Well, now that the show has aired, I can finally talk about the fun time filming with Josh Gates and his wonderful crew from “Expedition Unknown”…
After our disappointing outcome scouting the epic Gunnison Gorge and Canyon area in Colorado, with the BLM refusing us permission to film, we decided to go with Plan “B”… my own back yard outside of Taos, the dramatic Rio Grande Taos Gorge. Initially, being that I am a licensed Commercial Hot-Air Balloon Pilot, I wished for a Hot-Air Balloon adventure in to the Gorge to get a different perspective view, hoping to find a secret easy access down to the river. However, the Travel Channel production opted for a helicopter vs balloon. Now that I’ve seen the show, I understand why they made that call… cause they already filmed Forrest’s friend in a hot-air balloon. Okay, so I’m totally stoked for the helicopter!
That was Day One…. First, I had a “meet and greet” with Josh and crew at the John Dunn shops in the heart of Taos and filmed a few of the musician artists there. Josh also talked with Ed Sandoval (who’s gorgeous Art Gallery I manage) on his gorgeous Arabian horse named Patron, filming him on the Taos Plaza. Shortly after that, I met with the friendly crew at the little Taos Municipal Airport. They were all so easy to be with. They had three camera men, a drone and special camera operator, and a slew of Go-Pro’s that were fastened in every corner possible getting action angled shots. The sound man wired a mic inside my shirt. Josh was late showing up and even later was the helicopter that flew all the way up from Albuquerque to Taos. It was a hot June day, and in the distance you could see Thunderhead clouds building up.
I had purchased a few new items for my adventure wardrobe, and TV debut, though it was too hot to wear my army green jacket. One of the producers encouraged me to leave my jacket behind with her, that I’d be more comfortable without it. I was also advised to secure anything that may fly off of me, since the helicopter had no doors! So, off with the groovy Maui Jim sunglasses.
When the helicopter arrived, I was surprised to see how little it was. Just barely room to squeeze in four peoples. I sat in the back seat on the right, next to Josh. Go-Pro’s were secured in every corner of the helicopter cabin, and one of the cameramen sat in the front passenger seat. Just as we began to lift off, I felt the cool air sweep thru the cabin and I wished I had worn my jacket. My hair began to fly around wildly and eyes teared up from the winds that blew the helicopter around a lot. I looked over at Josh, he was not disturbed by the winds at all, since his pilot styled ray bans hooked securely behind his ears and his buzz haircut left nothing to blow. He looked pristine, obviously a more experienced adventurer for the camera than me.
Josh asked me if I see anything out there, so I leaned out of the helicopter, feeling like a dog with its head out a car window and his jowls spread wide with drool dripping down the side of my face. My eyes ran tears down to my chin. My nose began to run along with my mascara. I could not keep my blouse from flying up and I really wished for my jacket even more. I laughed at myself thinking how wildly messed up I became.
We found my “WWWH” solve; Stagecoach Hot Springs. Winds blew the helicopter sideways, bumping up and down as we circled above to study that area. Then we followed the Canyon down to find “Put in Below HOB”. As we circled back around, a rain storm engulfed us beating hard pellets on the windshield and making its way in to the cabin making me wet and more cold. The pilot expressed concern about fuel, or lack of, and wondered how much further we were going to take the search. It was soon that we began our return to the Taos Airport.
As we landed, the cheery crew greeted us with more cameras as Josh and I ran from the helicopter back to the terminal. After we spent some more time discussing details for the next full day’s of searching adventure, I headed back to my car, only to find a sweet surprise waiting for me by my car from someone who cares…. a bag full of my favorite drinks on Ice, chips and chocolates!
To be continued…