NANFA-- 2003 Convention...just WOW!

Rose Lawn Museum (
Wed, 11 Jun 2003 10:01:40 -0400

Hi All

What a great time we had at the convention! I spent the past two days
unloading and processing the tons of pix. Now, I'll try to lay down a few
lines of text, but I want to say right up front, "GREAT JOB, PREZ!"

After rolling into Huntsville mid-afternoon on Thursday, I got to
spend some good time with Prez (NANFA President Bruce Stallsmith), First
Lady Ruth, and Casper Cox. While we were helping to get things set up, Prez
took us up to his fish room/greenhouse that opens out onto the roof of the
building where his office is located. Besides fish, he also had a healthy
looking monitor lizard.

It was fun to watch the troops wander in to the registration table.
Some faces were familiar to me from past collecting trips and the Ohio
convention. Others that I hadn't met came from all over the country. It's
always amusing to put faces with names from the email list. The mental
images I've formed of them are almost never even close to correct!

In the evening, a group of us invaded a local Cajun restaurant
(Mim's?). Thanks to Stott Noble, we got to try some alligator meat. Pretty
good stuff!

The speakers on Friday were all worth hearing. I thought it was a
well-balanced line-up, despite a couple of no-shows due to car trouble.
Prez did a quick reshuffle of the itinerary and the program moved along
nicely. I took lots of pix (I'll pass 'em on to Jay shortly), but I
apologize in advance for the quality. I was working with a flash-impaired
digital under fluorescent lights. The combination of the two might have
even given Ansel Adams a fit!

Saturday morning arrived with rain showers in the area. Although folks
had a choice of four different collecting trips, it looked like it would be
a very wet day. I was privileged to lead one of the trips to the beautiful
Paint Rock River. By the time we arrived there, the rain had pretty much
blown away, leaving behind blue skies and sunshine.

Our group was a real study in demographics. They represented hometowns
from New York to California and from Texas to Michigan. The age group
ranged from young kids up to some folks that had seen more than seventy
summers. Our caravan had eight or nine vehicles in it connected loosely by
radios. Chip Rinehart rode with me and relayed messages, most of which
said, "Hey, would you mind slowing down just a bit?" Jan Hoover informed us
that MS drivers are polite. I wish some of 'em would move to Atlanta!

We quickly abandoned our first projected site due to high water. The
other two, however, were just as beautiful as I remembered them, and
abounded with cool fish. We had two different teams pull out nice longnose
gar within seconds of each other. This was followed by the inevitable,
"Hey, ours is bigger!" "Yeah, but ours has more teeth!" "Yeah, but"

Our group was so large and energetic it was difficult to spend all the
time I wanted with everyone. I was quite pleased to get to hang out with
the two gentlemen from TX, Rob Denkhaus and John Bongiovanni. (Geez, I hope
I spelled those right!)

After a disjointed race back to Huntsville and a quick shower, we all
gathered back at UAH for the banquet and auction. The food was good and the
auction was fun, the latter bringing in a tidy sum for NANFA. I feel
blessed that I got the chance to go, and I'm really looking forward to SC
in 2004!

All The Best,
Steven A. Ellis
Kennesaw, GA
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