Celebrity Sightings and Gold Nuggets

Excerpt from RGA guide: HainesAlaskaTourguide.blogspot.com

Kir & Pacific found some gold!

We had three Gold Rush to Porcupine Tours last week.  Each one was a unique experience.  My first tour went out last Monday with a local Haines family.  They had the cutest 4 year old, Pacific, who loves to gold pan.  She brightened up like the sun when that yellow nugget popped out of the dirt.  The family took me out to eat at the famous 33 mile restaurant afterward – sooo good, yum.  It sure is great being a tour guide in Haines!
On Wednesday I stood at Port Chilkoot Dock trying to drum up gold lovers to take my Gold Rush tour.  My husband, Joe, made me a felt sign (he is “The Feltist” Artist, his art is on exhibit at Sheldon Museum right now) and an easel.  He is a very handy man!

My hunky honey and the sign he made out of felt.

My parents are in town visiting from Arizona and hung out at the dock with me to watch all the action.  Having a big Holland America cruise ship in little Haines is entertaining in and of itself.  My parents stood in for me when I took a little break just after 11am.  Wouldn’t you know it, when I returned my Mom was beaming, they got a couple who wanted to go pan for gold.  They are natural salesmen, I wish I could have them do that all summer.

Mom & Dad at Port Chilkoot Dock in Haines Alaska
50th Wedding Anniversary for both couples
who married on the same day.
They met this day for the first time.

I had two couples for our 1pm departure.  My parents, along with Thomas and Mary.  We found out they were on their 50 Wedding Anniversary Cruise and what a coincidence to find out they were married on the exact same day as my parents, both of them 50 years ago!  Coincidences are so……mysterious?  My parents said they would call this trip their 50th celebrations also.  We panned for gold at the Schnabel’s Big Nugget Mine on Porcupine Creek.  It is so fun to see people get into the spirit of gold panning….especially when they start seeing big yellow gold nuggets.  They don’t call it Big Nugget Mine for nothing.
We took a drive around the historic Porcupine City townsite and what do you know….the film crew was beside the road filming a person in a big white trailer.  When he stepped down and out of the trailer we saw it was Jack Hoffman himself (the father in Gold Rush: Alaska)!

Jack Hoffman

Jack must have come back for their white trailer that has been parked in the historical townsite of Porcupine City, because when I drove through there again on Saturday the big white trailer was gone.  Must be back to the Yukon for him.  I didn’t take a photo of Jack at the trailer since the camera men were there and they were in the middle of shooting.  This photo is from Jack Hoffman’s visit to Haines in May (see early blog on Tourism Night in Haines).
On Friday I took two families that had a cruise ship stop in Skagway.  I picked them up from the fast ferry after their 45 minute catamaran ride on the Lynn Canal.  One family was from the Disney ship and the other from the Carnival ship.  We don’t sell our tours on the ship.  These people searched the e-net ahead of time to find the Gold Rush to Porcupine tour.  That means they are big fans of the TV show Gold Rush: ALASKA, the same show Jack Hoffman stars in.  My parents came on the tour again as well.  I think they have Gold Fever….big time.

Visiting at the 27 mile pull out

I could feel the excited anticipation of the group as we drove through the Bald Eagle Preserve, on our way to Porcupine Creek and the Big Nugget Mine. When we pulled into the mining area we were met with a great surprise….John Schnabel got out of his truck with his grandson Parker and welcomed us to their mine!  He is such a cool and lovely man at his ripe young age of 91.  He has been under the weather and had not been to the mine lately.  Parker said John was not completely well yet, and he should be at home recuperating.  John said he just cant stay away.

John Schnabel greeting a Gold Rush: ALASKA fan

John let us take photos with him.  He chuckled at the thought we even wanted to.  We told him he is a celebrity now, he better get used to it.  He laughed and made us all feel welcome.

The Valdez family from Texas with Parker and John Schnabel

Parker gave us pans with some dirt and pebbles in them and taught us how to pan for gold.  Everyone found Gold Nuggets in their pan! Some of the tourist are into gold panning so much they even brought their own pans and sniffers.  It was great fun.

Gold Panning at Porcupine Creek’s
Big Nugget Gold Mine

Parker took us up the river a little bit to show us where they are getting the dirt.  Parker is such a cute kid, being a 16 year old gold miner, I think he is going to steal the show next season.  He said he can’t talk about the Gold Rush: ALASKA show.  He has signed some confidentiality papers, but I heard rumor he is being filmed a couple of times a week by the Discovery Channel film crew.

Parker Schnabel is the big boss at Big Nugget Mine

We stopped at Schnabel’s veranda for a nice view of the Discovery Channel’s Gold Mine.  We couldn’t see anyone working the mine or walking around that day. Everyone had hoped to see Dakota Fred, whom it is rumored is the guy working the gold mine this summer.  We took photos of the location anyway.

New equipment coming to the mine

On our way back to town we got stopped by a truck blocking the one lane dirt road we were on.  As we pulled closer to the truck Dakota Fred himself got out of the vehicle and waved at us to stop as he came up to my window. My bus load of fans exploded with excitement!

Ken & I are having fun with Dakota Fred from TV show
Gold Rush ALASKA
Tina, Eloy and Natalie meeting Dakota Fred

They may have thought it was all staged because it was so perfectly timed, but it was just good luck and perfect timing.  Fred was all business when he kindly let me know I would need to pull over to the side for 10 to 15 minutes as a semi-truck was on the road coming our way, pulling a low boy with a heavy load.  I said that would be no problem if he would be willing to take photos and sign autographs while we wait.  Fred seemed as tickled as the guests at such a suggestion.

The Albertson’s from Utah with Fred Hurt A.K.A Dakota Fred

We pulled to the side of the road and piled out of the bus.  Everyone got a photo with Dakota Fred (Fred Hurt) and an autograph.  It was the perfect end to a Gold Rush to Porcupine tour.  I cant wait to see what this week will bring!
Happy Panning!

The Valdez family with Dakota Fred
A nice miners creed on his hat.
If you can’t grow it, you GOTTA MINE IT!
Metal, Oil, Coal.
The Martin’s from Arizona meeting Dakota Fred
All you miners may know what this equipment is…
It came all the way from Texas
Getting hugs from my favorite miner, John Schnabel



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