I loved my pre-owned 1991 Honda Civic which a bought in late 1995 when
my 86 Ford Tempo finally gave up the ghost. Actually if I wanted to sink
more money into it I could have since I like to keep my vehicles and run
them till they practically fall apart. But the the time had come when it
was more practical to move on to something newer.
My first Civic was a wonderful collecting trip vehicle which took me on
some most spectacular trips in the year 1996- which ranks among one of
my most ambitious collecting seasons. First big trip was all the way to
Orlando where friend and fellow herping buddy Mike Quispe was living at
the time. From there it was to the town of Panacea in the panhandle just
south of Tallahassee which was our base for collecting some of the
region's most awesome herps and fishes and seeing most awesome sights of
swamps, southern pinelands and carnivorous plant bogs plus the barrier
islands of Cape San Blas!
Then later that summer in June I went to visit a freind who lives in
Bethesda Maryland (No it's not Bob Bock because I had just joined NANFA
and did not get to know him until about a year or so later). It was an
awesome weekend of herping in Charles & St. Mary's Counties where I
stumbled on a great site for Bluespotted Sunfish- much to my amazement
because I had poked around that location in the past and never found
anything. Then my return leg home Sunday evening took me to Mt. Holly NJ
where I spent the evening just sight seeing around the Pine Barrens to
kill time until the following day that I met Peter Rollo to trade some
of my surplus Eastern Mudminnows for some young Blackbanded Sunfishes to
replace the population I had lost to winter kill that past winter. That
turned out to be a big flop because I did something really stupid. Peter
was skeptical that the sunfishes would survive the 6 hour haul across
Pennsylvania in an un-aereated bucket. I should have chanced it but I
had to get caried away with being unsure and do something to soothe my
anxiety. I bought a bag of ice and put it in the empty fish box I had
transported the mudminnows in and set the bucket in the ice. My
reasoning was that the cold water would slow the fish down so they would
need less oxygen.
It slowed them down allright- when I got home all 12 of them were on
their side and only one recovered after I warmed them back up. I
probably shocked them to death with too sudden a cooldown at the wrong
time of year.
A few weeks later I made a return visit to Maryland and the bluespott
location in St. Marys on a weekend and caught a few more of those little
sparklers. Then if that were not enough I drove back Sunday morning,
worked in the ER that night and then slept a little while Monday
morning, got up and did a little shopping for stuff in preparation for
what would go down as my most ambitious trip that year after the Florida
one- I had suddenly got the impulse to drive to Michigan the next day-
and I was on a 5 day off streach so it was feasable. So after watching
the newly released "Independece Day" (which has great sentimental value
to me because I saw it on the eve of that trip) I retired for the
evening and slept in a bit- packed up the Honda, hit the bank for some
cash and just started driving west and north around 11 AM and was in
West Branch Michigan sometime before Midnite!
The next day I briefly crossed over to the Upper P and got as far as a
place called Trout Lake before turning back. I thought alot about fish
while in country but I did not come across anything that looked
promising so I never bothered to get a fishing license or even get a net
wet. Did mostly site seeing and it was really awesome- lots of
interesting flora - esp this spectacular combination that kept repeating
many places where I stopped- of orange wood lilies, yellow coreopsis and
blue harebells! More than made up for the lack of collecting
opportunities just to see all that I saw that day. It's a fond memory
I'll cherish forever.
But it gets even better.
After quitting Michigan and a layover in norther Ohio I decided to set
my sites on something I had never encountered before- Blackstripe
Topminnows which I bet on finding somewhere in W Ohio near the Indiana
border. Bought a fishing license on the way down and zeroed in on the
Grand Lake St Marys and the small town affiliated with it. Found
polluted water and finally two topminnows which I was able to get with a
dipnet. Then made a contact with a local guy who led me to a place that
was an absolute fish collecting wonderland- the St Mary's River proper -
surprisinglg gin clear and filled with all manner of fishlife including
more topminnows which I since learned to be quite abundant in streams
like this thru much of Ohio W of Columbus.
Caught about a dozen and hauled them back home that evening in a special
container that a jerry rigged from two plastic crates one inside the
other with drainage holes in the bottom of the inner one and a bilge
pump that plugged into the cigarette lighter that pulled water out of
the bottom space and pushed it thru a spray bar. Turned out to be a very
inefficient aeration system and in that case was really unnecessary
since the fish survived anyway after I blew a fuse in the cigarette
lighter halfway home! But it was fun to build !
96 went down in memory as my most adventurous season of road trips. But
I was still far from finished- the following year I made another trip to
New Jersey with Mike Quispe and a few local excursions in PA. Then in
Feb 98 was the unproductive search for Ironcolor Shiners at Cedar Creek
Virginia with the party of Mike Thennet and then come June Mike Quispe
made another flight up from Florida and we drove down to the NANFA
convention in Tennessee and later that summer we did a few more trips
after Mike decided to relocate and take up residence here in PA- we did
the Big Darby in Ohio with Mark Binkley, another Maryland trip, a really
awesome trip to Wisconsin to collect with both Ray Wolff & RK, a trip
to Wier Creek in VA with Mike T. and numerous ones to various local
The following season we were busy with work and other things but managed
to squeeze in the NANFA convention in Champaign-Urbana and maybe another
Maryland or VA excusrion. Then came 2000- which I did a few solo trips
since Mike was busier than I - a midsummer visit to the Pine Barrens in
NJ and then back to Wisconsin to team up with both Rays again and got to
know that spectacular marshy region between Rapids and Tomah pretty
By 2001 I knew the old Honda was getting pretty old but I figured I
could squeeze another trip out of her to visit the Moonman and Fritz
down in Wilmington NC. Got as far as about Buckhannon West B-God
Virginia and the engine died! Had an expensive tow back home but that
did not disuade me from starting off again the following day with the
newer F-150 while the Honda went into the shop to get a new engine. That
was pretty much it as far as my little red Civic was concerned- no more
long trips. Since I've done Wilmington again twice with the truck
trading fuel efficency for relyability. Last few months the Honda was
really getting worn out and not worth sinking anymore money into - so
for a while the truck had become my primary vehicle.
That was until this past Saturday.
I've had my eye on the new Honda Civic gas/electric Hybrid for some time
and I finally bought one and drove it home. Quite a surprise since I was
really didn't expect to close the deal the same day. But I'm glad I did-
with the big snow that came just last night and much of Sunday!
It's getting late and I really ought to close because I still have to
take care for matters regarding insurance and other paperwork plus work
this evening. So far I'm very pleased with the new vehicle which has
awesome gas mileage and is just wonderful to drive since it's the first
brand new car I've ever had. One thing that I'll miss about the old
Honda was the back seat could be put down and I could have access to my
coolers from the inside- not an option with the Hybrid because the
battery bank is in the way!
But it's nice to once again have something relyable enough (plus the
awesome fuel economy) that I can take long trips with confidence.
Provided I can find the time and money to do them!
Farewell Old Car may you find eternal peace.
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