Rode Hard & Put Up Wet...and COLD

I am plum wore out today. So worn out that I missed the reception with Phil Donahue and Dr. James Watson. I am exhausted, and not sure if I will make it to finishing this blog entry tonight. Bear with me and brace yourself for typos.

I did get to meet one guy who I kind of geeked out over, and that was Jim Zipp (pictured in the left photo with me). You may not know Jim by name, but he is a very prolific photographer, so if you get magazines like Birder's World, WildBird, National Geographic or Birding you have seen his photos. If you have a bird magazine handy, take a look at the photos and see if you can find a Zipp. When not going hither and yon to take photos he runs a wild bird shop called Fat Robin. For some reason, it wasn't until this weekend that I put together that the Jim Zipp who owns Fat Robin is the same Jim Zipp that takes all those photos. Anyway, it was an honor for me to meet him.

For me, the day started out full of promise and excitement, our booth was set up just across the river from a bald eagle nest, and the pair was in full renovation mode. A harbor seal popped up within about 20 feet of the dock which was unusual for where we were I was told. Also, I felt well dressed to deal with the cold and our booth being outside. I was surrounded by other optics reps, I was basically surrounded by cool friends to hang out with. There were definitely some interesting folks milling about at this bird festival and you certainly saw a bit of a hipper crowd here (who knew Connecticut was such a hip place). One surprise was the young man wearing a jacket announcing that "Sid Lives" (photo, right). For those who don't know, this is a reference to Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols (punk band).

I think hands down, my favorite out fit was this lovely lady pictured on the left with the bright red cowboy hat and the leopard print pants--I have a soft spot for leopard print--must by my Hoosier heritage. I thought she was just too cute.

It was about this time that the weather took a turn for the worse and wind dramatically increased in speed, temperatures dropped and a squall moved in. On the upside, what better opportunity to talk about waterproof binoculars, on the other hand, the wind was so strong, that combined with the snow it made viewing any kind of birds incredibly difficult. Our booth was next to the Swarovski booth and they had a propane heater near their table that they graciously shared with all the other optic reps. Alas, something went wonky and it made strange noises. I think it may have overheated (oh, the irony) and was not used for the rest of the day and the rest of us had to find a way to muddle through.

As the snow moved in, some of the customers moved for local coffee houses for cover. A few die hards lingered for a bit. That's the Brunton booth in front with Jim Danzenbaker--I wonder if he bore the "brunton" of the wind in the storm (so lame, I know, but couldn't resist in my weakened condition--I'm cracking myself up so hard right now, this is very sad).

Jeff Bouton of Leica doesn't let the wind, snow and cold get him down. He's always ready for a good time.

Jeff's happy feet move him over to the Vortex booth. That guy's a one man party.

We didn't see much in the way of eagles after the snow died down, but some mute swans moved in. The temperatures continued to drop and the winds increased. By around three o'clock all the optic reps outside were dancing and bouncing around trying to keep warm. It was an odd dance as there was a choir not far off doing Cole Porter and Andrew Lloyd Weber medleys. I'd post photos of that, but I'm quite certain that would get me banned from future events--we don't look good.

Clay at Swarovski arranged for us to close down early because the wind was keeping customers away and knocked down at least one display scope. On top of that he drove all the optic reps to his home where he and his wife Debbie put on a super tasty spaghetti dinner to warm us up. This was incredibly gracious because the day before, high winds knocked down a huge tree that took out a bay window on their home. In the above photo that's a subdued Jeff, Steve from Zeiss and Clay.

Here is Mike from Nikon. I think his face sums up how happy, warm and satiated we were thanks to Clay and Debbie's hospitality.

And now I think I have the shower nice and warmed up and I'm going to sit in there until I reset my core temperature. Word on the street is that it is supposed to be ten degrees colder. Now, my plan is to take the hottest shower I can stand, sleep in my hotel with the heat cranked. I want to be hot and sweaty when I start tomorrow morning so I can be ready for that weather.