Millinocket rafting company to be featured on Travel Channel show “50/50”

Reality TV fans will have another opportunity to see some familiar scenes on Oct. 18, as a local business takes center stage on a new Travel Channel show.

Maureen McDonald, an owner of Penobscot Adventures in Millinocket, explained that a rafting trip on the Penobscot River was filmed last year and that episode of a show called “50/50” will be aired this weekend.

“The premise [of the show] is very cool,” McDonald said. “They surprise people, I assume in city situations, with the cameras and say, ‘You have an hour to go with us, and you’ll be with us … for 50 hours.”

According to the Travel Channel website, hosts Samantha Brown and Chris Grundy are traveling the country, asking couples that same question.

“If you said ‘yes,’ it’s wheels up on an unforgettable two-day adventure getaway worth $50,000,” according to the website. “And you’ll get to choose where you go, what you do, what you eat, and when you sleep. But there’s one catch: You must drop anything and leave right now.”

McDonald said each show is 30 minutes long, and includes two adventures. One recent episode featured a couple that jetted off to Abu Dhabi, she said.

The spontaneous nature of the show is riveting, McDonald said.

“When I talked to the couple that actually took the adventure with us, they had four children, and they were working,” McDonald said. “They had to talk to their parents to arrange childcare for two days — of course, the cameras are rolling, they’re in the back of the limo on their way to the airport — and they’re trying to reorganize their lives to do this adventure.”

McDonald said she worked with the show’s producers, Big Table Media, for three months in order to set the trip up.

“It was a big fever pitch on that day. It was an all-day thing,” she said. “Then we never heard from them again. I thought for sure that the story got scrapped. But we were very pleased when we found out [a couple of weeks ago] that this was coming to fruition.”

McDonald said the trip the couple embarked upon took some customizing in order to make it fit in with the program’s constraints.

“It was interesting. We couldn’t have them go on a standard ‘Hey, meet us at 8 o’clock in the morning, get on the bus and go rafting with other people’ type of trip,” McDonald said. “Usually, you have one staff member for eight people in a raft, and you have someone following along on the trip. They couldn’t do that.”

Instead, this rafting group consisted of the two guests, the two TV hosts, and a camera person.

“Any sort of on-land footage, they would have hair and makeup, and have one set of mics on,” she said. “They would have to film there, and then before they even got on the river, they would change their outfits, probably change mascara, and also change [to a microphone that could be immersed in water].”

McDonald said she’s happy that viewers will see a slice of wild Maine in the show. And she said she was amazed at how much work was required to make the filming process work out.

“I think for maybe 25 minutes of footage they took, they were out there for eight hours,” McDonald said. “It was a very long day for them, but what an experience.”

John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.