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

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

Interesting Mice Are Often Nice

…and the like to eat rice

The Trip To DogCon 3: Day 1

Well, instead of getting up at 3:30, I overslept until 4:00, so we were only 30 minutes late getting on the road, which is a new record for almost leaving on time. Someday, we might actually leave on time, but I’m not sure I could stand the shock.

Anyway, we pulled out of the driveway at 4:00 and were soon on our way north up Interstate 5. I was the only one awake to greet the dawn 90 minutes later, but greeting the dawn is pretty fucking overrated, so I just concentrated on driving and listening to music.

Around 7, we pulled into Redding to gas up and eat large quantities of breakfast at a truck stop called Truck You, Charlie. It’s not a bad place and they do serve their food with extra grease. They also let us bring the critters in, since they are better behaved and nicer smelling than most of the regular human clientele.

About an hour later, we were off to our first stop, The Tree Tied In A Knot. This is located in the mildly famous town of Weed, California. We arrived just a few minutes ago and I’m writing this while The Girls & Flash are going walkies. More trip reportage will come later today.

Destination Sign: Oa