As seedy as that sounds, it is true. My bedroom resembles a construction site, or a war zone in a foreign country. Walking across the room in the dark is an activity fraught with danger, each step a journey into the unknown. Will I trip over a pile of clothes or a backpack strap and break an arm, leg or nose? I am not sure that travel insurance covers stupidity, especially when you haven’t left the country yet!
There is a piece of paper blue tacked to the wall, on it written in black texta “TEXAS PACKING LIST”. The list gets longer for each day I spent googling ‘things to do in Texas’. My nights are filled thinking about the adventure that is about to ensue as I spent 4 days on a road trip from San Antonio to Big Bend National park, and it is difficult to sleep when every couple of hours I hurdle out of bed to add another item to the “TEXAS PACKING LIST”. Only problem with doing that in the dark is A. the aforementioned tripping over the ‘packing pile’, and B. the bedroom wall now has accidental scrawls of permanent marker where had missed the piece of paper in the dark. I am hoping not to have an eviction notice when I get back.
Since scoring a semi-finalist position in the “Extreme Huntress contest” life has gone from crazy to even crazier. If I wasn’t living in the fast lane before, I am now, and life has whizzed by so fast. One minute I am spending my weekends on local hunts, chasing pigs in little ol’Goondiwindi-town, the next minute I am jet-setting around the country conducting newspaper interviews, radio talkback shows and filming for television segments. The last time I can remember picking up my bow was to move it out of the way, or pose for a very staged photo for a newspaper journalist in a local park as curious onlookers stare, and mum’s grab their children’s hands and drag them away from this strange spectacle of a woman drawing a compound bow in the local botanical gardens.
The ‘Extreme Huntress contest” is an international contest aimed at giving the contestants the platform to promote the outdoor adventure lifestyle, with the view that women are raising the next generation of hunters and outdoor lovers. From a pool of international applicants, the top 20 semi-finalists were chosen, and, me being one of them, and the only Australian applicant, it was now my job to campaign for a position in the top 6, in order to head to Texas USA to compete in the Grand final hunt. Selection for the top 6 would be via a combination of public voting and judges determining how well contestants have promoted themselves and females in the hunting and outdoor sports. We had one month to campaign. The month of May 2014 is one I will never forget. It was also one of the most stressful times of my life, but made all the worthwhile when I received an email from the competition organiser on June 4th, saying “Congratulations, you have made the top 6 finalists. We need to confirm that you can be at the 777 Ranch in Hondo Texas on the 9th-14th July for the grand final hunt.”
Uuuummmm…. Hell yes!
The next day flights are booked, VISA organised and I sell my soul to the Ambulance service in a desperate bid to get 2 weeks off work with 4 weeks notice. Luckily, I don’t need to sell my soul, they had already anticipated my success and arranged to have a fill-in cover my shifts for that time.
Ironically in the lead-up to the competition, I have participated in very little hunting, as most of my time has been spent in the actual office rather than the bush office, working on the campaign to actually make the finals. So sadly, the newly arrived package of Hunters Element gear had remained in its box on the loungeroom floor, longingly awaiting, as desperately as I, for the next opportunity to go beatin’ around the bush. But finally, 8 days out from my flight, my packing pile had begun to formulate as I prepared for the hunt of a lifetime on international soil.
So here I am staring at a pile of clothes, cameras, magazines, peanut pillow, jumpers, sleeping bag, beanie, socks, scarf, ear warmers and boots, wondering how I could possibly fit them into the Hunters Element ‘Saddle Pack’. With 25 litres of carrying capacity, I am confident that it will be the perfect size to avoid the need for checked baggage thus the potential ordeal of being separated from my luggage in a foreign country. Despite being a well seasoned traveller, thus having perfected the skill of using every square millimetre of a suitcase’s capacity, I am dubious that I would be able to do so on this occasion, and may have to succumb to the trauma of dealing with checked baggage queues, luggage carousels and reckless baggage handlers.
Until I realise something critically important. “You goose, Christie! July in the Northern Hemisphere is dead in the middle of Summer!” A sigh of relief that I have just cut my baggage pile in half, but now after tearing up the first draft of “TEXAS PACKING LIST” it’s back to the drawing board. Or rental house wall. It reads “TEXAS PACKING LIST… Take 2”.
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