Sunday night Charles and I flew back from Cape Town to Joburg to meet up with the rest of the US team. Adele is the name of the gal who owns Hunters Permits and takes care of people coming in to the country with rifles. She also babysat our rifles and gear while we went to Cape Town and she will do so again when we head north to the safaris. She had to meet all 20 or so that came in on the same flight from the States and get them through customs. At least a month ago we all had to send copies of passports and filled out paper work and proof of the match to her. She then provides the police station at the airport with that and then they compare rifle serial numbers and off you go. Easy! But! If you did not get that in ahead of time and try to do it when you arrive you may be there for hours. Early Monday morning we got our fleet of 6 mini vans from the car rental and took off for the 5 hour trip to Bloemfontein.
Well, we tried to take off. We could not get out of the airport parking lot. They told us we could pay on the way out at the gate but those machines would not take our cards and told us to go back and pay at a pay station. That pay station did not work. The help button at the gate got no one’s attention. We all had to back up and park again and find someone to help us out. Not sure where the meltdown happened. Should not have been that difficult. Almost took 1/2 hour to get out of there! Rather funny actually. Like I said before, the service is not top notch here. We made it to Bloemfontein easily. Each car had a walkie talkie so we could make sure no van got lost or too far behind. Bloemfontein is a very Afrikaans area. Most everyone speaks it here where Joberg and Cape Town mostly speak English as the first choice. Charles and I ventured out to a restaurant and the waitress assumed we were locals and spoke Afrikaans to us. We stared at her wide-eyed and she started laughing. We fit in here since we are so tall. The Boeres were/are big people. Many of the women here are blonde, tall and beautiful. Men as well. She changed quickly to English and that was that. We are staying at a hotel called the Southern Sun. Pretty decent place. It is gated in with full-time security guards. Pretty standard for hotels so cars do not get broken in to. You feel safe here but there is a lot of theft if not careful. We are attached to a large indoor shopping mall that has everything you could need. A mini “walmart” type store, grocery store and all the typical mall stores. No American brands though. And talk about cheap. I forgot a long sleeve sweatshirt to wear under my shooting jacket. I bought a light fleece hoody for $5. It is worth only $5 but I don’t care. I will leave it behind. We also got some cheap lawn chairs for the range. There is lots of down time.
Our first two days on the range were practice days. At the end of the first day the coaches chose the 8 members that were chosen for The America’s Cup Team and I was one of the chosen! Norm Anderson is the Head Coach overall. Emil Praslic is coaching Lane Buxton, Brandon Green, Michael Storer and Ty Cooper. Steve Harding is coaching Bob Gill, Nate Guernsey, myself and Dave Crandell. Today’s practice was done as though it was the real team match. Can I just say that the winds were nutso? Averaged 12mph plus and straight at us. There were constant and quick 2-3 minutes changes. I am so exhausted right now from being out in that all day. Sort of felt like I was doing a downhill bonzai ski but for 8 hours straight. The actual America’s Cup (should be called match not cup. We are not sailing) will be held on Friday. Tomorrow, Thursday is the the first Individual day shot at 3, 6, 8 and 900 metres. Hoping the winds will not be that bad. Apparently today was about as bad as it gets. We had one boo boo with one of our scopes. As you can see in the photo the front lens cracked. Can’t figure out how. Happened between last night and today. No rough handling either. At least it was the protective outer lens. We can take it off and be good but have to hope the real one stays put.
Little details – The range and area we are in could just as well be in Wyoming. Flat and somewhat desert like but with hills around the perimeter. It is actually very pretty out here. But Wyoming does not have ostrich running around wild. Some team members who have been here before said they have seen herds of zebra and giraffe run through at times as well. That would be cool! There are also these crazy bushes that have spears on them. They have 2-3″ white spikes that are super sharp. Even their plants here have teeth. The range has a “roach coach” that comes in daily and feeds everyone. Apparently the same guy for years. I was way too nervous to try it but everyone, even the Americans who have been here before said it is always good and no one has been sick. I tried it today and all is well and the food is pretty good. So far. My tummy is saying a prayer daily. We have only had great food since we have arrived. And cheap! Our drinks in the hotel bar last night were $5 for a double Scotch including tip. The most expensive bottle of wine we have had was $30. This country really does know good wine. Talk to you in a couple of days!
This article may be a bit scattered. Super tired tonight.