…relax, it’s just a nonsense word

Doc Update!

1: As announced earlier elsewhere, the doctor took the stitches out of my shoulder and told me I’ll be cleared to go back to work as soon as I feel up to it. Given that my arm is a bit weak from lack of use and still has a tiny bit of pain in the shoulder, I reckon I’ll be off work at least another week or two.

2: I finished reading “I Am Half-Sick Of Shadows”, the fourth Flavia de Luce novel by Alan Bradley. It was, as they all have been, a darned good read and a good mystery.

3: I’ve also finished Doc Savage: The Lost Radio Scripts of Lester Dent. It’s a pretty interesting read and look back at how radio scripts were written. Considering that pretty much each episode was a self contained story presented in 15 minutes, they are pretty good tales. It would be great if somebody could produce them again, probably for internet radio.

4: My Sweet Little Pork Tamale Of Love, Grace, is doing very well in her battle against diabetes. She has lowered her numbers significantly in the last month or so. GO GRACE!

5: Lucy and Sasha, AKA The Girls, are fit as canine fiddles and living the good life. Whoever thought that saying “a dog’s life” or “treated like a dog” was a bad thing?

6: I am still about 10 1/2 months and 364 entries away from my goal of 500 Doclopedia entries, but I’m chipping away at it. I’m more than halfway through my repat tackling of the alphabet and I have an idea of what the next couple of themes will be.

7: On another writing front, also mentioned elsewhere, I’m going along nicely on my rewrites of the previous four DogCon/CatCon fictional convention reports. The first one was rather short, so it’s getting some serious beefing up. The second and fourth are getting a smaller dose of love and the third, massive one, is getting only a minor polishing. Seeing as how those four will make up about 90 entries…AND I need to start the fifth one (which I’m writing in advance) by the end of July…I’ll start reposting them on the fiction blog about the end of March.

8:My veggie garden plans are not firmed up yet, but I’m just waiting for the rainy season to pass and then it’s on, baby!

And now, I have chores to to before writing, or my wife and dogs will beat me about the head and shoulders.

Boogie Like Your Butt Is On Fire

…unless, of course, your butt does catch fire

DogCon 3: The Trip Home, The End

We are home. Naps were taken, imaginary stuff was put away, Sharon left for home, The Girls napped some more, Flash is sleeping in his imaginary cat tree, Abby is imaginarily browsing on the shrubbery on the yard and Joe and the Magic Bus are both back in the secret underground Doc Cave.

For those of you that stuck all of this out to the end, thank you. I am flatly amazed that I’ve spent nearly a month doing these reports. I think we can all safely assume that my writing gas tank is full again and I shall resume regular posting.

I think we can also agree that Uncle Doc REEEAAALLLYYY needs a vacation. At least a 2 week driving vacation. Hopefully to GenCon next August.

We shall see.

The Lady In The Car Was Loaded In Every Sense Of The Word

…and so was her gun

DogCon 3, The Trip Home, Part 2

We are stopped for dinner (cooked on the bus) in Seligman, Arizona. By midnight, we should be in Barstow, where Joe says we have to stop for some sort of calibrations. We’ll be there an hour, then we’ll head for Bakersfield and then north on I-5 and home. We should walk in the door of stately Cross Manor around 8:45 am.

There are a whole lot of Route 66 fans here in Seligman tonight, as there often are in the summer months. They are heading east in classic 1950’s era cars and have been doing this since 1976. Classic Rock fills the air and so does the smell of BBQ.

More bloggage later.

Junior Muskrat Goes To The Post Office

…to mail off a box of musk

DogCon 3, The Trip Home

This morning, we had a big breakfast at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, then continued our homeward trek. We did stop for a few minutes to admire The House Of Glass, which is made of many tons of broken glass that has been heat fused together into walls, floors, etc. It is open to the public, but closed on Mondays, darn it.

Right now, I’m driving, Grace and Sharon are watching a movie and the critters are playing World Of Warcraft. Every so often, I hear cat/dog/goat sounds of triumph and derision.

We will be in Albuquerque (where, as we all know, one must be very careful of which way one turns) for a bit of leg stretching and dog walking. There might also be ice cream buying.

More bloggage later.

My Life In The Land Of Crazy Ladies

…many of whom I am related to

DogCon 3: Epilogue

For the third year in a row, I attempted suicide by pie at the “Post Con Cool Down Party”. I think I came closer than ever this year. Grace, Sharon & the critters also overdosed on pie and are, even as I type this, fast asleep.

We are 4 hours out of Wilted Springs and headed west. The autopilot, Data, is driving and will stop in Amarillo, where we will sleep until it’s time for breakfast at the Big Texan Steak Ranch. After that, I will drive during the day and Data will take over at night. It won’t quite be non stop, but I still estimate us being home in under 40 hours.

And now, I’m off to bed.

A Poodle Named Yankee Doodle Ate A Noodle And A Strudel

…then he started to doodle

DogCon 3: Day 4, Part 1

Hoo Boy, that Traveller game last night was FUN. We were told at the beginning that we were diplomats & spies posing as traders, but throught the first hour, we “woke up” to the memory that we were working for different agencies/factions. Of course, nobody knew that anybosy else had a secret agenda. I’m telling ya, by hour 4, there was some cutthroat wheeling & dealing going on, to say nothing of bribery, threats, strong arming and outright kiling.

In hour 5, three bottles of single malt scotch appeared and the wheeling & dealing got even more interesting:)

This morning, after checking out of the hotel, the Cross Family Sideshow went to brunch at “Chez Mom’s” with about 20 of our friends. We ate an obscene amount of food.

After brunch, I ran a short (2 Hour) Over The Edge game titled “Garbage Day”. I had 7 players and it went well.

Next up was the big “Cats VS Dogs LARP”. Winker sat this one out with Abby, but Lucy & Flash both got their game on. 90 minutes later, the canine team won by a mere 14 points. I expect the kitties will be ready to throw down again next year.

I’m pretty sure everyone who came to the con spent the last 2 hours the Dealer’s Room was open in that room. You could almost see the odor of sweaty gamers in the air.

The last event of the con is always the “I Hate/I Love…” seminar/bitchfest. It lasts 2 hours and is very funny.

Once the con is over, everyone (well, almost everyone) waits about an hour, then gathers in the main hall to chat and eat pie. This is mere minutes away from happening.

Once the piefest is over, the Joneses will begin motoring back to Maryland and we shall head the Magic Bus back to California. Another DogCon will be history.

More bloggage later.

The Clever Girl Who Liked Secrets

…other peoples secrets

DogCon 3: Day 3, Part 1 (and part of Day 2)

Busy busy busy! Quick recaps of con things past below.


3:00 -4:00: Seminar (panel): “Old Gaming Farts Tell All”
Went very well. I was surprised how many young folks showed up to listen to a bunch of us greybeards talk about the old days.

4:00 – 6:00: Cruising Dealer’s Room & Other Con Areas
Bought games…watched games being played…marvelled at the cool terrain and stuff in the minis games

6:00 – 7:00: Pizza Dinner
Ate at “JimBob’s Texas Style Pizza”, which is a whole lot like Chicago style, but (if you want) served on a cornbread-like dough with heavy emphasis on beef (or, in one case, goat) in many forms. Yummy!

7:30 – 10:30: I’ll GM my segment of the “Open To Close Dungeon”
Big fun! My segment saw 9 players (maximum is 12) fighting their way through a cavern filled with undead spiders and a grove of poisonous fungi. When I left them, they were trying to decide if they should fight or run away from the Lich on the 8th level.

11:00 – 2:00: The Secret Event. I have no clue what the hell it’ll be.
The theme was “Doctors Only” and we all got appraised and then assigned costumes. I was Fu Manchu & Spike was Doctor Demento. Doc Mystery, who is a real life doctor, got to don a ripped shirt and be Doc Savage. There were at least 45 different doctors, with multiples of some (especially the Whovian, Sherlockian & Trek kind). A splendid time was had by all.


8:00 am – 12:00 pm: GMing “All This And World War, Too”
This was a time travel game in which the characters were trying to either stop or change or insure WWI. I used Basic Roleplaying rules. It went very well, with the final outcome being that the war did take place, but was over in less than half the time and the Computer Age started WAY early.

12:00 – 12:30: Eat & run
Burgers…onion rings…chocolate malt

12:30 – 2:00: The all pet (& human) LARP “Castle Of The Undead”
The Girls & Abby were on the winning team! (Flash was in an All Cat LARP that Grace described as “half sleeping cats, half crazy cats on speed”) Winker was a cleric, Lucy was a thief and Abby was a fighter. It was, by human standards, kinda slow paced, but by dog & goat (and parrot, pig, cat and miniature horse) standards, it was pretty thrill a minute.

2:15 – 3:15: Rehearsal for the radio play “Mobsters VS Monsters”
This went pretty smoothly, as you might expect from actors who have had the script for over a month.

3:30 – 4:00: Actual broadcast of the above.
An amazingly hitch free broadcast, during which most of us played multiple parts. The sound effects guys where incredible and the band was quite talented, too.

4:30 – 6:00: Seminar (panel): “Ok, Go Ahead And Tell Us About Your Character”
This was less horrific than you might expect, mostly thanks to a 5 minute limitation on each audience member. We panelists got only 3 minutes to critique each character as presented. We tried to be positive, even when said positivity involved lying our asses off.

6:00 – 7:00: Dinner

7:00 – 8:00: Shower & Catch Breath
Mission accomplished!

Am now starting Traveller game. Rumor has it that ’round midnight, single malt scotch will drop by.

Slug Fondue

…the next foodie craze

DogCon 3: Day 2, Part 2

Too busy partying at the “Doctors Only Party” to write up the day. Will do it tomorrow. And speaking of tomorrow, my rather insane schedule…

8:00 am – 12:00 pm: GMing “All This And World War, Too”
12:00 – 12:30: Eat & run
12:30 – 2:00: The all pet (& human) LARP “Castle Of The Undead”
2:15 – 3:15: Rehearsal for the radio play “Mobsters VS Monsters”
3:30 – 4:00: Actual broadcast of the above.
4:30 – 6:00: Seminar (panel): “Ok, Go Ahead And Tell Us About Your Character”
6:00 – 7:00: Dinner
7:00 – 8:00: Shower & Catch Breath
8:00 – 2:00: Play in a Traveller game

More bloggage at some point.

The Heartpounding Adventures Of Doctor Tempest And The Steam Devil

…from the January, 1887 issue

DogCon 3: Day 2, Part 1

Ok, here is my day so far…

Breakfast was at “Waffles From Outer Space”. Once again: BACON & BUTTER SYRUP!

10:00 – 11:00: Seminar (panel): “Son Of Ask A GM Anything”
This was the return of the infamous seminar from last year in which our then pregnant with twins moderator got the rest of us to sing Bohemian Rhapsody. This year, we had a packed house and answered many great and sometimes strange questions, about half of which actually pertained to gaming/RPGs. Unsurprisingly, our moderator again brought her karaoke machine. This time, the whole bunch of us sang The Time Warp and Sweet Transvestite from Rocky Horror Picture Show. I’m told that you could hear that final “Let’s do the time warp again” on the other side of the convention center.

11:00 – 12:00: Cam Slave Booth visiting friends at GenCon
Ok, so I’m known for using some hyperbole from time to time, but…but…THIS WAS THE MOST AWESOME EXPERIENCE SINCE THE INVENTION OF THE ORGASM! Holy shit, I mean, I’m seeing GenCon and talking with my friends from New Hampshire and strolling the dealer’s room and meeting folks I know at booths and…WOW! Worth every penny I spent on it.

12:00 – 1:00: Lunch
Was at a hot dog joint called “Dogville”. My chili dogs were so good, I almost wept.

Now it’s off to get the muddy spa treatment with Grace, The Girls and about 10 friends.

Secret Monster Hunter Yumi

…more fake anime

DogCon 3: Day 1, Part 2

Ok, so let’s review my schedule and see how my day went.

11:00 am – 1:00 pm: Running Toon game “The House That Jerks Built”
This game went very well, as it has the last 52 times I’ve run it. Oldest player this time: 46 Youngest player this time: 11 Percentage of house actually constructed: 15% At what point in the game did everything explode?: just past halfway.

1:00 pm – 4:00 pm: Lunch & Dealer’s Room
Lunch was Mexican food off a taco truck. Muy bueno. I spent a surprisingly small amount in the Dealer’s Room, but had some excellent chats with folks.

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Seminar (panel): “Neglected Games”
This was a pretty good seminar. Many old (and some not so old) games were discussed.

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm: Seminar (watching): “Dungeons & ?”
The idea with this one was to mix fantasy/dungeon crawling, with other genres. My idea for “Dungeons & Disco” was roundly reviled.

6:00 pm – 7:30 pm: Dinner and a shower
First off, the place we ate at, “Big Slabs O’ Meat”, was spot on in the truth department. Grace had a steak that covered more square footage than out main bathroom and I had a porkchop that, had it been much bigger, would have been outside rooting around in the restaurant garden. Also, by the time out friends Sam & Paul were done with their beef ribs, it looked like an siesmosaur had died on their plates.

The critters got big bowls of chow, too and I swear, Flash (weight: 6 pounds) ate 7 pounds of fish.

8:00 pm – midnight: Playing in a game “The Lost Valley”
This game used the Basic Roleplaying system and was a pulp adventure into an African valley where dwelled the descendents of some lost Crusaders. It went very well and I doubt any of us husbands will be sleeping on the floor tonight.

Midnight – whenever: a nightcap & chatting
After getting Grace back to our room (where the critters were all still in food coma land), I went to seek out friends and have a wee dram of the good stuff. Naturally, I had 3 wee drams and we closed the joint.

I’m now back in the room and soon to bed. Tomorrow’s schedule is…

10:00 – 11:00: Seminar (panel): “Son Of Ask A GM Anything”
11:00 – 12:00: Cam Slave Booth visiting friends at GenCon
12:00 – 1:00: Lunch
1:00 – 2:30: Spa Trip
3:00 -4:00: Seminar (panel): “Old Gaming Farts Tell All”
4:00 – 6:00: Cruising Dealer’s Room & Other Con Areas
6:00 – 7:00: Pizza Dinner
7:30 – 10:30: I’ll GM my segment of the “Open To Close Dungeon” (this starts when the con starts and ends when the con ends. GM’s work 3 hours or more, players take over from other players.)
11:00 – 2:00: The Secret Event. I have no clue what the hell it’ll be.

More bloggage tomorrow.

It Was The Chinese Monkey That Screwed Up The Entire Operation

…I think he was working for the feds

DogCon 3: Day 1, Part 1

Last night’s party was a blast. Free candy…free drinks…three rockin’ bands including the all female Led Zeppelin tribute band, Zeperella…both male & female hotties serving drinks & candy…lots of great conversation…Stupid Human Tricks…and best of all, no hangover today!

By 9:00 this morning, while I was eating a free breakfast here at the hotel, Grace, Sharon, Arcadia and the critters were off to one of the famous DogCon Pet LARPs. Yes, a LARP for animals and their people. They are actually pretty fun and run several times a day during the con.

Speaking of pets, I’m told that the con expects several thousand humans and TWICE that number of pets.

And now, my schedule for today…

11:00 am – 1:00 pm: Running Toon game “The House That Jerks Built”
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm: Lunch & Dealer’s Room
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Seminar (panel): “Neglected Games”
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm: Seminar (watching): “Dungeons & ?”
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm: Dinner and a shower
8:00 pm – midnight: Playing in a game “The Lost Valley”
Midnight – whenever: a nightcap & chatting

Oh, yeah, you know how last year the con staff had 6 GenCon attendees wearing camera helmets and we could see what they saw on bigass screens here? Well, they upped the ante this year with 10 people wearing helmet cams for general viewing and 6 more all cammed up for individuals to watch and control (for $25.00 an hour). You sit in a booth with a large monitor, a webcam and a microphone & speakers. You then tell your cam slave (yes, they call them that) where to go. Your face and voice are showing on a iPad they wear around their necks, so you can interact with folks at GenCon. This is, of course, totally fucking cool.

Anyway, I’m outta here. More bloggage later. Oh, and check out my updates on Facebook.

Mrs. Wangdoodle Gets Down & Funky

…in the Motor City

DogCon 3: Day 0, Part 2

Right now, it’s almost 9:00 PM and Spike, Doc Mystery & I are almost ready to go to the Pre-Con Party. I am really looking forward to this.

When last I blogged, we were looking through the 1910 Sears Vatalog style con books. There are, as there should be, many games of all sorts and plentiful activities to do if you want a break from gaming. I won’t list my entire GMing/Seminaring schedule now, but I will say that I’m running at least one game a day, doing at least one seminar a day and once again participating in a live radio drama. All this in addition to playing games, accompanying the critters in LARPs, hanging with my homies, going to a spa and doing who knows what else.

The Pre-Con Dinner with friends was the largest yet: 24 people. This included Lori & Brian Curley…Spike, Mary & Miranda Jones…Doc Mystery, his wife and daughter…John Kovalic, his wife and daughter…Gabriel Gentile…Ed Metheny & Sophie Legace…Samantha & Paul Dutcher and others. The chosen restaurant was a pan-asian place called Ring of Fire and the food was all kinds of awesome.

Note that our pet sitter, Sharon and all the critters (and our hired pet sitter, Arcadia, who is a veterinary student) were all totally tuckered out after many hours at the Animal Theme Park. Indeed, Flash & Winker were so soundly asleep that at first I thought they might be dead.

Now it’s off to the party. More bloggage tomorrow.

The Ecology Of The Big Doofus

…with notes on the closely related Dummy and Goofball

DogCon 3: Day 0, Part 1

Once again, the Jones & Cross contingent gathered to go eat breakfast at 9:00. Our restaurant of choice was the newly opened “Waffles From Outer Space”, which has a cool sci-fi theme to it. They also serve great waffles, breakfast meats, eggs, etc, etc. The crowning bit of our breakfast experience was the Bacon & Butter Flavored Syrup. Let me repeat that: BACON & BUTTER FLAVORED SYRUP!!! Thus, we now have the newest and best definition to the word “WIN!”.

After brekky, we all waddled around town seeing all the new sights (skywalks between the convention center, the hotels and selected other buildings) and letting the critters do their biz. This latter was made more interesting by the fact that Wilted Springs (“The pet resort capital of the world”) now has an army of what look like extra large Roomba robots that are designed to pick up animal feces and dilute/neutralize animal pee. This is, of course, aided by the fact that the town center is blocked off to traffic and has many well maintained “Pet Bathroom” areas, most of which contain either grass or sand. Very cool. We are told by signs that all the animal waste is composted and used to make methane, which powers the street lights.

About 10:00, after leaving the pets at the hotel pet sitting center, we went to pick up out badges & swag bags. As always, DogCon was a model of efficiency and we were in line less than 10 minutes. While waiting, we met up with a bunch of friends who will almost certainly be joining us for the big pre-con dinner tonight.

The swag bags once again rocked. This year’s official con t-shirt has a pulp adventure them, while the custom dice feature tiny dogs & cats instead of pips. There are four short adventure modules, all system independent. Two are pretty basic dungeon crawls, one is pulp action on a zeppelin and the final one is the perhaps inevitable zombie uprising. This year also sees the inclusion of a custom 12 page comic book detailing the wacky adventures of the DogCon team in getting the con ready to go. It has a very Warner Brothers cartoon vibe and is hella funny.

The usual booth coupons are here, some of which get you free stuff and all of which give at least a 10% discount. One lovely coupon, for Big Sally’s Used Games, is a 2 for 1 deal. Spike and I agreed that we must hit that booth early on.

The free stand alone card game, Exploding Heads, looks good. The three posters are: a DogCon poster featuring a variation on the Poker Playing dogs, this time playing Kill Doctor Lucky…a poster for the new RPG “Dinosaur Invasion”…and a poster for a popular local bar called “The Lusty Wench”, which is, I can verify, staffed by both lusty wenches and lusty lotharios. All in good fun, of course.

Finally, the bag hander outer asked how many pets you had with you, then gave you a 4 ounce bad of organic pet treats. I got 3 for dogs (because Abby likes dog treats) and one for cats. They were all greatly enjoyed.

Now, we humans are gathered in the Cross suite to read our con books (which are styled like an old Sears catalog), while the critters are off with Sharon and our hired pet sitter, Arcadia, to spend the day at the Animal Theme Park.

More imaginary con bloggage later.

Whovian Firefly Trek Galactica 5

…once again, a subject line causes fanboys & fangirls to orgasm

Trip to DogCon 3: Day 13, Part 1, In which we see several UFO’s, visit with a whole bunch of harmonica players, take yet another temporal detour and finally reach Wilted Springs.

(Note: All comments in italics are by non-humans)

Continuing where I left off yesterday, I drove from 5:00 AM until we entered Wichita Falls, Texas about 7:00 AM. At that point, I rousted everyone for breakfast at The Sausage House. By the time we left, stuffed full of eggs, toast, sausages of many kinds and our favorite caffeine delivery systems, it was nearly 9:30. Time to go to The UFO Graveyard.

(Lucy:Sausages rule!)

Just west of Wichita Falls is yet another temple devoted to science fiction and some goofy fucker with way too much free time. In this case, the goofy fucker is Bobray Hingle and the subject is crashed UFOs. Bobray and his equally free time endowed friends have built replicas (not full size, but big) of a whole bunch of spacecraft from science fiction TV series & movies. The Enterprise? Oh yeah, 5 versions. Klaatu’s ship from the original “Day The Earth Stood Still”. Yep, with Gort lying in pieces beside it. The Jupiter 2? Earth Vs The Flying Saucers? TIE Fighter? Firefly? The Tardis? Yes! And there are about 30 others, including some from anime and cartoons. It costs $5.00 a head to see the place, but it’s worth it. They also have the spiffiest t-shirts I’ve seen so far.

(Winker:Our guild is still kicking ass in WoW!)

We left about 11:30 and decided to stop in the little town of Graham to have burgers & shakes. Well sir, we did that, true enough, but we also got to see 152 harmonica players in action, because it was the annual Graham Harmonica Week Festival.

There were old & young bluesmen, cowboys wailing out country & western tunes, rockers, soul men (and women), gospel players and more than a few folks playing classical music. It was, as they say, a wonder to behold. It also kept us in town until near 1:30.

(Abby:There were also very tasty rosebushes growing along the sidewalk in one spot.)

(Flash:Some of those old guys had been hitting the catnip pretty hard.

Now, that would put us into Wilted Springs about 4:30-5:00, a bit later than I wanted, so I called up Joe and asked him if he could do a bit of fucking around with space & time. He said ok and crawled under the dashboard and began doing his mechanic thing.

About a minute later, we were driving through Los Angeles on a rainy day in 1933. We were on Sepulveda Boulevard and getting some serious stares. Then two cop cars lit up and I told Joe to get us outta there, but I’m not sure he heard me over the yelling of the rest of the people on the bus. Grace alone was drowning out the police sirens.

(Winker:Mom told Dad she was gonna put her foot up his butt! Hahahaha!)

Before I had to go into high speed chase mode, things shifted and we were driving along a tropical, yet rather Arabic looking, city street. We were, in fact, the only motor vehicle of any kind. There was more yelling from the back of the bus, so Joe dis something and there we were, passing the familiar sign that said Wilted Springs was only 10 miles away. Local time: 3:10 PM. Score one for Joe & Doc, except that Joe got outta there and left me to explain things to everybody.

(Flash:Joe is no dummy.

We checked into our hotel, the Hilton, at 4:00. Our rooms were on the 15th floor and, because we Crosses had pets, came with a small yard/balcony (glassed in, to prevent falls) and a “pet bedroom”. After a couple of hours, during which I think we all napped, we met up with the Jones Gang for dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant. I had a lamb vindaloo that was delicious, but pretty volcanic on the Spicey Meter. After that it was time for some wandering about and then relaxing.

(Everybody but Winker:Holy Shit, we are up way high!)

(Winker:I’ll have to take your word for it.

Although the con does not officially start until Thursday, tomorrow will see a huge influx of gamers into town and the 3:00 PM opening of the Open Gaming Hall, which will easily fit 100 tables. The Boardgame Hall will also be open and roughly the same size. In addition, there is a Pre-Con Party for Guests of Honor, Featured Guests and GMs, so Spike and I will be there. Of course, there is also the getting of badges and swag bags and event tickets (for humans and animals) and seeing friends as they arrive (like the Mystery Family, my home gaming group, John Kovalic family, Steve Jackson, etc, etc).

(Lucy:Ooh! I love this con! I’m gonna play in as many LARPs as possible!)

(Flash:There’s a spa here just for cats? I may never leave.)

(Abby:A theme park for animals? Oh yeah!)

(Winker:I’m gonna go to the waterpark with Sharon!

It will be a busy day. More bloggage tomorrow.

The Amazing Steam Powered Battle Duck

…funny looking, but deadly

The Trip to DogCon 3: Day 12, Part 1, In which we do a whole bunch of stuff and don’t get much closer to the con.

(Note: All comments in italics are by non-humans)

Oy vey, was yesterday packed with activity! I shall list it all below.

1: We at the KOA’s free pancake breakfast. Yum!


2: Visited the Bicycle Ranch. It looks sorta like the famous Cadillac Ranch, but with nearly 100 bicycles. About a 3 on the Roadside Cool-O-Meter, but free to look at.

3: Stopped at a Target store to pick up some items. Miranda helped me walk the animals in the parking lot while everyone else shopped. We attracted a fairly large crowd of onlookers.

(Abby:We be walkin’, they be lovin’!)

(Winker:There were lots of nice people petting us!)

(Flash:One guy smelled like old socks.)

4: Went to The (you guessed it) World Famous Tulsa Zombie Cartoon World. Now, this actually started in 1948 as just plain old Cartoon World, with the founders, Pete & Muriel Ginswaker, just making 6 foot tall chicken wire and plaster versions of famous cartoon characters. Apparently, from about 1952 until the mid 1980’s the place was a must see roadside attraction. Then the new highway alignment moved over about 5 miles and business plummeted. A few years later, the Ginswakers moved to Florida and the place sat unattended until 2005 when Jeff & Karen Zbrowski bought it.

(Lucy:We stayed on the bus and played The Beatles Rock Band)

The Zbrowskis are both horror movie fans, so they could not help but notice hoe the 126 cartoon characters, now in varying stages of disrepair, looked like zombies. A bit of paint, some resin coating and Bada Bing Bada Boom: Zombie Cartoon World was born. It’s kinda sick, kinda funny and very cool. We spent an hour there. Favorite character: Betty Boop with a 2X4 stuck through her chest (thanks to a tornado in 1993).

5: Visited the Tulsa Zoo, which is a very nice zoo indeed.

(Flash:Great Ceiling Cat above, there were some scary smells coming out of that place! Bears and wolves and bigass cats and shit!)

(Abby:I’m SO glad we were safe on the bus!)

6: Stopped by The Skinny House. This place is only 10 feet wide, but 90 feet long and 40 feet tall. How it has resisted being flattened by a twister over the last 47 years is beyond me.

7: We ate lunch at Happy Hank’s Tulsa Barbecue, which was mighty tasty and had a small sculpture garden with sculptures made of beef & pork ribs.

(Flash, Lucy & Winker:MMMMMMMMmmmmm…rib bones!)

(Abby:MMMmmmmm…leftover salad bar stuff!)

8: Found a pretty great used book store that specialized in science fiction & fantasy. After an hour, we had to force Spike & Grace back on the bus at gunpoint.

(Flash:Man, they bought about 200 pounds of books each!)

9: We finally got out of the Tulsa area and all the way (just over 100 miles) to Oklahoma City before we did our next tourist trap stop. This one was The Bar J Miniature Cattle Ranch. Sure enough, it’s a 250 acre cattle ranching operation that specializes in miniature cattle. The vast majority of these little bovines barely stood waist high to me. I felt kinda giantlike.

(Flash & Lucy:Beef on the hoof! We could take one of those cows! Rawr! Woof!

10: Being as how it was hot and humid, we finished our day at a waterpark near the South Oklahoma City KOA. A splendid and refreshing time was had by all of us humans.

(Winker:We played WoW on the bus computers. Our guild kicks ass!)

We all sacked out around 10:00 last night, but I was up at 5:00 AM to get us down the road and into Texas. We still have about 450 miles to go and a few more stops to make before we hit Wilted Springs late this afternoon.

More bloggage in a few hours.

Destination Sign: Planet of the Apes

Squeeze That Pixie!

…how else can you get fresh squeezed pixie juice?

The Trip to DogCon 3: Day 11, Part 1, In which we set out to see a chunk of Route 66, meet a bunch of the original hippies, have REAL second thoughts about the TARDIS unit and sing “Bohemian Rhapsody” for a large audience of mostly cattle.

(Note: All comments in italics are by non-humans)

Another of the great things about driving an RV (and that is what the Magic Bus is) is that not everyone needs to be fully awake to start out in the morning. Indeed, this morning, the only ones awake at all were Spike, myself and the usual hungry critter suspects…and the critters went back to sleep after they ate.

(Lucy:Mmmm…leftover human food for breakfast!)

Spike and I chatted as I drove through St. Louis at dawn. (the Jonesmobile is being towed behind the bus now) We talked about games, tourist attractions, goats, dogs & cats, teenagers and food. a few miles outside the city, we stopped at Pancake Palace and, after rousing everyone else, went in to eat. The chow was first rate and our waitress, Flora, was a barrel of laughs.

(Flash:Man, did they ever smell good when they came back onto the bus! Mmmm…sausage!)

(Winker:I licked Dad’s mustache cos it had jelly on it!)

(Abby:Mom snuck me a biscuit!

Full up on pancakes and related breakfast fare, we drove a bit farther on so as to find a cheap gas station. The bus gets 75 miles to the gallon, but every so often we do like to top off the 50 gallon tank.

While we were at the gas station, a pickup load of hippie farmer pulled up. They were all wearing tie dye overalls and the head hippie came over to me, took a look at our tie dye bus and offered me ten grand for her. I politely declined, seeing as how we needed the bus and it is one of a kind. The farmer introduced himself as Herb Freelove, head honcho & owner of Tie Dye Farm. Did I mention that their pickup was tie dyed, too?

He told me about how he and his wife had been among the first hippies in San Francisco during the Summer of Love, but had later came home to Missouri to get back to the land. They did this by buying 300 acres of land and getting about 30 of their hippie friends to form a commune. Now, 40+ years later, it’s a thriving organic farm.

Herb invited us out to look the place over, so we went. I think it would have been pretty hard to keep Spike & Mary away anyway, since anybody who knows them will tell you that they are all about the tie dyed clothing. Also, not much chance of me passing up a visit to an organic farm.

Sure enough, the whole place is painted in bright tie dye style. Barns, sheds, tractors, trucks, houses, chicken coops…all looking like Haight Ashbury barfed ’em up.

The farm itself has totally got the organic sustainable agriculture thing going on. I had a great time looking everything over. Meanwhile, Herb and his family had a mindwarping time looking around inside the Magic Bus. In fact, we had thought one of his grandkids had gotten lost in the room that resembles the Palace of Versailles if it were done by a gay Klingon with a Lego fetish, but it turned out that she was sitting behind the sofa petting Winker.

(Abby:They had lots of goats there. I talked to them and they were very friendly.)

(Flash:Great Felix! I could smell about 5 billion rodents!

(Winker:I liked that little girl. She petted me and I licked her face.)

Before we could get back on the road, Herb and his wife, Marigold, loaded us up with organic fruits & veggies. In return, I hit their house with the same nano tech based paint that we used on the bus. They were overjoyed as it spread across their home.

(Abby:Mmmmm…fresh veggies!)

Our first roadside stop of the day was at the Forest Of Tin Can Trees. While we all agreed that they are doing s good thing by recycling cans and steel rebar into 20-40 foot tall treelike sculptures, we also thought that the rusty can color got a bit boring.

Continuing along the Mother Road, we had to pull over outside Waynesville when Sharon said there was “some kind of robot” in one of the rooms. While Grace called Joe, Spike, Mary, Miranda, Flash & I went investigate.

It was a Dalek! He/it was all “Exterminate! Exterminate!” and I grabbed a 5 foot length of steel pipe and was all “Fuck you, you toilet plunger waving motherfucker!”

(Flash:Holy Fucking Shit! Dad went into Asswhip Overdrive on that thing! He was all “Exterminate this, bitch!” and “This one is for Gallifrey!”.

Turns out that if you beat the shit out of a Dalek with a steel pipe for a couple of minutes, they go all to pieces. We were just tossing the busted ass bits of it into the recycling chute when Joe showed up. He apologized and said something about quantum fluctuations and goddamn Gallifreyan redundancy and mice chewing on wires. He then opened a wall panel and messed around with some stuff for a bit.

(Flash:Am I the only one who notices that Joe smells like a tuna sandwich?)

(Lucy:No, he smells like a rib eye steak, medium rare.)

(Abby:Wrong! He smells like new growth on a blackberry vine.

(Winker:You guys are on drugs. Joe smells like Foooooddddd Fooorrrr Dooooggggssss. With gravy on it.

Once he was done, Joe assured us that from now on, the only extra rooms we have would be the 6 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, walk in refrigerator/freezer, hot tub & sauna, workout room, library, theater and closet full of chocolate. I’m cool with that.

About 90 minutes from that stop, we visted The World Famous (there are a lot of world famous roadside attractions out there) Teddy Bear Town. This would be exactly what you think, a complete (and pretty large) town built inside a bigass warehouse and populated by teddy bears dating back to the 1890’s. I even went back to the bus and got our mascot, Owsley the purple with yellow polka dots teddy bear, so he could spend some time with his peeps. We spent nearly an hour there.

By the way, for those of you who are wondering if we stopped buying fridge magnets, postcards & t-shirts, I can only reply: “As if!”

We were about half an hour outside Tulsa, Oklahoma, when Mary asked if we could pull over for a group photo. We found a field full of cattle and ranchers to stop next to and she took several pictures of all of usa in varied poses. I was telling Miranda about singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” with a panel of folks at a seminar last year at DogCon, when, before you know it, we all started singing it. Mary and I alternated on the lead and the others did very well on backing vocals. There was also dramatic dancing about. When we were done we realized that the cattle, the ranchers and about 7 cars on the road had stopped to watch us…so we all took a bow, got back on the bus and drove away.

(Flash:I love Mom & Dad, but seriously, humans do some really goofy shit.)

We have stopped in the Tulsa KOA for the night. Dinner was porkchops, mashed potatos, corn, gravy & biscuits. We had peach ice cream for afters. We then wandered over to the campground theater to watch a talent show. Now, everybody but myself and Lucy has hit the sack.

(Lucy:I’ve gotta pee!

Tomorrow: We explore the Oklahoma & Texas roadside attractions and get ever closer to Wilted Springs & DogCon 3.

Destination Sign: The Forgotten Realms

Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Accordian Player

…on second thought, shoot me.

The Trip to DogCon 3: Day 10, Part 2, In which we view even more roadside attractions, I extol the virtues of driving a house on wheels, we have Round 1 of “Goat VS Dog” and we enter St. Louis and encounter the
Jones Gang.

(Note: All comments in italics are by non-humans)

Ok, so after lunch, we went to The Hat House, which is yet another house made to look like some ginormous ordinary thing, in this case, a top hat. This place had much larger rooms than any tourist trappy house we’ve seen yet. It also had 5 stories and the view from the top floor was pretty sweet. The house was built in 1923 by the grandfather of the current owner. It is beginning to show it’s age, but is still well worth the $4.00 you pay for the tour.

(Flash:While the folks were out, we all played Rock Band. Turns out Abby is a pretty good drummer.)

(Winker:I got to sing! Arrrooooo! Arrroooooo!)

About 10 miles south of The Hat House is The Yellow Submarine Cafe. I have no idea what possessed the original owner to buy an early WWII Sub, gut it, then turn it into a diner (the yellow paint job came much later), but it sure does look cool and, while we were not hungry, I can tell you that their Blue Meanie Lemonade is very good.

(Flash:The smell of human food was killing us! Where is the love for the starving pets?)

(Lucy:Oh man, I could smell bacon! BACON!)

(Winker:Hamburgers, too!)

(Abby:And french fries! Wonderful french fries!

About halfway between Springfield and St. Louis lies the only attraction that nobody else on the bus wanted to go into, The World Famous Serial Killer Museum. I paid my $5.00 and went inside and…dude…I mean…CREEPIEST FUCKING ROADSIDE ATTRACTION EVER! No shit, if the next one was the Museum of Guts & Eyeballs, it still would not be as creepy. Besides the subject matter, the main creep factor came from Lonnie Ray and Susie Ballard, the owners & operators of this shrine to violent sociopathy. Eight other people went in with me and I counted when we left to make sure we all got out. Thankfully, the establishment did not offer food. I declined to get on their mailing list.

(Winker:When Dad came back on the bus, Flash jumped off the bookshelf onto his shoulder and Dad screamed like a little girl. Hahahahaha!)

Creepiness aside, they have a pretty incredible amount of stuff on serial killers, including correspondence between the Ballards and many Hannibal Lecter wannabes in prisons around the world. Lonnie Ray said the FBI even shows up a couple times a week to do research. Yeah, right. I fully expect to see the Ballards on CNN Real Soon Now.

Leaving the Creep-O-Rama behind, we headed for St. Louis. Along the way, My Sweet Angel brought me a large green tea smoothie. And that, my friends, is one of the things I like about traveling around in ths bus: you get to drive all over (which I love), but you are still home. Want a sandwich? No problemo! Gotta use the john? Pull over and stop and you always have a nice clean bathroom with good reading material. Want to walk your dogs, cat & goat? Just open a door and wander around in some vaguely steampunk service corridors. Well, ok, that last one requires a TARDIS unit, but you get my drift.

(Abby:I snuck a lick of his smoothie and it was very good indeed.)

Oh, and that green tea smoothie? Totally delicioso!

About 15 minutes away from the St. Louis KOA, I heard Lucy barking and Abby bleating and then there were crashes and Grace and Sharon cussing. All I could do was drive, but after a couple of minutes Grace gave me the story. It would seem that Lucy decided that Abby was standing exactly where she wanted to walk, so she barked at her. Goats, being not exactly the most intimidation prone of herbivores, pretty much told Lucy to piss off. That made Lucy kick things up a notch, so she did a fake lunge towards Abby. Abby replied to this by butting Lucy ass over teakettle into the coffee table where Sharon & Grace were doing a puzzle.

(Lucy:I was just trying to get her to move outta my way a little!)

(Flash:Lucy got her ass handed to her!

Once the two fiesty animals endured the Wrath Of Mom, things got really quiet. I suspect though, that Lucy has new found respect for her caprine sister.

Around 6:00 we got to the St. Louis North KOA. About 45 minutes later, Spike, Mary & Miranda Jones rolled in. These are some of my favorite people and there was hugging and dancing about and more hugging and then food. Right now, we are going to watch a Doc Savage animated movie, then everyone is off to bed (Spike & Mary have a room upstairs, but Miranda had a room just off the left side of the refrigerator.

(Winker:I like Miranda. She pets me. I’m gonna sleep in her room tonight.)
Tomorrow: Adventure!

Destination Sign: Azkaban Prison

Green Clowns From Under Your Bed

…they’ll recycle your trash, then eat your face.

The Trip to DogCon 3: Day 10, Part 1, In which we go on a roadside attraction binge, our critters get lost on the bus and we eat more corndogs.

(Note: All comments by Flash are in italics)

We are scheduled to visit seven roadside attractions today. We already have 4 of them crossed off the list. Here now, the listing of today’s misadventures so far.

1: At the rather too early hour of 8:00 AM, we viewed the wonder & splendor that is The World Famous Candy Bar Museum. This was a fun (it’s always fun to see assloads of candy), enlightening (there are candy bars from all over the world) & nostalgic (Milkshake Bars!) tourist trap. We spent 45 minutes there, looking at the 7,358 candy bars, some nearly 100 years old.

(This place smelled great, but we were locked up in the bus…with a goat!)

2: Next up was The World Famous Beer Can Museum. You think there were a lot of candy bars? This joint has 15,912 beer cans from all over the planet and some of them are near 150 years old. My fave beer name? Hung Dong Beer from China.

(Still locked up here, but the goat seems to have opened a door. Might have to check this new room out.)

3: When we came out of the Beer Can Museum, we found the bus strangely quiet and devoid of animal. Then I saw an open door which hadn’t been there when we left. Going through the door, I found myself in a really big room (and I mean warehouse big) full of crates that all seemed to contain parts for Hudson automobiles. I found Winker within a minute or so, but didn’t find Abby for another 15 minutes and it took nearly another 20 to round up Flash & Lucy. They all seemed ok, but were apparently having a good time exploring.

(Now that was fun! We had a hella good hide & seek game going until Dad busted it up.)

4: After the Great Pet Hunt, we drove over to The Red, White & Blue Garden. This place was one of the best gardens I’ve ever seen, with tons of beautiful plants, most in bloom. Also, very patriotic. I expected the owners to be Republicans or Tea Baggers, but in fact they are both Green Party members. YAY!

(Oh, man, were there birds in that garden! I am so hungry now.)

5: Yet another garden visit was Waterfall World. A truly beautiful example of what a gardener with lots of time (and, one assumes, plenty of money) on his hands can do. There are 14 ponds, 8 streams and 32 waterfalls here, all lushly planted with a dazzling array of plants. There are also 3 aviaries, chickens, ducks & geese wandering around and about a zillion koi carp.

(Shave my tail and call me a possum, that place had FISH just swimmin’ around! And birds…tasty tasty exotic birds…confined to cages! Oh man, if I could have escaped from this bus, I’d have been eating good in the neighborhood!)

6: We are now back at the Cozy Dog Drive In, fortifying ourselves with corndogs before seeing the next three attractions and then heading to St. Louis. More bloggage later.

(Mmmmmm…corndogs! Om Nom Nom!)

Destination Sign: The 8th Dimension

Jenny, The Lap Dancer Who Saved The World

…who knew lap dancing kills aliens?

The Trip to DogCon 3: Day 9, Part 1, In which we give you a quick run down of the events of the day

(Note: Flash is still not in a writing mood.)

1: Early on, we saw The Marble Sculptures Of Great Americans, which were not carved from marble, but made out of marbles. There are 23 sculptures, all life size and looking very…strange is the only word that fits. It’s places like this that will make you realize you don’t need LSD to hallucinate.

2: Then we went to look at The Giant Duelling Lumberjack Statues. Yep, they are big, lumberjacks and hefting axes at each other. Took us all of 4 minutes to see, including picture taking.

3: Stopped at a feed store to buy Abby a bag of Goat Chow and some dog & cat treats.

4: Ate lunch at a hot dog joint that advertised with the slogan “Our Weenies Are Huge!” How can you not love a place like that?

5: Entered Illinois near the town of Roscoe, in honor of our late dog.

6: During a grocery shopping break in Rockford, we stumbled upon yet another room inside the Magic Bus. This one seems to be a full sized roller skating rink. No skates, but there is recorded organ music.

7: Stopped to see The Pie Tin House. I am beginning to think that somewhere in America, you will find a house built out of every sort of thing most folks just recycle the normal way.

8: Stopped for the night in Springfield, Illinois, birthplace of my fabulous wife and home of the Cozy Dog Drive In, where you’ll find the best damned corndogs in the world! We ate dinner there.

9: Watched several alternate reality movies, including a proper big screen version of The Wild Wild West, which was heavy on the steampunk gadgetry.

Sleep now, more roadside exploration tomorrow.

Destination Sign: The House On Haunted Hill

I Was A Muppet For The FBI

…looking for commie muppets

The Trip to DogCon 3: Day 8, Part 1, In which we see a Viking ship inside a house, adopt a goat and camp with members of my tribe.

(Note: No comments by Flash this time. He’s pissed off about the goat.)

The second half of today’s journey saw us stopping in the town of Onamia to see The Ship In A House. As with many roadside attractions, this one began when somebody had way too much time on the hands. In this case, it was one Olaf Jorgenson, a man who really loved Vikings. In fact, he loved them so much that he started building a full sized replica of a Viking dragon ship in his home.

As the ship got bigger, old Olaf just knocked out walls/ceilings/floors/whatever to accommodate it. After a no doubt spirited discussion with his wife, he built new living spaces around the outside of the main house shell.

The ship is a fine looking vessel, but Olaf never got to see if she would float. According to his daughter, who runs the joint now, her father kicked the bucket a week after he finished the ship. In accordance with his final wishes, he was given a Viking funeral on one of the local lakes.

Oddly, the only souvenirs they had for sale were ball caps with a picture of the ship on them. We bought 3.

Our next stop was in Princeton, where we thought we were going to see the local Basset Hound Waddle, but it turns out we were a week early. Since we had gone to the local ASPCA shelter to get the lowdown, we strolled through the place. We were glad to see very few dogs, cats or other animals.

Now, I have to say that my dear wife is almost always the “sane” one in our marriage. If there is goofy, off the wall, spontaneous, ill advised shit to do, it’s my job. Which is why I was stunned into slack jawed silence when she up and adopted a Pygmy Goat. True, the poor little girl was the only one left of the 3 siblings that came in and yes, she was very cute, being all white with grey spots, but a goat? I considered arguing against it, but decided I have not built up sufficient Husband Points since my last screwup.

And so, we now share our bus with a 6 month old female Pygmy Goat named Abigail. She seems to be very intelligent and well trained. She even uses an oversized litter box to do her biz in. And no, she does not stink. That is buck goats, not does. Also, like Flash, she is imaginary.

Our other critters reacted to her in predictable fashion. Lucy barked at her from a safe distance, Flash climbed up on the highest shelf to glare at her and Winker immediately walked up to her and made friends.

With no more roadside stops planned, we drove straight on to the KOA in St. Paul. Upon arrival, we noticed many gaming geeks wandering about. It was the t-shirts, dice bags and RPG books that gave them away. I started talking to a few and almost immediately got the “Hey, you’re DOC CROSS!” treatment. This later translated into me running a couple of Toon games.

These geeks are on a yearly migration to GenCon from their homes in Washington, Oregon, Wyoming and Idaho. Apparently, they have been doing this for some years and the group gets larger every year. This year, there are 22 of them. They plan on continuing from here to Milwaukee (where they spend a day or two remembering GenCons past), them move on to Lake Geneva (where they plan to play D&D in honor of Gary & Dave) and finally hit Indianapolis on Tuesday.

After a night of gaming, talking about gaming and quaffing a few ales, I am ready for bed. Tomorrow, we brave the wilds of Wisconsin and Northern Illinois.

Destination Sign: Pern

Sunlight On Blonde Hair

…and green eyes

The Trip to DogCon 3: Day 8, Part 1, In which we see more garden gnomes than is probably mentally healthy, pick up a hitchhiker, take yet another walk in the woods and have a very terrifying moment.

(Note: All comments by Flash are in italics)

We left Fargo around 9:00 this morning and headed to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota and our first roadside stop of the day, Garden Gnome World. It seems that Mrs. Ingrid Martin and her husband, Tony, really REALLY like garden gnomes, since they have collected over 15,000 of them, plus 8,000 assorted ceramic/concrete lawn & garden animals ranging from frogs to a couple of moose. They have also built 7 distinct villages for the gnomes, as well as gnome farms, mines, a sawmill and a fishing fleet. This all covers 15 acres of land, includes 5 garden railroads (the longest is 3.25 miles), 4 creeks, two ponds (AKA “lakes”, a man made mountain range and 2.5 miles of elevated trails for tourists to walk on.

The whole thing was rather surreal and cool and funny and impressive. I had no idea that these were so many different types of garden gnomes, but our guide (the Martin’s niece, Sandy) told us there were 1,700 kinds there, some coming from as far away as Russia.

For the record, I beat The Girls 2 games out of 3 in Kill Doctor Lucky while the humans wandered around looking at gnomes.

We left with not only the omnipresent fridge magnets, postcards & t-shirts, but with a family of VULCAN garden gnomes. I shit you not. A husband, wife, three children and a pet sehlat. Apparently, the line was produced by a ceramics loving Trekkie for a short time before Paramount slammed the door on them. They are highly collectible, but when I showed Mr. Martin a room full of garden gnomes on the Magic Bus, we worked out a trade.

Odds of one of The Girls peeing on those gnomes within a day of Dad putting them in his garden: 4 to 1. Assuming some crazed Trekkie doesn’t steal them first, of course.

From there, we headed east towards Wadena and The World Famous Pink Cows. As we drove along, I spotted a fellow hitchhiking by the side of the road. Now, I almost never pick up hitchhikers, but this guy looked very familiar. As we got closer, I saw that it was my old pal, Spider, whom I had not seen in person since 1995. I pulled over and he climbed on board.

I like Spider. He gave my sisters and I beef jerky.

Introductions were made and I asked him what the hell a California boy was doing in the middle of rural Minnesota. His reply of, “Oh, you know, just having a little fun.” told me that he was here because of a woman. His full backpack told me that he had more than likely slipped out of her house this morning before she woke up, leaving a sweet note behind for her.

When I asked him where he was heading, he said Milwaukee, on business. The less said about Spider’s line of work, the better, except to say that we were once partners way back in the mid 1970’s.

When we reached the town of Brainerd, Spider gout out because his car and associates were there. We then went to an ice cream shop and got some delish cones.

Green tea ice cream for the WIN!

We reached Lake Shore about 45 minutes later and drove straight to the lair of the pink cows.

Yes, they are pink. This is due to the farmer using ground up shrimp as a protein source in their feed (same reason flamingos are pink, carotene). There are 12 milk cows total and the place is a small working dairy. No, the milk is not pink, but it is very good, as is the cheese they make from it. Yes, all the usual souvenirs were purchased, as well as three 1 pound blocks of cheese.

Odds of Dad sharing his cheese with poor starving kitties and puppies? 2 to 1.

Moving on, we went to a local nature area that had a lakeside trail through the woods. Everyone enjoyed the stroll, especially the sight of some otters frolicking in a creek.

Despite the fact that they looked vaguely rodentlike, my sisters & I declined to mess around with them. Also, they smelled weaselly, which is never a good sign. Weasels can fuck your shit up.

We are now on a lunch break in Aitkin, which gave us a hell of a scare. Upon entering town, we saw a huge sign for the annual Lutefisk Festival. The eons old human fear of lye soaked jellified fish had us nearly in a panic until we realized that the date on the sign was from last winter. WHEW!

Yeah, jellied fish? I’ll pass on that.

After lunch, we turn south towards St. Paul where we will spend the night. More blogstuff later.

Destination Sign: The Barrier Peaks

Marshmallow Peeps As A Deterrent To War

…first, drop humongous Peeps on your borders

The Trip to DogCon 3: Day 7, Part 2, In which we see a stampede of old people, view a pyramid and let our critters run free.

(Note: All comments by Flash are in italics)

In Minot, North Dakota, we had to buy a few necessities and, finding nowhere else cheap to shop, were forced to go into a Wal-Mart. Since this is a wholly distasteful thing for both Grace & I, we were determined to make it as fast as possible.

Once inside the place, we noticed a great number of old folks, Turns out, it was “Senior Appreciation Day” and seniors were getting discounts on stuff. We went and got what we needed and were heading towards the checkout line when some doofus came on the loudspeaker and said that all prescriptions were now just $1.00. Holt fuck, the old folks went crazy! A huge mass of them started heading towards the pharmacy at the front of the store. They were yelling and fighting for position and they didn’t hear the doofus clarify that he meant prescriptions on just one type of medicine were $1.00.

I don’t know about you, but seeing a surging tsunami of old people heading towards us scared the hell out of Grace & I & a couple of cashiers. We all ran out the front doors just as the tidal wave of senior citizens broke on the pharmacy. Even worse, as they found out about the mistake, the old coots started getting angry. Next thing you know, there was a full fledged riot going on! I looked at my Sweet Angel and we both decided to haul ass back to the bus and get the fuck outta there.

My sisters and I could smell old human smell all the way out to the bus. It was not pleasant.

We were a good mile from the now burning & surrounded by cops Wal-Mart before we realized that we had not paid for our stuff. Score!

Some 87 miles down the highway from Minot, we came to yet another roadside attraction, The Pyramid Of The Prairie. This thing is build entirely out of old flattened cars ans is 60 feet on a side and 70 feet tall at the peak, which is, if I saw correctly, a squashed red 1964 Chevy Corvair.

I smelled like, maybe 1,000,000,000 mice at that place!

For three bucks you get to look at it up close and even go inside to the “Great Chamber”, where a perfectly preserved gold 1959 Cadillac Eldorado sits in a huge open sarcophagus. It was cool and at the same time very strange.

We took lots of pictures, bought t-shirts and postcards (no fridge magnets) and then got back on the road. A few hours later, we arrived in Fargo. When we went out to eat at a Golden Corral, I asked the server if she knew where I could rent a wood chipper. She must have A: seen the movie and B: never been asked that, because she started laughing so hard she had to sit down.

It is always pleasing to have one’s humor appreciated.

After dinner, we returned to the RV park, which has a very large fenced in dog park. We let the hounds and Flash run loose and wouldn’t ya know it, a squirrel fell out of a tree into the enclosure. In the wink of an eye, Lucy, Flash and a terrier named George were after the bushy tailed intruder. They did a couple of laps around the fence line, then the squirrel shot up the fence. That stopped the dogs, but Flash was still in hot pursuit. He chased the squirrel along the top of the fence, but it jumped onto a low hanging tree limb and was gone. Still, Flash seemed pretty pleased with himself and we all praised his fine effort at rodent control.

Dude, that squirrel was all like “oops!” and I was all like “oh hell yes” and then he was all like “SHIT!” and me and the dogs were like “yer dead, bitch!” and then it was hella crazy and then I was like “I’m on yer ass, squirrely” and then he was like jumpin’ and dude, it was hella cool!

As we often do, movies were watched (“Big Trouble In Little Jamaica” and “Willy Wonka Goes To Mars”), chocolate eaten and then beds were climbed into. Tomorrow, we venture into darkest Minnesota and whatever strange things await us there.

Destination Sign: The Cobalt Club

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

Gone Fission

…I’ll try to get to church for critical mass

The Trip to DogCon 3: Day 6, Part 2, In which we support small local & wierd business, are boarded by the police and see our critters eat for free.

(Note: All comments by Flash are in italics)

Well, it took many hours and 438 miles, but we are finally in North Dakota. Williston, ND, to be exact. The Buffalo Meadows RV park, to be exacter. No, there are no buffalo or bison here. There are three Holstien cows not far away though.

After we left the field full of pronghorns, we stopped 4 times at various tourist traps and once for lunch. The list follows…

Havre: We stopped here for gas, sightseeing and to visit The House Made Of Whiskey Bottles. There is actually no charge to see it, since the city of Havre owns it. I was expecting a small bungalow, but no, this place is 7 rooms and 2 stories tall, plus it has a 10’X 15’X 8′ shed next to it. That all took a shitload of booze bottles to build. Of course, I reckon there wasn’t a hell of a lot to do but drink whiskey in Northern Montana in 1880-85, when it was constructed.

Malta: Here, we stopped for lunch (burgers & shakes) and to visit The Lighthouse, which is in fact, a lighthouse. Now, as you might imagine, lighthouses are few and far between in landlocked states like Montana. Nevertheless, there it was, 75 feet high and looking like every New England lighthouse I’ve ever seen a picture of. Which figures, since it was built by a former fishing boat captain from Maine who moved to Montana and made big money in cattle. Both Grace & Sharon declined the heart attack inducing climb up to the top, but being not of sound mind, I trudged up. The Girls couldn’t go, but Flash did by riding on my shoulders. The view from the top was great, once I sucked in enough oxygen for my vision to clear.

I really enjoyed the trip up, despite Dad wheezing and gasping for air and calling himself a halfwitted idiot.

Wolf Point: This is the home town of The Famous Performing Albino Mules and sure enough, we paid $3.00 each to see a 35 minute show featuring 10 of the best trained mules I’ve ever seen, all of them albinos. After the show, we were allowed to pet them and sit on them for pictures (an additional $5.00 each). To avoid anything remotely like the “Squirrel Incident” all of our critters were on lockdown until we left.

Whatever happened to “paid you debt to humanity, now you are free”?

It was also in Wolf Point that we had an encounter with the local police. When we got back to the bus, there was the Sheriff waiting for us. My first thought was “what the fuck did the critters do now?” and my second was “or is John Law gonna just check out them hippies?”.

Turns out, I was wrong on both counts. He just wanted to see how we had the bus tricked out because he had a line on a used bus and was nearing retirement. I showed him around outside and inside (after switching off the TARDIS unit, because some shit is just too hard to explain to mundanes) and he was pretty impressed. I had to make up some off the cuff technobabble to explain the paint job, but he bought it.

Culbertson: This was our final tourist stop in Montana and it only took a few minutes, because it just doesn’t take long to look at an 80′ wide, 20′ tall mural of Montana settlers made out of pop bottle caps (circa 1958).

By the way, for those of you keeping tabs, we bought 9 more fridge magnets, 3 t-shirts, 16 postcards and a ball cap with a white mule on it.

By the time we reached our destination in South Dakota, it was 6:15 PM and we were all hungry as starving tenrecs. With that in mind, we went to Bob & Patty’s Family Buffet. Business was slow, so they told us if we sat on the patio, we could bring the critters with us and they’d give them something to eat at no charge. I have never seen dogs & cats eat so much pasta, fish, veggies, beef, pie and cake. By the time we left, they all looked like furry basketballs.

I love those people! Sweet Ceiling Cat above, they were the most generous humans on Earth! I ate a slab of cod as big as my head, then a slice of cherry pie, then a bratwurst…oh man, it was great!

Beat as we were from the long day, it was early to bed for everyone. But as per usual, I woke up later and decided to write this.

More bloggage tomorrow.

Destination Sign: Altair 4

Electric Cocoa

…tasty and hallucinatory

The Trip to DogCon 3: Day 6, Part 1, In which we leave at the dawning of the day, eat a big breakfast and find out exactly where the antelope play.

(Note: All comments by Flash are in italics)

I was up about an hour before dawn to shower and get everything ready for departure. After feeding & walking the critters, we were off. Lucy acted as my co-pilot by climbing up in the front passenger seat and looking around for maybe 2 minutes before falling asleep. Winker fell asleep on the floor between the seats and Flash sacked out on the dashboard.

About 90 minutes later, once Grace & Sharon had awakened and made themselves ready to leave the bus, we stopped in Inverness to have breakfast at Martha’s Truck Stop. Big portions rule here and my biscuits & gravy filled a plate most people might serve a roast turkey on. Grace & Sharon had omelets that looked like egg colored sleeping bags with two fat people inside. All the food was darned good, we said as we waddled back to the bus.

Did I mention that the truck stop not only had fridge magnets & t-shirts, but a good selection of bandannas? Yeah, we spent some $$ there.

Personally, I think the money would be better spent on catnip and squeaky toys.

We are stopped about 6 miles outside of Havre just now, because…
1: The dogs needed to pee
2: There are about 150 pronghorns out in a big meadow right beside the road. Although many folks call them Pronghorn Antelopes, the antelopes parts is incorrect. We have seen lots of them before on trips through the Rocky Mountain states, but never in these numbers. Pretty darned cool.

Holly Herring Snacks! All that meat on the hoof had my inner lion going crazy. Oh, to be 10 times larger and weigh about 100 times what I do now!

We will soon hit Havre and the first of our roadside attractions of the day. More bloggage later.

Destination Sign: Kzin