“72 HOURS” HOST BRANDON JOHNSON RECAPS EPISODE 5 “American Southwest”
Set in one of the most beautiful and spiritual destinations in America, this was the episode that kicked off our brand new series. Over 7 months had passed since we shot the Pilot in Hawaii and all us were itching to start shooting. After landing in Albuquerque, NM I was shuttled to what would be home base for us-Ghost Ranch.
This place was sacred ground and was even home to Georgia O’Keeffe who owned some of the land. My home however would be a RV from Coachmen. I drove it to & from headquarters everyday and slept in the bunk above the drivers seat. There was a small vent in the roof that I could open to get fresh air. At night I’d look out at the Milky Way Galaxy that shined brightly above. I’d never seen so many stars in my life.
Another highlight was the prayer ceremony that happened the night before we started shooting. Myself, the crew, the producers and network executives were all lucky to receive a blessing from the local Native Americans. It was important and vital that we respected the grounds on which we were working, as most people were not given this privilege. As the ritual came to a close we were given a “Spirit Stick” and instructed to take it with us through the entire season. This stick contained blessed tobacco and 3 different colored fabrics representing: Sky, Land and Blood (On a side note I’m happy to report that we did indeed take it with us all over the world & were protected).
Some of my favorite moments were doing Relief Drops, as there can be an element of danger involved. I recall dangling on the edge of a massive cliff and somehow our Pilot found just enough rock to land on. Or delivering supplies to the Red Team over a wasp infested island. During Relief Drops, it’s also important to check in with teams if the opportunity presents itself. Unfortunately 90% of the interaction footage gets cut due to having so much content. On most episodes it appears as if I just show up, drop off supplies and take off. The truth is a lot the time I’m there up to 30 minutes or more-especially when teams are fighting or thinking about quitting.
In the end, it was an absolute thrill to get the American Southwest episode in the can. Our 3 teams did an incredible job navigating their way through one of the longest courses on 72 Hours. I saw close up people dig deeper than they ever had in their lives and emerge with a new sense of purpose. For some this was an experience more rewarding than $100,000. New Mexico was the perfect destination to begin our incredible journey. Thankfully the Spirits never let us down and always kept all of us safe from harms way. It’s incredible what can happen when one chooses to show up for life…
Check out a behind the scenes look at our prep meeting atop Kitchen Mesa in New Mexico while shooting the “American Southwest” episode.
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