Where Are The Cookies? I Was Told There Would Be Cookies.

…and milk!
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Life On The Magic Bus

Chapter 8, Part 3: Across America At Random

The trip begins
Artwork is observed

Destination Sign: Gondor

7/28/2009

It was 5:35 in the morning and all of the humans involved in the “Great Random Route Trip To GenCon” were standing on the beach looking out at the Pacific Ocean, the city of San Francisco behind them.

“Now remember, everyone, the exact routes we take from points whatever to whatever are purely up to you, except when there is no more than one choice or when a stopping point is off the interstate.” Phil Lacewood, kilt clad as always, paused to sip his tea. Doc picked up where Phil left off.

“Stopping time is 5:00 pm each day at whatever spot is randomly chosen. Starting times after today will always be 7:00 am, so we are doing 10 hour days. Each leg of the trip will have 3 points where you need to get a geek item. These are being set up now by our dedicated advance team, who left yesterday at 6:00 pm. Nobody knows exactly what the geeky items are, but their general locations will be well marked on your daily maps and the exact location will have a sign.”

“Everyone has a cell phone or other internet connection, so stay in touch.”, Phil said. “If you have trouble or find something cool we should know about, let everyone know. Okay, we’ve got sun up coming in about 5 minutes, so grab a couple more donuts and climb in your rigs. When the whistle blows, we’re off! Have fun and we’ll see you all at stop #1!”

There were 15 vehicles involved in the race, ranging from the Magic Bus to Phil’s heavily modified Saab wagon to a 1959 Cadillac Coupe DeVille to a Volkswagen bug. All of then held at least 2 people.

The drivers climbed into them and and a few minutes later, a young college student who had been paid $50 to start the race blew a very loud whistle. The race was on.

On the Magic Bus, Doc and Spike were in the cab and everyone else was either in the living room or still in bed. Both men had donuts and a hot drink. Their present route had them driving city streets until they got to the Bay Bridge. Along the way, they pointed out spots that they had visited in years gone by.

“There’s the Doggie Diner we ate at when Mary was pregnant with the twins”, Spike pointed out. “I think she ate more hot dogs on that trip than the previous year.”

Doc chuckled. “Yeah, pregnancy cravings will do that. When Grace was pregnant with Sam, we could not keep enough ice cream in the house for a while there. Then she switched over to thin sliced hard salami.”

They passed old game stores and restaurants and book stores, each one eliciting a memory or two. Eventually, they came to the bridge and not long after that, turned off onto city streets in the East Bay.

Somewhere about 90 minutes into the trip, as they were nearing Vallejo, Winker stepped into the cab.

“I’m taking breakfast orders. What will you two have?”

Spike went with a bowl of Cap’n Crunch and Doc opted for a steak & eggs breakfast burrito. Winker left and 15 minutes later a SmartBot arrived with their meals.

About 20 minutes later, while driving along a country road near Fairfield, they got a text from one of their fellow drivers saying there was a “field full of interesting artwork” up ahead. A few minutes later, Doc pulled up and everyone got off the Bus to have a look.

“Everything is made out of cans”, Sasha said as she went into the field for a better look.

True enough, each of the 6 statues was built entirely out of cans that had previously held food or drink. The largest was 15 feet tall and was a man in the middle of a golf swing. A 12 foot tall woman stood nearby in an ice skating pose. Three 7 foot tall kids playing baseball were about 50 feet away and the whole tableau was finished by a 6 foot long dog leaping to catch a Frisbee.

Very sporty”, Grace observed. “I wonder if it was done for the Sacramento Winter Olympics back in 1994?”

Doc was busy taking pictures. He was certain this was not on any Roadside attractions lists, and Roadside Attractions Monthly paid a hundred bucks for finding new stuff.

After a few more minutes, everyone got back into their vehicles and took off. Spike left the cab to go hang out in the living room and was soon replaced by Lulu. She and Doc chatted about various things until they were a few miles outside Dixon, where the first geeky items were. Doc popped open the door at the stop, which was right under a large hand painted sign about 60 feet off a short dead end side road. Lulu jumped out and grabbed one of the 6 inch plush 4 sided dice. As she got back on the Bus, everyone in the living room area cheered.

A bit later, after they had crossed into Sacramento via the I Street Bridge, Doc made a turn down an alley, leaving the 14 other cars behind. He knew that they were all planning on going out Auburn Boulevard until they got to Roseville. But Doc had been listening to the radio and knew that there was an accident on I-80, which would move traffic off to nearby surface streets. He would take a route down a slightly more distant street and avoid the slowdown.

Once the texts about slowing down started coming in, doc waited about 5 minutes, then texted everyone the route to use. He got back many texts, most of which went much like Phil’s text of “Thanks, you cunning bastard”. With a comfortable lead now his, Doc got back on Auburn Blvd and drove as fast as traffic would allow.

All things being equal, the drive from San Francisco to Reno, Nevada, usually takes about 4 hours or so. It had taken out intrepid races 6 hours, which included the stop at Donner Summit to get geeky item #2, a bottle of Jolt! Cola. All cars were now parked in the lot at the Peppermill Casino & Resort, where they would hit the buffet for the last joint lunch of the trip. After today, the rule was “grab lunch where ya can grab it!”.

An hour later, they were on the freeway heading to the next point where they could get off onto side roads. Doc chose to go north of the interstate for two reasons: a long straight stretch of gravel road and a nearly forgotten piece of roadside attraction history.

The First Cat Ranch West Of The Mississippi was, as it turned out, the only cat ranch anywhere. It seems that in the spring of 1897, a couple named Elom and Gussie Hork decided to settle down outside ?????, Nevada and “raise fancy cats to sell back East”. To feed the cats, they raised chickens. Unfortunately, the winter of 1898-1899 was pretty harsh and over the course of a month, bears and coyotes got all of the chickens. Deprived of food, the cats got…unruly. In May of 1869, the local sheriff came out to check on the ranch “cos them two wasn’t right in the head”. He found no trace of the Horks or the cats. The whole self guided tour took less than 15 minutes and cost nothing. Even Grace admitted that the little cat sized corrals and barns were kinda cute looking.

Geeky stop #3 was just west of Winnemucca and the item was an assortment of of convention t-shirts, please take only one. Doc chose an Origins 2001 shirt, mostly because that con had been in Sacramento and he and Spike had first discussed selling their company then.

At just before 5:00 PM, the last car in the race rolled into the Wendover Campground and RV Park in Wendover, Nevada. Conveniently located next to a casino, the racers all agreed that more buffet and some gambling might be in order. The day’s winner for the race were Chuck & Peter Hildreth, who had made great, if bone jarring, time across Nevada in a 1965 Ford Pickup belonging to Chuck. The Magic Bus came in third.

After a few hours of eating, drinking and general merrymaking, everyone went back to their campsites and got some sleep in preparation for Day #2.

The Springtime Fresh, But Also Rather Spicy, Story Of Mostly Purple Patty And The Great 4th Of July Bicycle Race

…co-starring her Auntie Griselda Weeks
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Life On The Magic Bus

 

Chapter 9, Part 1: Across America At Random


Doc makes a case
Grace has doubts

Destination Sign: Suffragette City

6/16/2009

Doc Clay was reading his email when he suddenly let out a loud “Hot Damn Yes!”. Grace, Lucy, Winker and Sasha all looked up from their own emails and gave him varying degrees of the same curious but wary stare.

What now?”, Grace asked.

“Phil Lacewood just suggested a totally cool idea for all of us driving from the West Coast to GenCon this year: a road rally along Interstate 80, from San Francisco to Milwaukee. This would be using roads near the interstate, but not I-80 itself.”

“Sounds like fun!”, Lucy exclaimed with her usual joy.

“Cool! We can see lots of stuff.”, said Sasha, who was still an innocent pup where Doc’s plans were concerned.

Winker sighed and said, “What could possibly go wrong?”

Grace just looked at Doc and said “Go on.”

Having been given the spousal green light, Doc continued.

So, we would leave San Fran at sun up a week before the Tuesday before the con. There will be a fishbowl with routes and stops in it on index cards. One will be drawn every morning and we’ll all leave at first light and stop at 4:00 in the afternoon. It will be hella fun, baby!”

Having been through nearly 40 years of “hella fun” plans, Grace gave this about a 70% chance of actually being fun. Considering all the things she had done in her life that had far less chance of success, she decided to give it a go.

“Okay, we’ll give this mad idea a try, but you tell Phil that I haven’t forgotten the scavenger hunt at GenCon 1998.”

Doc did a fair job of looking shocked and wounded.

“Aw, baby, that was a whole different thing. It would have turned out perfectly fine if the Milwaukee police hadn’t overreacted.”

“Overreacted? You were all stealing hubcaps! You had to hide in a tree for 3 hours and Phil jumped into the river to get away. One other guy hid in a dumpster.”

We were going to put those hubcaps back at some point.”

“MmmHmmm”

Everyone in the room, including the dogs who were now pretending to watch an exciting commercial on television, knew that “MmmHmmm” was Gracespeak for “Better change the subject”.

Doc blinked and quickly launched into a speech about how fun it would be to hang with friends and get off the interstate and maybe, just maybe, see a few roadside attractions that they might have missed in years past.

Winker let out a laugh. “And that sound you heard was the other shoe dropping. He’s gonna use this trip to write another series for Roadside Attraction Quarterly.”

Doc looked at Winker with fake anger. “Laugh it up, old girl, but money is money. And now, I’m off to start getting things ready for the trip. It’s only 6 weeks away!”

After he left the room, Grace and The Girls looked at each other, smiling.

“Well,” Grace sighed, “At least we’ll know what he’s up to between now and July 28th.”

Boys On The Run With Dogs

…damned if I can remember what we were running from

 

 

Life On The Magic Bus

I’m sorry. I must have misheard you.” Doc Clay was sitting in his favorite chair on the Bus, facing Grace, his son Sam and his daughter in law Rani.

Rani laughed at his genuinely puzzled expression. “I said, you are going to be a grandfather.”

 

Doc blinked. He heard the words coming out of her mouth, but they made no sense.


“I can’t be a grandfather. I’m too young.”

Grace gave him an exasperated look. “You’re 57, you old fart. Two years older than your dad was when we had Sam. Like it or not, grandfather is going on your resume next to farmer, game designer and spy.”

This news had the desired effect on Doc. He sat back in his chair, eyes wide. His right hand extended out to the side where Jeeves, his SmartBot gentleman’s gentleman, placed a large double Irish whiskey in it. He gulped down a large mouthful, then looked at his son and Rani.

“Well, I’ll be damned. I’m gonna be a grandpa.”

(Historical Note: those were exactly the same words Doc’s dad, Bill, had said when he was told about Sam being on the way.)

“Are you two sure you’re old enough to be parents?” Doc was only halfway joking.

Same chuckled and laid his hand upon his dad’s left arm. “Yes, Dad, we are. We’re both 30, which I’ll remind you is three years older than you were when I was born.”

So, have you told your sister?,” Grace asked.

“Yep,” Sam replied. “Called her this morning. She pretty much lost her shit and started yelling about being an auntie. I figure everyone in her lab probably heard her.”

It was then that Sasha, Winker and Lucy came running in.

“We’re gonna be aunties too!” They yelled as they jumped up onto the sofa next to Rani and Sam.

“This is gonna be SO cool!,” Sasha said. “I love babies.”

Winker put her paw on Rani’s hand and told her,“You’ll be a great mother.”

Lucy gave Sam a kiss. “And you’ll be a great Dad, Sam.”

After a few moments, Grace looked at them and said, “You are bringing that baby into one damned strange family. I mean, I thought Doc and I had strange families…”

“And we do!,” Doc interjected.

“…but your baby will grow up knowing about talking dogs and SmartBots and buses that are bigger on the inside and who knows what else.”

Rani nodded. “Yes, and we haven’t even gotten to the part of my family still in India. My Uncle Gurdeep believes that ghosts live in his goat barn and my brother Raj collects animal skulls.”

Doc leaned back even further and sipped his whiskey.

“Oh yeah, this kid has no chance of being normal.”

 

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My Life Among The Cosplaying Dogs

…mostly Trek or Who cosplay

365 DAYS, 365 POSTS #5

Life On The Magic Bus

It was 2:30 in the morning and Doc & Grace Clay had been running almost non-stop for an hour through the godforsaken boondocks of North Korea, dodging NK Army patrols the whole way. To make matters worse, Doc was carrying a North Korean scientist on his back and Grace was carrying his wife. Thankfully, both of them were small, skinny from malnutrition and drugged into dreamland.

They were less than a mile from the DMZ when they finally stopped to rest and meet their contact. Both of the 20 something Yanks were very near to hitting the wall of exhaustion.

“When we get home,” Doc said between deep breaths, “I’m going to climb into the hot tub and stay there for a week, or until I fall asleep and drown.”

Grace wiped her sweaty brow. Korea, North or South, in the summer was a shitty hot place. And these mosquitoes could just fuck off, too. Why the hell did they love her so much and never bite Doc?

“I’m all for that and a massage, too. And a very cold drink or three. So, sweetheart, would now be a bad time to tell you some big news?”

Doc gave her a cautious look.

“Does the news involve us just driving across the DMZ in a big Caddy? Because if not, it better involve cold beer and a cheeseburger or I don’t want to hear it.”

“I’m going off the Pill after this mission.”

Doc was so tired, yet alert for the sounds of approaching enemies, that he took a full ten seconds to register what she had said.

“Off the pill? As in, becoming fertile and, one presumes, eventually pregnant?”

She smiled and nodded.

“Yep, exactly that. You ready for that, big daddy?” She, noticed that he had a look on his face like you might find on a politician who has just been asked to tell the truth about something.

After a moment, he just said, “Yeah, I guess so. Nice timing, by the way.”

She gave a quiet giggle as she pointed to the headlights in the distance.

I think our old buddy Captain Cho is here. Let’s grab our bundles and go meet him.”

Hours later, after the good Captain had been bribed with liquor and food, thus allowing Doc and Grace to use the smuggling tunnel that ran all the way under the DMZ and into South Korea and after they had dropped off their still drugged friends with the proper people, they checked into a swanky hotel and got showered and ready for bed.

“So,” Doc said as he climbed into bed, ”I guess we go to London in a few days for what will be our last mission for the Business, eh?”

“Yes, that’s about it. Central is not going to be happy about our leaving, but they’ll let us go.”

Doc chuckled. “Damned right they will or else everyone will know about Senator Leeman’s real affection for his wife’s clothing, how the Chief Justice of SCOTUS made the undeclared income he has tucked away in that Swiss bank and what is really going on in Area 51. We’ll be out so fast we’ll burn rubber. And now, my Sweet Little Apricot Turnover Of Love, let’s do what we used to do as teenagers.”

And with that, they fell asleep until 3:00 pm in the afternoon.

Crazed Paramecium Tickled My Rotifer

…those of you who didn’t major in biology can look it up

Life On The Magic Bus

Chapter: REDACTED due to being out of temporal order


Winker’s final bow
Things go cattywonkers

Winker Sue Clay was a month past her 18th birthday and knew her time was up. 18 was old for any dog and especially old for a basset hound that had been through the adventures she had been through. Now, her life was near it’s end and that was ok. One of the good things about being a dog, and there were many, was that you knew when your life was coming to an end from old age or illness. You felt the weight of it, your appetite decreased and you found that your energy was seriously diminished. You looked forward to the Long Sleep, as some humans called it. But unlike humans, you did not fear it, even if, like Winker, you were as smart as a human. One of the advantages of never having invented religion.

She had spent that morning saying goodbye to Sasha & Daisy, who, like all dogs, were sad to see her go, but would not grieve overly much. Daddy, by contrast, had cried and said goodbye at length. You’d think that a man who had terminated several humans as part of his spy job would have been more pragmatic about death.

Well, actually, he was pragmatic about humans dying, just not about animals. To this day, he felt bad about the time he had to kill a huge killer guard dog in a Chinese secret chemical plant. Later, he found the man who trained the dog to be so vicious and dropped him into a tank of acid after telling him “this is for the dog”.

Anyway, once she had finished with Daddy, Winker got in the car with Mom for a drive way out into the boonies. She had told everyone that she wanted to die in the old way, alone and out where nature could return her to the earth. So now, she and Mom stood beside a trail that was about half a mile from where the car was parked on an old logging road. It was a pretty area to do this thing in. She sat down and looked up at Grace.

“I can feel the Energital wearing off. Won’t be more than a couple minutes now.”

Grace looked at her, sorrow and something else showing on her face.

“This reminds me of Roscoe, when he left us after 22 years. I can’t help feeling sad.”

Winker nodded.

“I just wish it wasn’t so damned hard on Daddy. He stayed drunk for a week after Roscoe went.”

Grace petted her and said, “Well, I don’t think he’ll do that this time. He’d had Roscoe with him since he was 17. He’s older now.”

“And wiser?”

“Hey, let’s not go all crazy here.”

They both laughed at that.

A few seconds later, Winker laid down on her side. Her breathing became shallow.

“Here we go, Mom. I love you.”

A tear rolled down Grace’s cheek as she said, “I love you too, sweetie.”

Five seconds later, Winker stopped breathing. Grace took a deep breath, then looked at her watch. It was 11:38 and 40 seconds in the morning. She looked back down at her girl and started counting off seconds.

18 seconds later, Winker started to glow. Within a few seconds, she was glowing so brightly that Grace had to look away.

It took a minute longer for the glow to fade so Grace could look back, much longer than it had taken with Roscoe. What she saw caused her to gasp, then giggle. Oh, this was going to be fun to watch.

The creature formerly known as Winker opened it’s eyes and blinked twice.

“That took way too long. Why are you smiling? I feel smaller? Collar is WAY too large. Am I a chihuahua? No…feel fluffier. A Pomeranian? I’ve wondered about breed switching. Sex switching was bad enough, even if bitches are superior. Wait…is that cat I smell? No! Kitten! Did you bring a kitten here?”

Jumping up, there was a quick visual and nasal inspection.

“I’m a fucking CAT! A CAT! No, not even a cat yet…a kitten. Oh shit! It must have been those gene samples Sasha and I spilled. Well, could be worse. Could have been an echidna or an opossum. Don’t think I could stand being an opossum. Uglyass fuckers. Hey, look Mom, I have testicles and a penis again! Welcome back, boys! I knd of missed you. Ooh, look, retractable claws. Handy!”

By this time, Grace was laughing pretty hard. The kitten kept talking.

“Nice colors…not a ginger, but I look like a little tiger. Short hair, too. I’ve never much liked long hair. Sense of smell is moderately crappy. So is hearing. Oh well, maybe the improved night vision will make up for it. Wait, I’m going to have to learn to use a cat box, aren’t I? That sucks.”

Grace picked up the kitten. She had thought to bring several sized collars with her. She chose a small and rather butch looking one and put it on him.

“So, sweetie, cat body aside, how do you feel?”

He looked thoughtful for a minute, then said, “Less sciencey, more adventurey. Rather badass, actually. Probably turn out more narcissistic because I’m a cat. Feeling pretty male again, which is kind of like going home. I suppose the rest will gel over a few days or a week. How old do I look?”

Grace studied him. “I’d say 10 weeks or so. Old enough to be on your own. So how do we play this?”

He thought for a minute. This was the tricky part. Grace had shown up two weeks after Roscoe had “died” with a 9 week old basset puppy that she told Doc she had seen in the local shelter. She had said the pup was due to be euthanized. In reality,Winker had been hiding out in a neighbor’s barn. Despite it being so soon after Roscoe, Doc had taken to the puppy immediately.

“I think I need to test this body out for a bit. How about if I meet up with you all in Milwaukee during GenCon next month? You can find me in the alley next to The King and I. Sneak me out some softshell crab.”

That seemed like a good idea to Grace. This whole regeneration thing always seemed to require a shakedown cruise. She had no doubt that this time it would take the next five weeks.

“Ok, sweetie. We’ll see you at the con. Take care of yourself. Make sure you lose that multiversal translator before then.”

She hugged the kitten, then set him down on the path and started to walk to the car as he went in the other direction. After about 5 steps, she turned and called out, “Hey, pick out a nice new name, okay?”

The kitten turned back to her and said, “I already have. Call me Flash.”

Mrs. Wangdoodle Takes A Selfie

…to put on her Facebook page

Hey, look! It’s a new entry for Life On The Magic Bus! Yay!

Life On The Magic Bus

WARNING! WARNING! Temporally Displaced Post! This Post Is From The FUTURE. Read At Your Own Risk!

Doc Clay was racing along on inline hoverskates at about 25 miles an hour. The giant mutant rat behind him was closing the gap at 28 miles per hour.

“SHIT!, he yelled, “Here we come!”

Doc passed under a low hanging branch and, a few seconds later, so did the rat. The difference was that Doc did not encounter the business end of a Urokan Vibronic Pickaxe and the rat did. It’s head exploded in a spray of blood & gore and the body tumbled about 30 feet before it stopped. A moment later, Sasha swung down gracefully from the branch using her Ottopus tentacles. She was covered in that blood & gore and hoisted the pickaxe above her head before shouting “Who’s the killer bitch around here? This gal!”

Doc chuckled at that. It was true enough. He and Sasha had been using this some ploy to kill these goddamn rats for a week now, ever since the Magic Bus had been forced to stop for repairs on this post apocalyptic version of Earth.

Yeah, yeah”, he said, “You’re a badass, Now let’s get you cleaned up before the Mom Unit sees you.”

Back at the bus, he hosed Sasha off until she was mostly clean, then sent her inside to be properly washed up by a SmartBot while he washed his hands under the faucet. Despite this world being devoid of human life, he had to admit that 3,000 years of letting Mother Nature have her way with it had turned out pretty well, giant carnivorous rats aside. It was a very peaceful place to break down.

Well, “break down” wasn’t quite the term for it, but it was easier to say than “Stopped because the bus caught a nasty cold”. A bit easier on the brain, too.

He dried his hands and did some stretching moves. 68 years old was probably not the optimal age for hoverskating hell bent for leather through a forest with a giant mutant rat hot on your ass. It was fun, though, despite what Grace, Avis and his other two dogs said. And it would be a great story to tell the grandkids once he got home.

He paused before going inside, so he could watch a flock of what he called Golden Day Bats pass overhead. They were the size of fruit bats back home, but completely diurnal and insectivorous. Beautiful.

Then he went inside the bus and took a long shower before dinner.

Only One Way Out Of This Town

…until we got really creative, that is.

Life On The Magic Bus

Chapter 3: The Games Are Afoot!

Geeks gather

Winker goes up a level

4/20/2009

Destination Sign: Space…The Final Frontier

(Narrator: Hello, I’m back to tell you the story in this short chapter.)

Upon arriving in Seattle, Doc parked the bus in the parking lot of a strip mall destined for destruction in about a month. He and Grace had called all of their Seattle based friends, plus Spike & Mary, and invited them to an “absolutely first class dinner and night of gaming”. Pets were invited and would be getting their own gourmet meal.

Doc & Grace, both accomplished cooks and aided by the SmartBots known as Alton & Julia, cooked up a wonderful 9 course dinner for the humans and several tasty dishes suitable for a wide range of critters. This included three large rats for their friend Ollie’s reticulated python, Indy and a reserved dining area in the meadow room for all of the bunnies belonging to their friends Chris, Nicole & Kate.

At 6:00, as people arrived, the Clay family would greet them, help them get used to talking dogs and the big on the inside bus, then seat them in the living room where the two SmartBots known as Fry & Laurie served them drinks.

When Spike & Mary arrived (sans their teenaged daughters, Melody and Harmony, who were at home), the first words out of Spike’s mouth were, “So, this bus is basically a TAR…”

“HEY now, Uncle Spike,” Winker interrupted, “Stop right there. That satire disclaimer Dad puts up only gets us so far. Ixnay on the trademarked amesnay.”

Spike nodded agreement. “Right, right. But please tell me it makes the same sound when it disappears.”

“Yep,” the old dog said. “Pretty much exactly.”

Once everyone arrived, Doc & Grace took them on the grand tour. In the greenhouse room, the sight of the two suns caused everyone to need a sit down. Later, grace would remark that it was the first time in nearly 30 years that Doc & Spike were both rendered speechless at the same time. Mary marked it down on her calendar.

Before dinner, all of the critters were lead to the Meadow Room, which had been divided off into areas for dogs, cats, rodents, parrots and, of course, Indy. They were served beef stew, fish, hay, fruits & nuts and rats. After that, there was mostly laying around talking.

The humans sat at a big U shaped table that seated all 30 of them. They were served by Fry, Laurie, Abbott & Costello.

(Narrator: Doc named all of the SmartBots, in case you hadn’t figured that out.)

After a leisurely dinner that everyone agreed was one of the best they ever had, the humans retreated to the Game Room. There, they played board and card games for the next four hours, including a miniature wargame that used tiny robots that actually fought it out on the tiny, yet very realistic, terrain. Several of the wargamers present lusted over that game.

After the gaming, there was sitting around talking about everything from the game business to talking dogs to superheroes to raising teenagers. Everybody pretty much agreed that talking dogs would be preferable to teenagers as housemates.

Meanwhile, in the Meadow Room, things were getting interesting. After about an hour of resting, Winker said something to the door, which then opened into a direct portal to the Shoe Room. After all the other dogs were in there, Winker told the cats that a portal would open to a room they would love, the newly created just for this night Empty Box Room.

Later, the 7 cats in attendance that night would proclaim the Empty Box Room as the BEST ROOM EVER and confer upon Winker the status of Honorary Cat, something she said she would be proud of to her dying day.

In the Shoe Room, a wild shoe based version of what critters call “The Crazy Game” broke out. After three fast paced hours, there was still no winner, so everyone went back to the meadow room to nap and discuss the odd habits of humans.

Once all the guests were gone, the Clay family agreed that this little party had been a total winner. Then they all used their various bathrooms and went to bed.

Let’s review: This is a work of fiction, with no rights claimed on any character, process, thing, critter, foodstuff, game, movie or any other damned thing. Well, except for the stuff we created, mostly by pulling ideas out of our ass. Creativity is a funny thing, ya know? Anyway, any resemblance to people or things living, dead, undead or in some state of quantum flux is done solely for humorous & satirical intent. Thank you for reading this.

Chapter 4, Part 1: On The Trail Of Giant Jesus

Sasha meets a bear

Grace meets Sweet Jesus

4/24/2009

Destination Sign: The Hundred Acre Wood

In the world of roadside attractions, giant statues of Jesus are second in number only to houses built out of weird stuff like beer bottles, tin cans and old cars. Doc has heard that there is at least one giant Jesus in every state and, like a birdwatcher, he keeps a notebook detailing his sightings. So far, he has seen 15 giant Sons of God in 11 states. He’s looking to add a couple more on the way to San Diego.

About 2 miles south of the Canadian border, Doc turned the bus around and started back south, but only went a mile before coming to the first of the day’s stops, the Internationally Famous Can-Am Giant Jesus.

(Narrator: Is Internationally Famous better than World Famous? Damned if I know.)

Getting off the bus, Sasha was the first to speak.

“Dang, that’s a big statue. Was this guy Jesus really that tall?”

“No,” Grace told her. “He was probably shorter than me. And darker skinned, too.”

Sasha thought for a minute, then asked, “Do you mean like Uncle Louie’s cousin Jesus? He’s a nice guy who likes to pet my ears.”

“Yeah,” Grace said. “He would have looked kind of like him, only not Mexican. Jesus was from the Middle East.”

Lucy chimed in, “If you ask me, this Jesus dude looked a heck of a lot like Uncle Spike.”

Grace nodded. “Yes, he does, doesn’t he?”

Doc walked up to the plaque on the ground in front of Giant Jesus. He read it aloud to the others and a few more tourists who had just shown up.

“The Church of Jesus Our Savior dedicates this statue to the people of Canada & the United States in the hope that they can live in peace and harmony and dedicate themselves to living as the Son of God taught. June 25th, 1987”

“Well,” he said, “we humans pretty much blew that one. On the other hand, we do have the 7th tallest Giant Jesus in North America right here. 80 feet tall. Too bad you can’t go up inside him and look out his eyes, like some of the others.”

After taking several photographs and buying the requisite tourist items, they got back on the bus and headed toward the coast. A few hours later, after a quick stop to view a herd of world famous black deer, the bus reached Olympic National Park, where the Clay family joined about 30 other humans & dogs on a self guided tour. Later, Doc would write this about it.

“So there we are, way the hell out on a trail and there I am, at the head of the group of maybe 32 people and several mostly small dogs, cos I’m Nature Boy and I just sorta slid into the guide position on this unguided hike. Everything was going fine until the bear stepped outta the bushes about 60 feet in front of us.

At that point, everyone pretty much froze, bear included…except for Sasha. See, she’s a very friendly little gal. Loves people, cats, other dogs, livestock…you name it, she’ll give it a chance to be her friend.

Including a young female black bear, who I’d say weighed about 300-400 pounds.

So, I’m holding Sasha’s leash and she’s straining on it to say “Hi” to the bear and I can hear people behind me backing up the trail and Grace whispering “Doc! Come on!” and the bear is just standing there looking at us like “What’s up?” Oddly, none of the other dogs were barking, not even Lucy, who later told us that squirrels and rabbits are one thing, but a bigass bear is totally another.

Anyway, the bear stared at us, we stared at her and everyone else backed up another 3-4 yards. Then Sasha barked, the bear yelled, I yelled, everyone behind me yelled and they all started running…and then the bear hauled ass down the hill.

I looked at Sasha, who was still barking her “Let’s play wrassle!” bark, then looked at the rapidly receding ass of the bear, then back to Sasha. She stopped barking and said “She must have had a previous appointment.” Then I turned around and lead her back up the trail, which she was ok with because it was nearing lunch time anyway.

When I caught up with the rest of the hikers, the only thing I could think to say was “She’ll be upset with me all day because I didn’t let her kill that bear”. Oddly, nobody but Sasha and I found that funny.”

After lunch back on the bus, during which Doc & Sasha heard the rather unkind opinions of Grace, Winker & Lucy on “The Bear Episode”, they proceeded along to the town of Iwalco, Washington. They had planned on just stopping to get some fresh air and stretch their legs, but then they saw a sign in the local chocolate shop that said “Come in and see our Sweet Jesus”. How could they resist?

Leaving The Girls in the bus to play World of Dogcraft, Doc & Grace strolled over to see what Sweet Jesus was made of.

As it turned out, he was made of a dark chocolate mixed with cherries. He stood about seven feet tall and had his open arms outstretched. Doc posed with him first, then Grace did. Ten minutes later, they were back on the bus, Grace was looking sheepish and Doc was laughing loudly.

Winker looked at her parents, then asked, “She snapped, didn’t she, Dad?”

Doc was laughing too hard to speak, but nodded.

“He was..so delicious smelling…all dark chocolate & cherries…I…I couldn’t help myself.” Grace looked embarrassed as she wiped chocolate off her chin.

“She…she…Hahahaha…bit off two of his fingers! HAHAHAHA! The shop owner looked like she was going to have…hahahaha…have…heeheehee…a heart attack. I…heeheehee…had to pay $300 to get us out of there.” Doc collapsed onto a sofa and laughed hysterically. Lucy & Sasha joined in.

Winker looked at Grace with sympathy in her eyes. “Well, Mom, now you know how it was for 2 year old me back when I ate that plate of hot dogs.”

Grace went off to the bedroom and didn’t come out for an hour. Doc stopped laughing after 15 minutes and got the bus back on the road. The Girls went back to playing World of Dogcraft.

Chapter 4, Part 2: On The Trail Of Giant Jesus

Doc writes!

A tale of two houses

4/25/2009

Destination Sign: Barsoom


The World Famous Circular House and the World Famous Long House

Exclusive to Roadside Attractions Quarterly by Doc Clay. Photos by Grace Clay

Located halfway between Iwalco and Chinook along Highway 101, these two interesting houses are only about a mile apart on the eastern side of the road. You can’t miss the two big signs.

We went into the Circular House first. It is the older of the two by five years, having been built in 1968 by Milton Zonga with the admitted dual purpose of being a place to live and an income generating curiosity. It is both of those, although Mr. Zonga and his wife Rose live in Arizona now and the house is home to his grandson, Julius and his family. Our tour was guided by his wife, Kerry, who did a good, if uninspired job.

The circular house is just that, a large 4 bedroom 3 bath house built as a circle with one long hallway running around the inside edge of the circle. It is done in pretty much the exterior style of any suburban stucco house and most of the interior, aside from the entry hall/gift shop/museum looks pretty much like your own home might, only with curved walls and some great ocean views. The small museum itself has many photos and newspaper & magazine articles about the house, from planning right up to today.

The most interesting thing about the Circular House is the lust tropical garden around the pool in the center. This area is roofed over to form a greenhouse. There are tropical birds flying about and even about six squirrel monkeys in the trees. It’s really quite cool looking.

The array of souvenir items is pretty large, but prices are a bit high.

I give this attraction a solid C+

Address: 100 Circle Drive

Hours: 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, Mon., Wed., Sat., Sun. Closed on Christmas, New Years and Easter.

The World Famous Long House is just about the total opposite of the Circular House. For starters, it is long. As in 24 feet wide, 14 feet high (interior) and 200 feet long! The whole place is a very well made log cabin and blends in well with the surrounding forest. There are five bedrooms, three baths, a huge living room and a bunch of other rooms. Two of the bedrooms are for rent, as the place is also a B&B.

This house was built starting in 1973 by Homer and Helen Zonga, Homer being Milton’s younger brother. The house was not finished until 1979. The small separate museum/gift shop tells the whole story with photos, videos and plenty of newspaper & magazine articles.

The tour of the house is given by Homer and Helen themselves, with assistance from their twin grandsons, Bill and Ben. Homer is a real character and if their are no children or easily offended folks in the tour group, his descriptions of the troubles encountered building the house can get quite colorful.

Perhaps the coolest thing about the Long House is that every room is done up in a different style. There is the kitchen done up as an old school diner, the bedroom that looks like a cave and rooms straight out of the Old West, a science fiction movie, a castle and many more.

This place is well worth visiting and the souvenir items are reasonably priced.

Address: 1 Long Drive

Hours: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Tuesday thru Sunday. Closed on Mondays, Christmas, New Years, Easter and the Fourth of July.