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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

It all comes down to this

I can't believe this is the last day of our trip to Europe. It's flown by. To recap, we've been to Switzerland, Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and the long lost country of Moresnet.

In Day 7, we slipped to second place, but the challengers, "As Seen on TV" are only 10 points ahead of us. Furthermore, Lanthy and Rad couldn't stay the extra day to compete because they had to get back to NY for work. Instead of getting no points for today, they will receive an average number of points for the last seven days.

When we did the math, it was clear that we would only win if we received full points for everything we were going to do on Day 8. We had to be on top of our game. No pressure or anything.

We picked two challenges that were worth a maximum of 75 points that would make us the victors as long as we won them. Otherwise we would receive a minimum point value and land in second place.

The first was to go railbiking on the German / Belgium border. The task involved interviewing locals in some of the towns the rail bike went through to find out what is interesting about their communities. But many people did not speak English. I used an online translator to write out the instructions in German and French, and thank goodness I did. We did find a woman in Kalterherberg, Germany, who did speak English well. She was very helpful and funny and the video we did with her was one of my favorites from the day. The other two were mediocre, which led Sheila and I to believe that we wouldn't score well on the task.

Hoping that no other teams would arrive, we waited to see who would come for the later tour. Margaret and Tyler were there and Jan and Sean showed up late with Steve, but they still were able to do the tour.

We tried not to think about the outcome. We just tried to forget about it and have fun with our last challenge at Snow World. Waiting for the train to take us there, we were pacing. "This is what happens on race days," she says. We just wanted to get a move on, but the public transportation forced us to slow down.

After spending the afternoon under the hot summer sun, we were transported to winter in an instant. I didn't have mittens, but I brought an extra pair of socks to wear on my hands. Hey, you have to be resourceful.

To help with our challenges, I brought along one of my Peruvian finger puppets. I usually carry a handful when I travel so I can give them to kids. I thought for sure I would use them in a challenge or two, but so far I hadn't. When I found out we'd be going skiing, I knew I could use them for something. One of the puppets was an Andean shepherd with a colorful manta and a blue knitted cap. We nicknamed him "Snow Joe," and he became our commentator on the slopes.

I can't begin to tell you the strange looks I got as I skied down the slop with socks on my hands, a talking finger puppet on one finger and my video camera in the other hand. Honestly, I was probably a danger to myself and others, but most people just thought it was mental.

Anyway, it worked out that we got the highest score on that challenge. It was all because of Snow Joe.

We returned back to the hotel pleased with how hard we had played the game over the last eight days and how we had had fun along the way, too. Sure, we wanted to win, but we would be happy with second place, too.

But we would have to wait until morning for the results.

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