I leave for the ivory-billed woodpecker Arkansas search a week from tomorrow so Non Birding Bill and I headed to a new Cabela's that opened up in Rogers to load up on the supplies for the swamp. The photo on the left is me trying on some chest waders. I asked NBB how my butt looked in them and he said, "Brown and shapeless." I guess that's better than gigantic.
I had no idea there were so many styles of chest waders, some are for fly fishing and some are for duck hunting. The pair I went with are brown neoprene that you wear hiking boots over the little footies on the bottom. It was difficult finding a pair that fit because I am short and have small feet so the maker of the chest waders assumes that if you are a size 7 shoe your hips should match that. I'm what you would call gifted in the hip department so I ended up having to go with a bigger size for bigger feet. I think it will work out since I intend on wearing thick socks and stuffing the toes with hand warmers (one of the best inventions ever). I can see these having some very practical application for some cold weather birding and banding in Minnesota when I'm done in the swamp. I did like the supportive feel of the neoprene waders and if they keep me warm and dry I can live with a brown and shapeless butt. Of course, if I take to wearing this clothing when birding on a regular basis, I will no longer be able to make fun of birders who tuck their pants in their socks.
I also had to pick up some required "mesh camo bug cover". I showed my Cornell list to the staff at Cabela's and they looked at me blankly. I said, "I think they mean a gilly suit." Then they knew right away what I needed and NBB went to town trying to see how many accessories he could fit on me (pictured at right). I got very giddy and told NBB, "Look, I'm just like Brian Wheeler!" (who also dresses in a gilly suit when photographing hawks). NBB told me to calm down, that I was sounding a little too Single White Female. I think the pants are really cool and I kind of wish I could find a way to work them into my day to day wardrobe. They shimmy and shake as you walk, I would love to take them out clubbing and see what they do on the dance floor.
Here is a photo of Non Birding Bill getting into the spirit of things by trying on some of the camo! I think staff and some customers got a kick out of NBB and I clowning around in the camo--and people say married couples don't have any fun! I did make it a point to mention to Cabela's staff that I was using this stuff for birding--they should know that there is a whole crowd of customers besides hunters that can use their stuff. I also mentioned that they should thank Cornell University for recommending them as a resource for our supplies in the swamp.
I can see that birding and traipsing around in a swamp is going to be a challenge in this get up. Binos, spotting scopes and video cameras are heavy enough and now there are chest waders and layers of filmy camo added to the pile. If anything, I will surely work off all the eating I've been doing over the holiday weekend.
And you know what else? I don't even want to think about what's going to happen if there is a "potty emergency" in the swamp. As a woman I have always considered "going in the woods" in regular clothing was a triumph if I could do it without getting any on myself. Now there's awkward clothing involved that's not easy to whip on or off. Oh well, this will be a learning experience. I'm sure at the end of this I will come put a stronger and more resourceful outdoors-woman.