Going downhill fast.
What would you say if an old friend, who happens to be an executive producer of multiple television programs, asked to send a couple of his colleagues to Hawaii to film part of your vacation for a new television series?
What would you say if those people were planning to comp multiple, pricey activities for the privilege of taping you doing them, and to buy you a nice lunch for your troubles?
Well, when this scenario was pitched to us, the H and I said, "Sure! Why not? We were planning on biking down the volcano anyway, and hiking to some waterfalls, so why not let a few folks with cameras come along for the ride?!"
Wrong choice people. Wrong.
Meet The Film Guy:
The H took The Film Guy's photo while he videotaped us shivering atop the Haleakala (translation: House of the Sun) summit, above the clouds, at 5 in the morning, waiting for the sun to rise over the island. The Film Guy and his partner, The Producer Lady, were a nice enough pair, sufficiently dedicated to the cause to get up at 1 in the a.m. only to drive 10,000 feet in elevation in less than an hour on windy, switchbacky roads, in the dark, to the top of a volcanic crater where the winds whip your ass like an angry Catholic nun on crack, and then to follow us the entire 27 miles down the hill in their minivan.
Now, I had thought perhaps these folks would ride down the mountain behind us. Really slowly. Casual-like. Get a few shots of the countryside. A few of us. A few of the blue horizon. A few more of us. A few of the cows. You get the picture.
I thought wrong. The Producer Lady had us wait until the rest of the bikers on our tour were well on their way down the mountain before we got our start, and then she pinned tiny microphones into our oh-so-sexy windsuits and proceeded to drive her minivan IN FRONT of us as The Film Guy sat in the back, hatch a'floppin' in the breeze, feet a'hangin' out the door, with a 30-pound camera perched on his shoulder.
My windsuit puffed up in the gusty wind, making me look something like a darker, shinier version of the Michelin Man. The H and I struggled to adjust to the pointy BMX-like helmets that crowned our heads and the battery packs shoved in our waistbands as we barreled down the mountain at a really fucking fast clip.
The TV people shouted instructions at us:
"Tell us what you're seeing right now." "Explain what you're smelling." "Aren't you so excited?" "Get closer to the van." "Stop using your brakes for a bit - they're squealing." "Was it all you thought it would be?" "Ride side by side for a sec." Etc.
The Film Guy took turns, first instructing the H to get as close as he could to the moving van and to eloquently describe the beauty of his surroundings. Then me. Then the H. Cheeks rippling in the wind and eyes tearing up all the while.
Just when we thought they were finally going to set us free until we met for lunch a few more miles down the mountain, The Film Guy related his new grand strategy to all of us. The Producer Lady was now to drive the minivan BESIDE us...straddling the center line...with the sliding door open, so that The Film Guy could get some footage of us and our bikes from the side. If anything seemed "squirrelly" we were to let him know right away. Ha!
People, this was so not cool. Ok? Just trust me on this one. Riding a bike 20 miles an hour (and I do mean "riding" - we had cause to pedal maybe 1/2 mile the entire time) with a minivan three feet from your tires, headed around 23 (yes, twenty-three) switchbacks in succession is just not kosher.
We made it alive, and stopped for lunch. It was then that we learned we'd actually be happily enjoying the view from the restaurant, smilingly receiving our plates of food, and lovingly toasting one another and our fabulous vacation for the camera.
On and on this day went...from biking...to lunch...to biking...to hiking...to waterfalls...to coconut drinks, mic'ed and videotaped all the while. And constantly prodded for catchy soundbites and posed for action shots.
Having not expected such a full-on interview experience, we were not dressed the part in any way. In fact, at one point, I was wearing what can best be described as pajama bottoms and a stretchy yoga top thingy...big ol' sheen of sweat and dirt on my face and arms covered with mosquito bites. We must have looked more like castaways they drug out of a jungle somewhere than the carefree vacationers we were purported to be.
I'm sure we'll look back on this experience (and the resulting 2-minute television spot) and laugh our little asses off. But at the time, I seriously wanted to ramp that bike off the side of the volcano and ride off into the sunrise - to escape low-budget television hell and make for freedom's glorious shores.