Two seasons ago The Amazing Race teams had the fortune or misfortune (depending on how you look at it) of traveling to Sri Lanka shortly before it was hit by the tsunami. This season the teams traveled to areas of Mississippi and Louisiana before they were hit by Hurricane Katrina. Once again, at the beginning of the episode, Phil Keoghan dedicates the show to the memory of the thousands of lives lost and friends and c0-workers that have spent their time rescuing others. It makes you wish the teams didn’t spend this whole leg on a two-day Southern cliché, from the world’s largest office chair to a stock car race track to trailer homes. It feels like traveling with John Travolta’s Michael character.
The Bransen family is the first to leave the U.S. Space and Rocket Center at 1:15 PM and are in search of the the largest office chair in the world in Anniston, Alabama. One member from every team will climb the chair to retrieve the next clue. Walter says every leg of the race he has been tired, but he thinks he’s doing okay. One of his daughters says every time she thinks of Alabama she thinks “ugly.” A nice representation of the Midwest she is.
The Linz family leaves at 1:18 PM. One of the brothers thinks the race is bringing them a good sense of family. Although never coming in first yet, he believes their time will come. The Schroeders leave fifteen minutes later, with Stass saying she is used to coming in first in everything she does. Confirming again where they are headed, they decide they are going to Anniston, as in Jennifer. The Godlewskis, aka the Desperate Housewives, leaving at 1:44, admit that sisters Sharon and Christine clash a lot. After the show I’m betting either they get it all worked out or never speak to each other again.
The Weavers leave nearly two hours later, at 3:34 PM, with a prayer. Mom Linda feels they are becoming more complete on this trip. Not with the last we saw of them on the last leg, but she says she prayed laying in bed last night and this feeling came over her. The Schroeders say they don’t like the Weavers, calling the family white trash and Linda a wicked witch. Char says she used to feel sorry for them because of the death of the father, but no longer, seeing them as evil. Stass says they want to be your friend, then they try to kill you.
The Paolos leave at 3:50 PM and are fighting yet again. Son Brian says his brother, DJ, and mom fight often because they are the same exact person. As the Gaghans leave at 3:53, Bill says he can’t fathom the mindset his nine-year-old daughter and twelve-year-old son have on the race. Carissa clears it up for him saying she is smart, funny and keeps the team going. When his kids notice the Paolos driving faster than them, Bill explains they may be faster, but they are taking an exit which will take them longer.
The Bransen family arrive at the large office chair first. They receive a clue sending them to Talladega, Alabama to find the International Sports Hall of Fame Museum. Walter tells his daughters Talladega is a huge stock car race track. Right away they state the obvious, that this won’t be good for the Florida family (the Weavers) having lost their dad not long ago on the Daytona race track.
The Linz family is the second to arrive at the office chair with one brother saying he wants to find a chair just one hair larger than this one. One of the other brothers asks if this is just so he can say he’s the biggest dork in the world. The Schroeders and Godlewskis reach the office chair shortly after.
The Bransens are the first to arrive at the museum and retrieve a clue sending them onto the race track, being told they must complete one lap. This won’t be in a stock car, though; each team will be riding a party bike. This is a bike with four seats and four sets of pedals on it. The team will ride the entire 2.6 miles around the track on these bikes. The Linz and Schroeder families arrive at the museum in second and third place.
After the Weavers reach the office chair and get the clue sending them to Talladega, one of the daughters says, “I really don’t want to go.” Mom Linda coaches, “Then don’t. Sit in the car.” Again, is this really a healthy trip for them? The Schroeders, pedaling around the track now, make fun of the Weavers and how they must be feeling coming here to Talladega. Remember, this is the same dad that on the first episode wished he had handicapped kids to push in front of the car when stuck in a traffic jam in New York City.
Bracing themselves enough to enter the museum, the Weavers can’t believe they are now being asked to go on the race track. Again the kids say they can’t, and that they don’t want to go there. Mom Linda reminds them that their daddy loved racing and says if he would be here now, he would encourage them to be strong.
The Bransens are the first done once again and receive a clue telling them to drive 260 miles to Hattiesburg, Mississippi where they must find the Southern Colonel. What they don’t know is that the Southern Colonel is a trailer home dealership. Who thought up the stops in this race?
Mark Schroeder stops to raise his seat on the bike, irritating his daughter, telling him every minute counts. Carissa Gaghan can’t reach the pedals on the bike so gets a free ride. There is lightening to the left of them as they finish and rush off. As the Paolos finish it’s looking even more ominous.
As the Linzes pass the Bransens, the Bransen sisters moon the Linz car. The Linzes then answer with their own moon. Both teams stop for help in a gas station and are the first to arrive at the trailer park. They find they will be spending the night in the trailer homes. Each one has a departure time posted on the inside of 7:20, 7:40 or 8:00. Once the teams pull a time ticket off, they have chosen which house they will spend the night in and which time they will leave the next morning.
The Schroeders stop the the sheriff to ask what the Southern Colonel is. When he tells them it is a trailer home park, they don’t believe him and keep driving around looking. The Godlewskis stop at what seemed to be an internet cafe and have the people there look it up for them. The Weavers stop at a store and ask. The Schroeders then look it up in a phone book at a gas station, and finally decide to believe the sheriff that it really is a trailer park. Stass yells at her dad for making that critical mistake.
The Linzes and Bransens find the two 7:20 departure times. As they walk around they joke about there being a full moon out tonight. The Godlewskis arrive to get a 7:40 departure, and the Weavers snap up the first departure they find, which is 8:00. The Gaghans find an 8:00 departure and decide to just pull it. Carissa thinks trailers are evil. The Schroeders settle on 8:00 as well, and arriving last, the Paolos pull the last time, 7:40. This is their first good luck of the race.
The next morning the teams find they will now race to Richland, Mississippi where they need to find a BP Gas Station with the address of 916 and find a man named Les. Walter wonders if he should give the Linzes a parting moonshot. As both these teams find Les right away, they receive a clue sending them to the Pelican State, the city of Madisonville; they will then need to find the Fairview Riverside State Park. They need to figure out on their own that the Pelican State is Louisiana.
The Godlewskis look and don’t see the 916 address on the BP. They pass it and figure the Paolos only stopped there because they needed something. Driving a little further and not finding it, they see this as a mistake and turn around. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to keep the sisters straight, which is which. As two of them argue, assumably the two that don’t get along, one complains the other always needs validation.
Carissa Gaghan entertains her family singing the “Where’s my lucky pen” song after her dad loses his. The Schroeders have no idea where Madisonville is and where the State Park is, which is funny since they are from Louisiana. Mark makes another critical error and says they don’t need to go any further south. He thinks they should continue on 20 West. The music tells us this means trouble. Later they find their mistake and turn around. Mark notices the irony in it that it’s a half hour away from their house and five minutes from the subdivision where he once worked.
The Linzes are first to the State Park and find a Detour – Work or Play. In Work teams will need to use a two-person hand saw to cut four 2″ diameter pieces off a log. In Play teams need to don period costumes on the riverboat and play a game of 21. They need to have all four members beat the dealer to win a game, and need to win three separate times. I’m thinking the Play would be much harder, as statistically it would take longer to do that than slice the log.
The Linzes opt to Play, as do the Bransens who arrive shortly after. The Paolos and Godlewskis are next to arrive and decide to do the Work. The Gaghans decide on Play, assumably thinking the logs would be too hard for the kids. The Linzes, not having any success with playing cards, switch up to the logs. I’m surprised they didn’t opt for this in the beginning, seeing as they definitely have the manpower to quickly slice up the logs.
Surprisingly enough, the first team to finish the Detour is none other than the Paolos. They finally put their arguing behind long enough to get serious and make good decisions. Their clue tells them to cross the world’s longest bridge across Lake Ponchartrain into New Orleans. They need to park their cars along Esplanade Avenue, and race through the French Quarter to Preservation Hall, the pit stop for this leg.
The The Bransens finally win at the card game and are right behind them. The Gaghans tire of the cards and move on to the logs. The kids attack one end of the log with the saw, and the parents the other. The kids have serious trouble with it, the saw bouncing all over the place, and the parent in me wonders why they are allowed to play with sharp objects.
The Weavers luck holds up, as they win three quick hands of cards. Maybe Dad is looking down on them. As they leave, they see the Schroeders just arriving and get excited knowing they have a big lead on them. The Gaghans are just finishing as the Schroeders board the riverboat to play cards. If I knew I was that far behind, I would trust my luck sawing logs before I hoped for luck in winning at cards with that type of odds. If it was that easy, everyone would be a millionaire leaving Las Vegas.
Driving to New Orleans, one of the Godlewski sisters thinks it would be better to leave their backpacks in the car and just run for Preservation Hall. Christine says she is not leaving her backpack behind. Sharon tries to explain they have to run around the entire French Quarter. Having been there, I can vouch for it being quite a trek; then again, it’s probably easier without a daquiri in your hand. Christine starts to cry at the thought, then says, “Thanks for making me cry, Guys!” Later she says crying is a release for her. If it’s a release, then don’t blame the others.
The Weaver family’s geography is failing them again. Previously they thought Washington, D.C. was in Washington state. Mom Linda refers to Lake Ponchartrain as one of the Great Lakes, prompting me to giggle. I checked with my twelve-year-old just to see his knowledge of the Great Lakes, and he knew it was “HOMES.” Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior. Maybe Linda thinks it’s HOPES; who knows.
The Bransens and Paolos are all in the French Quarter looking for Preservation Hall and are told it’s on the corner of Bourbon and St. Peters. One of the Paolo sons is finding his mom distracted, wandering around, and has to reel her back in. This leaves the Bransens to run into the courtyard at the Preservation Hall, taking first place for the second time in a row. Phil informs them they have won a Travelocity trip for four to Orlando and Universal’s two theme parks.
As the Paolos run in just behind to claim the number two spot, Tony hugs Walter Bransen, then Phil. You just have to love this guy. Phil notes how they were in last place at one time in the race and have moved up to second place. As the Linz family arrives, taking third place for this leg, Phil tells them he understands there was a moon out today. You just have to love Phil too.
The Gaghans and Weavers run in for fourth and fifth place. The drummer inside Preservation hall gives us a drum roll, and we see the Gaghans run in for sixth place. I must admit, I found Carissa and Billy Gaghan precocious at the beginning of the race, but they have grown on me. Especially Carissa; that girl has spunk.
This leaves the hometown team of The Schroeders to arrive in seventh place and be philiminated. I was hoping for a non-elimination leg for them, but it wasn’t to be. What irony for them to be taken out on a leg that centered around their home state and brought them back to their home town. Stepmom Char cries hysterically, and Mark admits he just couldn’t find that park. Stass says she loves her dad, but wishes he would have listened to her more. Mark does feel responsible seeing himself as the leader of the team.
The previews tells us we finally get to leave the United States next week. I know several fans are waiting for this, tiring of the tour of the United States. I have to admit, I have at times wished they had a little more excitement of different countries, but I enjoy the entertainment of the different family dynamics. And as a friend, Deb, pointed out on a message board recently, it’s still basically the same. We still have the unstable relationships, people that pray, people that complain, people that like everything, people that fight all the time, people that never fight at all, people that think they know everything and people that don’t know anything. In the end, that’s what the Race is for me. The relationships that dissolve and grow throughout the Race. I guess it just comes down to whether you watch for the people or the places.
Why do you watch TAR? The people or the places? Email me at LauraBelle@realityshack.com