Over the last year, I’ve received thousands of emails, tweets, letters, mildly creepy packages, and the occasional shout from passing cars asking me about the future of Destination Truth. I’ve been largely silent on the subject, and for that, I apologize. After 5 straight seasons of chasing terrifying creatures and paranormal phenomena in the dead of night, I happily took some time off to kick back, treat a few strange rashes, and savor meals that didn’t have antennae sticking out of them. Honestly, it was just nice to take a shower.
I return to you now, bathed and de-liced, with some news - though it might not be the news you’re hoping for. After a great deal of discussion and consideration, I can now report that Destination Truth has sailed its last voyage. Having reached the end of my second consecutive deal with NBC Universal, we decided that this was the right time to bring the series to a close.
The list of people I owe a debt of gratitude to stretches long and wide, across oceans and international borders. First to Neil Mandt, who conceived of the series, tracked me down on Mt. Kilimanjaro and was just nuts enough to suggest that I show up to an interview at Syfy wearing mud caked and foul smelling safari clothes. It worked. Thanks to Brad Kuhlman and Casey Brumels who inherited DT and took it to new heights. I’ll never forget your first episode, when we drove for 22 hours straight across the frigid deserts of Mongolia and slept in a yurt heated by burning cow shit. Talk about a one-star Yelp review. You guys are both total champs. Over the years, you’ve shown a lot of trust in me, and I’m grateful for every step of the journey we’ve taken together.
I owe a hearty thanks to Mark Stern who championed the show season after season. You gave us the latitude to vanish off the grid into some very rough places while maintaining the confidence that we’d come back with all of our fingers and a good story to tell. To Channel President and countryman Dave Howe for making me a part of the Syfy family in a hundred meaningful ways. I still owe you that drink at The Explorers Club. To Bonnie Hammer for having me at the party - and for letting me stay there. Thanks to everyone at Syfy who oversaw the show - Rob Swartz, Tim Krubsack, Lucia Gervino, Bob Unger, and others. I have a special place in my heart for Sallie Schoneboom and Maureen Granados who went well beyond their stations and helped me navigate the strange and sometimes turbulent waters of cable television whenever I needed advice. Clean up your desk, Maureen. Thanks to the awesome Craig Engler, who may be the only true Geek in the building, and to the endlessly creative Michael Engleman. In general, much appreciation to everyone at Syfy who touched the show in one way or another, from marketing to ad-sales to dot-com. Thanks to Alan Seiffert for facilitating my book deal with Simon and Schuster, and, of course, the always sunny Letitia Baylor who made every visit to Syfy HQ a little more awesome.
I owe a huge thanks to Craig Piligian for the yearly honor of inviting me to helm Ghost Hunters Live, and to Rob Katz and Mike Nichols for whispering into my right ear hour after hour on those cold and creepy nights. To work without a net in front of a million people is a nearly indescribable thrill. Those evenings, in the shadow of America’s scariest structures, turned out to be some of the most fulfilling nights of my life, and they helped me grow immeasurably as a producer and a host.
I owe, of course, an immense debt to Jason Hawes, Grant Wilson, and the entire team from TAPS. For its first few seasons, Destination Truth aired immediately after Ghost Hunters, and their show was the warm wind in our sails that propelled us forward. Jay and Grant, you always made me feel like a welcome guest on Ghost Hunters and GH Live, and I’m thrilled to call you both friends. To Amy, Kris, Steve, Dave, Adam, and the rest of the TAPS team – thanks for welcoming me into your amazing paranormal family.
My gratitude for the adventure of making Destination Truth itself is far too vast for me to encapsulate here. It has been a sensory overload of countries, cultures, legends, and the occasional communicable disease. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d have the opportunity to visit nearly 100 countries, let alone be granted unfettered access to iconic archaeological sites and some of the most spectacular wilderness on earth. I’ve also been lucky enough to meet thousands of people from all walks of life, blessed to hear their stories, and humbled by their boundless hospitality.
To our overseas producing partners: thank you for helping to facilitate our many adventures. I’ll forever be proud of the many audacious and improbable locations we managed to film in - and so many would have been impossible without your help. From Ramy Romany who helped secure the world’s first overnight filming in King Tut’s tomb, to Nick Ray and Kulikar Sotho who managed to get us a permit to shoot alone, at night, in the largest religious temple in the world at Angkor Wat. I’m thankful to the late, great Jeff Rice who guided us across Africa with a smile, to Steve Paterson who kept a gun or two out of my face in the tribal backcountry of Papua New Guinea, and so many more.
To my parents. Thanks for raising me adventurously and for always showing encouragement, no matter how strange a path I tried to walk down. I’m amazed by you both. My fiancée Hallie has been a beacon of encouragement and support for the life of the show. Thank you for putting up with my many disappearing acts, and for dropping into the field to infuse the entire crew with your endlessly enthusiastic attitude. I’ve marveled while you gleefully played games with kids in an Egyptian shanty, bounded through the jungles of Panama, and dived into a pitch-black cave in Belize just because you thought it might be fun. You’re the absolute best.
My deepest gratitude is reserved for the crew of Destination Truth. DT was, without hyperbole, one of the hardest shows to produce in the history of reality television. Just ask anyone who was crazy enough to work it. Season after season, we traipsed through snake infested jungles, dangled above derelict mine shafts, descended into inky water, and drove in an increasingly insane fleet of deathtrap vehicles. Hell, we even sailed to Antarctica in a tiny sailboat with a broken motor. We’ve eaten spiders, drank blood, and been sick out of every orifice in our bodies…as a family. Thanks. To Evan Stone who got his ass kicked by unseen forces in a haunted Romanian forest not once, but TWICE. To Gabe Copeland, the MVP of the series who hung in longer than anyone and worked his ass off every step of the way. To Brad, Casey, Bicha, Chris, and Bobby, for keeping it all on the tracks. To Jael who I dragged to doll infest islands and the radioactive ruins of Chernobyl. To Kyle who made the perilous voyage across the Drake while strapped into a bunk. To Sharra, and Ness, and Tony, and Tristant who coaxed our battered equipment back to life night after night. To Jarrod and Goodwin for keeping me alive out there. To Mike and Rex, stalwart travel companions who muscled through every mile with a positive attitude. To Zubik, who can produce circles around most people. To Richie, Jed, Shush, Carter, Lindsay, Wing, Ramirez, Scown, Blake, Araceli, Katy, and on and on… Such a deep well of talent and commitment.
A final, special thank you to Erin Ryder, my girl Friday, who put up with my stupid jokes and busted her ass (literally…she fell off of so many things) every step of the way. Ryder, you’re the hardest working producer I’ve ever met, a tough, stone-cold fox of a sidekick, and one hell of a traveler. I love you, kid.
The list goes on. There are so many people who worked tirelessly on DT. If you’re one of them, and you’re reading this. Thank you. Without you, I’d never have made it out of the airport.
Finally, I want to thank the fans of Destination Truth. We never had any billboards or full-page magazine ads. I don’t think they ever ran a commercial that didn’t only air on Syfy. But still, you found the show and you stayed tuned. To Amanda and the “Truthies” who supported us from early on and worked tirelessly to spread the word. Thank you. Destination Truth wasn’t designed to be a cutting-edge show. After all, some of the tales we told have been whispered about since time immemorial. But, I think we found a connection with viewers because we tried to celebrate the timeless appeal of mystery. I like to think that DT was, at it’s best, like a good, old-fashioned campfire story - a bit improvised, slightly rough around the edges, and never taking itself too seriously. Though we did work hard to find the truth, our secret mission was really to promote travel and to take the viewer with us along the way. Thanks for coming along season after season.
As I wrote in my book, “travel changes us, irrevocably, and mostly for the better. It can nourish the best parts of ourselves like nothing else. Travel broadens our perspective, adds texture to our lives, and makes us more interesting at cocktail parties.” So, don’t wait to travel. Don’t put off your adventures. The world is waiting for you now. Right now. Go out and meet it. Your life will be right here waiting for you when you’re ready to return.
And now, Destination Truth has come home – and I, for one, see that as a good thing. It’s given me a chance to reset, do some laundry, and reflect on where we've been. I have emerged from this wild journey with a sense of wonder, and brimming with more curiosity, passion, and wanderlust than ever before.
It’s almost time for the next adventure. Pack your bags. We leave soon…
- Josh Gates