Sunday, 21 April 2013

My California Adventure - Day Four

Day 255
110 Days Remaining

I've been so busy since I got back from California that I could not spare any time to update you and finish relating the story of my California Adventure: Final exams loomed and - as always tends to happen - I got miserably sick pretty much the moment I got off the plane at home.  I've spent the last nearly two weeks in a fog of study materials and wrapping up my last few classes, coughing like crazy every night and not getting much sleep.  Still, I wanted to end the school year strong, so I forged ahead and managed to finish all my classes and take all six of my exams (one an oral Skills Check, the day after I returned from the US!) even through the haze of codeine and ibuprofen.  I'm still coughing quite a bit at night, but it's not as bad as it was - it must have been partially due to stress.  My grades should be back by the end of the week, but I've already gotten one final grade, and it was an A+.  So I feel pretty good about having ignored you all in order to focus on school for this vital last segment of first year nursing.  And now I'm finished all my first year classes; my six-week practicum is all I have left, and I don't start that for another couple of weeks.  That means it's time to get caught up on my blogging.  I don't want to leave you hanging for too long.  Back to California and the day of the Reality Rally race!
Saturday morning (April 6th) was gorgeous and sunny.  It was the first morning that I had woken up in California to find the sun streaming in through the windows - my anticipated vision had finally come through for me.  Feeling a bit lightheaded from having gone to bed so late the previous night, I slowly got myself ready and packed a backpack with the things I thought I would need on the race: running shoes; water; my hat and sunglasses; a thermos of green tea; a sandwich and granola bars for later.  It`s the mom in me coming out, I suppose.  I knew that the event technically started at 8am with an "autograph zone", where all the reality stars would be signing autographs for the general public, but I didn't see any reason to go to that.  The race started at noon, so I figured arriving around 10 would give me plenty of time to meet my teammates, get acquainted, and prepare to race.  After another quick breakfast in the hotel lobby (I skipped the waffles this time) I slid my feet into my flipflops and out to my rental car.

Driving around Temecula soon became very easy as I got familiar with the place, and with the car, but the first time I went somewhere new, some quick thinking was often required.  Fortunately the other drivers were quite friendly and let me in when I realized I needed to cross three lanes of traffic in order to get to my exit!  I made my way into Old Towne, parked, and leisurely walked up to where the event was all set up to take place.  The founder of the Rally, Gillian Larson (completely pointless to use a pseudonym for her; the Rally deserves all the publicity it can get!), saw me ambling up and came scurrying over.  "Your team is looking for you!" she admonished me.  Although she had planned on introducing me to them the evening before, she had been run off her feet and hadn't had a chance to.  "Come with me," she instructed, and we slowly made our way from the outskirts of the event to the registration booth where I was to get my team T-shirt and goody bag, as well as sign in.  It took a good 20 minutes, as Gillian was hugged and adored and asked questions and posing for photos every few feet!  She is an incredible woman.  Looking at the scope of the event, I was amazed at what she had accomplished.
When we finally got to City Hall and I met my teammates, it was time for the opening ceremonies.  My team consisted of myself, a young lady named Misa who had appeared on The Amazing Race with her sister, and two older gentlemen.  We got to know each other and were comfortable together very quickly, which I knew would be an asset, considering that although we may not move too quickly (Misa being the most athletic - well, really the only athletic one - of the four of us), at least we would be able to communicate well and work together.

The whole idea of the Rally is that participants are in groups of four: three "civilians" matched with one reality star.  No one knows who their "star" is until close to the day of the race, although if you want a particular star to be on your team, you can essentially "earmark" them and fundraise prior to the race.  If you meet the benchmark amount of donations, that star joins your team.  Each team was numbered (we were 17) and everyone was given the instruction that on "Go!" we were to move around the event setting and find people in yellow shirts who had clue cards with numbers on them.  Once we found the card with our team number, we opened it to find a map of Old Towne Temecula, which showed all the different Checkpoints we had to get to - in no particular order, and completing a challenge at each - before we could return to City Hall and cross the finish line.

We raced out of the event setting toward Old Towne and to the marketplace.  It was a good thing that all my team members had been there in previous years, because they a) knew where everything was, and b) had a pretty fair idea of in what order we should reach the Checkpoints for maximum strategic effectiveness.  The challenges at each Checkpoint were varied; for the first one, we had to dress up and perform various scenes from Huckleberry Finn (building a raft and rowing it uphill on concrete; shooting cans with a slingshot; walking an obstacle course) before we could have our card punched to show we had completed the Checkpoint. 
At other Checkpoints we had to climb a rock wall blindfolded; play a life-sized game of Memory; wander a museum in vintage clothing looking for the answers to six specific questions; dig up a sandpile looking for beanbags; complete puzzles; do a wheelbarrow race with the "driver" blindfolded; transfer water - using a sponge - from one bucket to another located about twenty feet away; write and perform a short film using several old fashioned words (such as "varmint" and "ruckus"); ride a mechanical bull; and answer a number of questions about wine (we failed that one badly - the other option at that Checkpoint had been to dress up and perform opera-style karaoke, which I badly wanted to do! - and had to toss wine corks at a glass jar for our penance).  My "mothering instinct" was very helpful, as the water, granola bars and sandwiches I had packed came in handy as the day wore on.  It took about four hours to complete all our tasks by the time we finally raced across the finish line...placing 45th out of 60 teams.  Oh well.  It wasn't about being a winner for any of us, and we had a blast.

After the Race, everyone headed back to their hotels for a quick turnaround time and then to another beautiful winery for the Red Carpet Celebration.  Another few hours of mixing and mingling with the stars, singing along to the band and sampling all the delicious food that was laid out for us to enjoy, and I was exhausted and ready for bed.  When I was once again invited back to the stars' hotel for an after-party, I declined, not wanting to seem like a groupie - and also incredibly tired - and made my way back to my home sweet hotel.  It was an early night for me as I tossed off my high heels and flopped down on my king-sized bed around 10pm.  It had been such an exciting and fun-filled day, and I knew that in the morning it would be time to check out, head to the stars' hotel for a last couple of hours of time with my new friends, and drive my rental car back to San Diego.  The dream was coming to an end...but every minute of it had been wonderful.

To be continued...

"MisaLisaLarryLeigh" - my fantastic Reality Rally team!


  1. Yey! The Reality Rally sounds like a lot of fun.

    1. It really was! I had the best vacation I can remember having in many years. I can't imagine not going annually now.

    2. I was looking for the paragraph:
      "...and then I saw him, though he wasn't particularly handsome or charismatic, there was something about him that ignitied an inferno in my heart that has yet to be extinguished..."

      Congratulations on the courage to put yourself out there. Love your blog. Summer is tough season to finish alone, good luck.
      Hope to see you next Rally, I hope.
      Jimmy T.

    3. Ah, Jimmy T...if anyone deserves a paragraph like that, it's you. Except for the part about not being particularly handsome or distinguished!..You know you've always got a place in my heart. You were one of the best things about that weekend and I can't wait to see you again next year. (((HUGS)))