…and was one full little hound
Life On The Magic Bus
At last, toilet paper!
A legend dies!
Destination Sign: Where You Least Expect Us
Captain’s log, 4/17/2009, 1:45 pm
We slept in a bit this morning before driving for two hours to see the World’s Largest Toilet Paper Rolls.
Our first stop once we left Crater Lake was in the tiny town of Dufur, Oregon. It is there that you will find two establishments, across the road from one another, competing for the title of World’s Largest Toilet Paper Roll. I could barely contain my excitement. Grace & The Girls, not so much.
As told to us by Mrs. Emily Umbar and Mrs. Lenola Raspe, way back in 1960, their husbands Frank and Charlie (then both 20) began several good natured competitions, as friends often do. First there was “who can grow the biggest zucchini”, then “who has the fanciest workshop”. Eventually, around 1985 and the “who can build the biggest play area for the grandkids” competition, the testosterone level hit critical mass.
Both men decided that they would build a tourist attraction. Both men decided on building a humongous toilet paper roll. The first year, they got pretty hefty size rolls made, but a huge rainstorm soon destroyed them. That did not stop the two bathroom tissue gladiators, who used the next few months to build very tall, very narrow barns to protect their masterpieces.
Like I said a couple of days ago, the last time I saw these humongous rolls, you paid 50 cents per group to see them and they were 12 feet tall. Things have changed quite a bit over the years.
Nowadays, you pay a buck a head to see these enormous rolls, which stand 80 FEET HIGH and are wound pretty tightly (as are the men who made them, if you ask me) by special slow turning gas engines.
When we arrived today, both men were arguing about whose roll was actually the longest, an argument that has been going on for decades. The wives, who actually conduct the short tour, were sitting together having coffee. We ponied up our money and they showed us around. The whole thing took about 30 minutes, by which time the two 69 year old men were just shy of coming to blows. While Grace bought post cards and fridge magnets and a bumper sticker (no t-shirts available), I wandered over to the men and asked them if there wasn’t some way to measure the roll lengths. I figured they’d just do individual roll length times the number of rolls, but they had other ideas.
Before you could say “crazy motherfuckers”, they had their cars lined up on the highway with the ends of the rolls tied to the bumpers and odometer trip meters zeroed out. Next thing you know, they were off. Well, they were probably off years ago, but now they were heading down the highway.
I figured the wives would be pissed, but they were laughing too hard to do much more than hug me and refund all our money. Gasping for breath, Mrs. Umbar explained that the rolls were at least 3,000 miles long and that she and Mrs. Raspe were now going to take a week long vacation up at the Indian casino near Spokane, Washington.
I’m kind of bummed out that this legendary roadside attraction will be gone, but I’m hoping that some young person somewhere will take up the challenge and start a new giant toilet paper roll.
Tomorrow or the next day, we will stop was in Roosevelt, Washington to see “Uncle Ferdie’s Trained Squirrel Review”. It got high marks from Tourist Trap Monthly, so we are really looking forward too it.
Now, with lunch behind us, we are off to see the Historic House Of Mirrors.
Captain’s log out.
Squirrels & Disaster
Wood & Whimsy
Diary entry for Grace Clay, 4/18/2009, 9:30 pm
Destination Sign: Terrapin Station
When I married Doc two years out of high school (and a year out of our training time at The Business), my wonderful mother in law, Gerry, gave me only a couple of pieces of advice. The first was “never go to bed mad at each other, even if it means staying up all night”. The other was “You’ve married my son, a Clay. Shit will happen and it will happen spectacularly. Just remember that years later, you’ll laugh at most of it”.
I’m thinking it will be 5-10 years before I laugh about, as Doc puts it, “The Great Squirrel Riot Of 2009”.
Like many of the spectacular disasters in our lives together (Ankara, 1974…the decision to try raising bison, 1984…buying Toad House Games, 1990), it started off as a seemingly good idea: Go see a bunch of trained squirrels do a show. How it played out was very different.
We pulled into the parking lot of “Uncle Ferdie’s Trained Squirrel Review”, which is housed in an old K Mart building. A sign outside said that over a million people had seen the show, which was in it’s third smash year. There was also a sign saying “free complimentary indoor dog park”, which seemed like a good idea at the time. We paid out $5.00 each and went in.
We checked The Girls into the park, which was very nice and full of dogs of all sizes. I had a momentary spot of concern over Lucy, who is smart, but possibly not 100% sane. I could see that she smelled the squirrels. The teenage park attendants promised me that they’d keep her busy playing.
Unfortunately, the teenage attendants did not secure one of the rear doors well enough. Lead by a certain 65 pound basset/coonhound mix, 28 dogs were soon heading down the connecting hallway toward a room full of assorted squirrels & chipmunks & kids & parents & grandparents. And let’s not forget Uncle Ferdie & Aunt Hazel, both of whom seemed like really nice folks.
You know the term “all hell broke loose”? Well, not including family gatherings, I now know what it looks like. Some red squirrels and chipmunks had just started performing a dance routing to “Kung Fu Fighting” when I heard the dogs barking a split second before the doors burst open.
Dogs were everywhere, as were terrified rodents, panicked parents and googly eyed kids. Chairs were knocked over, scenery went flying and I think Uncle Ferdie (who, despite an old sounding name only looked about 35) may have wet himself as a bull mastiff and three welsh corgis ran over him in pursuit of a fox squirrel. I saw Winker barking at an Asian squirrel that was on some lady’s head, Sasha chasing a ground squirrel and Lucy all over the place. A flying squirrel flew right past Doc, who was just a bit too calm considering the riot around him. But then, my sweetie is always calmest when the shit is hitting the fan, childbirthing with me excepted.
We made a hasty retreat back to the bus, where Doc used the loudspeaker to yell “Fooooooddddd Fooooorrrr Doooooggggssss!!!!”. Within moments, The Girls were on the bus. Then, as I put everyone in Doggie Lockdown, Doc got us back on the road and out of town. Fortunately, this bus has a “Cop Detection Unit” that let us know where the police cars were, so we could avoid them.
It’s too bad about the riot, which we heard on the radio took an hour to calm down, because the show was really cute and lots of fun. I’m glad I bought the bumper stickers, fridge magnets, DVD, t-shirts and hats before things went south.
A couple of hours later, after I had a good nap, we went to Woodenland. This is a big place housed in an old shoe store and it’s pretty much a little world of thousands of hand carved people and animals. The little towns and outdoor places are served by a model railroad and the whole place is very cute & whimsical. I told Doc that we should bring our grandchildren here someday, but he just said that we were many years away from being grandparents, despite our 28 year old son being married and trying to have kids. Talk about being in denial.
Ok, Diary, time for bed. Tomorrow we head west for more sightseeing, but hopefully no riots.
Canine apologies begin
Things go wibbly wobbly
Destination Sign: Gotham City
Diary entry for Winker Sue Clay, 4/19/2009, 4:30 pm
I swear to Dog, I did not mean to take part in that squirrel chasing riot yesterday. I was trying to stop little Sasha and some other pups from joining in and then everybody was running and the smell of rodents was so strong and there was screaming and barking and…well, something snapped and I was answering the call of the wild. It was like being on some powerful rodent based drug.
Once we were back on the bus and fed and calmed down, I felt terrible. I apologized profusely to Mom & Dad, then went off to lay in my bed and be miserable. About a half hour later, Mom came in to talk with me. It went like this:
Mom: “Hi, sweetie. I want you to know that Daddy & I forgive you. We know you were just running on instinct, like Lucy & Sasha were.”
Me: “But Mom, Sasha is just a pup and Lucy is, well, Lucy. I’m 14 years old and have human smarts. I should have been able to control myself and not do such a stupid thing.”
Mom: “Oh, honey, being older and smarter doesn’t stop people from doing dumb stuff. Just look at Daddy or Uncle Kelly or Uncle Mike or Sam or…”
Me: “Mom, those are all MALES. I’m female and should be held to a higher standard.”
Mom: “Hmmm…yes, that’s true. But hey, what about me when I’m in a book store?”
I had no answer for that, since Mom has a singular lack of self control in bookstores. And ice cream parlors. And when she sees Dad in a well tailored suit. Talk about leg humping!
Anyway, she hugged me and said everything was ok. I spent the rest of the day reading “The Quantum Mechanic’s Handbook” and the latest General Dynamics parts catalog. After dinner, we all watched “Abbott & Costello Meet The Shadow” and “Abbott & Costello Meet Godzilla”, then went to bed.
Today we visited “The World Famous Haunted Motel” in Portland. It pretty much looked just like any other old run down motel that the new interstate passed by. I mean, yeah, it was the site of a grisly quadruple homicide back in 1961 and three people committed suicide there, but it wasn’t that special to look at or tour. Naturally, we saw no ghosts because ghosts do not exist. That didn’t stop a couple of folks on the tour from saying shit like “I can feel a presence!” or “Does this room feel cold to you?” Yeah, dummy, it’s cold because the air conditioner was just on!
The high point of the tour was right at the end when Daddy, who learned ventriloquism back when he was a kid, made it sound like a ghostly voice said “Ahhh! Fresh meat for me!” in the main murder room. He even said it in a Boris Karloff type voice, which was a nice touch. Even the fattest of the humans got out of the room really fast! Later, when she stopped giggling, Mom called Dad a goofball, which is true.
Our next stop in Portland was the “Museum of the Weird”. Why it was not world famous, I have no idea. It was a big Victorian house crammed full of exhibits of strange shit like UFO pics (I recognized a W’Kinzek scoutship and a Tultarin atmosphere sampler), bigfoot stuff, occult items and pretty much every other kind of strange thing that humans think is supernatural. It’s all a bunch of bullshit, but kind of fun to look at. Most of the humans there were just shy of full on batshit crazy, especially the guy who was just a little too interested in alien anal probes.
Mom bought the usual tourist stuff, then we had ice cream.
We left Portland after that and are on our way to Seattle now. We will be having dinner with a bunch of Dad’s gaming industry friends, including Uncle Spike & Auntie Mary who are out here on business. I just love those two.
Hold on, Diary. Shit is happening!
Ok, it has been an hour since my last bit up above and things are just calming down.
It seems that as we were driving along I-5, our interdimensional drive kicked in and we were shifted over to a rainy day on an Earth where this interstate freeway was new, around 1973.
This surprised everyone, including the Mom Unit who is very against any “time and space hopping bullshit”, as she puts it. The Dad Unit pulled off the road into a truck stop and called for Joe as he tried to calm Mom down with little success.
Joe showed up, apologizing profusely and saying that he had accidentally dropped a probability spanner onto a sub-unit control panel. He said it would reset in just a couple of minutes and we’d be home. Mom made many detailed threats on Joe’s health if it didn’t. Not sure if Joe even has a spleen that Mom could remove with a spoon, but DAMN!
Joe went off to check on things and Mom had become relatively calm when Lucy looked out a window and said “Hey, all of those truckers are apes!”. We all ran to the window and sure enough, it was some Planet of the Apes situation on that world. Needless to say, this did not sit well with Mom, although Dad said it was pretty cool. Mom gave him a Level 45 “look” and then he got very quiet, as did we all.
About a minute later, the bus made the odd sound it makes when shifting realities and we were at the same truck stop, but back here on our world. We left a few minutes later, after Mom laid down the law to Joe, Daddy and everyone within earshot. No more spacey wacey timey wimey shit OR ELSE. She did not elaborate on what the OR ELSE would entail, but then, she really didn’t need to. I imagine spleenectomies would be involved.
Ok, Diary, I’m off to go chat with Joe down in the shop. Will write more later.