Descansa en Paz, Pancho "El Correcaminos" de San Rafael

It is with a heavy heart that we, the Broken Wagon Films crew, write this upon receiving word of the death of a dear friend--and friend of many--Pancho.

It is hard not to think or talk about Baja without thinking of Pancho. In a way, he is Baja personified. He defined so many of our trips: making the drive on the rutted, sandy road out to Playa San Rafael to the beautiful spit of land he called home; his welcoming nature as he greeted us; and the ensuing days of stories, laughter, and exchanging of gifts. We spent many nights beside a fire on that beach with him and his dogs (so many over the years that we've lost count and begin to forget their names), drawing pictures in the sand, communicating in broken English and Spanish, listened as he told us stories of banditos and dolphins and the disappearing fish in the gulf, and watched as he ate a black scorpion that had crawled over his foot--in one bite, careful to not bite the venomous tip of the tail, pinched between two of his fingers. 

His unmatched kindness and spirit will be missed, as will his jokes and wisdom. 

Descansa en paz, Pancho "Correcaminos," nuestro amigo.

 Our friend, Pancho, during an interview for "The Devil's Road" in 2017.

Our friend, Pancho, during an interview for "The Devil's Road" in 2017.

 Pancho and our family during a 2015 trip. 

Pancho and our family during a 2015 trip. 

We're Looking for Musicians/Bands!

We are currently seeking musicians or bands for music use in the film. Think 1960s/70s Latin/South American surf/folk/garage rock. Please see our current videos to get an idea of the style we are looking for.

This is a chance for an established or emerging musician or music group to gain exposure, as we plan to present our film to a number of film festivals and screenings across the country and abroad.

Check out these links:

WEBSITE: http://www.brokenwagonfilms.com
YOUTUBE CHANNEL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0yRlXoSaIve9Odxb4ZcXRQ


Please email brokenwagonfilms (at) gmail (dot) com
to show us your work!

Follow us on Twitter @brokenwagonflmsFacebook,
Instagram @brokenwagonfilms & YouTube!


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A Visit to the California Academy of Sciences

So what does the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, California have in common with Nelson and Goldman and our documentary film, The Devil's Road? Aside from the obvious scientific research and the institution's exploration of our natural world, the connection was formed on a fortuitous day in 1905. Nelson noted in his 1921 book Lower California and It's Natural Resources that he “reached Ensenada on July 5th and found the schooner Academy, from San Francisco, in port on it’s way to the Galapagos Islands with a scientific expedition from the California Academy of Sciences.” Nelson had several weeks’ worth of specimens that he and Goldman had collected from northern Baja, and needed to have them shipped to Washington D.C. The crew of the Academy welcomed Nelson aboard, agreeing to stow his cargo, and Nelson enjoyed a fine supper aboard the vessel.

On July 11, 2017, our film crew had the honor of conducting an interview with several of the California Academy of Sciences research specialists. We were met at the back door of the Academy by Katie Jewett of the Press Office. She would accompany us during our tour of the Department of Ornithology and Mammalogy. In the basement of the museum we entered the climate controlled room full of specimen collections. Maureen “Moe” Flannery, the Collections Manager has been put in charge of the hundreds of thousands of bird and mammal specimens and introduced us to several specimens that Nelson and Goldman collected over one hundred years ago.

The first specimen was a Mexican cormorant that was collected in 1902 by Nelson and Goldman. The bird was incredibly well preserved. Next, we were shown specimens of seaside sparrows. The particular specimen that Nelson and Goldman procured was collected in 1874 in Washington D.C. and was donated to the Academy many years ago. The last specimen was a Bailey's pocket mouse, collected by Nelson and Goldman in December 1905 from a location just south of La Paz, Baja California Sur.

 A well-preserved Mexican cormorant. Note the tag states "Nelson & Goldman."

A well-preserved Mexican cormorant. Note the tag states "Nelson & Goldman."

 Seaside sparrow specimens, several of which were collected by Nelson & Goldman in 1874.

Seaside sparrow specimens, several of which were collected by Nelson & Goldman in 1874.

 Maureen "More" Flannery, collections manager at the California Academy of Sciences, shows us the seaside sparrow specimens.

Maureen "More" Flannery, collections manager at the California Academy of Sciences, shows us the seaside sparrow specimens.

 Specimens of the Bailey's pocket mouse.

Specimens of the Bailey's pocket mouse.

Jack Dumbacher, Curator of the Ornithology and Mammalogy Department, rounded off the morning with a well-presented perspective of what naturalists like Nelson and Goldman's fieldwork would have been like. He explained how they would have collected, preserved, and organized their specimens during an expedition. We also learned how valuable these specimens are to science. These thousands of study skins and mounts provide a glimpse into the past, how and where these animals lived, and even what they were feeding on when they were collected. As technology and new research methods change, their value will certainly increase over the next century and beyond.

 Interview with Jack Dumbacher, Curator, Ornithology and Mammology Department

Interview with Jack Dumbacher, Curator, Ornithology and Mammology Department

We would like to thank the California Academy of Sciences for their continued support of Nelson and Goldman's work and of our film.

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Expedition Complete: Letter from the Producer

The Broken Wagon Films team would like to take this opportunity to let everyone know that our main expedition is complete. All of our team members participated during this two-month filming expedition, as well as a few additional and short duration assistants. I first must say that JT said it best: “The film is in the can!” Meaning, we have the footage needed to put together a stellar documentary, and as the director, he is very pleased with what we have been able to accomplish and where we will be in a year or so after the editing is complete.

The Baja Peninsula threw everything she had at us and we still escaped serious injury and had no significant mechanical issues. We persevered through it all: slept in the snow, got stuck in the sand, blown over by the strong and gusty winds, poked and scratched by just about every plant with thorns, swarmed by thousands of bugs, embraced by the wonderful Baja culture, and even slept with a scorpion.

Here are a few numbers for you to ponder and for your entertainment:

  • 5280 - miles driven on the motorcycles in two months
  • 29 - times the motorcycles were “dumped” or we crashed at low speeds (20 by Todd and only 9 by JT). Two of JT’s crashes were Todd’s fault! And Todd dumped his bike three times while standing still!
  • 7 - cameras used on the expedition
  • 36 - hours of footage from all the cameras
  • 8 - inches, the length of the “World Record” Nelson Trout caught by Eric
  • 530 - pounds in weight of each bike including gear, food, and water
  • 4 - people we met along the expedition that said, “You're the Devil’s Road guys! We've heard of you!”
  • 11,000 - feet, the altitude that Scott flew his plane, without a side door and with JT harnessed in so that JT can get aerial footage of the Sierra San Pedro Martir range of mountains

We look forward to sharing with all of you our stories and experiences. JT has an enormous task ahead of him to sort through and edit all that we have. When we have a working version of the film we will call upon all of you to help critique and finalize the film.

Again I would like to thank all of our sponsors, donors, and crowdfunding backers. We would not have been able to do this expedition without your support and generous contributions--in the form of mission-critical equipment and otherwise. I would also like to thank our assistant expedition contributors; Wayne Bruce, Scott and Laurie Bruce, Eric Bruce, Heidi Lewin, Bri Bruce, Jade Lewin, Gia and Eric Doughty, and Guy VanCleave. Because of all of you, we were able to secure some fantastic footage that will make this film shine.

As always, keep watching our website for updates and new items. And don’t forget to keep sharing the project with others on social media. We are very excited and pleased with what we have thus far.

Thanks again,

Todd Bruce
Producer, The Devil’s Road

 

 

"The Devil's Road" Main Expedition, Days 58, 59 & 60 (Return Home)

Return Home

It took us two and a half days to get from the border to our home in Santa Cruz. A stop in Ojai at my dad's house for the night was the perfect halfway point. We battled more gusty, strong, and always changing winds the entire way home. Our last day in the saddle was a total of 315 miles and that brought an end to an amazing two-month filming expedition through the heart of the Baja Peninsula.

"The Devil's Road" Main Expedition, Day 57

April 24 (Tijuana to San Diego)

I was filled with an honest mix of emotions when I woke this morning. JT was still sleeping and I slipped out of the hotel room to get a cup of coffee and reflect on my participation these last two months and in this project. On one hand, I was eager to get home and get back into my regular routine and be with Heidi. Yet, the other hand was wanting to hold onto more exploration, more time with JT, and more of what Baja encompasses. I have a love affair with this place that I cannot put into words. I have become accustomed to those around me speaking Spanish and me not knowing what they are saying. I have grown more comfortable sleeping on the ground in my sleeping bag and cooking over a fire of cactus wood, and I have secretly wished to keep going and seeking new Baja experiences.

One last shooting goal in Tijuana was all that was left. As we drove through the outskirts and downtown Tijuana, JT kept pulling over and running off to get a shot of this or that. His eye is keen with what he needs or what just happens to jump out at him. Several hours later, we were heading for the long lines at the border.

As it is always the case, we got in the wrong line. All other lines were moving faster than ours and we kept joking about jumping into another line and then having it be the slowest. As it turns out, motorcycles don't have to stay in line. They are allowed to split lanes and wedge in front of any car just before the border agent. So, we followed another motorcycles and skipped about two dozen cars and dove into a line with a slow and apparently very thorough agent.

Satisfied with our filming, the expedition, and how we met our goals, we set off to DMC Performance to fix JT's bike. It required a new chain and new rear sprocket to get her ready for the return trip home. We spent the night in Ramona at the home of JT's college friend Adam and his girlfriend Melisa's house. We were glad to be back in the States and very much enjoyed the company of old friends.

"The Devil's Road" Main Expedition, Day 56

April 23 (To Ensenada)

Wind! It seems that nearly the entire trip north we have been met with a headwind, wind from the side, and then gusty winds that tend to push our bikes around. We rode 136 miles today and landed at a hotel in Ensenada. JT's bike has been experiencing some issues with the chain and rear sprocket. The chain keeps loosening and would skip as he accelerated. We have had to tighten the chain several times, but can't figure out why it loosens after a day's drive. We will try to get it to a repair shop in San Diego tomorrow.

 Bike problems outside Catavina

Bike problems outside Catavina

"The Devil's Road" Main Expedition, Day 55

April 22 ( Sierra San Pedro Martir)

Two coyote pups ran through our camp this morning! I was sitting next to the fire waiting for the water to boil for my coffee. I didn't even have time to get the camera before the pups disappeared into the rocks. JT was still asleep and again I felt that we missed an opportunity to get some wildlife on camera.

We met a group of women at the ranger station while on the way down to the lookout. They had just been there and took pictures of four condors. Our excitement rose as we made the 10-kilometer drive and secretly hoped they would still be there.

We were once again met with empty skies and no condors in sight. We were left holding the cameras, scanning the horizon, and sweating profusely under the Baja sun.

The road system through the park is very limited and most of the park can only be accessed by foot. Both JT and I were not up for a long hike carrying the camera equipment with "hopes" of seeing a condor, so we settled for a leisurely drive.

The Sierra San Pedro Martir is an amazing place and is home to a wide variety of plant and animal life. The breeze softly blows through the trees and immediately reminds me of the Sierra Nevada.

JT and I had a long talk while sitting around a roaring campfire later. Our attention was on how we can tell the story of the California condor without any footage of a wild bird. JT has been called "the magic man" by several of his clients for his ability to pull off a difficult job. He assured me that he has a few ideas and suggested that I not worry.

"The Devil's Road" Main Expedition, Day 54

April 21 (El Rosario to Sierra San Pedro Martir)

As we wind down our shooting schedule and travel northward, we have realized that there is not a whole lot of excitement, change, or new material for the film. We have been on this road before and our vision now is to have another opportunity to film the condors in the Sierra San Pedro Martir. With so few animals in the wild and such a vast mountain range, we would be lucky to get footage of the largest flying bird in North America.

We arrived at the "lower lookout" point at about 2:30 in the afternoon. The pullout was empty and we sat perched on the outcropping of rocks for over an hour and all we saw were turkey vultures and ravens. It was hot and the breeze blowing up the canyon was even hotter. We were able to find many footprints of condors in the dirt around the garbage can in the pullout. Apparently they tend to congregate there because of the garbage. With our heads hung low we headed up the mountain to the park and our camp for the night.

At the park entrance we were able to meet and talk in more detail with Manuel (Park Ranger) and Felipe (Biologist and Park Ranger) about the condor program and how best to film them. Our plan was set and we felt we had a good chance to film the condor in the wild the following day.

"The Devil's Road" Main Expedition, Day 53

April 20th ( to El Rosario)

It was a short drive to El Rosario where we ate a fantastic late breakfast at Mama Espinoza's. We secured a room for the night and went to work with the usual hotel chores (laundry, showers, charging electronics, and jumping onto the Internet, if available, to send data).

Punta Baja is a short 16-mile drive from town so we thought we would head out there and see what we could find. On the way, I stopped abruptly to watch a meter-long gopher snake cross the road. JT didn't see me in time and crashed. Thankfully, there was no damage to the bikes or to JT. He just tumbled over the handlebars and onto the soft dirt of the roadway.

While we were righting his bike, we were also attempting to wave the traffic away from the snake in the road. All said and done, JT did get some footage of the snake, but not until after it was run over once, then twice. In total, four cars ran over the snake and no one really seemed to care.