Hopes for Medals As We Get Ready to Leave!

Boyd Exell. Photo by Diana DeRosa
Boyd Exell. Photo by Diana DeRosa

With just two days left we are all going around trying to get ready for our international departure while still finalizing stories, taking pictures and beginning our packing. Saturday was a critical day for the U.S. as we were hoping to end up with our riders sitting in the spotlight and both Beezie Madden and Chester Weber managed to do just that.

While a dropped rail for Beezie in one of her two individual rounds moved her down from the first to second place position, she has made it to the Final Four.  McLain Ward was close, in fifth, but just outside the markers.

There was a slight change for Chester Weber, who, like Beezie, moved from the lead to the second spot behind Boyd Exell. That should create some excitement and the potential for medals in both driving and show jumping still exists. So, the enthusiasm is high among the Americans still in Normandy.

We all gave France an A+ for running a very good Obstacle day. The footing in all of the obstacles was regularly dragged and it appeared that each one had its own tractor to take care of each of the eight obstacles. Some 15,000 spectators turned out and not only could they watch the drivers in action but large screens around the grounds ensured they didn’t miss anything.

Also, although there have been some issues with the media, the freedom given for photographers was the best I’ve ever seen at a Driving event. Pens surrounded every single obstacle and they were also designed in clusters which made it easy for us to photograph more than one hazard.

To be honest, I don’t know what the competitors thought about the course but I can tell you that for us it was more convenient then when you have to try and run from obstacle to obstacle up and down hills.

Getting ready for our departure…

Final Four. Photo by Diana DeRosa
Final Four. Photo by Diana DeRosa

With the final critical day to go on Sunday, we patiently await what that day will bring as we also spend some time getting ready for our departure. As I start to pack it’s given me a lot to think about what you need to know when you organize your travel gear.

To begin with, when it comes to photography I am a Nikon fan. You see both Nikon and Canon at these major events and I’m sure the Canon folks feel as strongly about Canons as I do about Nikons. Nikon’s D4s is beyond compare with its ability to capture pictures in low light situations and the various features it offers helps to ensure every picture (or at least most of them) are sharp and crisp and are capturing the action that creates a dynamic image.

When it comes to bags for your cameras, I love a couple of the ThinkTank Bags. The Airport International and the Shape Shifter Camera Backpack were the two I decided to try out for this trip and for sure it was the perfect decision. In asking around most of the photographers agreed that one of its best features are the double wheels that make it float like it is on air when the footing is nice.

You can tell that someone who was a photographer had their hand in designing the International because of some of the cool features only another photographer would think of. Things like a built in lock, a large enough pouch in the front to put one or more laptops, room inside for Nikon’s 200-400 (in my case) as well as a host of other lenses and/or flashes.

There’s also a side straps for your monopod or tripod and other pockets to stick some of the smaller items you have. What really surprised me was the rain cover and wow did I ever use that on this trip. It’s a little blue pouch placed inside the bag that you pull out and cover the bag with if it rains. It saved me a couple of times because for our first week the heavens opened up multiple times.

On the bottom of the bag is a strap which allows you to more easily pull the bag out from the overhead bin or the trunk of your car. And if you have to pick up the bag the handles are a new and strong design. I’m in love with this bag but if there were one thing I would rethink it might be the pockets up front because I often found it harder than I expected to slide my laptop in, but certainly easy enough and I’m being picky here.

For most trips that bag would have held everything I needed but in this case I needed even more space and so the Shape Shifter Camera Backpack was especially handy having a unique pocket pouch design for camera bodies or lenses as well as an area close to your body on the back of the backpack to put your laptops. What’s cool about this bag is that you can expand the bag to easily slip your cameras and lenses in but if you just want it as a laptop bag there are zippers that allow it to be quite thin on your back.

So, as I begin to pack my things what else am I thankful for? Well, bringing two phone chargers instead of just one, signing up for an international cell and message plan, remembering to bring enough adaptors for all the items I need to plug in and putting my toiletries in a hanging bag. I only wish I had done the same thing for my smaller photography items because it makes it so much easier to find things.

Then there’s the two exterior hard drives that ensured no photos would be lost and a brand new Alienware laptop that easily saved me time because of the speed at which it was able to download my photos.

On this trip rain gear was important (rubber boots and poncho for me and covers for my cameras and lenses).

Finally, two healthy drinks that helped both me and my roommate, Darlene Ricker, manage to function on too little sleep. Nitro NinxGia is a Young Living mini juice drink that helps give you a burst of energy and NRG is a mushroom drink that literally helped us manage the long hours it took to get through each day.

I’m sure there are more things but these happened to be at the top of my list. I always love to hear what items other people can’t live without because whatever can help reduce how much we pack or lessen the time it takes to get our work done is what we media are all about.

So, I end this report with a hope for medals tomorrow and some cool pics from today’s Driving Obstacles.