Tuesday, November 03, 2009

"What the heck happened to the BasketCases?"

If that's what you, our loyal readers, have been thinking, well, we're not surprised. It's been over two weeks since our last post . . . a record!

And while we're not really supposed to tell you where we've been during that time, here's a little hint: Let's just say that during most of the last two weeks we've been "Racing" all over the place and it's been simply "Amazing!"

Anyway, in case you're interested, here's a recap of some of the places we've been and the people we've seen since we last checked in with you:

The picture on the left probably looks familiar. Yes, that's BWI Airport, the starting point for the first leg of the BCs' Amazing adventure.

Once we assembled with rest of the "tourists" at BWI, our "tour organizer" told us to travel by plane to Tel Aviv where we were instructed (again by our "tour organizer") to find a group of young female army recruits (easy enough to spot) and then provide their platoon leader the answer to the following question: "Name a famous basketball player from Ramat HaSharon who won an American National championship." While other teams, we mean tourists, ran off to find a computer to research this, we said, "Shay Doron, of course!" and the platoon leader handed us our next clue, we mean itinerary.

The instructions told us to travel by bus to Hertzeliya and find the gymnasium where the Raanana Hertzeliya team plays. Then we were to look for a young woman named Kristi sitting on the team bench. We were instructed to say to her, "Toliber, Holy Cow!" and she would hand us our next clue. Frankly, we almost didn't need a clue (except for the "Toliber" part) on this one. As soon as we walked into the gym, we turned to each other and said, "That's Kristi Toliver over there . . . Holy Cow!" But we did as instructed (giving Kristi a big "Hi" and a hug) and received our clue/instruction which turned out to be a Roadblock. (A Roadblock is a task that only one member of a team may perform.) In this Roadblock, one of us had to beat Kristi in a game of H-O-R-S-E. Oh, like that's gonna happen! Ha! Luckily the instructions also said that once you lose 5 consecutive games, Kristi will give you the next clue anyway. And even more lucky for the BCs, Kristi (recognizing the BCs from all those Rebounder socials and knowing we are Terps fans), took pity on us and took all her shots against BC Eileen backwards! Well, that shortened the game considerably (though she still made several shots!). After that, the clue she handed over sent us to the only high-rise hotel in Hertzeliya which was the pit-stop for the first leg of the race, we mean tour.

The next day we received instructions to return to Tel Aviv and fly by plane (no balloon girls are we!) to Bucharest, Romania. So we caught a flight on Czech Airlines, connecting through Prague, and arrived about 10 hours later. We found the clue box at the gate. The clue said to travel by bus to Targoviste and find the gymnasium for the city's women's professional basketball team.

Once there, the instructions said we were to find the 2005 Basketball MVP of the Maccabi Games, and she would give us the next clue. Now that might require a little homework for some teams, we mean tourists. But the BCs knew exactly who we'd be seeing and we couldn't be more excited! The bus trip from Bucharest to Targoviste took about an hour, but once there, thanks to directions from one of our fellow passengers, we found the gym very easily. As for finding the player . . . that took maybe 3 seconds! We immediately spotted Shay practicing at the free throw line, gave her a big hug, and she handed us the next clue. The clue said we were to travel by donkey (waiting for us outside the gym) to Chindra Tower, a famous structure built by Count Dracula. When we arrived we had to don black capes and fake fangs, then we had to climb the dark narrow winding staircase with only a single candle between us to light our way. When we reached the top and exited onto the roof, we then had to rappell down the side of the tower, donkey back to town, and find the hotel that served as the next pit stop. Simple!

The next morning, we repeated the bus trip back to Bucharest, and from there we flew on Alitalia to Venice, Italy. What a beautiful city! Unfortunately, we had little time for sightseeing. We immediately had to travel by water taxi to the canal landing closest to the Rialto Bridge. There, in an open air cafe, we were to find one of the 3 young ladies (among about 2 dozen patrons) who were members of Umana Reya Venezia, a professional women's basketball team in the city. Well, that was easy! They may have outfitted her with dark glasses and a floppy hat, but that didn't fool the BCs! There in the back supposedly incognito (Ha!) was Harp! After a shriek, a hug and a clue from Laura, the BCs (following instructions) dove off the landing, swam across the canal and proceeded on foot (and wet!) to the bus station where we caught the first bus to the small city of Schio, about 100 kilometers north-west of Venice.

Once in Schio, we had to find our way on foot to the gymnasium that serves as the home court of Familia Wuber Schio, a professional women's basketball team. There we were to find the player named Marissa icing her ankle on the bench while reading a copy of the Terrapin Times (international edition). Each team had to correctly answer a trivia question in order for her to give us the next clue. The question was "How many members of the starting line-up of the 2006 NCAA Women's D-I Basketball Champions had their numbers honored and have banners hanging in their University arena?" The clue said that if you gave an incorrect answer, your penalty was that you had to make 3 consecutive free throws before you could try again. Talk about E-Z! The BCs didn't have to attempt a single free throw. We simply opened one hand, flashing Riss 5 fingers. We got a big smile, a hug and our next clue. While other teams were busy at the charity stripe, the BCs were busy traveling by taxi to the famous (at least in Schio) Little Church of St. Mary, which was the pit stop for this leg of the race, uhh, tour.

The following morning we chose one of the Fiats provided by the tour organizer who instructed us to drive ourselves to Milan,about 170km away. Fortunately BC Eileen can drive a stick shift. Unfortunately, Italy is full of crazy drivers! What an adventure that turned out to be. But as adventures go, it was nothing compared to the culinary adventure that we found in the next clue upon our arrival in Milan. It was another Roadblock. This one required one of us (BC Judith) to consume a full plate of a classic Italian holiday dish, Zampone. It's a very "tasty" recipe that features lentils topped by a large pig's foot and is stuffed with ground pig snout and other delicacies thrown in for added flavor. Yummy!

After "lunch,"we were again headed to the airport, this time, to catch a flight to Madrid. Once there, we had to travel by taxi to the Metropolis Building where we'd find our next clue. From there, we were instructed to find the basketball court used by Rivas Ecopolis, a professional women's team in the city. The clue was very specific: we needed to be in the stands when the game tipped off at 8:00 that evening. It said that during the game we had to keep track of the points and rebounds of one Rivas Ecopolis player, Crystal Langhorne. Then, at the conclusion of the game, we were to give our total to the official scorekeeper. If correct, we received our next clue. This task wasn't easy. It was hard for the BCs to avoid getting caught up in the excitement of the game and just keep track of Lang's numbers! But we did it and got the clue, took a moment to say hello to Crystal, and then headed off in search of our tour's final pit stop elsewhere in Madrid.

This amazing adventure was nearing its conclusion, but before heading back to the good old USA, we had to face one final test. First, we had to fly to Paris. (It's a dirty job but someone has to do it!) Then we had to travel by bus or train to the suburb of La Courneuve, the home of a young member of the French National Basketball team, Diandra Tchatchouang. We had to find the school she attended, locate her former coach who had to teach us to say "Fear the Turtle" in French. Now this may not seem like a difficult task unless you are aware that BC Eileen suffers from FLD (foreign language dyslexia). It's a brain disorder that renders her virtually mute in non-English speaking countries. So this task took a while. But somehow, someway she pushed through and the team finally earned a pronunciation thumbs up. And then it was back to Charles DeGaulle airport to book a flight home.

We shouldn't tell you this, but we have a really hard time keeping secrets from our loyal readers, so what the heck: By time we boarded Air France for Dulles, there were only 3 teams left "touring." One, of course, was the BCs; one was a lady named Joanne P and her husband, a professor; and the third was a pair from Tennessee, Pat S and her son, Tyler.

We're not allowed to tell you which couple arrived back first. But we guess there's no harm in sharing with you that one of the 3 teams got delayed by Homeland Security upon entering the U.S. because one member of the team had an unfortunate "airport incident" on his record and was selected for additional screening; meanwhile another of the 3 teams was delayed entering the country by the Dept of Agriculture because of a not that long ago "close encounter" with a possibly rabid raccoon. This, of course, allowed one of the 3 teams to zip through Customs and on to their final destination -- the end of an amazing race, we mean whirlwind tour -- without interference. We're sorry we can't tell you which team made it to the mat first (you'll just have to wait until the show airs) . . . but Sharma, if you're reading this, the BCs may just want to up their Rebounder membership level to MVP next season. (We've recently come into a little money.)

So, loyal readers, while we've been lax in posting, it wasn't because we were ignoring you. As you can tell from our travelogue, we were pretty darn busy. But the good news is, we're baaaack! And the even better news is: so are the Terps! Their first exhibition game is tomorrow night, Wednesday, at 7 PM at Comcast against Bowie State. See ya there!


At 10:05 AM, Blogger JPNtheHUN said...

WOW! I am amazingly jealous.

At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

can i come next year

At 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I logged on to check my Basketcases after being away a week myself and didn't see an updated post!!! I was very, very concerned! My vacation, while not as exciting as yours, was pretty awesome too - the Olivia Halloween cruise which I won at a Mystics game! The cruise also coincided with my birthday!
Anyway, congrats on your amazing race and safe return! Really missed you.

At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Sharma said...

Yes, I am reading this; and you gals are already MVPs in my book.
See you at the game!

At 7:38 PM, Blogger fr mike said...

WOW! Welcome back! you are MVTs in my book

At 10:30 PM, Blogger xwomynjoc said...

I love that show almost as much as I love reading this blog. I so glad you both had such an "AMAZING" journey. Glad you're back and "Let's Get it Started"

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a trip report! Thanks for enlivening my cubicle life!

OT: If you've overcome your jet lag, you may want to consider catching the Rehoboth Beach Film Festival this weekend - they'll be showing Training Rules. That's the documentary about Rene Portland. It shows at 10 am on Friday and 7:20pm on Saturday.

Their website has info on cost and location.

At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

UHMM.. a Rebounder outing for next year?


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