Like a bat out of hell...

Thursday, September 21 2006 @ 06:09 AM PDT

Contributed by: matt

...I'll be gone when the morning comes.

In less than twenty four hours, I'll be boarding an airplane that's going to take me further around the world than I've ever been before.

My previous record, roughly 5750 miles, was from when I was in the little Russian town of Shushenskoye, just north of the Mongolian border, and that trip lives in my memory to this day - 17 years later.

Tomorrow I'm headed to Kruger National Park in South Africa, and it's about 7900 miles away. Never in my life have I put so much preparation into a trip, and I'm only gone for ten days.

See, I'm sort of attached to a hunting party. Since I have no desire to mount the stuffed head of a Wildebeest on my wall, I've elected to stick to shooting with a camera. Given the environs however, I have to plan more like a hunter than a tourist.

Step one was selecting, purchasing and familiarizing myself with my weapons. In an effort to maintain stealth, I decided that my primary camera was going to be my brother's K1000. It's stealthy in that it has no motors. The focus, zoom (a fairly hefty 75-300mm slide lens), etc. can be done completely silently, and even taking the picture is just a slight click sound. Advancing the film quickly causes a louder ratcheting sound, but anyone that has sneakily opened a door can imagine ways to mitigate that.

Of course, a completely manual camera kind of sucks for snapshot opportunities, so I decided to pick up a Canon Powershot A620 to handle the 'day to day' stuff.

Since I'd be bringing my iPod along, the iPod camera adapter was a natural fit (it lets you dump straight from the camera to the iPod to free up space).

I also had to pick up some binoculars, and I settled on a pair of Nikon 10x50s, which are a little bulkier than I'd like, but I think they'll compensate for that with magnification and image quality.

Next I needed to get my first aid kit restocked, so a couple trips to drug stores and medical supply houses finally yielded the parts that I'd gone through in the last couple years. I have an assload of extra povidone swabs if anyone needs any, since I had to buy a box of around 40 to get the five I wanted.

As an aside: Dear Makers of First Aid Supplies, fuck you for not selling a wide range of replacement parts.

Now that I had accumulated (at least in my mind: I'm picking up my brother's camera today) all sorts of sensitive electronics and optics, I needed to find a big ass bag that would hold it all.

Then, of course, I needed a whole new wardrobe of the khaki/olive variety so I would have some hope of blending in with the environment.

Lets also not forget the various immunizations and medications and whatnot.

Etc., etc.

So far, I would guess that I've spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $1200 just on the stuff I'm bringing with me. With my seat in coach coming in at around $1800, I've spent four grand before I've even left the house. I started shopping for this trip in June, and it's a ten day trip.

All evidence to the contrary, I'm actually not bitter about it. It does mean, however, that the trip is going to have to kick ass for me to not feel like I might have had more fun going to Peru with my buddy in November.

The good news is that I should have material for a fun travel-related post or three, not to mention a shitload of gadget reviews, because, packing the bag tonight, I actually managed to disgust myself with how much gear I'm bringing.