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Grandpa John keeps his twinkle when Parker visits on Gold Rush

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

The Schnabel family just exudes a joy that the other Gold Rush miners cannot touch.

John Schnabel has the heart of a true gold miner.

It is exhausting, seeing Parker work, work, work and work some more on ground that appears to simply have been mined dry of gold. And, there is no doubt that he feels an amazing amount of pressure, particularly for a 17-year-old, to finally turn a profit. But, watching last night’s Gold Rush, if it had not been obvious before, it became perfectly clear last night: Grandpa John Schnabel gets up every morning with that same sparkle for gold mining he likely had when he began more than 25 years ago.

And, it is obvious that it is not all about the profit.

At 92, Grandpa John has more spunk and fire than a lot of people half his age. He does not come across as exhausted, worn-out, or beat down by the world. He has a glint in his eye and a note in his laugh that makes it obvious: The man loves life, and has no intention of giving up on it until the absolute end.

Schnabel Family Joy for Living

All of the Schnabels seem to have that zest-for-life quality to their personalities. Parker’s Dad, Roger, for example: No doubt that he can serious it up when it is time to talk business—the infamous bridge incident when he brokered a truce between Parker and Fred was a good example of that (Okay, so, perhaps that did not go exactly as Fred wanted it to go, but, hey, what does?)—but he also always seems to see things from a glass-half-full perspective, and has fun in the process. And, although Parker’s older brother, Payson, has not had a lot of camera time, he does radiate that same Schnabel goodwill, like when he took the time to help his little brother out recently, blasting a stubborn rock blocking the way to Smith Creek (or, if you prefer, Crick). And, as many times as Roger and Payson have likely blasted away rocks in their bridge-building endeavors, they still got that same rush, complete with howls of laughter, when the blast ignited and brought the wall tumbling down.

They just seem to find the joy.

Even Parker’s mom, always the voice of reason when it comes to her son’s welfare, tempers her suggestions and sometimes critical observations with love and positivity. At times, she has to bring down the big hammer—Parker is a teen, after all, and can get mouthy, like all teenagers seem to do sometime in their teendom. But, there is never any doubt that Nancy Schnabel loves her son, or that she wants him to succeed. And, like her husband, sons and father-in-law, she seems to find the joy around her instead of focusing on the negative.

Grandpa John Bounces Right Back

In last night’s episode, Grandpa John underwent an operation—risky, if for no other reason than he is 92-years-old. But, in true Schnabel fashion, the man just seemed to bounce right up from the procedure, laughing and loving his family, particularly Parker, just days later and, as Nancy said after talking to him on the phone, “sounds like he never missed a beat.”

John Schnabel Still Has Dream in His Heart

Honestly, if that man took up jogging now, it wouldn’t be surprising. But, more than that, news that Parker has a new dig on Emerson Trench perked him right up, even though, momentarily, the news that Smith Creek was a wash did take away his trademark sparkle. Hey, everybody has to have a dream, right? Even when he is 92.

Looks like Emerson Trench will be Grandpa John’s new dream for the Big Nugget Mine and for grandson Parker. "Wonderful!" he exclaimed with a clap, his spark returning immediately after Parker told him about the plans for Emerson Trench, following the bad news about Smith Creek. "Why didn't you tell me that in the first place instead of telling me all of these horrible death stories about the end of the world?" he laughed. The special bond between grandfather and grandson has never been more apparent throughout the airing of Gold Rush than it was during that scene.

Whether or not they ever hit the mother lode, the Schnabels really do appear to be living the true American Dream.

Stay tuned.

Gold Rush airs on the Discovery Channel on Friday nights at 9/8c.

Image: Discovery Channel

Video: Discovery Channel/Gold Rush


Submitted by Karma (not verified) on
I almost cried watching Grandpa John's face/body sink when he learned Smith Creek was a bust. Was great to see it change to happiness with the news that Emerson Trench just might be good.

You know, I think Grandpa John is one of those guys who just loves mining for the mining; as long as they are searching to uncover another earth-covered mystery, I think he'll be happy, whatever they do/don't find ... of course, hitting some gold along the way probably would be okay with him, too ... :)

Submitted by Karma (not verified) on
He's basically said as much on the show. It's just Smith Creek was a long held dream. I love that we get to see a real, a good family/kid on tv that is doing something productive with their lives.

Submitted by Charlie P (not verified) on
I haven't seen anyone go back to the days when John went up to his claim and did a bit of gold mining just to relax from the pressure of running the largest sawmill in Haines, Alaska. He was then the largest employer in the small town and we had many good times at his home for dinner and socializing after dinner. John picked up a guitar and strummed a few licks and wrote a few tunes. One tune called the Basket Bay Blowdown Blues. That was written for an Alaska timber sale to John and his mill/forest products operation. Most would not know the difficulties of logging in remote Alaska, many times back them more difficult than the gold mining now seen on the TV show. I can still remember sitting in John's living room with a group all trying to sing his song with John strumming on his guitar. No one mentions John and his wife Erma's daughters who all attended universities in the lower 48. His youngest, Debbie, was last living in the Haines area but I have not had any contact with the Schnabels for many years as our original association was a business one and when the sawmill closed our principal reason for contact no longer existed. But for a number of years, we had a great time and I always enjoyed my trips to Haines, staying for as long as a few weeks at a time. Flying in a single or twin engine plane operating as LAB Flying Service from Juneau to Haines. LAB named for then owner Layton Bennett and probably still flying in Southeast as that part of Alaska is known. You have not lived until you have had a moose roast dinner at John and Erma's or at Marti and Allie Cordes house (John's brother in law). You have not slept in a motel until you stayed in the Haines motel across the street from some large diesel generators that ran 24/7 producing the electricity for the little town of Haines and nearby area. Some could not sleep well but it hummed me to sleep. I loved it. John would come home from his rare vacation visits to his gold claim at Porcupine charged up and ready to face the ever difficult operation of logging remote timber and producing lumber in his mill. I could almost write a book when I start thinking back to the good old days as one might call them. I am happy to see the TV program as I never thought I would see John again. Back then of course, Roger was a single man and his wife and sons came many years after my many visits to Haines.

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