Boom! Did we get to wire 5,000 pounds lb of explosives? YES! Did we get to blow thousands of tons of rock off the mountainside? YES! Did we get to use huge machines and crushing grinders to process 100 tons of rock? YES! This was a big kid’s dream.
Massive drilling rigs that drill three-inch holes up to 60 ft deep, excavators, front loaders and rock-crushing jaws are just a few of the things that we got to play with. But first and foremost: Safety. Before we were even allowed to step foot near the quarry, the entire crew took a four hour safety course following MSHA rules. You’ve probably heard of OSHA — the Occupational Safety and Health Administration… Well, the mining industry has MSHA — the Mine Safety and Health Administration — and they’re even more hardcore than OSHA. We had a rep, Kim, on site every day to make sure that we were adhering to the rules, and he turned out to be both awesome and helpful. Standing there looking at the 300-400 ft wall of rock surrounding us was almost overwhelming. There was a wet, muddy, super-steep road from the base to the top, where we were drilling, that we had to walk up every day — sometimes twice. I’m in pretty good shape, but if I never have to climb something like that again, I’d be happy. As always, a huge shout-out to our filming crew who pushed through in the freezing cold, rain and mud.
One word… EPIC. What an amazing adventure. These past few days gave me a taste of what it must have been like when explorers, traders and pirates spent months in the open ocean. Captain Taylor and the crew of the Bill of Rights were amazing, and they showed both Ed and me how important communication and speed were when it came to rough seas, and properly navigating and getting back to port safely. I grew up boating, fishing and sailing, but operating a Tall Ship was nothing like what I knew.
My first sailing experience came when I was around 12 years old, when my brotherʼs friend gave me his old 14 ft catamaran with a torn sail. A roll of duct tape and a few hours later, my friends and I were full blown captains. Ha. I learned about wind direction, tacking and technique, which helped on the Tall Ship, but having to learn a whole new vocabulary of commands and needing a full crew to raise sails, change direction, etc. was a new experience. Itʼs one thing to sail a lightweight, 14 ft boat in perfect conditions, but to sail a 120 ton, 136 ft Tall Ship in heavy winds, cold pouring rain, and with waves smashing over the bow… EPIC.
Of all the places to film an episode, Kona, Hawaii was a pretty good one. You would think that with a nice hotel on the ocean, huge pool and gorgeous weather, we’d film a little, relax a little and so on. Not so much. The amount of work that goes into making a 30 minute show would amaze you. This crew is up by around 4:30AM, returning only for a shower, dinner and bed.
I love machines and processes, so I was excited to see how beer is made. What was cool about going to a smaller brewery was that our experts really were hands-on with not only the process, but also the flavors. They did extensive research and testing with a variety of hops and ingredients. When it came time for Ed and me to make beer, every measurement and all the process times had to be precise. I learned two major things about hops: 1. It only takes a small amount to drastically change the taste of 1,200 gallons of beer, and 2. Don’t put them in your mouth. BLAHHHHH. Of course, Ed said, “I wonder what they taste like,” and I said, “I’ll try one.” DUMB. Water, soda, candy, lunch, dinner… None of these things got rid of that awful taste. Anyway…
As a skydiver, I’ve jumped out of hundreds of planes over the past 12 years, but I had never flown one, so I was extremely excited when I found out that we would be flying stunt planes. When I was told that the first challenge would be a G-force test, I began my research on maneuvers and G-LOC (G-force Induced Loss Of Consciousness). Basically, as the G-force increases, the blood moves away from your brain and causes you to black out. I found a straining trick that pilots use where you tense the muscles in your body and take short breaths to help keep blood flowing to your brain. I knew that Ed wouldn’t have that information, and it helped me win the first challenge.
Ed’s expert pilot was Rocket, and I was with Baron. Both amazing pilots and just plain cool guys. Pretty much the second we left the ground, Baron, in his thick German accent, said, “Marcus, do you vant to take control of das plane?” Heck yeah, I did. At one point, I asked Baron what the plane was capable of, to which he replied, “Ohhh, so you vant to see vat dis plane can do, do you?” Ummmm… We pulled a reverse G maneuver and some other complete craziness that nearly made my eyeballs shoot out of my head. Anyway… I had an idea what to expect, but being in the plane, forced down into the seat at over 5 G’s with complete tunnel vision, totally changed that. The only thing on my mind at that moment was to continue breathing. I felt like that in several of the high performance maneuvers.