Saturday, May 4, 2013

What's Fer Dinner?

I wanted to create film and photo stock for the website, and figured red rock country in southern Utah would be the ticket. I’m hoping to do little snippets about our adventures and have a short film intro that stayed the same, along with an end. I have heard people in the office call them “bookends”. 
I called Neal Herbert, a camera guy and friend based out of Moab, and asked if he could put together a little camping trip and do the shooting.  Jennifer Jerrett, Neil’s wife, was also going to join along on the little expedition for inspiration and technical support.  Neal corrected my terminology and called them “bumpers”. Unfortunately, Jen injured her knee the week before on her own adventure, and Shakey Jake, another film guy that spent time up in Alaska at Denali, took her place. Our little group of 4 headed out into the desert just southwest of Moab, Utah to Kane Creek.

Our little group heads up the canyon
We were going to do a technical ride, rated "Expert" from Butler Motorcycle Maps. This means if we died Neal would have captured it on film to show at our funeral.  Just kidding.  The weather was calling for snow... perfect for camping.
Hurrah Pass, southwest of Moab, Utah and the Colorado River Valley near Dead Horse Point State Park - Google Map
We started out of Moab, turned right at the Burger King and headed out to Kane Creek Boulevard. As soon as we hit the dirt we started filming. Short shots and little bits all day long, all the way up to the pass, called Hurrah (roughly 4800 ft.). No sooner did we enter the canyon when we got to admire someone else’s adventure – base jumping off the canyon walls. Pretty scary… did I mention I don’t like heights (remember this for later).

Neal and Jake shot us from different angles all day long, mostly video with some photos. It was really nice to have the undivided attention of these two really skilled guys. I also learned how much time and repeat shooting it takes to generate enough film to create a nice 30 second bookend.  Neal is the master with an eye for the perfect shot. Sometimes, (because we were not gifted or thinking in movie mode), Neal’s instructions on riding for the right shot and what we thought was the right shot, didn’t match up. Case in point… going through the water really fast is cool on the motorcycle, but it splashes muddy water all over the film guys! Whereas Neal wants slow to capture the movement with clarity… it took us a while, and I don’t think we really understood what Neal wanted until we actually saw the final 30 second finished product!

Video: The front "bumper" we created in the desert. Direct link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7nWlen9j50

Thanks Neal for being so patient! I also learned, that no matter how many times I was told not to look at the camera and to act natural… (ya’ll ought to know by now there isn’t a natural bone in my body) I couldn’t help myself… although I didn’t go completely dorky and wave at the film guys, I certainly kept looking at them and ruining the perfect shot! I guess I was never meant to be in the movies… lol!

So we spent the whole day shooting in the desert, making our way up the canyon. It wasn’t without issues. I put my helmet on a slick rock ledge (right next to Michael’s) and the wind came through and knocked mine off the side where it landed smack on the front lower jaw piece. I have a flip-up helmet from Nolan. This impact broke the hinge and locked the helmet in place, making putting it on and taking it off a real challenge (I nearly lost my ears and nose every time I tried to squeeze my head through the small opening.  Michael ripped off his chain guard (while splashing the film boys with muddy water) and we needed to disassemble the entire thing and store it in the jeep - this all in the first hour up the canyon. We did drive back to Moab and attempt to find a brand new helmet, but really only one store sold helmets in town, and they were closed for Sunday/Monday. Even so, I didn’t want to drop $500 on a helmet I didn’t really want, so I chose to ride with the broken helmet instead.

Michael repairing the broken chain guard
We rode to the top of the mountain and took wonderful shots. Several times the boys would say things like "can you ride your motorcycle right here for the perfect shot"? It became apparent that, like we had no understanding of cameras, they had no understanding of motorcycles. My translation of that request was "can you move that 500 pound motorcycle right up to the edge of this cliff - yeah.. the one that will kill you... and where it slopes down with a mix of soft earth and loose shale and rock just before that edge I want you to ride up too"?  To keep myself focused, I would put a rock down as a marker and then, while riding out towards the edge, I would think... ride to the rock and touch it with your tire.  It was amazing how many times we needed to shoot that shot, and how the rock kept creeping closer towards the edge magically.... I'm not sure if it was Neal or Jake that would move the rock as we were turning around for another take. Even so, one of my favorite shots of the whole ride is of this exact place!

Wandering Alaskans enjoying the view near Moab, Utah.
Neal taking the shot...
If you have ever been to Dead Horse Point in southern Utah, and looked across the great valley, Hurrah Pass is on the other side of the Colorado River from your observation point in the state park. The riding was good, but right at the very top, we reached a place where my bike didn’t have the clearance to rise over the technical terrain - staircase like steps on the trail made out of rock. I took the challenge and bottomed out my bike. It is amazing that I still have my little pink demon bell hanging off the skid plate. A second section of slick rock was pretty challenging give the angle and the cracks and the soft deep sand scattered between everything. I picked a bad line and ended up not being able to ride the bike out of the place I put it; Michael rode it out for me. Over the years, I have come to look at these moments as not really me being a scaredy cat, but rather a woman that exhibits common sense and recognizes my skill may not be up to the task. I do push myself… but I just don’t want another broken bone!

video
Video showing occasional technical spots where clearance was an issue.

Near the top of the pass, Michael’s motorcycle started to overheat. The weather started to get ugly, and we were a little tired. We crossed over the top and went down into the valley and hit sand when it flattened out. It wasn’t deep sand, fairly pleasant to ride, but… I hate sand!

Grand place to set up a tent!
 We camped in the most wonderful and beautiful place. We got the tents up before night fall (barely)… and were ready for a nice hot meal.  I had arranged with Neal ahead of time to bring out all the camp cooking supplies and cold beer in the rental jeep. Neal was going to prepare us a wonderful stir fry with fresh veggies and cold beer.

Neal packed all the wonderful supplies for a grand meal.. he only forgot one thing…. The cook stove and fuel. (I really can't make this shit up...).

Neal realizing he forgot the stove...