The latest set of back-to-back episodes featured more folks full of the American spirit and lovers of the great outdoors. While former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin hosted from in studio, field host Benny Spies making his first appearance on the program, met up with pirate hunter Barry Clifford. The Massachusetts ocean explorer found millions and millions in pirate booty, in only 16 feet of water. Clifford tells Spies that he is in the same room with the only pirate treasure that's ever been excavated, comparing it to seeing the only Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Spies is engaging and funny just like his fellow field hosts that we've come to know in the first few weeks of Amazing America with Sarah Palin. While hearing Clifford's stories about renting a lobster boat with John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1982 and other tales of the sea, Spies interjects with one liners and astonishment.
While Clifford's accomplishments are truly remarkable, he modestly breaks things down into a three step process. Discover maps, find ships, and excavate. That's what he's been doing for years. Different levels of discovery. A never ending monumental task. As Sarah Palin puts it: "It's truly like an onion. Layers upon layers of knowledge."
Palin also gives a brief history lesson on the pirate coins that Clifford has collected. She jokes that it's a good thing the U.S. switched to paper currency or she would have had to have gotten a bigger purse.
After the pirate treasure is featured, Spies gets a chance to load a cannon that's hasn't been loaded for hundreds of years and has been under water. It doesn't get more amazing than that.
Later, Clifford takes Spies to see where Captain Sam's ship went down in a windy storm. It was fascinating. "Our preserved history is our link to the past," Palin summarized.
The second part of the show took us to Michigan where field host Mark Christopher Lawrence paid a visit to Artistry of Wildlife. There, he was welcomed by Dennis Harris, a master taxidermist.
"America has a rich history one that's certainly worth preserving," said Palin. "By studying the past we can uncover old mysteries as well as glean insight for the future." Harris' "dead zoo" is a unique example of preservation. His style is unmatched. He specializes in creating animals in action, sometimes attacking. Many of them are suspended in the air. That method of showcasing the animals gave the artist behind them the nickname "Air Harris".
A multiple time winner of the world taxidermy championship, Harris has taken this art to a new level. He's had a lot of practice. Harris got into taxidermy at the age of 12 and he's been taking on clients since he was 16 years old. He uses clay to enhance his animals, truly making him a sculptor. Harris is a real artist. An artist who happens to, well find carving a bear head to be commonplace. When Lawrence had to touch the bear carcass he wasn't as enthused. His requests for gloves was turned down by Harris. In the end though, Lawrence put on his "big boy pants" (Palin's words) and according to Harris did a bang-up job prepping the bruin face.
"Dennis believes that only God can make perfection but he's trying to get as close as he can to give honor to God's masterpiece," Palin said. Harris' work just like Clifford's is amazing. Both men are giving new life to something that was gone.
In the second episode this past week, Palin makes a profound statement.
"We couldn't do without those who take risks to protect their fellow man," she said. How true. Then we are treated to an amazing example of just that. Jerry Carroll is sent to College Station, Texas. For the day Carroll is a hands-on honorary member of Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service. TEEX houses the largest live fuel fire fighting training facility in the world. Carroll knows this to be true. He suited up in a heavy uniform and equipment and they threw him into the fire. Well, not exactly... but pretty close.
Carroll took a consumption test where breath control is the key. He later entered a ship that was burning at about 800 degrees. He held a huge house with his team members even though he had some trepidation before the drill started. Carroll told one team member "I'll try real hard not to wet my pants."
Carroll came through. He completed an obstacle course and helped put out an engine fire. Through his experience he gained even more admiration for those who fight ocean fires and other blazes. "They literally charge forward into certain danger to save," Palin said of firefighters. Talk about true American heroes.
Before Carroll's red-hot segment, Spies returned to play Batman for the day. At least that's what it seemed like. The gadgets and vehicles at the next stop would make the Caped Crusader salivate.
Spies was met with open arms by the guys at TAC, Texas Armoring Corporation. The group basically adds armor to vehicles, installs bullet proof windshields, and protects people in the process. Their product quality is unquestioned right of the bat. Their president actually gets behind a windshield that is then shot at repeatedly with an AK-47. He walks away unscathed. The brave soul is Trent Kimball.
Spies gets the grand tour from Kimball around the San Antonio facility. Kimball talks about some of TAC's clients that range from those worried about being kidnapped to those looking to avoid assassination to those in countries rich in terrorism.
Spies then gets to have a little fun. He gets behind the wheel of one of the huge armored vehicles and goes for a drive. But, he isn't alone on the road. Behind Spies is a "criminal" (one of TEC's professional drivers) chasing him. It's now up to Spies to get away. Lucky for him his truck can shoot tacks out on the road in an attempt to disable the vehicle of his pursuer. For the grand finale, he enables a smoke screen that fills the air and allows Spies to get away from the bad guy. Told you this was straight out of Gotham.
TAC adds up to 15-hundred pounds in armor to a vehicle. Their innovation, while fun to witness first hand, is serious business. They protect people each and every day.
These unique people are all about energy and innovation. "Thank God we have the freedom in America – like nowhere else on earth – to pursue our dreams', Palin said. Amen.
After another solid presentation, it is clear Sportsman Channel is home to an exciting show like no other. The United States is home to so many incredible people. Every episode, Palin brings them right into our living rooms. The anticipation for this week's double header of Amazing America with Sarah Palin is already building.