Jenn and Tracey Journal #11: Who is the Biggest Basket Case?
Welcome back friends and fans, Tracey here and this is my last journal article writing for Jenn and me on our adventures on The Amazing Race 3. When Jenn last left off we were in the pit stop at Vietnam celebrating making it to the homestretch of the race with our fellow racers Zach, Ken and Gerard. I stayed out a little while with the fellas while Jenn returned to the pit stop to write our journal article, and when Ken and Gerard were walking me to my room we passed Teri and Ian sharing a kiss in the hallway, it was very sweet. The four remaining teams were all pretty happy because we were in it until the end, right? The prior two seasons of the show ended with a two-hour finale with the first leg being a non-elimination round and we know that there are just two legs left now. Earlier in the evening Ken and Jenn did the Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy dance and looked like complete lunatics. Gerard has nicknamed their antics the Ken and Jenn show and claims that they should go on tour after the race as a low rent lounge act and then Ken does his lounge lizard impersonation and cracks us all up. I'm sure we'll keep in touch with them after the race is over.
For the first time in the race, it was really hard for me to sleep during our pit stop in Vietnam. I was so pumped and full of energy that there was no way I could relax, just like the night before I took the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) all those years ago. I really nailed the LSAT after worrying about it all night back in 1992 and hoped that this night of worry didn't result in us being LAST. We were all so excited to be this close to the end and to splitting $1 million with my new best friend Jenn. As I lay awake in our hotel room in Vietnam I let my mind wander and thought about what I would do with $500,000 (after taxes, of course) and vowed to take a year off from the firm and take a stab at living my dream and trying to be a writer. When I was a English major in college we had a class just for the English majors who didn't also have education degrees in which our teacher ridiculed us for picking a field in which we couldn't make a living and made us memorize passages from Shakespeare and other classics that would could recite in the subways and on street corners while we were starving. Of course almost everyone in my class later went on to grad school or professional school and I don't think anyone actually had to rely on his or her rendition of the Prologue to Canterbury Tales (in Middle English, nonetheless) to get their next meal. Oh, to be, or not to be, that is the question. . . . I certainly wouldn't be the first attorney to give up legal briefs for novels as John Grisham and Scott Turow are not too hard up for cabbage, but my particular area of practice wouldn't likely make too interesting of novels, maybe The Long, Boring Contract that People Fought About for Weeks, or The Secret Wars of Internal Revenue Code Section 414(p). Oh, I can see that on the New York Times Bestseller List right now. Ok, maybe not based on my practice, how about fiction based loosely on my experiences as a woman who goes on a reality tv show and becomes an internet sensation? Hey, it could happen. Winning the cash would give me lots of flexibility as I wouldn't need to worry about how taking an unpaid leave would affect my ability to pay my rent, but I decided that I just might try to take up writing even if we don't win because I've had such fun writing these journals for the FORT, and Jenn and I both agreed that we're definitely going to spend more time traveling as there is just so darn many interesting things to see in the world.
After lying awake all night thinking about what would be the plot of my first novel (and wondering if David will call me when I get back home, but that's another issue that's just too pathetic to get into here), I was up and in the shower before our alarm went off. Jenn was pretty hyped about our departure too so we were both raring to go well before our designated departure time, so as we headed to get our clue Jenn called out in her best Robin Williams voice: "Goooooooood Morning, Vietnaaaaaaam!" and we were on our way to our waiting cab (which we had reserved the night before) and headed to the train station. At the train station we got tickets in the first class cabin with sleeping space for the 24 hour train ride, then we waited and all the rest of the team arrived, so there went our lead from using the fast forward in the prior leg, it wasn't a complete equalizer because Flo and Zach didn't manage to get sleeping cars because Flo was off having a tantrum. Ken and Gerard realized that they got the last two sleeping spots, even though they got to the train station after Zach and Flo, but only because Flo was having a volcanic moment and they weren't around when the ticket counter opened. Nonetheless we were all on the same train and we were in a dead heat race.
Because of the 24 hour train ride and our lousy luck this was the hardest and longest leg of the race for Jenn and I. Because of "good" luck in picking the fastest cabbie for our trip to the detour we arrived first. We had been avoiding boats since our paddleboat capsize incident in Switzerland which cost us penalty points and almost lost us our luggage, so bikes it is! We both tried to ride the bikes loaded down with baskets, but they were really too heavy for either Jenn or me to ride or even walk. We stood there trying out different holds for almost 15 minutes to see if we could balance the weight and still walk with the bikes but when we saw the other teams starting to show up we took a page from the Ken and Gerard playbook and aborted mission. We later realized that the other teams hired local kids to help them out because we didn't know how Teri or Flo would ever be able to ride those bikes, and we sure didn't want Teri to skin her knees any worse then they already were after her biking accident at the end of the Swiss leg.
So, we changed our pick on the detour and it was a disaster! We got into the basket boats and started padding, but a strong wind came up and sailed us way off course and into a strong current. We were seriously concerned about whether we'd be able to find out way back to the island with the cluebox or not, and Jenn was only half joking when she asked if this waterway was connected to the ocean, as we sure didn't want to be out to sea in a teacup. We were seriously up a creek with a really small paddle and were miles off course. Jenn and I couldn't fight the current to row back to where we were supposed to go, so we ended up rowing to shore and trying to carry the boats back to the starting point. Those baskets were much heavier than they looked, and even though Jenn and I are both experienced with canoes our arms were exhausted from the paddling and we didn't know how to get the boats back to the starting point. We tried carrying them over our heads and rolling them down the street, but they were just too big for us to handle. We ended up leaving the boats in the water, sticking our oars in the middle of them, and pushing the boats while walking along the shore. It took over an hour to get back to the starting point. We were pretty weary of the little boats by that point and decided to try our luck with the bikes again just to stay in the race even though we'd guessed we were in last place. During our long walk back Jenn and I discussed how the detour required us to get two bikes to the cluebox, but didn't preclude us from taking them one at a time, so Jenn and I doubled up on the first bike, got it to the cluebox, jogged back to the starting point and walked the other bike there. We didn't understand why kids were asking us for money until we learned later that the other teams had paid the kids to help them with the bikes, well, everyone except Gerard who had no problem handling the basket-covered bike.
We drove to the final challenge where we needed to get into yet another boat and pull the clue off the net. Jenn did the cranking to lift up the net and I picked the clue off without falling face first into the water, which I see as probably my finest moment of the leg. My parents always used to call me Tracey Grace as I was a little prone to falling over while leaning, but fortunately I have enough weigh in my lower half to keep me in the boat. We caught a glimpse of Zach and Flo leaving when we arrived, so we figured we were in last place but glad that we weren't terribly far behind. After all, this was going to be a non-elimination leg, and we were just pushing on to help out our departure time for tomorrow, right? We were hot on Zach and Flo's trail on our way to the next pit stop and weren't sure if we'd be eliminated or not. But this is a non-elimination leg, right? It's part one of the 2 hour finale, right? We were still racing our hearts out and running on pure adrenaline when we jumped on the mat that Zach and Flo had just stepped off of and Phil, who can always keep a straight face (even when Gerard and Ken and mugging like maniacs), wouldn't look us in the eye. That was so odd. Phil said "Jenn and Tracey, you're the fourth team to arrive. I'm sorry to tell you, you've BOTH been eliminated." I swear Phil got a little choked up when he told us that, Jenn saw a tear but I'm sure Phil would say it was from the dust we kicked up in our rush to the finish (or our smell, it was a long, hard trip across Vietnam, not to mention our boating skills). Jenn and I looked at each other in shock and I said "Oh crud, we've BOTH been eliminated" as we had an inside joke that if Phil doesn't say "both" when we got eliminated that it might mean that really Flo had been eliminated by herself earlier, and that the non-eliminated part of our team would get to finish the race as Zach's partner. Zach is a great racer and we're all sure that he would have finished way ahead of the pack in every round if he hadn't had to lug a 98 pound anvil around his neck on every step of the race.
We knew from the prior pit stops that we would be taken to Sequesterville immediately after leaving the pit stop check in, which makes perfect sense as they don't want eliminated teams affecting the play of teams still in the race. Ken, Gerard, Teri, Ian and Zach were all waiting there to bid us farewell. That was really sweet of them as we knew they all needed to try to relax and recoup before their next departure. Zach mentioned that Flo was in the shower. We told him that we hoped Flo didn't slip down the drain and wished him the best of luck in the future (just not the immediate future). He smiled and laughed and said he'd email us to let us know how things are going after the race ended. Teri and Ian were dog tired so Ken and Gerard let them say goodbye to us first. Teri pulled us aside and said she had really wanted us to win it all because we were such a good role model for younger women and girls and we told her that we definitely want to meet her sons after the race. Ian told us that we "done good" and that our dads would be proud, so Jenn and I were already crying when Ken and Gerard, our best buds since the very first day of the race, walked up and gave us big hugs and kisses. Ken grabbed Jenn and shrieked in mock despair (at least I think it was mock) "Who will I sing and dance with now?!?!?" and Jenn replied, "With me, when we see you at the finish line." I think they would have stayed there with us for hours but we knew they were already missing out on their rest period and we told them they needed to be "fresh as daisies" for the next leg so they can spoil us with their winnings after the race.
We parted ways and headed with Phil to the talk to Janet, the production staffer in charge of Sequesterville, which is actually a group of locations scattered around the world where eliminated teams stay until they are all reunited for the finale. Janet was on the phone trying to find out the travel schedules for the other groups as they were all heading towards the United States within the next two days to prepare for the finale. Janet seemed rather confused and frustrated, which Jenn and I both thought was odd because the staff was always so "on top of things" in the race so far. We were taken to a hotel where we had two hours to shower and eat before we headed to the airport to catch a flight from Vietnam to California with a stop-over in Hawaii (but we've been told we don't get to get off the plane, it's just stopping to refuel and get more supplies I think), and weren't sure where we were going after that as most of the other teams would be in transit by the time we arrived. We're on a plane and don't know where we are going – it's hard so believe that we've been eliminated, especially when we continue to travel like Bugs Bunny tunneling around, constantly sticking our heads up and saying "Which way to Albuquerque, Doc?" No rest for the weary I guess. As I'm writing this on the plane we're looking forward to seeing the other teams again and Jenn is telling me her ideas for our final journal article. She's going to give a report from Sequesterville, a glimpse of our reunion with all the other teams, and of course our view from the finish line. We've found out that the teams are assembled there at least 2 hours before the teams are expected to arrive as they really don't want us to miss the big finish, so that will give us plenty of time to catch up and to pester Phil for a TAR reunion show, as our fans from the FORT have asked us when they will get to see the contestants outside of the race context.
Read the sequesterville and behind the scenes at the finish line report Helpless in Seattle!
Signing off for Jenn and Tracey, it was a heck of a ride (and climb, and jump, and boat and swim, etc.)! To contact the author, please email firstname.lastname@example.org m