I’d like to say: ‘No humans were hurt during the making of this film,’ but cannot honestly end with this disclaimer. Filming action shots required real action – not just for the protagonist. Who knew that camera men suffered too?
Here’s a picture of my amazing cameraman, Alpha losing in his battle with a cactus. I know you’re wondering, why on earth would anybody choose to fight a cactus? That was my initial reaction too (plus lots of laughter). Then I went into nurse mode – who knew this existed, eh? And I directed another on how to best extricate the 5” needles from the side of Alpha’s leg and derriere!
5 ways to avoid pain, love and enjoy the Arizona desert.
Now this is not the first time I’ve been on a desert trip and a member of my team has been attacked by a cactus. Yes – this happens quite frequently it seems.
- Absent-mindedness + cactus field aka Arizona desert = disaster. And by ‘absent-mindedness’, I simply mean focusing on anything other than avoiding the myriad of cactus traps in the desert minefield. Because, if you are doing something like holding a camera filming a shot, running through the wildlife, you’re a shoo-in for a ‘You’ve been framed moment’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zD8ZvZkVZM – 2:55 to 3:03 pretty funny). Darn it! Where’s that extra cameraman when you need him?
- Darkness is not your friend. Sunset scenes are always a fan favourite. But it is the quickly-descending night sky that becomes most problematic. Another recipe for a painful disaster includes darkness and a cactus minefield. I’m sure I needn’t explain how this works – you lose clarity of focus in the darkness, everything blurs into one, and all the plants and trees look surprisingly and falsely friendly. So you mistakenly stumble over a branch, protracted indents or deep footsteps in the sand, and woops, there goes your footing and into a bed of needles you fall. Pain ensues.
- If you are at all unsure or doubting the existence of God, then do not come here! The perfect beauty and magnificence of nature here may forcefully defeat your doubts and make you a believer in one fell swoop. On the other hand, if you know God and want to see the intricate splendor of the designs of his master paintbrush on the earth – Arizona is where it’s at. Of all the magnificent and extraordinary places I have visited on this earth – I still have a gazillion places to go so I’m not an authority on this ‘world’s best places’ malarkey – Arizona is certainly at the top of my list of places where your breath is literally snatched from you for a heartbeat or two as your body – emotionally, physically and spiritually – attempts to fathom the majesty of what you are viewing. The view from the top at Devil’s Bridge in Sedona, for example, was awe-inspiring, breath-taking, emotional, tear-jerking, majestic, unfathomable. Words cannot describe or do justice to the beauty of the sight. I was literally speechless. As were the handful of others we passed on our way to the top and back down again. (I actually heard the gasp of breathe another hiker took mid-sentence upon reaching the peak.) The beauty silences you. Photographs equally fail to capture the image imprinted in my whole being following that experience. You may think I am being dramatic. But, first go to Sedona, view the view, and come back and tell me whether this hyperbole was necessary. God is real.
“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?” Job 12:7
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Psalms 19:1 KJV
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:3 KJV
Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these [things], that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that [he is] strong in power; not one faileth. Isaiah 40:26
4. If you have a love-hate relationship with gravity, i.e. you have poor balance like my 6ft2” friend who hiked the mountain in Sedona with me, lowering your center of gravity is advisable. Travelling – or rather, shuffling – on your bum like a child along the return path the majority of the way down, helps apparently! Give it a try and let me know how it goes. Personally, I made like a perfect combination of Pocahontas, Tarzan and Aladdin, and ran, climbed and jumped the whole way.
ALWAYS have a sane, rational individual on hand to quell the thrill-seekers in the group. There were many, ‘you had to be there’ moments so I won’t bother to go into too much detail. But, let’s just say my wish to be pictured doing handstands and cartwheels along a thin strip of land with a steep drop to the bottom was immediately quashed by my hiking buddies. So I moved 5 meters further and did it along a roomier part of the mountain. Rational + crazy culminates in the perfect balance of fun-safe, yet extraordinarily memorable experiences in life.