Since Rachel worked behind the scenes of the show she was invited to the after show Auction which is held to benefit some charitable cause.  This year the money was to be donated to the United States Association Of Reptile Keepers or USARK, the industry trade group for people who keep exotic reptiles which snakes and frogs are a part of.  in 2010 the California Department Of Fish and Game proposed to make changes to the laws which would make it illegal to Buy, sell, keep or give away turtles and frogs.  Thankfully through the tireless work of this organization these changes were not implemented.  The money from the auction tonight was for this group.

At first the idea for this ban on animals sounds amazingly right on the mark because the climate in California lends itself to helping invading species grab a foothold.  There are quite a few invasive species that were brought here during the gold rush by the settlers including red ear slider turtles and American Bullfrogs.  Of course they got out and multiplied in this fertile environment.  In the 70’s when there was an open season declared on the bull frogs and their extinction in California was eminent the legislature ironically acted to protect them.  Or so the speaker at the auction said.  Although it wouldn’t surprise me.

Since the kids got restless early and I had to go and pick up Rachel anyway, I decided if there was easy parking that I we would stay and go to the auction since it was being catered and we were invited.  When I got to downtown Sacramento, the first spaces I found had 15 minute limits and then I found one that I thought had a longer limit until I put money in the meter and the number didn’t go beyond 30.  I read and it was a 30 minute meter, right next to it was another spot that had a longer limit, except it used one of these new digital meters that takes credit cards and controls 6 other parking spaces as well.  So, since I was in for a penny, I went inside and met up with Rachel.

We traversed our way to the far side of the complex and up to the second floor to where the auction was being held.  It was being catered with little sandwiches held together with a tooth pick topped by an olive.  The sandwich consisted of a half a quarter slice of cheese, an equivalent slice of meat, a piece of lettuce the same size and a slice of tomato.  I am not complaining, it was after all, free food.  I just wonder in the back of my head how much the catering company was gouging for this food.  There was a bar and I soon learned that one beer and one cocktail amounted to $15.  You do the math.  That is gouging at it’s finest for a captive audience and Americans will buy alcohol no matter how over priced and this became more obvious as the auction progressed.

I must say that I was proud of my kids because for the most part there really was not much for them to do and they remained calm and watched the goings on with rapt attention once the auction began.  Kethry enthralled the gentleman sitting next to her and he took the tooth picks she was holding from the sandwiches we devoured and wove them together in to an amazingly cool looking pattern, held together by the pressure they exerted on one another.  Haplo had to have one too and the guy made him one.  They then had joyful fun taking them apart and trying their hardest to put them back together.  I couldn’t have bought a better toy and these were free.

As the auction began, the first item I was interested in was a complete vivarium with all the works.  This included heating, cooling, misting, water feature, everything but the creature to put in it.  About $650 in retail priced product.  Someone got it for $350, a but out of my price range.  The next thing was a similar setup by a company that specializes in this reptile enclosures complete with misting system and all the trimmings to setup a vivarium sans real plants.  This one went for $175, just outside of how much I was willing to spend on it since all I really wanted was the misting system.

There were lots of amazingly exotic snakes that were auctioned off as well as a giant bottle of absolute vodka.  Once that item went, the auction began to really ramp up.  I am not sure they were drinking it, but the people in back began to bid on things and ramp the prices up.  Rachel got a pair of corn snakes with some unique genetic traits and I got another red eye tree frog.  Then came the tiny little red ear slider turtle, which had the proposed legislation of passed along with my tree frog would have been illegal.  Needless to say he is swimming in his own little tank in the dining room.  Pictures of these amazing creatures will follow.

The hardest part of the night was making sure Haplo and Kethry didn’t just bid on something to participate.  They tried and we were quickly able to stop them before they were sold something we couldn’t afford.  Their behavior was still amazing and they were quiet and respectful through the entire ‘boring’ thing.  Although Haplo took great delight in seeing all the different snakes and animals.

How does one end the perfect night?  How about dinner at IHOP where the kids got to eat for free.  We got there at 9:15pm and they had Rooty Tootie Fruity things while Rachel had breakfast with ‘Cinabun’ coating and I had Country Fried Steak.  Our waiter was attentive and on the ball which made it a delight to eat there.  The food was about what one would expect but the fun with my family was really where it all paid off.  Seeing Haplo and Kethry enjoy the treat of fruit covered pancakes was just cool.  It was even cooler when Kethry said ‘Daddy, please cut this for me” indicating her pancake which she had tried but failed to do.  As I took her plate “You’re the best cutter dad!”