“Don’t ANCHOR your team down.”
Welcome to The Amazing Race finale! Tonight Phil starts us off with a tender look back over the season to reminisce about adventures and teams gone by. The following things bring a tear to my eye: The LA Blondes almost getting squashed by a bus, a dancing muppet, donkey abuse, “Baaaaby there’s no more miiiiiiiiiiilk!!” No wet people (The Babies) allowed in a taxi, and best of all, The Babies being eliminated from the race. Then Phil reminds us that Moronald and Christina have had a lot to work on. They have? I didn’t notice – oh wait, that was Moronald telling me every single week that he has a lot to work on. Next we look back on Grandpa Donald’s Louis L’Amore hero status, remembering that for nearly every single challenge he had some pertinent life experience in that very field: masonry, printing, panning for gold, milking a camel, pole vaulting, sky diving, landing on Mars, etc. All Nick has really done is carry Grandpa’s bag. And The Hippies? Well they’ve stayed calm through everything and had an all-around great time. Which of these three wonder teams will be the first to cross the Amazing Finish Line and win a million dollars?
The answer begins in Taipei, Taiwan – not pronounced “Tuh-pie,” and not found in Thailand. Moronald and Christina have been on a winning streak, and they are the first to depart at 9:47 AM. The clue tells them to travel over 4,500 miles to their final city – Anchorage, Alaska and make their way to 6th Avenue Outfitters, an outdoor adventure store where they will receive some supplies and their next clue. They sprint down to the road to get a taxi. The Hippies leave next at 10:30 AM and Nick and Grandpa are seven minutes behind them. Nick and Grandpa are excited to go to Alaska because Grandpa worked for some time as an Eskimo. Actually it’s because he hunted and fished every day of his life growing up and suspects they might have a challenge like that in Alaska.
Moronald and Christina get tickets to Alaska on China Air and then proceed to the China Air lounge to look up 6th Avenue Outfitters using the internet buffet. The other two teams get tickets on the same flight and then start to worry that Moronald and Christina are nowhere to be found.
Pay no attention to the lounge behind those doors!
TK starts having hallucinations of Team Daddy-Daughter jetting off on some mystical earlier flight that will put the rest of them at a severe disadvantage. Much to TK’s extreme relief, everyone boards the same flight and starts mentally gearing up for Alaska. As they disembark in Anchorage, TK wonders aloud which team can run fastest and remarks that he has seen Moronald run “like a ninja.” That’s pretty funny.
Moronald and Christina manage to keep their lead, grabbing the first taxi and arriving at 6th Avenue Outfitters first. The clue tells them to find Ship Creek Boat Launch for the next clue. They grab their bag of goods from the clerk and run back to their taxi. It’s too tempting for me every time someone asks “Do you know where Ship Creek is?” But we’ll get to that later. The Hippies pop in and out of 6th Avenue Outfitters and their taxi driver thinks he knows where to take them. Nick and Grandpa are right on their tail, but neglect to take their bag of supplies from the store. Oops.
“Wasn’t someone supposed to adopt me?”
Moronald and Christina get to the boat launch first and the next clue is a Detour, meaning a visit/fashion show courtesy of Phil. Today’s Detour contains the choice: Cut the Cod or Grab the Crab and Phil has an adorable pun to go with each description. In Cut the Cod teams have to use the filleting knife from 6th Avenue Outfitters to slice through several enormous codfish and search for a clue hidden in a tiny canister inside one of the fish. “Teams with the GUTS to DIG in to their work could finish faster.” In Grab the Crab, teams stand in a small pool of water in the hull of a boat that is filled with 500 live crabs and pick up the snapping crabs to search for one sporting a fierce red and yellow (race colors) bracelet. “Teams without fast hands could find themselves in a PINCH.” Oh, Phil! I swear to Cod you are Crabulous!
Moronald explains to us that with the way he understands crabs, they will be biting and clawing their way up his body. Okay Moronald, it’s not a pool full of cats, it is a pool full of crabs. They pinch. They don’t bite or claw. They pinch you. Not that getting pinched is fun either, but they are not going to climb you like you are the living room drapes. The main reason I would not choose the crabs – I mean besides being a huge crybaby – is that I would be too tempted to boil some water and have lunch. Mmm, Alaskan King Crab legs… mmmmmm. With 500 in that tank, I would eat until I passed out. Money, schmoney. Anyway Moronald heads over to the fish and starts randomly slicing away looking for the little canister.
The Hippies’ taxi driver has dropped them off somewhere in the vicinity of the clue, but not near enough to see it. They wander around knowing that something is terribly wrong while Nick and Grandpa’s driver assures them he knows what he’s doing. Some locals tip The Hippies off as to where they need to go so they get back in their taxi with directions for their driver and worry that this might be their undoing.
Back over at the cod station Moronald has successfully mutilated one large fish and is now sifting through a mess of guts while he mumbles about whether the fish ingested the clue and not being good with a knife… Christina finds the canister! The clue says that they are now to travel 60 miles in a taxi to another boat launch, then take a high speed boat to 20-Mile Glacier. With a twinkle in his eye, and perched via harness midway up a glacier wall, Phil tells us that what teams don’t know is that they will have to ice climb up the glacier to get to the next clue.
“Teams with COLD FEET may be in trouble!”
Moronald and Christina race away in their taxi just as Nick and Grandpa pull up to the clue box. Nick reads along from the clue: “you may each use a pair of rubber gloves from the bag you got at… rubber gloves?” Nick looks desperately at his cameraman. “We didn’t get a bag!” The cameraman, in all of his impotence, keeps filming.
“Cameraman Bob, did you see a bag?”
Nick and Grandpa get the clue back out and actually read it through, the horror spreading across their faces. Uh oh. They are up Ship Creek without a paddle. (I told you we’d get back to that! Hooray for puns.)
Nick and Grandpa have no choice but to get back into their taxi and return to 6th Avenue Outfitters and Grandpa is pissed. Here is how the conversation goes:
G: You didn’t read it. If you had read it, it would have said get your gear, so we would have asked for gear. See, it sounds simple to me.
N: Your hindsight is always 20/20.
G: No, no! Don’t give me the hindsight! You read the clue, but you didn’t understand it, so we’re bleeped. That’s the way I see it.
It looks like the Sherpa (holla, Gnomecorp!) has really messed this one up. (P.S. Here is how Random House defines Sherpa: “a member of a people of Tibetan stock living in the Nepalese Himalayas, who often serve as porters on mountain-climbing expeditions.” Yup, that’s Nick! Minus the Tibetan, Nepalese, and Himalayan parts.) These two are nothing if not bleeped.
The Hippies decide to do the crabs, so they must not be as hungry as I would be. Judging by Rachel’s figure, she hasn’t been hungry in the last 10 years or so. They jump into the crab vat and immediately begin getting pinched. I don’t see any crabs climbing up them, but they do keep yelling “Ouch!” Nick and Grandpa are in and out of 6th Avenue Outfitters in a jiffy and on their way back to Ship Creek. Nick asks how long it will take Grandpa to gut a fish and he says one minute, so Nick decides Grandpa should do that one while Nick holds their bags. The Hippies continue to wrestle the crabs and begin wondering if they need to switch over to the fish-gutting option. But just as they are about to climb out, TK turns a crab over and spots the stylish red and yellow bracelet!
It’s all the rage this year over at Crab High.
They grab the clue and jump back into their taxi just as Nick and Grandpa prepare to slice open their first cod. I keep screaming that Nick and Grandpa would be well on their way to the river if the Sherpa hadn’t forgotten to tote the most important bag! Grandpa must be furious. Especially because it takes him about five seconds to slice open two of the fish and locate the clue. Done! And all of this while Nick stands their whining about the smell and not wanting to get his hands dirty.
As Moronald and Christina arrive at the boat launch Christina thanks her taxi driver and asks him to say a prayer for them. My eyes automatically roll directly to the back of my head and I long for the lesbian ministers again who proudly announced that God doesn’t care who wins The Amazing Race. Anyway, as the driver certainly begins his rosary on their behalf, Moronald and Christina climb into an awesome little jet boat and take off up the river.
Meanwhile in The Hippies’ taxi, the driver has gotten on his cell phone to try to get directions to the 20-Mile River. This is not a good sign. First he drops them off far away from the Ship Creek Boat Launch, and now he has no idea where the river is. TK comes as close to panicking as we’ve ever seen him, ordering the driver to either get them there or get them another taxi. Rachel reminds him of their mantra to stay calm. Nick and Grandpa, on the other hand, have the self-proclaimed number one taxi driver who knows right where to take them. Luckily the confused taxi driver gets good directions because The Hippies beat Nick and Grandpa to the jet boats and hop in, with Nick and Grandpa right behind them. These jet boat excursions look incredible and even I – someone who is hesitant to go north of L.A. for fear of cold – went to the Glacier Jet website to check them out.
Such a mellow ride…
Moronald and Christina arrive at the glacier and learn about their climbing challenge. Moronald tells us he is afraid of heights and doesn’t want to fall into the glacier water. Yeah, me neither, but somehow this task doesn’t scare me as much as some of the others. This one I think I could do. Don’t ask me why; I’ve seen Touching the Void and it scared the pants off of me. Moronald makes it up, but Christina has trouble getting over the very first incline.
Cut her loose and save yourself, Moronald!
The Hippies pull up in their jet boat and that is the motivation she needs to dig in and scramble up to the top. She claims to have been motivated by her dad waiting to “receive” her at the top of the glacier, but I’m nixing that and crediting The Hippies’ arrival. They get to the clue box and find out that now they get to take a helicopter ride across the Alaskan wilderness to a clearing called Merrill Field, then they have to take a taxi to Goose Lake Park for the next clue. Off they go!
Is Stating the Obvious a class at Princeton, Christina?
The Hippies make it up the glacier and are elated to learn of the helicopter adventure, and Nick and Grandpa both have to climb the glacier wearing shorts. The Hippies take advantage of the helicopter ride and squeeze in a little make-out while Nick and Grandpa scale the glacier and Moronald and Christina make it to Merrill Field and get into their next taxi. There is a Road Block waiting at Goose Lake Park and this one is a doozy! Phil?
One person from each team has to solve this ginormous brain teaser. There are 15 recognizable objects from different legs of the race, and the Road Blocker must place 10 items from the group onto a stage. The 10 items must meet two different sets of requirements. The first requirement is that there can only be one item from each leg of the race. The second requirement is more complicated:
3 items must be animals or animal by-products
1 item must be a U-Turn
2 items must be objects that were at or brought to a Pit Stop
2 items must be transportation devices with wheels, one of which was used in a Detour
1 item must be a transportation device resembling a stick.
There is only one correct way to group 10 of the 15 items which fulfills both requirements. When the 10 correct items are on the stage the clue box will pop open with the next clue. They are not allowed to use a pen or pencil. Oh, and if they solve the puzzle they are accepted to law school. I am well-rested and armed with DVR and I could never figure this out. Good luck, racers!
Christina decides to do it and then the producers give us an answer key. Oooh, that’s fun! Here it is:
1. Tandem bicycle from Ireland (wheeled item of transportation)
2. Bicycle from The Netherlands (wheeled item of transportation, Detour)
3. Bowl of camel milk from Bingo, Burkina Faso (animal by-product)
4. Chicken from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (animal, item brought to Pit Stop)
5. Stilts from Lithuania (transportation device resembling a stick)
6. Gun from Croatia that scared everyone (item at a Pit Stop)
7. Blackberry from Italy
8. U-Turn from India (U-Turn)
9. Cleaning man from Japanese train station (animal – um, huh?)
10. Tea cup from Taiwan
The five remaining objects are the propane delivery bicycle-wagons from India, the stick to pole-vault across a canal in the Netherlands, the rowboat from Croatia, the U-Turn from Burkina Faso, and the donkey from Ireland. Wow!
The Hippies arrive and Rachel decides to take on the Road Block. She says she’s feeling good and TK says she’s really smart. Nick and Grandpa get there and just when I think the Sherpa is about to shove Grandpa back into the fire, Nick decides to do it! This is great news until I remember that Nick is an idiot. He couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag and now he has to solve a brain teaser. Oh dear. His strategy is to put everything on the stage first and then try to figure out what to remove. Okay, I guess.
Christina gets 10 items on the stage, but her clue box doesn’t pop open. We see a little key that tells us she has everything correct except for Ireland, for which she has chosen the donkey instead of the tandem bicycle.
Rachel gets 10 up there, but three of hers are wrong. Nick is just a mess so far. Rachel looks at the stick from the ditch vaulting and claims to have never seen it. Just then we get a black-and-white flashback of her vaulting over the ditch. Nick doesn’t recognize the gun that startled him at the Pit Stop in Croatia and wonders where the heck it fits in. Christina gets a different arrangement, but still no pop-up and now she has three items wrong instead of just one. Rachel and Nick are stumped, and Moronald, TK and Grandpa are pacing around off to the side trying not to wet their pants. It’s anyone’s game!
See their brains twisting?
After much rearranging, verbal figuring, and even a plea to deity from Christina, Rachel’s clue box pops open and she dashes over to TK in a fit of elation. Moronald’s face falls as he realizes that he and Christina have just lost the edge.
“Who’s… your… dad… awwww…”
The Hippies rip open the clue which tells them to “find the Cook’s eye view of the sleeping lady.” Phil explains that the teams now have to take a taxi to a statue of explorer Captain James Cook that overlooks the city and the next clue is there. They jump into a taxi and Christina finally gets her items right and bursts into tears as she runs over to Moronald with the clue. You can see the doom in poor Grandpa Donald’s eyes, but amazingly Moronald does not chastise Christina, he just tells her not to worry and they get their taxi.
“That blasted kid owes me a million bucks!”
The Hippies’ driver gets a little lost, but still manages to get them to the Cook statue first where the next clue is “find the salmon hooker,” which Phil tells us is a statue of a big salmon decorated with colorful hooks that they have to find on foot in downtown Anchorage to get the next clue. Moronald and Christina find the Cook statue and step into a hotel to ask the front desk about the salmon hooker. The Hippies try asking people on the street and get directions on their second try. It’s a footrace to 5th and G!
Gee, this salmon seems to be dressed like a HOOKER.
The Hippies get to the hideous statue first (which is wearing high heels) and get the final clue! Here it is:
So is this like, urgent?
Oh my gosh (to quote a dearly departed racer) I am about to pee my own pants! RUN! I start jogging around my living room in circles to help the racers. Moronald and Christina are right on The Hippies’ butts and they are now both in taxis on their way to the airport. THIS IS IT!!! Running back and forth across the living room doesn’t seem to get the taxis to the airport any faster, but I can’t stop now, this is it! The Hippies are incredulous to be here, Moronald has become a better person, blah, blah, blah, where is the freaking airport already?!
Here it is! I see the other eight teams lined up in front of the finish platform jumping up and down, clapping and cheering and I almost start crying. Jumping jacks! Where are they?? We zoom in on the platform. Phil gives us a “serious” look. The Hippies come running up to the mat!!!! THEY DID IT!!!! After losing a clue and not finding the word “Vinci” and blowing up their tire and coming in last and having a speed bump, these two did it!!! Congratulations, TK and Rachel! YOU DID IT!!!! They are understandably speechless and elated and can’t believe their eyes. They hug and kiss and say how proud they are of each other.
3… 2… 1
Aw, here come Moronald and Christina, running up to second place with smiles on their faces. Good for you, guys! They graciously congratulate TK and Rachel and Christina cries as she tells us that there is no one else she would rather be here with than her dad and she is so happy. Moronald says he is happy to be first place in his daughter’s heart and then cries as he tells her, “For once in my life, when I say these words ‘I love you’ I mean it.” Um, are you sure that came out right Moronald? This is the first time you’ve actually really felt like you love your daughter? I am going to comfort myself with the thought that he misspoke and meant something a little more innocuous, like he really understands what it means to love her now that he knows what a fantastic person she is. Or something. Moronald!
Practice in your mind before you say it out loud.
We now fast forward about three days and see Nick and Grandpa chugging up to the finish line. Just kidding, but I did almost forget about them and I wonder how long before Nick solved the puzzle, or if they just let him go after The Hippies finished and won. Phil tells Grandpa Donald that he is the oldest person to ever finish the entire Amazing Race. That is outstanding – congratulations, Grandpa Donald! You are one tough cookie! Nick says that aside from winning, he got everything he wanted out of the race, and more. Grandpa says that he always knew he could do The Amazing Race and now he’s proved it. He’s most proud of completing each leg and finishing the entire race.
Grandpa Donald, your progeny robbed you.
We depart with The Hippies telling us how they feel about each other and Rachel says, “My feelings for TK are very real. He’s my best friend, he’s my rock and he’s just my favorite person and I got to do all this with him.” That is so freaking adorable. TK says, “Being able to do the entire race, not compromising our relationship in any way, and in the process making great friendships, it just makes winning it that much sweeter. Nice guys can definitely finish first and I think we’ve proved it with this. We went out, we raced the race and we won!” Hooray!
Aw, an emotional reunion.
Whew! This has been AMAZING, guys. Thank you so much for all of your comments, tips, information, and of course, all of the laughs while I dug deep into The Amazing Race. Every week I’ve looked forward to what you all have to say about each episode, and you’ve always kept me entertained and informed. It’s been a blast! See you around the ‘gasm! (I’ll be back shortly to give you all of my snotty opinions about The Hills. Can’t wait!)
And as always, please tell me what you think about how everything turned out. I’m excited to hear from you!
Thanks for reading!