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Next Stop: 'Destination Truth'
ON THE SCENE
The truth is out there.
Finding it is another story.
And what a story it's made for Josh Gates, a find himself as the host of "Destination Truth" --the Syfy exploration/adventure/ travel series outfitted for a roam with a view, criss-crossing the country this third season, with its premiere on Sept. 9, at 10 p.m.
The Existential Files? The truth is way out there as Gates and his go-go gang heed clues to find the Big Foots and the Werewolves of the world, seeking experts and explanations.
Cry wolf? "There's some pretty wild stuff," concedes the accomplished adventurer, who's had the Indiana jones for travel since he was a kid. "But most of what we put out there has its basis in reality; this is not just a 'monster of the week' series."
Pardon me, but is that the Transylvania station?
"D.T." offers its share of DTs, shivery encounters with wind-in-the-willows face-offs guaranteed to give one the willies. But for all its haunted-house histrionics, the show is destined for big ratings, putting the arm on armchair travelers and sedentary Sherlock Holmes in their own homes.
Just a sole mix of myth and miffed monsters it's not; unburying treasures of truth it may be.
"It's an old-fashioned show," says the host of the hit series that is sort of real, "sort of pulpy."
Pulp faction? That's a fun way to describe it, he laughs.
No one laughs it off, however, as audiences are treated to close encounters of the ethereal kind, following Gates swing open the possibilities of a real world no kid shacked up in a house on MTV would believe.
Is Gates a believer himself?
"I'm an open-minded skeptic," he says of the ghost-hunting/ haunting episodes that he's hosted (including "Ghost Hunters Live" specials for the network).
If Gates puts the sigh in the Syfy, then it's that rugged riff he gives the gig as he packs his passion alongside his backpack.
But then, Gates is no babe in the woods -- or naif in the Himalayas, where he's trekked -- as he carts credentials up, down and through the jungles, big-footing the ratings himself.
A dual major in archaeology and drama -- a natural combination for a committed explorer, if not guaranteeing a degree of certain financial success ("I was trying to disappoint my family," Josh jokes of his parents' reaction to his risky choice of majors at Tufts University) -- he has sandblasted his way onto a series of impressive projects, even before destination TV.
In the mid-to late 1990s, he joined a University of Maryland project at Caesarea Maritima in Israel, an excavation experience that extricated him from any indecision he may have had about his life work.
"It was eye-opening to be there and on my own," he says of his time there, a sojourn that was his first hands-on solo adventure without his family. "It opened my eyes to the life I wanted to live."
It's not like he was in a dream state; there were early indications that he wouldn't deep-six the deep-sea legacy of his own dad, a commercial diver "who traveled his whole career."
Both Gates' water world was no Kevin Costner connection; theirs paid off: "My father and I have followed parallel paths in different fields."
Fields of adrenaline: And where else to get a rush to judgment than on a series that audiences enjoy "for the mysteries, maybe not the answers."
Josh Gates answers to the mysteries inside, serenaded as he is by a little travelin' music that echoes of the ecstasy of adventure: "I am, more than anything," he explains, "a travel nut."
Breaking out of a shell early on has drawn acclaim and admiration from no less than the Explorers Club, a prestigious amalgam of pathfinders whose members number John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, former presidents Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Chuck Yeager.
Now, with his own right stuff, Josh Gates, whose sponsorship into the club included the imprimatur of the excavation project director from Caesarea.
Indeed, with all the world at his fingertips, Gates tips off where he'd like the series to take him -- back to Israel.
"We're flirting with the idea of taking the show there for the fourth season," he says.
But where exactly does one place the welcome mat for someone who finds adventure all over the place?
"It takes some reorientation to be back" in the States, he admits, "and after a short time, I'm looking at the map again."
There is some latitude about his longing for American longitudes.
"I'm not good at feeling at home at home," says the frequent flyer from Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass., who realizes there is only one way he can really relax. "Traveling," says the "Destination Truth" host of his own destiny.