Brenda Valentine’s Outdoor Legends Tour: Day 8

One unit made a road sign from a target (notice the holes) with directions to each of our hometowns. And check out the caps we’re wearing. These were personalized gifts from a Special Forces unit. Mine will go in my collection curio of treasures.

It is hard to say enough about the hospitality and the warm reception each of the Afghanistan camps offered.

While visiting one camp that had seen its fair share of action, a young guard noticed my turquoise cross necklace and said, “I see you are a Christian. Please take this gift.” It was a rosary made of beautiful black beads. I reasoned with him that considering his present situation he might need it more than me, but he would not hear of it. A special gift I shall always treasure.

Lt. Col. (ret) Lew Deal from Armed Forces Entertainment and Hope For The Warriors had the forethought to get a zillion of these photos printed before the trip. I can’t begin to estimate how many we signed, but often it was hurriedly done in unusual circumstances. This photo was taken inside a Blackhawk helicopter. I signed it using the top of my helmet for a desk. The pilot, co-pilot and gunners were hunters but couldn’t get off duty to attend the official meet and greet.

From generals to snipers, doctors to pilots, even septic truck drivers, we were given an opportunity to spend time with each department and learn about their specific part in Operation Enduring Freedom.

It also was nice to learn more of the humanitarian projects going on in Afghanistan. I must not have been watching the news when they explained about the schools we have started for Afghan children and how much of the focus is on helping young girls get an education. I didn’t know childbirth was the No. 1 killer of women there and that we have established birthing clinics staffed with female doctors to assist the women.

I also didn’t know that in some camps as many as 18 allied countries are working and fighting side by side to help the Afghan people gain their independence. It was also news to me that we are teaching them to govern and sustain themselves as they gradually gain control of their homeland.

— Brenda


Bakersfield Women in the Outdoors — a blockbuster event

In-N-Out burgers — it’s the food of movie stars and a must-eat while in the Los Angeles area. At least, that’s what People magazine tells me.

A couple weeks ago, I sat nervously in the LAX airport, waiting for Corinna Slaughter, to meet me at baggage claim. Corinna didn’t make me nervous (though her last name sounds intimidating). We’d spent a couple weeks hunting together in South Africa a few months before. You get to know a person fairly well on a trip like that.

Instead, I was wigging out that I could be solely responsible for maiming or killing Corinna in a collision, while attempting to drive in Los Angeles. When it comes to driving, I’m a total country mouse — a country mouse that didn’t want manslaughter (or Corinna-slaughter) on my permanent record or conscious.

However, we made it through the city by the grace of God and the fact that it wasn’t rush hour. It was actually pretty cool to see glimpses of exit signs for Mulholland Drive and Sunset Boulevard. I’m not one to get star struck easily, but I’ve read enough trashy celebrity magazines to know those streets have a place in pop culture.

Groups of women come to this event together, and often wear matching shirts or hats to show their hometown spirit.

But Corinna and I were headed out of the city, north to Lebec, where we were to attend the NWTF Bakersfield Chapter’s Women in the Outdoors event. It’s the largest of its kind, an award winner. And we wanted to see it.

Not before a quick stop at In-N-Out Burger. I’ve read movie stars go there after the Oscars. (Like I said, country mouse.)

This year was the 12th annual event for the Bakersfield Chapter. And every year it’s held at the Tejon Ranch, the largest private contiguous land holding in the United States. Its 270,000 acres is home to a ton of wildlife, including elk, wild pigs, wild turkey and quail. And for a weekend each May, women from all over the Golden State, the country even, call it home for two days of outdoors fun.

My first class was CPR training, taught by Michael McCormick, a certified Red Cross instructor. I, along with this cool Cali chick, was no dummy to resuscitation after the three-hour class.

I tightened the laces on my hiking boots, slathered on sunscreen and prepared to immerse myself in this legendary event, an event too big to capture in a single blog post. So check back tomorrow for more So Cal fun!

Gee, I sound like a tourist…

The 270,000-acre Tejon Ranch in Lebec, Calif., serves many purposes, such as cattle ranching, a place to film movies and commercials, as well as a destination for the largest Women in the Outdoors event in the country.