NANFA-L-- 2004 convention casper report 2

Subject: NANFA-L-- 2004 convention casper report 2
Date: Mon Nov 15 2004 - 13:34:59 CST

The next morning, Sunday, we got a bit more needed rest with a late start
for Charleston and its aquarium. Chip, his daughter Stephanie and Mark and i
loaded into the van for a 4 vehicle caravan. A flat tire on Ranger Bob's big
truck backed us up on the freeway but skilled teamwork got us on the road nascar
 quick without any "oh Fudge" lugnut mishaps. The aquarium was located right
on the bay. Fort Sumter was visible in the distance as well as the aircraft
carrier Yorktown. I enjoyed all the native tanks tho some of the natives seemd
to be almost grossly overfed. A SeaRobin intrigued my wonderings on the
mysteries of creation and evolution. So dexterious were the finger fin claws...
crablike, yet belonging to a sculpin like fish. We took a few fun pics, had an
expensive quickee tourist meal and enjoyed the open air market populated
with carnivorous plants. Navigating to the aquarium was a bit tricky but not
near as difficult as leading the 3 vehicles out the city. Parking garage
staggers, missed stop lights, wrong lane merges... whew i was relieved to get out of
there but sure wish i had been able to see some of "old Charleston". I had
hoped we could have eaten-in-Bubba Gump's as my son told me they fix shrimp
all kinda ways there. :)
We arrived-in-Cypress Gardens just an hour or so before they were to close.
A very friendly Cockatoo greeted and entertained us-in-the back entrance. The
big bird eagerly walked on us from hand to hand to head to hand and called
out "GoodBye!' " GoodBye!" as we headed into the building. The grounds, gardens
and waters were beautiful, lush and healthy and all the aquaria and exhibits
were clean and well kept. At one outdoor pool I learned that 20' gators can
hide in a 12' pool. That should keep my nerves frazzled a bit more on my
Florida excursians! I wish we could have spent more time there but the caretakers
were anxious to leave and the gates were being shut. The entrance fees-in-
both the aquarium and Cypress Gardens were waived with our NANFA Conference
registration as well as our zoo facilities and visit. What a deal guys...
Thanks! We got a full bang for our buck this year.
Our caravan had been reduced to 2 vehicles as Ranger Bob & Betsy and Chris &
Stephanie with little William in tow had decided to return to Charleston for
an evening stay. Not ready to call it a day our remaining two vehicles swung
by a boat ramp where a couple of us waded in for a few net pulls. Laura and
Traci had been riding together and it was fun to see 2 women neck deep
mucking about chasing tiny fish. I gave Laura some good teasing which she returned
with one of those feminist "How dare you!" stares. :) The bunch of us got to
interact with some locals who were cast netting for bait. They were pulling
up several species of juvenile sunfish. The fella seemed interested-in- what we
were doing as we were in his cast netting skills. His female companion gave
us those smirky sidelong glances that im sure we are all use to! Their catch
were destined to be chopped up for bait... oh no! ...but we choose not to
attempt any rescue or any serious pleading for the little sunnies. :)
Chip and Mark had another site in mind where the women would have better
luck in catching some Blue Fin Killies. Off we went down a paved backroad. Ahead
i could see a snake coiled up in the road and straddled it as i passed over.
The snake struck-in-the van and i could see cotton white in its mouth. I
looked in the mirror and Laura burned a Nick and Todd moment in my memory as the
fat snake burst red. I did a quick Uee to see if it was indeed a Water
Mocassin and it surely was one, a dead one. Traci picked its limp body up by the
tail and we guessed it to be about 3.5' long. She tossed it to the side of the
road and we headed back across to our vehicles. Just as we were getting back
in the van Chip called out "Hold on!". A 7' gator had been laying within just
a few feet of the passenger side of the van the whole time. Stunned, we
nerved up a bit and had a bit of fun seeing who was brave enough for a gator
wrestling photo. The most i could jpg was some nervous over their shoulder looks
while the gator lay a few feet away! Laughing together later we realized we
could have made a couple "Death Defying Feats" photo ops by clutching the
"alive" Water Moccasin with fangs exposed ( as if just catching it by hand ) and
another shot tossing it into the gator's open, snapping jaws! And perhaps
those followed by a good photo sequence showing Mark's attempted "Perfect
Dipnet"ing of the gator followed by a closeup of his footless and torn shoe. :)
We made it to the Blue Fin's lake edge where Chip, Stephanie and i played
with Dragonflies and Mark joined the women out in the water. With Blue Fins a
plenty we urged them out of the water as we were still a long way from Columbia
 and getting hungry. While Laura and Traci finished situating their newly
caught fish we headed back north and Mark treated us to a fine but long delayed
meal-in- a Ruby Tuesday's on a sorry, no alcohol Sunday night. A long, good,
fun day.

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: Fri Dec 31 2004 - 12:42:49 CST