Eating Cold Cereal And Singing The Blues

…around a mouthful of Cap’n Crunch.

The final (for now) three entries for “Life On The Magic Bus”.

Chapter 6, Part 1: True Tales Of Roadside Strangeness

A return to the Golden State
Grace shows off her melons

Destination Sign: Ravenloft

Captain’s log, 5/8/2009, 8:45 am

After 6 more days in Oregon, during which we visited 3 treehouses, 4 houses decorated heavily with seashells (there are, like, 37 more seashell houses around the United States & Canada), 2 more supposedly “haunted” buildings, a trained sea lion show, a herd of albino deer, a tropical jungle on the Oregon coast (Under a geodesic dome. Pretty cool.) and 3 museums to weird stuff (license plates, womens shoes and beer bottles), we are finally back in California. Arcata, California, to be exact.

SASHA! Stop chewing your sister’s tail!

I’ll try to remember to edit that out later.

Anyway, we spent last night at the Surfside RV park, a nice enough little place that was mostly full of Deadheads on their way down to San Francisco to the final Grateful Dead concert at Winterland. Sad to think that Gerry Garcia probably won’t live to see Halloween, but cancer is like that.

As you might imagine, the smell of weed was everywhere, so we mostly stayed inside the bus last night. Grace & Sasha watched a movie or two, Winker was down below helping Joe do some mechanical stuff and Lucy & I went to check out the warehouse, once we swore to Grace on out lives that we would not mess with anything dangerous looking, not so dangerous looking, or just plain strange looking. Mind you, this is the same woman that once convinced me that we needed to steal a French bomber carrying two nukes.

The warehouse, as stated elsewhere, is big. Stuff is stacked way high and the corridors between the crates are about 15 feet wide to accommodate the helpful SmartBots that keep everything tidy. These, however, are also big SmartBots, four times the size of the ones that take care of the rest of the bus. They have built in forklifts and grabbers and such.

Lucy and I started with some small boxes. Many of them were filled with receipts and stuff, but one was filled with assorted sized eyeballs that could and did all swivel to watch us. We agreed that they rated about a 9 on the Creep Scale, but we made a note to tell Winker about them, in case she thought they could replace her missing eye.

Other boxes included old jewelry (mostly not worth much) and small parts for I don’t know what. Finally, we found a box of old comic books from some alternate reality. They were pretty good reads, seeing as how they were written for a decidedly more adult audience.

After a couple of hours of reading, we decided to go have a snack in the kitchen. I had a salami sandwich and Lucy had some beef stew. After that, I took her for a poop walk. Just getting from the bus to the dog area and back had us both pretty buzzed, so we went to sleep.

This morning, just before breakfast, Grace came in from the greenhouse with a couple of great looking and ripe smelling cantaloupes. We all had some, except Winker, who is allergic to them. Me, I’m allergic to honeydew melons. Back on the farm, Grace was always proud of her annual crop of melons, especially the cantaloupes, canary melons and 6 or 7 types of watermelons. They are always damned tasty.

Our itinerary for today has us going to visit a bigfoot museum, a shop that sells hand carved driftwood and the World Famous House On a Pole. I’m really looking forward to that last one. Grace and Winker, not so much.

Captain’s log out.

Chapter 6, Part 2: True Tales Of Roadside Strangeness

A house on a pole
Sasha gets goosed

Destination Sign: The Baxter Building

Diary entry for Winker Sue Clay, 5/9/2009, 7:30 pm

Dear Diary,

Well, this was an eventful and somewhat scary day for some of us, particularly Sasha.

We started out by going to yet another Bigfoot museum, which had pretty much all of the same questionable footprint casts, fake hair samples (I could smell that these were bear fur) and blurry photographs taken at over 100 yards distance. The guy running the joint is some “famous” Bigfoot hunter, which means that he’s been on that late night bi-coastal weird shit & conspiracy show more than twice. I’d bet cash money that his buddies call him “Bubba” and most of his Bigfoot sightings involve alcohol.

The World Famous House On A Pole was indeed a small house on a tall (as in 100 feet tall) pole. Granted, the pole was ten feet thick, but still, it looked damned skinny. The whole thing swayed just a tiny bit in the stiff wind.

As you have no doubt guessed by now, only Daddy & Lucy wanted to pay the $5.00 to go up into the house and look around. Mom, Sasha and I stayed earthbound to buy bumper stickers & stuff.

You reach the house by taking a freestanding elevator (which was rather cleverly constructed, in my opinion) to the front door. Up went Daddy, Lucy, Mr. Okawa (who owns the house that was built by his brother 15 years ago) and three other no doubt brain damaged people, then into the house.

Daddy reported later that the house was a small one bedroom affair with a decent sized kitchen and a fully functional bathroom. You can spend the night in the house for a couple of hundred bucks, an idea that the Mom Unit shot down hours before we got there. Daddy also reported that the ocean view was incredible.

So, as we are looking up at the house, wondering if Lucy would find a way to jump out a window or something, Joe calls me on my Translator (they work like a short range cell phone, too) and tells me that a big gust of wind is coming. I no sooner tell mom that we need to get back inside the gift shop when the wind hits. We all look at the house and it sways a good foot and a half from side to side. Fortunately, it did not hit the elevator.

From what Lucy told us later, there was much screaming and yelling and cussing and barking as everyone fell on their asses and slid back & forth across the floor. Decorations and things flew around and Lucy said one lady definitely peed herself.

The moment the house started swaying, Mom started breathing again, Sasha said “Man, that was so cool looking!”, I was able to blink again and everybody in the house hauled ass onto the elevator. When they got down to the ground, Daddy & Lucy both said “That was fun!” and Mom said several bad words before ordering them onto the bus. Mom does not like being scared.

The carved driftwood place was interesting because it had very beautiful carvings done by Mr. Fred Mallory & his wife Lana and it wasn’t up on a swaying pole. Fred only has one eye (lost it in Viet Nam), so he and I hit it right off. Their shop and house are on a small farm just across the highway from the beach, which makes getting driftwood pretty easy. They have a dog (Lab mix) named Ellie, but she is my age and a whole lot slower and more prone to sleep. Their cat, Misty, is only about 5 and seems like a nice enough cat.

In fact, it was while Lucy and Sasha were outside exploring the well fenced yard that Misty said to me “I hope your sisters don’t bother the geese” just before I heard Sasha barking and yelling “Hello, geese!”

Now, Lucy and I know what mean and cranky fuckers geese are. We both learned the hard way as pups on the farm. But by the time Sasha was adopted, Mom & Dad had sold off or eaten the geese. I will not confirm or deny that Lucy & I cheered every time a goose went in the oven. Anyway, Sasha knew about ducks and chickens, but she was clueless about geese.

Yelling “Mom! Dad! Geese!” I ran out of the shop and headed toward the sounds of honking geese and yipping Sasha. She was going full tilt around the barnyard with seven geese hot on her tail. One nipped her ear and one nipped her tail. The poor kid was terrified.

I’m an old gal and not very fast or full of endurance, but I did manage to bodyslam a goose, knocking it ass over tea kettle into another. Lucy, who is four years my junior and still in good shape was crashing through the geese, knocking them all over. The problem was that the dumb meanass waterfowl just jumped up and started chasing her. I had to do something, despite feeling like I had just been hit by a train.

Our Multiversal Translators are, by necessity, mind controlled. That means that we can use thoughts to change our voices or increase the volume and such. Quick as, well, a thought, I cranked up both the volume and the bass of my voice and barked as loud as I could.

It had a pretty dramatic effect. Everybody, including Mom, dad and the Mallory’s (who all had just come running from the shop) stopped cold in their tracks. I barked again and the geese all ran into their pond. Sasha and Lucy looked at me, then Lucy said “Holy shit!” and Sasha said “Wow! Winky has a superpower!”

So then we were put on the bus where Mom tended to Sasha’s owies and Dad loaded up the bunches of driftwood carvings he had bought. Later, I got an extra serving of Dog Rice with gravy and Sasha thanked me and said she wanted to grow up to be like me. Lucy just walked up and said “Way to go, Winky”.

Chapter 6, Part 3: True Tales Of Roadside Strangeness

Doc cooks
Grace slides

Destination Sign: Camp Crystal Lake


After three days of driving down the California coast and visiting roadside attractions ranging from an inland oyster farm to a doll village (universally judged “fucking creepy” by our travelers) to an upside down house, the Clay family bus was parked just outside Stinson Beach at a state park. The day had been spent just wandering around the wilderness, enjoying nature. Now, at 4:00 pm, they were all back on the bus and relaxing.

For Doc, relaxing meant cooking up a fine dinner with only minimal help from the SmartBots (all of whom were excellent cooks).

For Grace, relaxing meant putting the Slide Room into water park mode, then having fun sliding around with Lucy & Sasha.

Relaxation for Winker was puttering about the workshop helping Joe sort and store tools and parts.

Let’s see how that all worked out.

Doc was sauteing some onions, bacon and assorted herbs when he realized he had forgotten the red pepper flakes. He walked over to the spice cabinet, but when he opened it, instead of neatly arranged spices & herbs, he found a really big snake thing looking back at him. Snake THING, because it had the general look of a snake, but little knobs protruding from it’s stomach like proto-legs or something, along with a vaguely humanoid looking face and vestigial wings. It did not look happy.

SHIT!”, Doc yelled as the snakething attacked him. He dodged out of the way and the 15 foot long creature went sliding into the dining room. Doc started after it.

Fry, take over for me”, he told the SmartBot. On his way through the kitchen, he grabbed a 10 inch chef’s knife and a bottle of hot sauce. By the time he got to the dining room, the creature was coming back toward him at a rather alarming rate. Those little knobs were pretty effective feet and it had a couple hundred on each side.

As it came flying at him, hissing all the while, Doc waited until it was nearly on him, then squirted it right in the face with hot sauce. The thing went apeshit, presumably with pain, and whacked Doc with about 7 feet of it’s heavy tail end, knocking him back and down. He was back on his feet in a second, noticing that he had gotten hot sauce all over his shirt in the fall.

Damn it, that was my favorite shirt. Janis Joplin gave me that shirt!”

The snakething came at him again and this time, neither of them were fucking around. It had it’s mouth wide open, fangs showing and Doc had the knife in his hand. He stood motionless as it once more threw itself through the air, aiming to bite his left shoulder of neck. Just before it could hit him, Doc dropped to his knees, thrust the knife up and let the weight and momentum of the creature do the work of slitting it open for about 6 feet.

Snakething guts fell onto the floor, along with strange looking purple blood. As the creature writhed in pain, Doc sliced off it’s head and then whacked it’s body into 5 sections. The smell was pretty rank.

As he leaned up against the wall, Doc thought two things: One, he might be getting a bit old for knife fighting monsters. Two, he’s better get all of this cleaned up before Grace & The Girls got back.

Abbott! Costello! Clean this stuff up and I don’t want ANY traces left, especially the smell. Fry, Laurie, I’m going to go clean up. Take over the dinner prep, but leave those duck breasts to me.”

He headed for the laundry room, where he stripped naked and instructed the washer to be extra careful with his shirt. Then he hopped into the shower to clean off. By the time he got back to the kitchen, the spice cabinet was full of spices again and the SmartBots had most of dinner done.

Ah well, maybe next time he’d do most of the work.

In the Slide Room, Grace and Lucy & Sasha were having a swell time sliding along the floor, walls, ceiling and space in between. After a bit though, Grace thought she might see if she still had some of her old surfer moves, so she stood up.

Positioning herself as though she were on a board, she zoomed down a stte section of slide, then crouched down into a corkscrew turn. When she came out of the turn, she jumped over to another section of slide that went up one wall.

Wow!”, Sasha yelled, “Mom has the moves!”

She sure does”, said Daisy, who then decided to stand up and try barepaw surfing herself.

Pretty soon, they were all shooting along at about 40 miles an hour doing handstands and one or two footstands and spins and all sorts of tricks, all to the music of the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean and the Ventures.

Not bad for an old mom”, Grace yelled.

Or an old dog!”, said Lucy.

Or a young pup like me!”, Sasha chimed in.

And then Grace had the speed cranked up to 50 miles an hour and they were really shooting the curls.

Down in the workshop, Winker was putting some parts into Storage room 15 when she saw that a door was open down the hall. Most likely Joe had left it open, because he had a habit of not closing doors. As she went toward it, she saw that the door was marked “Central Computer”. This piqued her curiosity, since she had never even known that the bus had a central computer.

The room she walked into was big, maybe the size of a football field, and 15 or so feet high. Most of it was full of some sort of crystalline structures that were full of tiny flashes of light in dozens of colors. In fact, the only non-crystalline thing in the room were a pair of ten foot tall cubes and a slightly taller video screen that connected the two. The screen was maybe 20 feet wide and 12 feet tall. As Winker walked into the room, the screen lit up and the word “HELLOSWEETIE” appeared across the top of it. Below that, a rather low res image of a woman appeared.

Hello, Winker. How may I help you today?”

The computer had a very pleasant voice, Winker thought.

Hello, Computer. Well, for starters, you can tell me about yourself.”

The face on the screen smiled.

That covers a lot of territory. How about if I just start with the basics?”

I’m cool with that.” Winker laid down on the warm floor in a comfy, yet attentive position as the computer started talking.

A couple of hours later, as the family sat down to dinner, Doc asked “So, did you all have good relaxing fun today?”

Yep”, said Winker, “Just puttered around with Joe.”

And we had fun sliding around in the water.”, Sasha said as she winked at Mom & Lucy. “What about you, Daddy?”

Oh, you know me, I just love messing around in the kitchen. Nothing more relaxing than slicing & dicing. Now who wants some duck breast in butter sauce?”