Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Taming the Wild West - Leg 10

Recap from last week.

The Linz family is off at 12:46am. Others closely behind. And they're off to Park City High School, trailers in tow, to inflate hot air balloons for an adventure.

OK, the sob story from the Weaver family is getting really old really fast. And then distastefully taunting the teams that yielded them... doesn't do much to support the claims that they're all the sweet and innocent teams that don't deserve what they get. If you ask me, they're the ones full of... ehem...

HOT AIR balloons rise on the Utah horizon. Now all 4 teams are flying high, and down they go with their next clue. The weavers tumbling down the side of the hill, literally.

Off to the Heber Valley historic railroad.

DETOUR: Spike it or steam it. Spike it uses tools and spikes to build a railway track. Steam it fills buckets with coal and carries them up to fill a rail car. Hmmm... I think spike it actually seems easier, until you realize how you have to pound spikes with sledge hammers. Not so easy. The weavers choose to steam it, while the rest of them spike it. The Linz family leaves with a slim lead, and get a nice rest during a 150-mile drive to the Bonneville Salt Flats. But in shocking news, team Florida pulled ahead of the Godlewski's who now are comfortably in last place.

Find "Bear Lake rendever"... "rendezvous"... "beach". 400 miles back from where they came from. What a waste of time... at this point Phil is relaxing in his air-conditioned 5-star trailer... ahhhh... how festive.

And ONCE again, due to a production error, the Linz' car battery was drained. Last week it was the Godlewskis, this week the Linz family who have fallen to last place. This is starting to be a bit ironic that teams who are doing well get knocked back to last place. Once, an accident... twice, coincidence or conspiracy?

They all arrive, they all sleep, they all leave the next day. Spare the details.

ROADBLOCK: A special two-person roadblock. Ride on the horses to round up the cows and get them where they belong.

And off to Yellowstone and Old Faithful. On our trip through the greatest features of the West? Well... something like that. Once again, I'm quickly becoming uninspired by this episode. I watch the Amazing Race to see new and interesting places... I guess this tour of the inland western US doesn't thrill me too much. But I digress...

The Bransen and Weavers are off and running, the Godlewski's short behind... the Linz family bringing up the rear. Faithfully every 92 minutes they wait for the geyser eruption... part of the rules are that you have to wait and watch the eruption before you get your clue. That's gonna put the Bransen and Weavers on their way to the magic carpet. The Godlewskis and Linz will be in a neck-and-neck race to find Phil.

And one of the Linz brothers caught on to the obvious that I missed completely. The clue mentioned nothing of finding the pit stop... but simply to find Phil.

The race to Phil is on... the first two teams make it to Phil and it's "You're the first and second teams to arrive... but this leg is not over.. here's your next clue."

And the rest, as they say, will be continued next week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

On to the Beehive state... Leg 9

And now for the real race....

The Godlewski family is in first and off to Utah they go. Oh yes, we're driving there. And we're pulling a trailer behind the truck... of course. The producers have cut the budget so much that not only are we driving everywhere, but now we're going to live in our own trailer. This IS the American middle-class experience. Good times.

Two-lane roads through the middle of nowhere. And trying to make a U-turn with a trailer attached to the back of your truck. Some are overly cautious, but then quickly realize that you don't necessarily have to stay on the road.

Helicopters... please take a number. The clue box is way up at the top. What a superfluous adventure, the only thing it really serves to do is to space the teams out into relatively equal intervals. On second thought, that was probably the point all along.

Moab, Utah. Home of... yeah.... nothing.

DETOUR: Ride down... or Drop down. Ride a bike down a mountain, or repel down the side of a cliff. This one seems to break the mold... most detours are picking which is easier, but I think this is obviously either the faster scarier one, or the slower but less scary one. Everyone except the Weavers (Team Florida) seem to be repelling down the cliff. However, the Weavers still have a lock on 2nd place behind the Linz family.

"Due to a production error involving the camera equipment, the Godlewski's car battery was drained... they were provided a replacement vehicle, but have fallen into last place." I guess they assume any bad luck incurred on the race, but still, if they end up losing I'd certainly be complaining about that one.

Off to Green River State Park, where they'll be spending the night. Linz are first and will depart at 7am the next morning. Weavers are next, out at 7:15am. Bransen family is 3rd, out at 7:30am. And Godlewski last, departing at 7:45am. So it's a long night in the campers, which seem to be lacking of cameramen, but do have some cameras built-in for the television viewing convenience.

I'll take this moment while the teams are sleeping, to ponder one of the great questions of the race... are the Weavers (Team Florida) really deserving of all of the crap they're getting from the other teams, or is it, as they say, completely unjustified. The producers editing this show must have had a field day when they saw this, immediately they had something they could use throughout the entire show to enhance the drama. Ironically enough, in the same breath the Weavers talk about how everyone's being mean to them when they're being nothing but nice, and then they're making fun of the other teams and practically anything else they come across. My conclusion... sure it's edited to make it worse than it is, on both sides, but not without justification.

Morning has broken, we're back on the road. Time to go to River City, UT and find Bart. But who is Bart? Little do they know that Bart is a trained Grizzly Bear. Well, that wasn't as hard as expected, actually.

Off to Park City, UT home of the 2002 Olympic Games. With a caution, YIELD AHEAD. Well the Linz family is in first, one can only expect that the Weaver family will be yielded if the Linz family gets there first. Weaver family takes a "shortcut", but will it really help them out, or will they end up in last place? One can only wonder. Well it looks like the Weavers are going to be long behind most of the rest, but courtesy of the Linz family, they'll also be yielded once they arrive.

ROADBLOCK: jump off a ski jump into a pool of water. Easy yet slightly exhilirating. Not any real difficulty in this roadblock. It's looking like team Florida is going to be eliminated this week. Unless a miracle can occur in the remaining 10 minutes of the show.

Drive yourself to the next pit stop, the Salt Lake City Library. And now it's whether or not they can find it on time. Linz family, you're team number one... trip for four from ** CORPORATE SPONSOR ALERT** Travelocity to Jackson Hole, WY. Bransen's 2nd, Godlewski family 3rd. And all three teams have arrived... but I think the Weavers are still sitting at the yield. We'll watch their last bit of the race in virtual fast forward. Cue the sad music... "Weaver family, you're the last team to arrive... I'm pleased to tell you this is a non elimination leg!"

This is where I point out that when my friend Andrew and I were discussing this prior to the show, I suspected it would be a reprieve leg, but Andrew doubted me figuring that it would be 3 teams left then the reprieve. All I shall say is, HA! And that is all.

4 teams *still* remain... who will be eliminated next.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Leg 9? Or is it?

[In lieu of an actual leg of the Amazing Race this week, as it was scandalously preempted by the Country Music Awards on CBS, I've invented my own leg of the race, right here in my hometown of Seattle. Now, according to my research, Amazing Race 3 actually has its finish line here in Seattle at Gas Works Park. Reading the recap, I see that they made pretty lame attempts at infiltrating the tourist icons of the Emerald City... my mythical leg of the race will not be so bland.]

Back this week for another leg of the Amazing Race 8. Four families remain, who will be eliminated this week? And cue the opening credits...

We're in Lake Powell, AZ, the Godlewski family is first to depart. Drive to the airport and fly to... Seattle, Washington! And they're off.

The Godlewski family and the Linz family both make the last seats on the first flight to Seattle on *Corporate Sponsor Alert* Alaska Airlines. Team Florida and the Bransen family both make it on the next later flight, arriving an hour later.

Once they arrive, they must drive into downtown Seattle and find the world famous Pike Place Market. There, they must find the Pike Place Fish Market, home of the flying fish. There, they must find a man dressed up like Ivar Haglund, who will give them their next clue. The Godlewski women cleared their way out of the airport and make it to Seattle, but OOPS... they turned the wrong way up a one-way street and are quickly corrected by the Nordstrom's valet who points them back in the right direction.

The Weavers and the Bransen family have arrived and are hot on the trail... but the Weavers got on the wrong freeway and found themselves on the other side of Lake Washington from Seattle. "Where's the Pike Place Market?" "On that's over in Seattle." "What, this isn't Seattle." "No, this is Bellevue. Seattle is on the other side of the lake." Mass chaos ensues in Team Florida. Looking at the map they found, they realize that the lake is huge, and they have to go back where they came from to get to Seattle. So they drive back down by the airport to get on the right freeway. They fail to notice the floating bridges across the lake.

Meanwhile the Linz family slid into first and after a brief hunt, found Ivar with the next clue. Take a ferry from the waterfront to Fort Casey State Park on Whidbey Island. Search for the clue box to find your next clue. The Bransen family has caught up, and all three teams (except the Weavers) are on the same ferry to the island, just as night falls on the water. The Weavers just finally make it to the market.

All three teams rush to drive out to the park, but find that the park is closed until morning. As is always in the Amazing Race... all of the teams catch up and it's a new fight to the finish on the second day.

As the sun rises over Fort Casey, Phil provides a bit of history. Fort Casey was one of three forts situated at the entrance to Puget Sound. Built by the Navy in the early 1900's to guard against ships threatening the Puget Sound cities, Fort Casey was an integral part of the US defense during World War I.

All four teams are now tied as they make their way into the park and find the clue box.

ROADBLOCK! One member from each team must search the entire fort to find a small, specially marked cannonball and bring it to the park ranger to receive their next clue. And they're off... hunting everywhere. One of the Bransen daughters finds one first and brings it back to get their next clue.

Drive back to Seattle and find Husky Stadium on the shores of Lake Washington. Once there, go down to the field and lead the University of Washington Marching Band in the song Tequila, and the band will spell out the location of your next clue.

The Bransens are off... just as the Linz family finds a cannonball and gets their clue. Team Florida finds one too. The Godlewskis are getting frustrated with how hard it is to find one, and are currently in last place, the only team remaining at the fort.

After a little time, the Bransens are first to arrive at Husky Stadium to find the band on the field. The Bransen dad climbs up on the ladder and waves his arms to start the band playing. As the band forms the letters, they quickly realize that they can't tell what it is from the ground. The daughters run up the stands to look down onto the field. They see the letters "52 VV 8". They are momentarily confused, then look at the marking in the stadium bleachers. Section 52 way up in the upper deck, and off they go up the very steep grade of the stadium bleachers. Row VV, seat 8. Under the seat they find their next clue.

By now the Linz family has arrived, and they race up to where the Bransens just found a clue. But surprise! No more clues?! What happened? They go down and conduct the band, who spell out a different location "43 J 12". They are off to the other side of the stadium trying to find their clue.

"Proceed to the next pit stop. Go to the Smith Tower and proceed to the Chinese Room on the 35th Floor. Warning... the last team to arrive may be eliminated."

Bransen and Linz are off and moving, the Weavers are making their way through Husky Stadium, but can't figure out the clue that the band showed them: "7 G 13". They are looking in section 13 but can't find it for the life of them. Meanwhile the Godlewskis find their clue quickly and are off leaving the Weavers to yell at each other on their own. They finally figure it out...

"Bransen family... you're team number one!" And the prize for this leg of the race? A lifetime supply of *Corporate Sponsor Alert* Starbucks Coffee, valued at approximately $10,000. Yeah, that sounds about right... are you sure it's only $10,000 though?
Linz family comes in second with plenty of room. But who will be last...

The Weavers make it into the Smith Tower and into the elevators. The historic Smith Tower elevator operator starts them on their journey. Just as the Godlewski women come running into the tower and grab and elevator. What happens? WHAT?!?! The Godlewski family made it to the top first! They must have had a faster elevator (or a nicer operator).

"Weaver family... you're the last team to arrive... ... I'm sorry to inform you that you've... wait... just kidding... this is a non-elimination leg!"

And so it goes... the mysterious leg of the Amazing Race 8. We now return you to your regularly schedule programming.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Grand Canyon? Dam. - Leg 8

[I actually made it home in time to watch this second episode of the double-header, but Andrew had already sent me his excellent recap, so I took the opportunity to just sit back and enjoy the show. Woot!]

After a recap of the previous hours results.... what's up with that? Showing us what we just saw?...the teams leave at 11:30ish PM to Mesa, AZ. I'm sure everyone will catch up at the combat airport. The Bransens head to the casino to win some BIG BUCKS...well, to get any money they can. In case you forgot what happened ten minutes ago, they were the last team to arrive,but received no money at the beginning of this leg. That's great, i bet they came out with more money than was given the other four teams.

Talk about a mix up amongst the first three teams. First arrives third and the other two move up one spot. Take a number at the door and wait. Timefor a roadblock. Take off on a fighter plane and take control of the plane and perform a 360 loop. Well, doesn't that sound exciting!! Actually, a bit scary if you ask me, but I'm sure it's perfectly safe.

Only three teams get to go at a time, so the Bransens and Paolos are left watching the other three teams get a larger lead. First, they must do some maneuvers which look like the plane is going to stall and plummet to the earth. Then, around they go. 360 loop and land. Get the next clue....Drive 200+ miles to the Grand Canyon.

Back in the planes, Paolo boy messes up his loop. Too many g's means try again. But the Bransen girl started turning to the left. Both complete the task on their second attempts. To the Canyon we go!

Team Florida arrives to the Canyon gatehouse first and ask the ranger to give a long history lesson to the Linz behind them. That ploy didn't work. Find a dam to get the next clue. The Weaver's have gotta go... literally...they need to find a restroom. Now, the detour.

Find a series of cards using a compass... or remove water from a submerged boat and carry it to shore. Now, what sounds easy here? Obviously it's the compass using, so go with the bailing of the boat, right? I'm not so sure.. Using the compass and letting a speed boat take you to where you need to go seems pretty fast. Plus, the sunken boats are not to be seen anywhere.

Now, for some drama, the Paolos are lost. They went the wrong way. Oops. Sucks to be them.

OK.. OK... so i was wrong about the tasks. Joe knows what he's talking about when he says harder is easier. The boat bailing was much faster. Woot! Time for the pitstop. Find a boathouse in the middle of a lake. Now it's the time to hurry to be not only first, but the winners of an awesome prize by a corporate sponsor. Will it be money? Will it be a trip? Or how about free gas for life? Now that was the best prize ever offered, if you ask me.

Four teams finished with the detour before the Paolos begin. Unless someone gets lost on the way to the lake, they're done for. No amount of clothes can save them this time. Now, the mom usually doesn't have the brightest ideas, but i do believe that she is correct... turning the boat upside-down will make the boat lighter when it loses all that water weight. I do believe i saw two other teams do that very thing.

The Linz got the slow boat. Perhaps if they followed the marked path they would've arrived first. But they get there second. Behind the Godlewskis. As the winners, they receive a travel trailer. Umm.. that's not so exciting, but i'll take a prize anyday of the week. The Weavers are third. And we've got another slow boat. The Bransens got the slow boat. But they manage to overcome that and finish fourth.

"Paolo family, you're the last team to arrive. I'm sorry to tell you, you have been eliminated from the race." That's funny. The one time they aren't yelling at each other is when they're eliminated. But, since they've got to go... they will be dubbed "The Family that yelled at each other too much" Well, there goes the high drama from the race.

What?! Home so soon? Leg 7

[Due to prior commitments, I missed this episode of the Amazing Race...
... fortunately, I'm pleased to inform you that this recap was not eliminated. :) Special guest blogger Andrew has graciously provided this leg's recap. Oddly enough, the impact of my previous entries seems all too apparent in his recap. Thanks, Andrew! ]

Recap of last week. "Gaghan Family, you have been eliminated"....and now, cue the opening sequence.

The Paolos, being the first to arrive, will be the first to leave the beaches of Costa Rica at 7:27am. Interesting time to begin a day... will the lead last? Especially with the Linz only one minute behind. And the Bransens one minute after that.

First challenge, swim to a bouy in the bay and retrieve the clue. Hmm.. it's the old dad vs the young guy vs the other old dad. And dad #1 (Paolo) is drowning and calls for rescue swimmers.
The Linz take the lead. Go to a church and find the altarboy.

Meanwhile, old dad #2 passes up old dad #1.

The three teams are heading for town to call a taxi. All three teams catchup to each other and the Paolo dad calls for three taxis in Spanish. Two and a half hours for the taxi ride. Enough time to see the final two teams swim out to the buoy...the Godlewski women and the Weaver family.

Rapido Rapido. Our favorite words from Amazing Race.

And the first three teams arrive at the church. Time for a detour... a choice between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons. Brush or barrel?

Brush, paint a wheel for a cart and have it approved by an artisan. Barrel, unload harvested sugar cane (1ton) and transport it to the factory. Then, search amongst the barrels for the one with a clue inside. Hmm... the painting looks too intricate. But, one ton of sugar cane?!? That's a lot of sugar cubes. I suppose the painting sounds easier... less demanding, at least. So, following the rule of thumb, do the sugar cane.

The sugar is practically large twigs in a pile that need to be loaded onto a cart. It looks like that'll be quick.

The painting will definitely take forever. And three people take that task.

The barrel search of the sugar looks like giant wine cellar... similar to the wineries of the pacific northwest. And the Linz family, after wondering how to open a barrel, pull out a cork and find a clue on the first try. Fly to.......

Phoenix, Arizona?!? Well, they are certainly not going to many exotic places. It seems to be the early afternoon. Will there be any late flights for the teams? Or will everyone catch up to each other? The Linz seem to get a flight out to Atlanta and then to Phoenix. The Paolos arrive just too late. But, that all seems to be good because the other teams will be arriving 10 minutes before the Linz. Hmm.. should've checked all flights.

And while waiting for the plane, team Florida puts the Paolo boy in the corner. Why did you yield us? We should be friends or else we'll yield youthe next time. And after flying the lovely Taca Airlines, the Godlewskis discover they don't have tickets to Phoenix. What happened in that transaction? They have to take a taxi to Newark, but all's good. They'll arrive at the same time as the other groups. First, in fact.

And it's lovely Phoenix... "hotter than snot." I've spent a few too many hours at that airport. The Linz arrive last... but they get to their car before the Paolos. They're lost in the parking lot. hahaha I've heard of that happening before but it's usually during the hectic holiday shopping time of year.

A road block is a task that only one person can perform. One person has to drive a go-cart for 50 laps in the sweltering heat. Remember to pull in the pit after lap 25. This is the second racetrack event of the tour. Remember when they rode the bicycles around the track at Talladega? And how will the Weavers handle the drama of another racetrack? A little better than the bigger one.

After the race... drive yourself to the next pitstop.... Fort McDowell. An ancestral tribal land, where the last team to arrive, may be eliminated. First to finish... the Godlewskis. Can anyone in that family read a map or make a decision? Apparently not, as they are in the wrong spot.
Three teams arrive at once. Who will race to the carpet and be first? The Godlewskis... and what do they win? A trip for four to Belize from *sponser alert* Travelocity.... home of the famous travel gnome. Next up, the Weavers. Then, the Linz.

The Paolos arrive fourth, but they think their last... putting on all their clothes, the Bransens arrive. Hahaha.. this is pretty funny. Too bad they can't count to five. Now, they convince the Bransens to put on all their clothes when they arrive last. They've got winter coats on in the 110-degree desert. How crazy's that? Is it worth it???

Yes, it is not an elimination leg and they are offered a reprieve. But, they lose all their possessions and $$$. Plus, we are benefitted with a second episode. Yes, that's right. Someone will be eliminated tonight in the second hour!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

On the road again... leg 6

Back again for Leg 6 of the Amazing Race...

After a quick recap of last week's leg, we're off to Costa Rica. Here's your quick geography lesson... Costa Rica is a neighbor of Panama, so of course, instead of taking a plane, they'll take a bus. You'd think with all of these corporate sponsors the show seems to have, they'd have enough money to take a few planes instead of going "el cheapo" throughout Central America to save money.

The Godlewski women were spared elimination at the end of the last race, but are now completely broke and need to somehow find some money to take a taxi to the bus station. It must not have been too hard to beg for the money, considering how little TV time was dedicated to them doing that. And three buses are on their way to Costa Rica.

Once they arrive, the hardest part for some of them seems to be finding their vans they have waiting in a parking lot about 2 blocks from the bus station. Drama, drama, drama. BUT the real drama is how much everyone seems to despise the team from Florida who they will do everything they can to make sure they lose.

And true to Amazing Race form, all of the teams, despite their best efforts to stay in front, will pile up and get stuck at the same place at the same time. In this case, it's a national park at some volcano. But of course, it turns out they're there solely to pick up the next clue and head back to their vans to go 17 miles to the next stop.

"El righto or lefto?" Yeah, that's the ticket. Well they seem to have found it.

The first yield of AR8, and in a grandiose form, the Paolo family yields the Weaver family (a.k.a. Team Florida). When they arrive to find out they were yielded, they only demonstrate how much they deserved to be yielded. Negative attitudes, makes it quite easy to realize that a little nice may go a long way, but a lot of mean gets you what you dish out.

Roadblock. Reminiscent of the "find a needle in a haystack" roadblock of a few seasons past, this one will be to search for a single red bean among 800 lbs of coffee beans. Actually, this one turns out to be not incredibly difficult, at least for the most part. And all of the teams are gone and off to the next clue, while the Weavers are still waiting for the sands of time to fall so they can continue. But in a lucky turn of events, the Weavers' quick searching

Detour: Relic or Ripe ... find 4 relics in the forest, or heave 15 bushels of bananas onto a pulley system and take them to the processing plant. These actually seem pretty even, one complicated but not difficult, one strenuous, but relatively uncomplicated. Take your pick.

Off to the town of Quepos, and off to find the magic carpet on the beaches of the Pacific ocean. The last team to check in, may, and will, be eliminated. I have yet to see any season of Amazing Race where there were two reprieves in successive legs. Though that'd be an unexpected twist, for sure. If only I were one of the producers... I'll show you a twist.

Karma, Karma, Karma for the team from Florida. Now the rains have softened the grass they were parked on, and they're stuck. But in what I think was a bout of editing liberties by the producers, it probably wasn't nearly as dramatic as it seemed, as the Weaver team still remained firmly in penultimate place. The Gaghan family remains last off towards the pitstop.

"Paolo Family... You Are Team Number One!" For the second week running, they have retained first place. Un-memorable prizes for winning that leg of the race, I think they won like a Segway or a thing or other. Whatever. Certainly there was a corporate sponsor somewhere in there that I missed.

Oddly enough, the first 3 teams were neck-and-neck at the end, each arriving within a minute of the other, which should make an interesting start to the next leg. The Weaver family survived as team number 5. Cue the sad music... Gaghan family is the last team to arrive and have been eliminated from the race. What a great family... absolutely great. Gaghan daughter Carissa, the youngest ever to compete in the Amazing Race, trying to hold back tears after a performance that far exceeded many previous competitors much older than she. It would have been nice to see them win. But until next week, 5 teams remain.