Saturday, August 7, 2010

Away From & Back Home Again

The Elantra Touring Wagon got us there and back again without problem, it is one nifty little car. Though, I must admit the trip to Hamburg took about 30 minutes longer than expected and the return trip was about 45 minutes longer than expected. Neither delay was due to the Hyundai but because of molasses like traffic in NYC on the way out due to streets being closed for some sort of street race, then bad traffic in NJ and NYC on the way back due to overall crappy traffic conditions like lanes being closed and volume. The car and its riders took it all in stride.

We got to the Field House in Hamburg late this morning and were greeted by a person at the door collecting an $8 a head admission fee. Once that was paid up, we entered the hall and all I can say is that my first impression was 'egad - it is packed'. I headed off to the far right side to start to make my way around the 200 or so tables that were there, all loaded with reptiles, amphibians, feeder rodents (including mice, rats, hamsters and guinea pigs), feeder rabbits, feeder, chickens and insects (mealworms, superworms, crickets, waxworms and fruit flies) care and natural history books, tanks and other accessories, and supplies almost all geared toward the keeping of herps.

It was difficult making my way down the first aisle because of the crowd but I managed. I did not see anything that caught my eye and that meant I had missed something. I headed over to the next aisle, looking at this and that - the Gila Monsters and beaded Lizards one vendor had for sale really caught my eye but were way above my budget at a cost of about $1,200 apiece. So I moved on and admired Thayeri, Gray Banded Kings, Gopher Snakes, Gaboon Vipers, Cobras, Cotton Mouths, Copperheads, other assorted vipers and pit-vipers, poison dart frogs, many species of turtles and tortoises, geckos, agamids, pythons, boas and others. There was certainly a wide variety of animals for sale.

What I did not see were salamanders and newts. I was a bit concerned that Mike S. had not shown up. Suddenly, just as I was thinking that, Brendan walked up and asked me if I had seen the salamanders in the first aisle. He told me that the he had seen the exact salamanders I had wanted. When I asked where he said 'in the first aisle, over there'. I had missed them while squeezing my way through the throng when navigating down that row of displays, had walked right passed them. I headed back over and there, and on one table were 3 of what I wanted - Anderson's Salamanders along with other newts and salamanders. Mike, the dealer, was absent though and a friend of his was watching the table until his return, so I waited for him. Brendan stopped by the table and took a look at the 3 Andersoni that were displayed. Once Mike S was back at his table, he and I chatted a it, and he then pulled out about another half dozen or so Andersoni for me to look over. Brendan and I gave them the once over and then Brendan moved on as I made my selection. I picked out 2 I liked, I figured I could not buy another 3 as I had recently. Those earlier 3 died when a filter in their tank malfunctioned - probably allowing rapid build-up of nitrites and nitrates and amonia - and that was all she wrote. I looked over the available ones with a keen eye and picked out the 2 that appeared to have been the best eaters, those with the most rounded bellies and biggest overall size. All of the available ones seemed to be in great shape. I paid for 2 and was walking away then made a u-turn and then asked Mike if he could do me a deal on a third. He offered a discount and it was a satisfactory deal, so I got a third. More chances of winding up with a sexual pair that way. We chatted a bit more and that was it, time to move on and go round one more time.

As I was leaving Mike's table, I ran into Brendan again, he was across the same aisle buying some Fire Belly Toads. I gave him some advice; he basically told me to get out of there. I walked on to look at other animals. Harry met up with me and we walked around a bit. I pointed out, to Harry, a dealer's table on which there were some containers that held highly venomous snakes and that were not secured in any way except to have the lid snapped on. Should one of em have been knocked off the table, well - all I can say is I would not want to be standing nearby, those lids come off way to easily. Heck, I have seen snakes pop the tops off by pushing with their snouts from inside. At least other vendors had secured such tops with tape and one had the containers with his venomous offerings inside of an acrylic display case which meant at least his were safe and secure. I commended him and when he realized why, he also said he would not want to be anywhere near some of the other vendors' tables who were selling 'hots' because of how poorly they were secured and because he figured they would easily get out if knocked over or mishandled. As for me, I don't mind seeing venomous for sale so long as they are being displayed and sold under safe and secure conditions. Some of the conditions at this show were way too risk laden.

Soon enough we were met by Brendan who showed me the nine (as in the number 9) Fire Belly Toads he had just bought. I hope he takes care of em cause I sure do not want to do it. After we admired them, or should I say after I pointed out that some looked nice while some seemed skinny and needed fattening up. Brendan thought I was being a pain in his behind, and I know I can really be too picky but in this case I was just stating fact. Brendan will learn after this time because by the time we got home it was obvious at least one was near death, probably parasitized and had to be euthanized. I will treat the others for parasites and help him make sure they get nice and healthy, or maybe I will just tell him how to do it and let him get it accomplished. I am sure he will be able to do that and then to take good care of them in the long run but it is always best to start with healthy animals in the first place. The others may or may not be ill but we will take no chances and make sure to treat them all since they share a communal tank and probably did likewise at the dealers establishment.

After a bit of jaw-boning, we decided to get back on the road and head over to Cabela's, and after that to get something to eat. Once at Cabela's we were soon split up, and I went over to view the animal displays for a bit, took a few snapshots, then went to the firearms section. I picked up some CCI ammo in .22LR standard velocity. Other than that, most things they had were just too high priced for me; I knew I could get much better deals elsewhere and held off on any other purchases except for some candy on the way out. Before leaving though, we took a look at the large aquarium displays and viewed some impressive native North American fish. They had bowfin, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, rock bass, crappies, sunfish, muskies, pike, walleye, catfish and others. It was feeding time too and we got to see some of them gobble down some nightcrawlers and mealworms. Even though lots of shiners were also dumped into the tanks they were pretty much unmolested by the larger fish which almost all seemed to be too well fed.

After that we were off to a Cracker Barrel just across the road. We all had decent sized meals that were all pretty delicious judging by how they disappeared with some haste. Just lip smacking good as usual at Cracker Barrel. The fact that we had a great waitress, I think Jan was her name, made the meal even more enjoyable. Once we were through, I went to pay the bill and also bought my darling back at home a box of Moon Pies (one of her favorites). Thanks Harry for reminding me to grab a box of them. Then we were on the road again. It took awhile to get home, too long of awhile, but we were all in good company with one another and the trip was a nice one. Hopefully, Harry, who was late to take his wife out to dinner because of the traffic we hit, did not get put in the dog house once he reached home.

All the best,
Glenn B

Road Trip (mini version) Today

Up early and soon to start getting ready for a mini one day road trip today. Brendan, myself and a friend harry F will be off to Hamburg, PA today to attend the Northwestern Berks Reptile Show. It has been several years since I have been to this one. This show is a bit of a twist from those held in NY that I attend in that they allow venomous species to be sold. So if I want to buy one, I could pick up a rattler today or maybe a nice Cobra or Puff Adder. Me being the klutz I can be, you can safely bet I will be staying on the safe side - no 'hots' are coming home to my house.

I don't think I will even consider buying any reptiles at all, although I am thinking of expanding my amphibian collection. I recently had a filter fail in on of my tanks and it caused the demise of three of my favorite aquatic salamanders. So I will most likely be looking to replace them.

Now, being the gun guy I am, and being that Brendan likes em too and that Harry is a retired LEO, I guess we will just have to make an additional stop while in Hamburg today. That will most likely mean spending some cash at
Cabela's which is only a short distance from the Hamburg Fieldhouse where the herp show is to be held. I mean if we drive the 145 miles or so to the reptile show, we might as well go the extra 2 1/2 miles for Cabela's. Shouldn't we?

So the trip will be just around 300 miles total, like I said above - a mini road trip. It will be the longest trip the new Hyundai has taken so far. I am very confident will will make the trip with no car problems while getting the chance to see how comfortable the little Elantra wagon is on a longer haul.

Now, I have to go to prepare for the trip. Later for you...

All the best,
Glenn B