South Africa Shoot

You know you are truly alive when you are living among the lions. — Isak Dinesen

So said my 1,000 Places to See Before You Die calendar this morning.  But I ask in return, “What about living among the birds?”

I will soon find out.

Jeff and I embark Sunday night on a bird shooting expedition through South Africa.  We will live and travel aboard the Rovos Rail, a luxurious train line that evokes Old World glamour.  We will chart our course across South Africa in search of birds and big game.  Thankfully, there are plenty of side excursions for non-shooters as well.  We will be casually khaki-clad for shooting and exploring each day and formally attired for cocktails and dinner each evening.

rovos

In preparation for this trip, Jeff has been enjoying getting our “kit” together.  He seemed to require a whole new wardrobe that suits him surprisingly well.  I should have known my marriage to Jeff would lead to something like this.  When we started dating, Jeff’s first birthday gift to me was a pair of fishing waders. Twenty years later, I am now the proud owner of a shooting vest equipped with shoulder pad, ear defenders, shooting glasses with various lenses, and proper field boots.

I have been taking shooting lessons at the Holland & Holland shooting school just outside of London.  I haven’t shot any real birds, but I have had plenty of practice on clays.  A former British SAS officer (the equivalent of a US Navy SEAL) is my intrepid instructor.  Even though he is now adorned in gentle tweeds, you can tell he was a force to reckon with back in the day.  A bird wouldn’t stand a chance against this man.  However, I’d wager for the birds with me holding the gun.  I am a better shot with my camera!

In a small-world moment, I met an elderly man at my gym this morning as he was walking slowly on the treadmill next to me.  I was discussing my upcoming trip when suddenly he chimed in, “Ahhh the Rovos Rail.  I have ridden aboard her many times…there is nothing like standing on the back of that train watching the African bush pass before you as the sun sets on the horizon.”

sunset

What a crazy coincidence!  I am willing to take his word for it and will have my own perspective to share soon enough.

We may be bird shooting, but I know that this trip will not be “for the birds”!

 

 

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