Friday, July 2, 2010

The Amazing Race—Portland Style

I have a friend, Diane, who likes to make things happen. When her grandkids come over, they do art projects and make pinecone pies, baked in the oven, or paint tee shirts, or make flower pot bugs. Diane likes things to be lively, and she’s willing to do the work to make it happen!

Diane likes to keep things lively for her adult friends, too. None of this sitting around growing old business for her! So she dreams up themed parties and ropes us into her schemes…

Which leads us to the tale of the Amazing Race. (Perhaps you have seen the TV version?)

We were sent Passport invitations in the mail. Where did she get them? She won’t tell me. We were to report with water bottles, cameras, and a full tank of gas to Lloyd Center, our local mall.

It was a perfect day. The first in ever so long. A beautiful Saturday for the long awaited race. Not knowing what to expect, we gathered at the appointed place. Eleven teams, 2 each, were given color-coded bandanas to wear. Balloons blowing in the air, Diane and her trusty sidekick Jim stood on the back of their pickup and gave the first instruction: we had to complete a word scramble to get our first clue. 10-06-26-10-03-53R 10-06-26-10-03-27R

One by one the teams took off running. We were stuck on the last word. Rats! At last we finished and got our clue. Off we ran to the MAX train (our lightrail ) and went downtown to Saturday Market. 10-06-26-10-26-48RWe had a picture clue of a booth we were to find in order to get our 2nd clue. May I say there are hundreds of booths in the Saturday Market covering a span of several blocks? But we found the lady with the pink tutus and guessed the right number on her butterfly mobile and dashed off to our next stop: Portland’s “living room” which is a city block square pavilioned with Starbuck’s and paved with bricks imprinted with names. I wish I had a picture of this lively spot to show, but I was too focused on the task at hand.

First of all, our instructions were to go to the barista and ‘pay it forward’ (cash in envelope) for a customer and then have our photo taken with the happy recipients. Here I am:10-06-26-10-48-06R Then we were to find 2 of the famous people memorialized in bricks of make a rubbing. Pencils and paper included in envelope. This took some doing because my particular team –ahem, no names mentioned-did not notice they had to be famous people and interpreted it rather loosely. And were rejected for the next clue. So we had to go back and do it again. Sigh.

Then back to MAX to return to Lloyd’s Center for the food court at which we were to find Sarah, Diane’s daughter, and be given a task to complete. I was sure my devious conniving friend Diane was going to make us sing Happy Birthday to some innocent bystander, but no, she was kind and we just had to put a puzzle together. And have our picture taken.10-06-26-11-36-07R

From there we went to a city park to make a “ringer or a clinger” at the horseshoe pit. I must say that my darling unnamed team member redeemed himself and got it on the first time!

10-06-26-11-56-38R The next clue took us to a golf course at which we were to go to the driving range, get a basket of balls, and supposedly hit them off the tee. The other team member had to do this, the non-horse shoe pitcher, which would be me. At least we didn’t forget to put the basket under the spout when we put in the token for golf balls! Snicker, snicker. Like 4 of the teams did. Snicker. And had to chase down 35 rolling golf balls.

10-06-26-12-21-30RGetting checked off by Sharon, Diane’s sister-in-law and minion.

10-06-26-12-21-40ROh, dear. Only 34 to go.

After receiving a clue to go to a local fast food place for a drink and to use the restrooms, I didn’t dare refuse. The drink was welcome and the restroom wasn’t needed, but we didn’t dare not use it. I suspected Diane would have someone stationed in there snapping pictures as we washed our hands. But, she didn’t. She was actually much kinder and gentler than I expected.10-06-26-12-36-34R

Then the last clue: to go to their house, an address I know well since she is my daily walking partner. Can you imagine how hard this has been for her to not breathe a word or a clue to me while we are walking together for 3 miles every day? Remarkable!

10-06-26-12-47-23RWe were team # 6 to come in.

Then we had a wonderful picnic in Jim and Diane’s backyard.10-06-26-13-29-47R 10-06-26-13-53-39R - Copy 10-06-26-13-51-57R

Greeting the last team in, #11

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A chocolate fountain soothed our pains…

10-06-26-13-30-10R Our generous and fun-loving hosts, Jim and Diane


Other competitors on MAX ^

10-06-26-12-52-22R Welcome refreshment and fun serving idea

10-06-26-12-51-18R Daughters Nicole and Amanda made a charming team and dangerous competition!

Yesterday when I was walking with Diane she said she was thinking of this neat game she did once, about 20 years ago, it was a Murder Mystery, wouldn’t it be fun…maybe this Fall…

Be careful who you walk with!

Honestly, it was a lot of fun in the sunshine, getting to know other people, having “permission” to play games on a Saturday, and to stretch our comfort zones a little. It’s much better than growing old in a chair. And Diane had everything so organized, right down to the tokens for golf balls, that it was really stress free. And nice to meet new people from other places.

I thought you readers might like to try something like this for your next party…

Move that Bus!

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The last day of school was a joyous affair.  The halls were buzzing with the promise of summer vacation starting in just a few hours.  The teachers were dressed in tie-dye shirts and the kids were already in summer play clothes.  The academics were over:  kids cleaned out their desks and carried home brown bags of old papers and partially used notebooks.  (I myself brought home a box of discarded books from the music room).

The morning assembly was a talent show at which my little friend performed on his Rubic’s cube: first solving it in under a minute after someone else had scrambled it, and then making other patterns behind his back (an H, a checkerboard, a dot, etc) all the while he was beating his timer.  There was a genuine ‘Ahhh’ of appreciation for his talent from his peers.  I was happy for him to be recognized for his strengths.


But then, the big moment we all awaited: the final bell.  The drums rolled out and the kids boarded buses to whistles and bells and air horns and drums.  The principal went up and down the buses high-fiving the arms sticking out.  It was so exciting –the atmosphere in the air—that the buses took longer to leave than usual.  Finally we cried, “Move that bus!” (in the spirit of the TV show) and they rolled away.


Yippee!  Summer is here!