We left on Wednesday afternoon in Jon Clark's Suburban. We brought some fish for sale, but with the car-top carrier that we acquired before Milwaukee, had plenty of room for the 5 of us (myself, Jon, Michael, Jim and Christine). We got there after midnight and due to a canceled flight at the airport, had to wait for about an hour before we go a room. The hotel staff was great though and took care of our first night on the house.
We got settled in and ended up tying up with the usual cast of characters and drank until about 5 AM. This was pretty typical for the 4 nights we were there.
Thursday's excursion to Rusty Wessel's was probably the highlight of my trip. At first, I was fixated on a long bus ride down to Lousiville (along with the return trip on a bus with 50 fish guys who had just consumed mass amounts of alcohol and BBQ, lol), but is was completely worth the trip.
His outdoor fish koi are the nicest I have ever seen. His fish room is beyond belief. Honestly...completely sick. I shot a few pics, but mostly video in the room. I'll post up the video later.
I had never understood fully the appeal of central American cichlids. Rusty's fish house has absolutely had an impact on the fish that I plan on keeping down the road (Synspilum anyone? lol).
They brought in great BBQ and the guys from Bermuda were serving up the dark and stormies.
His 2nd largest of 5 ponds
Rusty's water supplly setup... Complete with geothermal heating.
Li and AJ... the top row tanks in the background are all 7 foot 265+ gallon tanks. I think he has 14 of them, but may be wrong.
Anton and Ad were among those drooling over Rusty's tanks.
Didn't even notice that he had a pair of macaws until we were about to leave.
Man, that's a cool stadium..
Thanks again to Rusty and his wife for hosting. It was an experience that I will never forget.
Most slept on the way back to the hotel and the speakers began. I was able to see Steve Edie's talk on Tangs, Anton on Hemichromis (a brand-new presentation), Dr. Loiselle on Central Americans and some of Sam Borstein's talk on chanchitos starting at midnight.
We were out at the courtyard pool until 2 and I kicked Dave S. and Troy out of the hotel room at 4:50. It was a long day.
Luckily, talks did not start until the afternoon on Friday. Highlights for me were Anton's CARES talk (another brand-new one), Heinz Buscher's Snail and Invert talk (outstanding video), Ad's talk on Anti-netting devices and hybridization in the lake (another new one).
After the marathon of great talks was the BABES auction. Needless to say, a good time was had by all. Many shots of tequila were had and many folks spent a lot of money for a good cause. Picked up a pair of L066 plecos, some holy-grail Taeniolethrinops juveniles, some A. nubilia and some very cool Thorichys ellioti (note comment above about Rusty's place impacting my fish-keeping).
Again, shut-eye came around 5 after a crazy night.
Pillow Fort (note security guard in the back - he was laughing, btw)
Caroline, some skeezy guy
and Pam at the Cobalt hospitality suite.
Saturday morning brought a whole 'nother day of great talks followed by the awards banquet. I was able to catch another new talk from Ad on Melanochromis and Cynotilapia reclassification, Heinz Buscher's famous talk on Lake Tang (the most impressive video I have ever seen) and Anton's talk on collecting in Gabon before the awards banquet.
The banquet was quite nice. Food was great and the speaker, Charley Grimes was hilarious (think George Richter spinning yarns with pictures - all of the "fail" variety).
Wendy took home #1 for mbuna and CARES species for her demasoni, as well as #2 in the photo contest. Congrats!
I got first for the one fish I brought - my red jacobfreibergi peacock.
Saturday night was the crazy night of the last two. A bunch of the CCA folks sat up in the front lobby and drank beers until about 3, then the remaining folks moved to the back of the hotel and finished off the hospitality suite beer with Dave, Troy, Steve Edie, Sam Borstein (no beer for him though, lol) and a couple of others. Good folks.
Sunday was fast and furious. Get the room packed up, the fish tubs torn down, hit a bit of the auction and get the heck out of Dodge.
We picked up a few nice things. Besides the stuff I got above in the BABES auction (and including some vender room items), I brought back:
- Astatotilapis sp. Tomato (sp 35)
- Cryptoheros panamensis (I have been corrupted)
- 4 pc L134 Leopard Frog pleco (Dan Ye preorder)
- 3 pc L333 King Tiger pleco (for Michael)
- Protomelas marginatus
- N. leleupi (Dave's fish donation for the CARES auction)
- Benitochromis nigrodorsalis (CARES Westie preorder)
- 4 pc adult Opthalmatilapia nasuta Green Tiger Magara (to fill in my group)
- Apistos for Sam
9 hours on the road through a couple of nasty traffic events and some rain. Jon drove the whole way, both ways. Thanks again, man. We got back to his place around 11 and parted ways.
Most of the bags I picked up over the weekend. Believe it or not, only lost a few of my unsold juveniles I brought and one nasuta. The fish gods were smiling.
Thanks to my bud Mike Dunagan - president of the host club, CCAC.
So yeah. Anyone considering taking the trip next year should certainly pull the trigger. I can't imagine a better way to spend 4 days than with my fellow fish geeks.
Thanks for reading.