I’m back from the wilds of CA, and decided to post my report before I do the mandatory crash-and-burn.
First a word of advice: if you fly Southwest Airlines, fly “dry.” There are only two bathrooms aboard each plane. On a five-hour cross-country trip from Philly. And, apparently every man with a prostate problem chooses SW as his carrier of personal choice. Enough said.
From LAX, it took nearly four hours to get to Big Bear Lake, thanks to a high-speed police chase on 91 (before you ask, no, I wasn’t involved). I finally arrived at a charming B&B owned by a gay couple – Stan the business man/innkeeper, and Rick, his much younger, prettier, and high-strung chef/life partner. (Do the words “pushy, pretty bottom” mean anything to you?)
But I have to say, the B&B was wonderful, right down to the rubber ducky in the bathtub. BWT, the squirrels around the place, and most of the Big Bear environs, are the size of pit bulls.
On Saturday AM, I met Aly for breakfast, regaled her with stories of the Newport Film Festival and lunch with the ever-elusive Richard Burgi, then we headed on down to Moonridge early enough to set up the raffle table. I collected rocks and put them into bags so they wouldn’t blow off the table. My mother would be proud.
Actually, I spent much of the day at the booth, chatting with the staff, the docents and a very charming man who, apparently, was on the board of directors. (He was really nice-looking, and at first, I thought he’d might have driven up from L.A. with Garett.) We talked about the previous Moonridge auctions, and came up with the notion that the gift shop should sell three-legged stuffed bears (Huckleberry, the Bear is Moonridge’s happy, fat and sassy three-legged wonder.) You know. Go for the pity bucks
Manning the raffle booth was great because everybody stopped by, so I got to finally put faces to the email addies/RL names I’ve “talked to” over the years on different TS lists.
I also got to meet and greet some of the madcap zanies whom I’ve trashed around with at different SENTINEL cons and functions. (The guilty parties all know who you are
From earlier reports, you know that Sallye with the “e” and Sally without the “e” were there. And Kat, and Ruth, and Lupe, and Lucy, and on and on …
Where was I? Eventually, Garett showed up – extremely relaxed in his manner and appearance – and happier than I think I’ve ever seen him look. (And, at least, he hadn’t brought any restraining orders with him.) After saying “hi” to lots of the fans, he mosied (sp?) over to the table. I gave him my traditional gift of TASTY KAKE BUTTERSCOTCH KRIMPETS. (I have apparently addicted him to the happy little calorie-laden, nutritionally-void snack food). He asked me to hold onto them, along with folders and little gifts other people had given him, which I did until the end of the day. GM then looked at all the raffle goodies up for grabs, including the MOONRIDGE 2006 poster that I’d created and gotten Richard to sign at Newport. Garett liked the fact that I used a “Jim Ellison” who had more gray in his hair than “Blair Sandburg” did. Garett’s grayer than he was last year, but it makes his eyes the magnificent blue we all know and love. (Personally, I think he’s looking more like his dad, Brandon, every day, which is not a bad thing.)
Because he’s a man after my own heart, Garett needed a nosh to keep up his strength, so he was fed by the Moonridge people. (Feed me, or I don’t work.)
Then, he did the first half of the animal auction. Cute Garett + Even Cuter Animals = Big $ for Moonridge. He’s much more adept at doing these dog and pony shows. GM certainly knows how to work our crowd (and didn’t we all love it?).
When we broke for lunch, Garett signing autographs down near the wolves. I had him John-Hancock two posters I did for what I hope will be the 2007 auction (one is of THE SENTINEL’s 10th Anniversary pix used on the website) and the other is of Jim Ellison holding a wolf pup, which I originally created for a Hurricane Rita relief auction. I’d had RB sign both of these earlier in the month. GM good-naturedly groused that the wolf pup wasn’t him. He also said that, even gray, Richard is damn fine-looking. I scolded him – with a smile – and answered: “You’re not so shabby yourself, Mr. Maggart.” He wanted to know how and where we’d gotten Richard to sign all the stuff that was floating around. I told him that Ruth and I had each had half of Richard for lunch at Newport. That made him snort/laugh. Not surprisingly, it was charming. When Garett’s laughing and being goofy, he’s so cute, you could eat him with a spoon. Or whatever
After I’d gotten my goodies signed, I went back to the raffle booth, and shamelessly pimped everything “for the animals.” I also took pictures (which I will post somewhere or other), drank enough water to make my own lake, and arm-wrestled with the altitude (we don’t get along). But, I guess the Moonridge gods were watching over me, because I didn’t get as sick as I usually do. (The other time I visited Moonridge, I thought I was going to have to go down the mountain in an ambulance.)
My two cents about the Moonridge move and the possibility of this being the last year: the zoo staff and, later, the B&B owners (who are on several Big Bear civic committees) told me that the Zoo still has to come up with mega-bucks for the move. We’re talking millions. Plus the fact that Moonridge is moving to government land (next to the Discovery Center which is in the San Bernadino National Forest). Translation: there are a lot of issues that have to be resolved. So it just may be that Moonridge 2007 is still doable. Who knows? And, after all, lots of things can happen in a year.
Garett made his way up to pick the raffle winners, which he did. His reactions to the winner’s reactions were priceless.
RE: the afternoon auction, I wasn’t going to pony up any $ for the animals, but when the two possums were brought out, the spacey, “snot for brains” look on the little female’s face was a dead ringer for my Pomeranian, Booboo Bear (the big old donkey girl who always helps me write TS stories). I couldn’t “not” throw money into the hopper to feed her for the next year. So, I’m waiting for my group picture to arrive, as one of her proud foster parents
Garett seemed genuinely touched by quilt, the memento book, the candy, and the affection we have for him. The event ended, he went home, and so did we all.
My closing thoughts: I loved Garett and the animals -- particularly the wetters and the biters.
I loved seeing all the TSers interacting with one another.
I loved the people who told me that they read some of my stories and enjoyed them.
And I loved how we’ve done this really good thing of raising money to support injured which can’t be released back into the wild.
After occasions like this, I remember why I love this fandom, and the people who share it with me.
Everyone have a good night.