Dr. Silkmelon And Mr. Porkwaffle Observe A Disturbance In The Forest

…caused by a very large moose

CritterCon 12

Trip Day Five: In Which We Arrive In Critter City, Have A Good Cry, And Gather Together Our Extended Family

NOTE: You have probably wondered where the critter commentary is this year. Truth is, they all decided to just comment once we got to the con, so you’ll start seeing their witty bon mots soon.

The drive from the RV park to Critter City takes about 30 minutes, so we decided to eat when we got there. As it turns out, breakfast was delayed a bit.

We knew it was coming, but when we drove into the Critter City dome and saw the three large statues honoring Silky, Daisy and Max, it hit us hard. I stopped the bus and we all just stared and cried for several minutes. Our hearts are probably set back a bit on the healing path now.

(Sasha: I knew it was coming because I donated money for it, but it still ripped my heart out.)

(Luke: Total gut punch.)

(Misty: I was gutted.)

After a few minutes, Cupcake said “Okay, you guys, we need to go now. They would not want us crying when there is a really fun con to go to.”

Out of the mouths of babes.

(Sasha: That’s my girl.)

So we continued driving in toward the hotel, where we had Sweetie open a portal to the Austin airport and our friends stepped through. This year we had Avis Crane and her two cats (Leon & Lettie), a young mixed breed dog we met last year whose name just happens to be Chance, Ginie Murphy and her cat (Roxie), Peter & Holly Hildreth and their dog & cat (Goldie & Penny), Brian Misiaszek and his family and dog (Sadie M.), Spike, Mary & Miranda Jones, and CritterCon first timers Mark & Cathy Ford and their 2 dogs (Sadie F. & Shasta).

(Luke: It was great to see everyone again, especially young Chance, now that I know about his special nature.)

(Leon: Great to be back!)

(Cupcake: Wow! This is a lot of people!)

Since it was 10:00 am and we were starving, we all decided to go across the street and have breakfast at Pancakeville. As always, the breakfast was great and we left stuffed. Thankfully, the walk back to the hotel was short.

(Brownie: Dude, I ate 4 pancakes and 4 sausages. My tummy is fat!)

Penny: They had whole grilled catfish on the breakfast menu!)

When we got up to the front desk, the folks there greeted us warmly and handed me a short note. It read,


Dear everyone,
This year is on us. Have fun!
Daisy & Max


(Luke: Max & Daisy, you are a class act.)

That stopped us all cold for a moment, you betcha. A few tissues were needed. D&M, I know you are reading this, or will soon, so thank you from all of us.

To paraphrase John Hammond in Jurassic Park, Mr & Mrs Bunnington spared no expense and rented us the entire top floor, plus the penthouse cabin & garden. Fully stocked fridges and bars, too. Now, I should point out that only four floors of the hotel are above ground. The other 20 are underground. Therefore, the penthouse cabin is not that far above ground level. Still, the view is nice and the garden is lovely and attracts lots of birds and insects.

(Leon: I miss my bunny homeboy, but damn, this is swanky.)

Grace and I took the penthouse and everyone else got their suites, including all the critters, who shared the largest NHT specific suite. After a short break to get settled in and freshen up, we all went off to collect out badges and swag bags.

The badges were all “magical amulets” that had a 3D image of an elf inside them. Pretty cool.

The swag bag was a large canvas bag containing the following…

The con book, which this year took the form of a wizard’s spell book.
The usual assorted fliers and coupons.
Three card games: “Bag The Bees”, “Mystery House: Vampire Manor” and “Pirate Race.
Two small board games: “Big Steam City” and “Art Heist”
Several quickstart rules for RPGs
A CritterCon 12 pin
A random miniature for the “Explorers of the Monster Realm” game.

(Chance: THIS IS SO COOL!)

(Cupcake: I know, right? Free games!)

(Brownie: This is the BEST PLACE EVER!)

Not a bad haul, really, especially after last year’s rather light load.

Swag bags in hand, we wandered around meeting all sorts of old and new friends. Cupcake and Brownie were pretty boggled by it all and Avis’ new cat, Lettie, wasn’t too far behind them. After about an hour of wandering, we went back to the hotel to peruse the con book.

(Lettie: WOW! I have never been anywhere like this! Is that a capybara?)

(Sasha: Yeah. His name is Earl and he’s the favorite of his human, who owns 14 more besides him.)

Some of us are running official games or doing seminars, but here is the breakdown.

Me: 2 Toon games, 1 Call of Cthulhu game, 3 seminars, 2 Old Time Radio episodes

Spike: 1 AD&D game, 2 seminars, 1 Old Time Radio episode

Brian: 2 seminars, 2 Old Time Radio episodes

Leon Crane: 2 minis wargames (cats are big on minis wargames)

Misty, Grace & Mary: 2 hours in the Children’s Game Room

(Roxie: I doubt I could do that.)

Luke & Misty: Improv for NHT Gamers seminar

(Misty: It should be fun. 40 seats already sold out.)

Sasha: A 2 hour stint at KCCC radio doing a “Grrlz of Punk & Metal” show.

(Sasha: I’m gonna make ears bleed with female musical asskicking!)

The kids, including young Chance, who, I hasten to say, is just an ordinary dog, didn’t know what to choose, so all the various uncles & aunties helped them out. They will have pretty full schedules.

After some con planning, it was mostly nap time, although Spike, Brian, Mark & I just hung out shooting the shit.

We ate dinner at two new places, Big Mama’s Badass Burgers and Game of Cones where we had ice cream for dessert. Both places were excellent.

(Luke: Lordy, those were some excellent burgers.)

We are all about to go to the big pre-con party, a Cheesecake & Bourbon bash. Children and those with early bedtimes will only be there for an hour or so. Many of the rest of us will be there until they close it down.

(Sasha: I’ll be drinking for me and Silky tonight!)

The con reporting fun will resume tomorrow.

Destination Sign When We Started: The Baxter Building
Destination Sign When We Stopped: Gallifrey

QM Radio Station: Gnomish Storysongs

The Return Of Pete The Wonder Monkey

…he’s back and ready to party in your ear.

CritterCon 12

Trip Day Four: In Which We Enter Oklahoma, Then Texas, Only To Find Both States Full Of Kaiju

I would like to apologize for the brevity of this post, but it has been a very long day. 19 hours long, to be exact. Here’s the short and sweet of it.

We woke up, ate breakfast as we left Dodge City, then everyone except Grace & Sasha suited up in “Giant Mecha Control Suits” so we could go out and fight the hordes of Kaiju that apparently found the Sooner State and the Lone Star State very attractive for destruction.

We fought old favorite and brand new kaiju for 90 minutes before we stopped at “The World Famous Musical House”. Said house was built of reinforced concrete and has holes through it that allegedly make musical sounds when a tornado tears through the area. Since there was tornado, we listened to a recording that was a mix of horn sounds and howling wind. Mostly, it was wind.

Another 2 hours of beating the shit out of kaiju, and getting our asses kicked once, found us deep in Oklahoma at Muller’s Ice Cream Parlor “Home of the Giant Banana Split Challenge”. They set you out this humongous banana split with two gallons of ice cream on it and if one person eats it in an hour, your entire ticket is paid and you get a t-shirt and your picture on the wall. As they set it down in front of me, Cupcake told the server “You are going to see some shit go down now.”

I finished the whole thing in 32 minutes. It was very good.

Back on the bus for 2 hours of napping. When we woke up, we were in Texas and Grace had decided we needed to stop in the center of some little pissant town where a preacher stood on a small stage under a sign saying “There is but one God. Debate me if you think otherwise.” So, Sasha, in her regular dog body, did just that.

The poor old religion pusher and most of the town were struck dumb by a talking dog and when Sasha started up the holograms of her creating life like the ottopuses and the flying monkey and Joyce the giant spider, many of then started to quiver and quake and moan. When she showed herself building the cyborg body for Lucy and later creating Mr. Perkins out of dead body parts, several people screamed. By the time she summoned her own Ottopus arms, her Iron Dog armor and began talking about “Not some puny God, but a glorious world ruling DOG!”, I’m pretty sure the ones who didn’t run shit themselves. It was hella impressive.

A small lunch on the bus and we went back to fighting kaiju, this time 10 versions of Gojira himself. That was brutal, let me tell you.

Then, around 3:30 pm, we got knocked sideways in spacetime by a power surge to one of out Quantum Destabilizers.

Insert here 8 hours of us shifting from Earths 50 to 80 quanta out, most of which seemed to be shitholes run by either Republicans or the Confederacy or the Communists. We did lots of running and fighting. Sasha did a lot of cursing while trying to fix things.

We arrived back here at 3:38 pm two miles down the road from where we blinked out. Everyone was pretty frazzled, but for 3 more hours we stayed alert for any further quantum slippage.

We are now in JimBob’s RV Park and I am the last one to go to bed. Sasha gave everyone some Rejuvenol mixed with Breath of Morpheus and you have never heard such snoring. I’m about to drink mine and fall into bed. Jeeves has said he will have a hearty breakfast ready in the morning.

Good night. More con reportage tomorrow.


Destination Sign When We Started: Innsmouth

Destination Sign When We Stopped: Jokertown

QM Radio Station: News Of The Multiverse

Dogs Riding Motorcycles, Cats Driving Sports Cars, Mice In Pickup Trucks




CritterCon 12

Trip Day Three: In Which Our Merry Band Of Adventurers Deal With Assorted Invasions And A Flea Market Of Unusual Size.

For our third day, we woke up in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, several hundred miles east of where we went to bed in Kanab. Apparently, somebody who was not me told Sweetie to drive through the night to get there.

After out usual hearty breakfast, which for me was four tamales with extra gravy, we once again sallied forth into the cab of the bus, which was now a high tech government vehicle designed to repel and/or destroy the many extra-dimensional invaders that wanted to conquer Earth.

Under the leadership of General Sasha, we went to our positions. Doctor Misty was our Science Officer, Colonel Luke was our Engineer, Captain Grandpa was our Driver and those two scrappy Sergeants, Brownie & Cupcake, were our Gunners. As always, a place was reserved for President Grandma.

Our first invasion was the living dead, but not just dead humans. Many other species were looking to eat living flesh and that kept everyone busy. How so many Romero zombies got to southern Colorado was never explained, but by the time we hit our first stop at Fort Garland, we had shot, burned, blew up, run over and lasered 3,741 of the flesh eating sons of bitches. President Grandma gave us all medals and the thanks of a grateful nation.

Our stop in Fort Garland was to see “The Rusty Zoo”, or as Luke nicknamed it, “Tetanusville”. The place is another collection of things, this time animals, that some dude with lots of time on his hands made with a welding torch and a shitload of scrap metal. We’ve been to several of these places, some better than others.

The Rusty Zoo is solidly in the middle of that pack. It’s a pretty big place, about 30 acres, with actual paddocks and cages that I suspect are there to keep visitors from fucking themselves up on rusted metal. The actual sculptures range from okay to pretty darned good. This probably reflects the 45 years that the owner, Bob Higgins, spent making these things and learning his craft.

We were there about an hour and the place had a couple hundred visitors besides us. It was worth the $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per kid we paid. If you have deduced that we bought t-shirts and stuff, congratulations, Poirot.

Once we were back on the bus, we fortified ourselves with milkshakes and got back to offing invaders. This time out, it was Martians straight out of Mars Attacks! This was a tougher fight, but for 90 minutes we traded punches with those bulging headed fuckers. By the time President Grandma told us it was time for another excursion, we had at least chased the Martians off our planet. Ack Ack Ack to you, too, assholes!

The reason for out stop in Avondale, Colorado, was that there had been a huge flea market there the day before. Like, 3,000 spaces huge. Sadly, it was only held once a year, but that doesn’t mean much when you have a time machine. A few coordinates given to the bus and a few seconds later, we were in the parking lot just after opening.

Being smart flea market goers, we deployed a dozen cloaked SmartDrones to find the most likely spots for us to find intersting stuff. We also scouted out food trucks and booths, because lunch time was coming up fast.

We roamed around for over three hours and bought quite a few things, many of which Jeeves will no doubt turn his nose up at and eventually transfer to some side room.

I wish I could tell you about the next thrilling 4.5 hours, but the fact is that after wandering around in the heat, we all went in to nap mode about the time we returned to today. Most of us slept right through to Dodge City, Kansas, our stop for tonight.

Now, having had dinner and watched a Batman movie from Earth 4-A, we are all pretty much ready for more sleep. Tomorrow, we drive straight through (minus any interesting stops) from Dodge City to about 30 miles outside Critter City, at JimBob’s RV Park. About a 10 hour drive, all told.

More blogstuff tomorrow!

Destination Sign When We Started: Over There
Destination Sign When We Stopped: The 3 Acre Wood

QM Radio Station: 24 Hour Rock Opera

The Big Broadcast Of 2010

…featuring all of your favorite stars

CritterCon 12

Trip Day Two: In Which We Actually Encounter Roadside Attractions While Buckling A Swash In The Sky

Sunday, August 11th, 8:49 PM

We began our day by once again re-configuring the cab of the Bus. This time, it was turned into a airship, seemingly floating a couple hundred feet above the road. The road itself looked to be running through a a lush countryside dotted with fields, forests, streams, lakes and rivers. Very peaceful.

The sky, however, was a different story. Our steampunky airship was closing fast on a merchant ship that Captain Cupcake was sure had a full cargo of treasure. First Mate Grandpa and Helmsman Brownie agreed with her and Boatswain Luke was preparing a boarding party. Meanwhile, Gunner Misty was readying our steam cannons.

In reality, we were heading across the Nevada desert towards Utah. We were going to be taking a long and winding way across the state on our way to wherever the hell our next leg of this journey took us. I held out little hope of us encountering a roadside attraction, but you never can tell what will pop up way out on the backroads of America.

We had just finished raiding the airship “Lili Marlene”, when High Captain Grandma told us it was time to eat breakfast and get ready to see “something interesting”. Since Grace does not toss the word “interesting” around lightly vis a vis travel attractions in the middle of the desert, we decided to do as she said.

After a hearty breakfast, I got dressed and the NHT portion of the family got into human bodies. A few minutes later we pulled into the small town of Panaca, Nevada, to see “The World Famous Carved Rock”. I’m not sure how world famous it actually is, but that doesn’t really matter in the world of roadside attractions.

The rock in question is a hunk of red sandstone about 90 feet long and maybe 40 feet high and 50 feet thick. It’s just laying there at the edge of town and, brothers & sisters, that sucker truly has been carved. Like, 90% of it is covered in carvings ranging from a few square inches to a few square yards. It’s quite impressive.

According to the possibly 150 year old guy that took out $2.00 each, folks started carving on the rock with hammers and chisels back in 1967 when the local high school needed a project for art class. That has become an annual event, along with ordinary citizens and the random visitor feeling artistic and having a go at rock carving.

You’ll see western scenes, animals, psychedelia, faces, actors, monsters and more than a few Star Trek/Wars scenes. After about 45 minutes of checking it out, the old dude, whose name it turned out was Ed, informed us we could “do some carvin’” for a mere $20.00 per hour per person. Those of us utterly lacking skills in that aspect of the arts (Luke & I) declined, as did Grace and Misty. Sasha, however, dashed into the Bus and came out with a bag and $60.00 for her and the kids.

Ed took the money and wished them well before heading into his house and out of the 90 degree heat. Them Sasha took the laser chisels out of her bag and the three of them set to carving.

Brownie’s effort, a pirate, looked about like what you’d expect from an 8 year old human. Cupcake’s carving of a sunflower showed some real artistic talent. Sasha’s carving of “Fuck Trump With A Flaming Baseball Bat” will probably not win her friends in this little red town, but then, she doesn’t give a fuck.

Back on the Bus, we all headed to the cab and some more time on our airship, which we decided was named the “Sky Queen”. Amazingly, we were joined by High Captain Grandma, because “I’m kind of bored”, which was good enough for us.

I should note here that Sweetie was on the lookout for any sort of interesting stuff for us to see, so our airship adventures, which included running from HMS Dragon AND the USS Thunder, were paused twice to see the scenic beauty of the Utah desert. We also had lunch.

It was shortly after we had rescued a group of children from the clutches of the notorious Captain Hades, he of the steam powered left leg and arm, that we stopped not far outside Cedar City to see “The World Famous Superman of Utah”.

Now, to be honest, I expected it to be a big statue of Joseph Smith or Brigham Young, but no, it was a 60 foot tall statue of Clark Kent’s better half, hands on hips and cape flying in the wind. To be honest, it was an excellent mid-1950s version of Supes, and very well maintained. It’s free to look at, but you can’t go up inside it. You can buy all sorts of souvenirs, which we did. Not as good as a Giant Jesus, but pretty nice anyway.

From Cedar City, we headed south, then east toward our final stop of the day in Kanab, Utah. Except for a short stop to buy some Native American items from a roadside stand, we pretty much just flew the Sky Queen from those areas patrolled by the British and the Americans southward to areas patrolled by the French and Spanish, who were considerably less diligent about protecting merchant ships or, just before we all went to dinner, a floating casino.

Right now, we are all full of curry and playing some boardgames. I will tell you right now, my granddaughter is an absolute cutthroat at Catan.

Tomorrow, I am told that our route will be “surprising and very interesting”. We shall see.

More bloggage on the morrow!

Destination Sign When We Started: Shangri La
Destination Sign When We Stopped: Toontown

QM Radio Station: Girls Groups!

We Don’t Speak Of The Purple Underwear

…we keep it locked away



CritterCon 12

Trip Day One 1: In Which The Starship “Bus” Goes Where No Blue Raccoon Has Gone Before

Saturday, August 10th, 8:30 PM

Well, our first day of travel went well. True to his word, Brownie woke me up at 6:30 so we could get going by 7:00. The two of us ate a couple of donuts, drank some milk and then climbed on board the Bus and left our home behind. We were ready for adventure!

And by golly, when Grandpa says adventure, he means it! I had Sweetie (the Bus’ nickname) reconfigure the cab to be bigger and look like a starship bridge, in honor of those major Trekkies, Daisy & Max.

I was in the Captain’s chair and Brownie was my First Officer and Helmsman. Since the bus drives herself most of the time, we were free to scan for life forms and blast asteroids and tell Romulans that they were dummies, and other heroic spaceman stuff. About an hour into our 5 year mission, Cupcake came in and decided we needed a Science Officer. She took her seat and was soon telling us all sorts of science stuff about spatial anomalies and planetary scans. Throughout all of this, the Bus also acted as our computer, telling us all sorts of things about nebulas and gravity waves and stuff.

Around 8:30 am, Sasha stuck her head in and said “It’s time for breakfas…HOLY CRAP, THIS IS TOTES COOL!” and then we had a Navigator. Well, at least until Admiral Grandma told us we’d all better come eat some damned breakfast.

We stopped for breakfast outside South Lake Tahoe and, as usual, the kitchen staff did a first class job. Then, after our NHT all got into human bodies, we went and for a short hike along the lake shore. We saw and spoke with some ducks, who were stopping there for a few days before heading to Bear Lake in SoCal. I have always enjoyed talking to migratory waterfowl, because they are so well traveled and interesting.

After our hike, we drove a few miles to the World Famous Slot Machine Museum. Now, this is not the only slot machine museum in the world, or even in northern Nevada, but it was close to our route and has around 5,000 slot machines to look at. The oldest was from 1897 and it still worked just fine. There were poker machines, too. We wandered around for about half an hour and the noise and lights kept the kids from getting too bored. Cupcake made sure that Grace bought t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc, not that there was much chance of her forgetting.

When we were all on board the Enterprise…err, the Bus…I was given the next leg of our route, which told me to go to Gardenerville, Nevada, then take 395 south to the small village of Lee Vining. Being a proper starship Captain, I gave the coordinates to our Helmsman and Navigator, then had my Yeoman (Jeeves) bring me a bittersweet chocolate milkshake. By now, I had a full bridge crew, having been joined by Chief Engineer Luke and Communications Officer Misty. Admiral Grandma would pop in from time to time, just to keep us on our toes.

We had just finished an epic space battle with a bunch of Romulans when Admiral Grandma said our orders would be changed and we were turning off the highway to go to Bodie, one of the great ghost towns of the West. We made our adjustments and started out into the boondocks.

Amazingly, I was the only person on the bus who had ever been to Bodie State Historical Park (which is in California, not too far from the Nevada border), which is an interesting place. It is not kept preserved except by the climate, so if you went to Bodie in the 70’s, as I did, it looks a bit different in 2019. Not hugely different, but not the same. I highly advise going there if you can.

We got there along with about 20 other tourists and then wandered around, looking at buildings, many of which still had furnishings and such inside. The general store still has products on the shelves. We read various informative signs and talked to other tourists. Brownie was a bit sad that the ghost town didn’t have any ghosts, something Cupcake found very funny. Sibling squabbling ensued.

It was starting to get pretty warm out, so we climbed back into the Bus and headed east along a series of dirt or gravel roads, our destination being Hawthorne, Nevada. To while away the time, we blasted our way through an asteroid field and evaded a Giant Space Dragon. It was all quite thrilling.

Once we hit Hawthorne, we got on Route 95 heading east, then south. After about an hour, most of the bridge crew elected to go eat some lunch, leaving me and Lt. Brownie alone to blast space junk and tell aliens to bugger off. Jeeves brought us some yummy sandwiches and milk, which all space dudes need.

About 4:00 we got to Warm Springs, where we would be turning off to Route 375, the Extraterrestrial Highway, heading south toward Rachel. Just so you know, Warm Springs is not a town. It’s just an intersection with a name. And Route 375? Well, that heads down toward the ever popular Area 51, which is not full of aliens or alien tech, trust me.

With lunch in our tummies, Brownie and I decided that a nap was in order after a day of patrolling space. Thus, the next hour is a blank to both of us, although we were informed that most of the rest of the crew also napped. That part of the desert is pretty damned boring anyway.

So now we are spending the night in Rachel, Nevada, such as it is. We ate burgers at the Little A’Le’Inn and, of course, loaded up on chotzkes. In just a few minutes, games will be played and ice cream eaten before we all hit the sack. Tomorrow, we continue our trip, hopefully into some more interesting places.

Destination Sign When We Started: Whoville
Destination Sign When We Stopped: Neo Tokyo

QM Radio Station: F-23, the sounds of the 23rd Century

The Rare And Beautiful 15 Toed Melon Eating Ape Of Potawango Island

…they do love their melons.



CritterCon 12

Intro: Friday, August 9th, 5:30 PM

Note: Sadly, we are making this year’s trip without Silky, Daisy & Max, who passed away in November (Silky) and at the end of June (Daisy & Max). We miss them terribly and this trip report is dedicated to them.

Greetings once again, Dear Readers. It’s that time of year again and the Cross family will soon be off on another trip to CritterCon. Like, in about 10 hours. I will be hitting the sack as soon as I finish writing this.

This year, it’s just the immediate family making the trip by bus. All of our usual accomplices are flying into Critter City on Wednesday morning. We decided that we just wanted to take a nice meandering roadtrip with no guests or, prepare for a shock, NO PLANNED STOPS!

That’s right, folks, I am not allowed to create an itinerary of roadside attractions or natural wonders or anything else. To facilitate this, each adult member of our family, except me, has chosen a leg of our route. I will get each leg when I finish the previous one. There will be 6 legs. The only thing I know is that we’ll start in Sacramento, California and end up in Critter City, Texas. This should be interesting.

Well, my friends, it’s time to head to bed, because we are leaving at 4:00 in the morning. More trip reporting soon.