Gold Rush: Alaska

All I remember about the time we went looking for gold was that it was hot. Extremely hot because it was the dead of summer in Tucson.

My dad brought me along on one of his “prospecting” hikes. Times were tough and he had been reading about the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine in the Superstition Mountains 40 miles east of Phoenix. Legend has it that Apache Indians killed the Peralta family gold miners in those mountains in the 1840s. In the 1870s, “the Dutchman,” said he found the mine and hid gold in the mountain. He was killed and since then scores of people, including my dad, have gone looking for it.

If this sounds crazy, it’s because it is. Putting all of your hopes and dreams into finding the mother lode is a little crazy. But my dad isn’t the only one hoping for the big score.

The highest rated new cable show right now is “Gold Rush: Alaska” on the Discovery Channel on Friday nights. The stars of the reality show were at the Television Critics Association press panel on Thursday talking about how their show exemplifies the American dream.

The show is about a father and son, Jack and Todd Hoffman, and their crew as they attempt to find gold in the Alaska wilderness. The group from Oregon is new to gold mining and they fight, get hurt, and even find gold on the series.

Jack Hoffman told the group of reporters that he turned to gold mining after his business putting in sewers slowed down. His son, Todd, said, “We were in the brown business, now we’re in the gold business.”

They are like many Americans that are finding unique ways to make it in this brutal economy. And that’s why the show has struck a cord with people, Todd said.

“What we have and what my dad has is the American spirit,” he said. They are like a lot of Americans trying to make it and not afraid to dream. “Even in our imperfect way we’re touching people.”

Hard times drive people to extremes. And the show illustrates that as you watch the crew fighting each other and sometimes risking their safety. But it’s compelling to watch ordinary people go after a crazy dream.

The last time I was in Tucson, my dad went with me and my kids on a hike. He told my kids the story about the caves and how there could be gold in the mountains. And maybe he could have found that gold with the help of a ragtag crew and a reality cable show.

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