: WNYC, New York City, circa 1933

Mr. Feathers, Private Duck

…quack quack, tough guy!

CatCon 8

Day 3: In which have encounters of the canine kind and, late at night, there is a dog party.

A few years back, we were near Boise City, Oklahoma, when we saw a sign advertising the Dog Days Festival and we knew we’d have to stop. Turns out that Dog Days is a big gathering of dogs and their humans and it was hella fun.

We stopped there again today and it was just as much fun as before, except maybe for Leon, who is a cat and therefore not the target audience. Still, even he had some good times, what with being the only kitty for maybe 5 miles and people wanting to pet him.

(Leon: Yeah, it wasn’t so bad, especially with The Girls telling other dogs to shut up and show some respect.)

There were hundreds of dogs present, including at least 22 other bassets. We wandered all around eating snacks, listening to music and talking with dog owners.

(Silky: One booth had venison jerky snacks for humans and dogs. They were great!)

(Daisy: I only came in fifth in the Longest Ears Contest. Some Bloodhound from Tulsa won first place.)

We got t-shirts and dog collars and all manner of chotzkies. I even picked up 2 new bandanas. The big finale of Day One was a bluegrass concert and a barbecue.

Well, that’s not quite true.

(Sasha: Here it comes, folks.)

Since I am a member of the Frequent Urination Society, I had to get up about 2:30 am to take a leak. During that time, I could faintly hear music and other noise coming from somewhere in the bus. I went to take a look and when I got to the Meadow Room, I saw that a full on dog party was going on. Must have been 80 dogs in there. They were dancing to some dogpunk tune and barking and chasing each other and rolling around in fresh compost.

(Sasha: The song was “Hot Piss On a Cops Leg” by The Leghumpers.)

I saw Silky talking with a couple of black Labs, Daisy dancing with a Beagle and Sasha acting as DJ. I stood in the door for about 10 seconds, at which point they all smelled me, then saw me. Except fot The Girls, everyone was out of there in under 30 seconds. I then just said “BED!” and the three party hosts trotted off to bed while showing various levels of guilt.

(Daisy: It was Silky’s idea!)

(Silky: I said “let’s invite a couple of dogs over to talk for a bit”.)

(Sasha: I regret nothing!)

The next morning I told Grace about it and, in a moment that dropped all of our jaws, she merely said “Oh well, girls will be girls!”.

(Daisy: Daddy asked her if she was a pod person.)

More bloggage later.

Destination Sign when we started: Kandor

Destination Sign when we ended: Highway 61

Radio Station of the Day: KFRC “The Big 610” circa 1968

Zany Bullfinches Pestered My Hoopoes

…google it

CatCon 8

Day 2: In which we check out some monsters, the cheekiness of jackrabbits is discussed and Auntie Avis bakes pies.

Day 2 of our trip found us in Kingman, Arizona, where we visited the newly renamed and upgraded “Monsters Of The Desert!” Years ago, desert sculptors with time on their hands built something goofy and big, a kind of octopoid looking alien creature with three eyes. But in the last couple of years, they’ve added 5 new Monsters, so naturally we had to check it out.

(Silky: This was my pick of where to visit, folks.)

One of these monsters looks sort of like a giant praying mantis made out of stainless steel, crushed glass, plaster and about 15 colors of paint. It stands across from two 30 foot tall creatures made of old plastic milk jugs, flattened tin cans and some sort of plastic foam. They look like crazed yetis.

(Daisy: Real yetis are much scarier. Flash & Leon once poked one with a stick It was not amused.)

(Leon: No shit! That damned thing chased us 3 miles! It was wicked pissed off.)

Then there is the winged triceratops creature that uses an old school bus as the basis for it’s body, then added on tons of plumbing fixtures. Finally, there is “Ograntor!”, a 75 foot tall giant ape/ant/platypus thing built out of concrete, steel and what looks like about 6 months worth of the empty booze bottles from Las Vegas.

(Sasha: Hmmm…giant apes…hmmm.)

(Leon: You are crazy, Sasha!)

(Sasha: What part of “mad scientist” confuses you, cathead?)

We wandered around for about 90 minutes, because what the signs along the highway don’t tell you is that while there are only 6 giant monsters, there are over 150 smaller ones scattered about, some no bigger than my fist. Some can move a bit and have motion detectors built in, so they only move when you get close. This startled some of our group.

(Daisy: HAHAHA! One of them scared Sasha so much, she pooped!)

The whole place is surrounded by high chainlink fence, too keep out vandals. Our critters discovered that the local jackrabbits like to hang out just on the other side of the fence. They do not seem to fear human, yowling cats or barking dogs.

(Leon: Open up that fence and we’ll see who’s laughing.)

(Silky: One of those cheeky little bastards peed in front of Sasha and I when we barked at him.)

(Daisy: They called us rude names!)

(Sasha: We’ll see how fuckin’ smug they are when my flying monkeys come for them.)

Before leaving, we stopped off at the concession stand for Desert Monster Dogs, which were delicious foot long hot dogs. I had two with chili. We also drank Monster Shakes, which were both tasty and large.

(Daisy: Oh, baby, those were tasty hot dogs!)

We got back on the bus and dimension hopped over to a Hawaii that never had humans settle there. Most likely, this was because it is a popular place with the Megalodons, Giant Octopi and the Rocs that live up in the mountains and prey upon the Megalodons & Giant Octopi. It’s a peaceful place, if you’re not one of those three species.

(Leon: Humans pick insane places to go! Those Rocs were enormous!)

(Daisy: I know, right? They had like a 400 foot wingspan!)

(Silky: One of them grabbed a 65 foot shark like it was a goldfish!)

(Sasha: Eh, could have been worse. Could have been dragons.)

Anyway, being way too small to eat, we mostly hung out on the beach or wandered around in the bus. It was while wandering through the greenhouse that Avis and Silky found several blueberry bushes loaded with ripe fruit. After picking a bunch of them, Avis told us all that we’d be having blueberry pie for dessert tonight.

(Silky: we may have eaten a pound or so as we were picking.)

Sure enough, when the rest of us came in, the bus was filled with the delicious smell of fresh baked pies. After a dinner of steak, potatoes, spinach and rolls, I got a gallon of French Vanilla ice cream out of the Ice Cream Closet and we had blueberry pie ala mode. Totally yummy! You did well, Auntie Avy.

(Daisy: Auntie Avy, Queen of Pie!)

Once we were all stuffed with pie & ice cream, we got out the dice and I ran Grace, Avis, Spike, Mary, Daisy & Silky through “The Megadungeon of Horrible Doom!” Much fun was had, even when Spike rolled two critical fumbles and fell into a pit full of Snot Goblins.

While we played D&D, Sasha & Leon were playing a new video game called “Assault Of The Robodemons”, which is part RPG, part shooter. Judging from all the yelling, they enjoyed it.

Now it’s time for bed, Gentle Readers. More fun & frivolity tomorrow.

Destination Sign when we started: Mirkwood

Destination Sign when we ended: Camelot

Radio Station of the Day: Duck Rock Live From DuckEarth 5

The Adventures Of Meerkat-Man

…a very alert and upright superhero

CatCon 8

Day 1: In which a wide variety of potato products are thrown about and we watch movies

In Grimly, Arizona, Potato Throwing Days started in 1886 when the “damned near all male” population of this mountain logging and mining town got tired of eating the potatoes that local merchant Joe Sitwell had gotten cheap from his cousin up in Idaho. Old Joe had got those taters cheap, but he had gone overboard and bought 5 tons of them. For a town whose population at the time was 50, that’s a shitload of spuds.

(Daisy: I love potatoes, but DAMN!)

So one day, as legend has it, a fellow named Dan Purdy was sitting on the front porch of the Grimly Arms Hotel, contemplating a big dish of mashed potatoes when he just up and yelled “To hell with this!” and threw those mashers out into the busy (for Grimly) main street, hitting several people. One of those people was local logger Armando Cruz, who just happened to have his lunch, a baked potato in his pocket. He threw it at Dan and before you knew it, potatoes were flying everywhere. It took the best part of an hour before things calmed down and then folks just laughed and laughed. A year later, damned if they didn’t relive the day with more tater tossing. After that, and despite Grimly eventually evolving into a popular mountain resort, Potato Throwing Days became a tradition.

There are only a few rules about Potato Throwing Days: No raw spuds may be thrown, no hot items may be thrown, no artificial potato launching devices may be used, anybody wearing a green “NOT A TARGET” t-shirt cannot be attacked and all spud throwing starts at dawn and ends at sunset on Friday & Saturday. Other than that, the potatoes will fly.

We arrived in Grimly about two hours before sunrise and got a space at the Happy Acres RV Park. After a light breakfast of coffee or tea and donuts for us humans and dog or cat food for the critters, we got dressed properly for the day.

(Silky: No donut love for the poor critters.)

Proper dress” is old clothes you don’t care about, a hat if you don’t want taters in your hair and a pair of goggles. Throwing potatoes are provided by the Chamber of Commerce on tables all along the street. Thus clad, we ventured out for the 3 mile long stroll up and down main street.

(Leon: Flash warned me about this place! Humans are insane!)

(Daisy: I’ve been practicing dodging all week.)

As the sun rose over the mountains, we had just loaded up on throwing supplies (The critters were all wearing Ottopuses, so they could throw spuds too) when a guy on a roof started chucking mashed potato snowballs at us. I took one to the leg, Silky took one to the tail and Spike got hit square in the middle of his back.

(Silky: And then I turned the wrong way and got hit in the ear!)

Meanwhile, three teenage girls were throwing tater tots at us from the other side of the street. Grace, Mary, Avis and Sasha all got hit, but Daisy & Leon managed to stay clean. Unfortunately for those teens, besides the womenfolk chucking small roasted red potatoes at them, they had Sasha hurling hash brown patties at them four at a time. Her accuracy was impressive.

(Sasha: I pretended they were shuriken.)

By the time we reached the end of main street, we looked like victims of the wrath of some potato god. Spike and I alone must have had 2-3 pounds of potato products in our hair & beards. The surface of the street looked like some unholy potato salad demon.

After having some tasty beverages provided by the Grimly Women’s Association, we loaded up with tuberous ammo and started the trek back to the bus. We teamed up with other RVers in what one old WWII vet described as “like storming a goddamn beach during World War Potato”. He had a pretty good throwing arm for an 86 year old.

(Daisy: That old dude was badass! No wonder we won the war.)

Back at the bus, we hit first the sonic showers, then the regular showers, then the hot tub. Poor Leon was convinced he’d never bee clean again and actually fell asleep in mid cleaning lick AFTER two full showers.

(Leon: Not clean enough! Must get cle…..ZZZZZZZZZZZZ!)

Once we were all relaxed and had eaten a light lunch, there was much napping, then we all mostly sat around talking until it was time to grill Docburgers for dinner.

(Silky: Mmmmm…Docburgers!)

After dinner, it was movie night! We had a double feature of “The Amazing Colossal Man” and it’s sequel, “War Of The Colossal Beast”. After that, there was some more sitting around talking and then bedtime.

Destination Sign when we started: Sesame Street

Destination Sign when we ended: The Hall Of The Mountain King

Radio Station of the Day: Elven Folk Music

The So Late We Almost Skipped A Month, But Still Very Cute, Story Of Mostly Purple Patty And The Golem Made Of Stinky Cheese

…co-starring her pet skunk, Limburger

It’s that time of year again, folks!

CatCon 8

Day Zero: In which Your Humble Narrator explains this years trip and we bid a goodbye to absent friends.

Once again we are about to depart Sacramento for our annual imaginary trip to Critter City, Texas for CatCon 8. The bus is packed up and ready and we will all be sleeping on it tonight. Our departure time is the ever popular 3:00 am. Not sure who that hour is popular with. Owls, maybe.

(Silky: And old dads & old dogs who wake up around then to pee.)

As most of you know, we are making this years trip without Flash, Jasmine or Lulu because they are off in another reality fighting to save CatWorld #44 from imminent invasion by Alien Space Weasels. Sadly, they will never be able to return to our reality, but we remember them and are proud of what they are doing.

(Sasha: What they are doing is seriously kicking alien ass!)

Since the above has cast a bit of a pall on things, this year our trip to the con will be made up of stops at some of the roadside attractions and events we enjoyed. Each of us (Grace, the Girls & I) chose one, plus we chose an extra one for Flash & company. So, six stops will be made. Sadly, one of those will not be Uncle Ferdy’s Trained Squirrel Revue, which has closed down completely. It would seem that Uncle Ferdy is living quietly out of the public eye in a small town in Idaho with his wife and his remaining squirrels. From what I heard, he has a tall chain link fence around his property so as to keep out dogs & cats, which cause his nervous tics to go into overdrive. We’ll miss you, Uncle Ferdy. Sorry about causing you so much trouble.

(Daisy: That totally blows! I was hoping we’d get another crack at it.)
(Leon: Yeah, so was I.)

The bus crew this year is relatively small, just myself, Grace, Sasha, Silky, Daisy, our friend Avis (actually, her duplicate that popped up two days ago), her cat Leon, our friend Spike and his wife Mary. Many other friends will be meeting up with us at the convention. We’ll be doing one stop per day, so the trip will take us 6 days.

(Sasha: Thanks to using the old timey wimey, spacey wacey manipulation.)

And now, Gentle Reader, I’m off to bed. More reportage tomorrow.