Bill and Linda McKenzie were the first willing victims to leave. They were handed their packet and told to have fun and that we would be seeing them sometime later that day.
The start went very smoothly with everyone showing up on time, so the staggered wait times weren't terribly long.
We did something a little different this year after we got all drivers and navigators off. We went and hid at an area that we will say was not a real difficult area to navigate. Of course this all depends on the communication between the driver and navigator. We were having some laughs as we knew what order all left in and they weren't arriving in this area according to their departure time. One of the best moments was when our infamous Tommy and Mary came down the road, top down and smiles all over their faces. They approached the stop sign (of course we couldn't hear their conversation) but we did notice Mary's finger point right -- as Tommy continued to drive straight.
Could they have seen us and done this on purpose? I don't think so since after just a few more yards the car slowed and then turned around. All the other participants we were able to view navigated this clue just fine.
About ten minutes later the rallymaster decided to call Tommy and tell him he really should listen to his navigator. All we heard was his laughing. Bet we had them going for a while!
Well, we had to head home, switch vehicles and head for our destination. Of course we had a more direct route but we still had banners to hang and wanted to make sure we were there as the first participants arrived.
On our ride to our predetermined destination, our cell phone managed to ring a few times. Yes, Bill and Linda were lost once more. But this year it had nothing to do with water towers; just a few misunderstood directions. No, Bill, there is no golf course in the beginning of the rally. One thing they will learn is their way around Dover and Plant City. Well, after talking them through a bend to the left and a bend to the right they said they were back on course and feeling just fine. Next we heard from Kimberly and Paul. Again after talking them through a few clues they, too, were on their way. Of course these calls never help to put us at ease. This year we had our daughter Sarah fly in, borrow a car and take Tommy and Mary's daughter, Jackie with her on the rally.
Now we wondered how they were doing? It wasn't long before they called and asked us who Lorne Green and Michael Landon were? Hmmm, I guess our clues were showing our age. We'll have to take that into consideration for the next rally. They did manage to get the answer right although they told us it was by process of elimination. They did own up to the fact that they too had made a few wrong turns.
Back at the hotel we were hanging banners. Actually I left that to Buzz and the staff while I checked the banquet hall and once again went over the final details for the upcoming evening with the staff.
Somehow time seemed to fly by and soon our participants started arriving. One couple just handed us a $10.00 bill (the penalty for opening the emergency envelope) and went to check in and visit the bar. As the rest handed in their packets it was our turn to go to work. Yes, we had the answers and some questions had to be tossed out as we found out that a couple of clues had changed; once more, that is the nature of the beast. It was amazing to see that many forgot to put in their name and team number on the sheet. Good thing we watched closely as they handed their papers in.
We are tough and did not forgive even the smallest detail. Remember the periods in M.P.H.; oh what fun we had -- yes, we are evil people. Maybe we really secretly want to be schoolteachers or should we say schoolmasters. Oh yes, this was all done in fun but unfortunately we had to have some way to pick the winners and losers. Some people even forgot to do the math, saying that we had done it last year. Well we got smart; that was way too much work for us at the end. Anyway we managed to come up with the winners and losers. Remember the results are at the discretion of the rallymasters (that's us). As people started to congregate in the lounge and indulge in a drink or two, we started to worry about a few lost souls. Finally, all but one couple arrived safe and sound. Even the girls got there, a little late, but still laughing. Remember this was not a race.
Well the pressure was on to correct the papers and we haven't even had a chance to go up and take a shower. But, again, this is the nature of the beast. We were able to stay at one of the registration desks and watch as many of the group indulged in alcoholic beverages.
We wouldn't even think of indulging at this time as we take our work very seriously. Finally the last couple arrived. This was their first rally and they said they, too, had a little difficulty in the beginning and then just turned around, went back to the starting line and began again. This time they went slower. It took them a while but they finally made it.
OK; the time is getting close to cocktail hour and 'most everybody has headed to their rooms to spruce up or whatever. We finally finish up and head up to our room to gather our wits and prepare for the dinner. Quick change and splash of water and we are ready. All the papers are corrected and put away. Now we can relax a little.
Cocktail hour has arrived, snacks are out and the bar is open. Many are indulging. We are allowed since part of the planning is the fact that one can drink and doesn't have to drive. Dinner is set up and I must say that Chef Oliver did a superb job. It all sounded delicious when we made the choices but until one tastes the food you never know. Yes, we like to have things go perfectly. Too bad we don't live in a perfect world! Anyway we thought the food was great and, from the feedback we've received, so did most of the participants. Filet mignon, shrimp, ham, and other things were among the fare. I think we can safely say that all ate until their bellies were content.
Okay, now it was time for the raffle drawings. We had many prize donations which took a bit of time to dole out. Anne and Jeff Bleisweiss had to be the luckiest couple of the evening. With all the wine they won they probably were able to re-stock their bar. Do you think they drink a lot?
Now was the time for the big announcements. We did things a bit differently this year. We gave a medal to each of the three worst finishers. They consisted of (unfortunately) Beau and Rhonda Jensen (who were last years winners), John and Irene Hunter and Bill and Linda McKenzie (who were dead last the year before but have now moved up one slot in the rankings).
Personally we think the McKenzies were a little disappointed that they didn't get a trophy -- we are not saying which trophy though! There's always next year, guys. But we did give a special award to the very last place couple -- one whose time and answers put them in a category of "bringing up the rear". This couple, Mike and Jennifer Sylvester, were nice enough to donate tee shirts and pens for the goodie bags which, by the way, had no influence on the judging although we did appreciate their donation greatly. So did other members as we saw their tee shirts proudly worn by other participants. Anyway, I digress; Mike and Jennifer got the honor of receiving a very special trophy, "the rear end of a horse". All of this is done in good fun and we thank all for being good sports.
Could this be the trophy that Bill and Linda secretly coveted?
The moment has now arrived. Everyone else, except last years winners are waiting anxiously; Beau and Rhonda are still having trouble figuring out where they went wrong.
Third place went to Tommy and Mary Farruggio. I guess after our phone call they got real serious and maybe even slowed down a bit from last year.
Second place went to newcomers Howard and Karen Revelle. Now as we mentioned earlier, one couple was among the missing and we rally-masters were concerned for a bit. But time was not a factor in the scoring so the slow-and-steady ride paid off for them. It took them eight hours and one minute to finish but they answered most of the questions accurately. Howard and Karen went home with the second place trophy; great job!
Well, now for first place.
This couple can be considered "gamers" as they get right into the thick of it. They are not just a bit competitive, we will never know what the real conversation was in their car. I'm sure it was always cool, calm and collected. Jim and Judy moved up from last year and took first place! What an excellent run they had. I remember Jim saying, "Whatever Judy says is what we do."
Is this really true?
We did have an interesting aspect this year. Jackie came up with a great idea but thought she might end up losing friends over it if she went through with it. The idea ws to put a box into Bill and Linda's car with a tape recorder runningin it and tell them they couldn't open it until the end. This idea was the result of last year's many phone calls. But after considering that the conversation may be X-rated, and that maybe we didn't really want to know what they thought of us, the idea was scratched. But we did mention to them that the idea hadentered our mind.
Well if you know Bill and Linda you won't be surprised that they took it upon themselves to get a tape recorder and record certain communications between themselves. This they shared with all at the end of the rally. I still think a hidden one would have been much more descriptive. But we all did laugh a lot at their dialog. Maybe next year we will have a trophy for the best sport as they certainly deserved it. How many times did they visit the park in Dover? I will never tell.
After the festivities some of the participants retired and others decided to play dominoes. This is fast becoming a side item of Corvette events. Many drinks and many laughs were had by all. Who won? Not us; we didn't really care as the real pressure was now gone. Only the morning events were still to come and they were a no brainer for us.
Afterward the Sebring Store opened just for us and amazingly they even had some new Corvette merchandise. After many spent their money on souvenirs, brunch was next on the agenda. Again all (except maybe Mary) enjoyed the food. It was only around noon and Mary was dead asleep at the table. The woman can sleep anywhere.
Guess they must have had a fun night, huh? Could we be jealous? Wonder what kind of extra-curricular activity they had?
Many of us now just relaxed, some getting spa treatments, some going for a swim, some going out and checking out the area.
Those that decided to stay the extra night all met at 6:30 to head up to Avon Park to the Wild Turkey Tavern.
This is a place with real local flair. Limited menu but good food. Here some of us played darts, others played pool and others just chatted. Just before heading back to the hotel Bill McKenzie noticed that there are darts; wonder what he thought the "pointed objects with tail-feathers" were earlier will never be known. He decided to challenge Buzz. Now Buzz hasn't played darts in years; I mean I sent him on a mission just to find the darts to bring and that was a challenge. I don't think these darts have been used for years. Anyway, Bill comes up with a game he made up and the challenge is on. Of course Bill, "Mr. Competitive" is feeling pretty good; after all, it's his made-up game. He gets up and shoots all these darts and is feeling pretty good about himself. Well, Mr. Buzz gets up, laughing and joking, not a care in the world (it's just a game) and he is just having a good ole time. All of a sudden he is just hitting the numbers he is supposed to hit. Now, ole Mr. Competitive a.k.a. Bill is starting to worry. He asked me if Buzz use to be on a team, how often does he play, etc, etc. He is taking this 'way too seriously. Buzz continues to hit all the right plays and Bill starts to sweat. Finally Buzz misses his number and Bill takes a deep breath. Now the other side of Bill rears its ugly head; this is the one that goes to the line, doesn't say a word (even though everyone is still trying to talk and joke to him). You would have thought his life was on the line. He focuses on each and every throw taking what seems to be an eternity to aim. This compared to Buzz's style of just picking up the dart and throwing is amazing. He is REALLY SERIOUS!!! I mean isn't this suppose to be fun? While Bill is trying to win Buzz just continues to joke and mentions something about hitting him somewhere with his shoe. Well, nothing gets Bill to lose his focus and, after wiping the beads of sweat from his forehead, he pulls off the win. Way to go Bill! Little did he realize that Buzz was going to be a real challenge. But it's just a game, right? Right?
Now it was back to the Chateau Elan and bed for us. We were told that some die-hards stayed up late. Many of the last souls met for breakfast at the Sebring Diner and then left for home. I know that we enjoyed the rally and from the response that we got from many of the participants they did too.
We've already started to think of places, routes and clues for next year. It will definitely be new and different. Hope to see you then!