Return to The Amazing Kitten Race Episode Twelve, Part One

The Amazing Kitten Race

Author: watson (additional snarkage by Carleen)
Rating: Episodes are PG-13, Recaps and Behind-the-scenes are R or more.
Disclaimer: BtVS characters, concepts and dialog belong to Mutant Enemy, The WB, UPN and others. The Amazing Race belongs to CBS, Amazing Race Productions Inc, Touchstone Television Productions Inc, Jerry Bruckheimer Productions and others.
Thanks: Car of course, for beta-ing and piling on the snark
Notes: We don't often see the actual beta process in fics (except in the Beta Pens section), but all fics come to us already beta'ed and corrected. As a departure from norm, and to show you an actual example of how brain-sharing work, we're including the corrections and stuff. Besides, it goes to show how few typos I have. Corrections are in strike-through, as opposed to Car's snarkage, which are {pink and in curly brackets} - No, I'm NOT having the parentheses vs brackets debate, got that?

Episode recap

Part 1

I'm getting nostalgic already. Phil is on the screen and I'm tearing up cos it's the last time this Race he will be doing introductions. I grab a handful of napkins from the bar, I know I'll be needing them, cos it's going to be an emotional ride. {**As long as you’re grabbing things, get me another beer…I need something to get me through the rest of this.**}

Phil reminds us that we're in Hokkaido, where the natural beauty is world famous. I wonder if he has a different interpretation of 'natural' as I do, cos most of the beauty of the Hokkaido countryside seems to be cultivated, with planted lavender fields and wheat fields and muchly human touch. But it's the last time this Race, so I'm not snarking on yummy Phil. {**You won’t, but I will. I wonder how much hair gel Philly-boy used to get that “natural” look this morning.**}

I pause for a moment to take stock of the final three teams. Interestingly, we have a mixed gender / race team, an all-male team and an all-female team. We've never had this combination in the final three. The last 3 TARs had heterosexual couples in the final three. Good for diversity stats. {**Oh, anything for the numbers!**}

12.13am. Efficiency, in tight, white outfits that totally bring out their muscle tones and curvy bits, {**Mmmmm…Faith’s curvy bits. This is a good day**} rip the clue for the last time and reveal that they are to make their way to Victoria BC, pick up an Amazing Car and drive 10 miles to Butchart Gardens where the next clue will be found next to a 'Karen Blixen'. It's neat, to tie it up with a name from a previous leg, but what is a 'Karen Blixen'?

Phil to the rescue, explaining that 'Karen Blixen' is a species of white rose, one of 250 types found at the world-renowned Butchart Gardens, which is 101 years old, occupies 55 acres with 400,000 flowers, and attracts over 1 million visitors a year. {**Christ on a crutch, what is with the numbers?**} Yes, all that information in one breath. He rocks. {**Should that last sentence read “He is a rock”?**}

They run off towards the train station, voicing over that they realize how isolated the countryside is, especially with the lack of taxis, but it's only a couple of miles to the train station and they're perfectly able to jog there.

"The first train to leave Bibaushi is 6.34am, everyone will get on that one, we have 6 hours to the station," Robin says. Let's hope this is the only bunching we will have (though I'm not holding my breath). {**Please don’t. You’re already an interesting shade from all the martinis.**}

On paper, Faith & Robin are the team most likely to arrive at the finish line first. They have been consistent, physically strong, and haven't made any glaring mistakes. They have a tendency of not aggressively working the travel arrangements, so let's see how that pans out.

12.28am. R.Randy puzzle over the flower clue too. In the spirit of describing their clothing (this is the last leg after all), I realize I haven't noticed what they wear at all throughout the race. Now that I'm making an effort, I know why, cos they're wearing clothing that are simply non-descript. Some short-sleeved shirts and pants, the sort you get at Woolworth's. Nothing worth noticing.

Rupert interviews that he is one of the oldest racer {**racers**} to be in the final three (that's true, only Asshat Ian from TAR3 is older) but he is psyched up and not feeling his age. He says that he counts himself lucky to be given the opportunity to bond with his son; and how he has enjoyed the company of the other teams. He is sincere when he says that, and I admire his graciousness.

This is my Team Who of the race. All of a sudden, they're in second position at the start of the final leg, having come 1-1-2-2 in the last 4 pitstops. They haven't done anything spectacular, or spectacularly wrong, Rupert has mainly carried this team with a mix of intellect and willingness to take calculated risks. {**He’s gotta do something to make up for Mr. Hollow Cheeks.**} I won't be surprised if they cross the finish line first, I might stifle a yawn, but I'll clap along politely.

12.40am. Lovebirds. Now, this is clothing I want to describe. No rojak clothing, though I would have chuckled, no T-shirts with numbers on them, instead they're in the cutest olive green T-shirts with a koala print on the front and koala footprints printed on the back, that they must have bought from Taronga Zoo. Couples wearing the same clothing usually make me cringe, but Lovebirds can do no wrong, and they're so damn cute in those T-shirts. {**C’mon…that’s it? How do they fit? Are they tight? How tight? And where are they tight? Can you tell the temperature?**}

They interview that they were told they are the highest placed all-female team, beating the Bowling Moms who came 4th in TAR5. Whoo-hoo! They say that although it's a honor, they try not to think about things like that, cos it's hard to give a good response apart from "it's true, we're an all-female team." I crack up at the subtle humor. [** I want them to add a "so what" at the end, how awesome will that be? Love, your gf who occasionally can come up with a witticism. **]

They share that they're already happy about coming on the race, because they achieved what they wanted to do, which is to become closer to each other. My eyes mist up as they share a look and a little smooch on the cheeks. Awwww. They get my Aren't They the Cutest Pair Ever Award.

I want them to win, even though their record suggests that they're more likely to come in second or third. They have been the team most successful in getting better travel arrangements, even though this Race hasn't been that difficult in that respect anyway (uh oh, famous last words!). Task-wise, they've done okay, again not spectacular. {**Not spectacular? Don’t you remember the Zorb? Or Super-Girl and Lara Croft? If that wasn’t spectacular, then I’m straight. Pardon me while I bask in the memories and drool a bit.**}

I can see they're excited. {**So the t-shirts are tight! I’m sitting in a puddle of drool…among other things.**} Willow absolutely beams as she reads the clue and count out the $380 they have for this leg.

Final word about the three teams. This is the first time since TAR1 that I have a final three where I'll be satisfied regardless of who wins. I have my favorite, but if the athletes or the professor & son win, I'll raise my martini glass and salute them all the same. I know from painful experience how the final outcome can be scuppered by a lying American Airlines agent, an incompetent Miami taxi driver, or just fog, so I'm trying to be as open minded as I can.

To their credit, this Race has been run cleanly, and mostly with respect. No Ugly Americans, no Her Royal Assness Princess Tantrums, no Screeching Banshees, for which I'm grateful. Surprisingly few villains that the Amazing Editors could focus on, only Snyder and Riley fit the bill. I can argue the teams are a little meh and unspectacular, it seems to be a recurring theme this Race. Well, I can argue, but I won't. {**Now there’s a first. Someone call Ripley’s!**}

Morning. The sun peeps over the rolling hills of the Hokkaido countryside. Three teams at a tiny railway station, the type that has one hut that serves as ticket office and waiting area. In contrast to the last Pitstop, they are in good spirits and friendly towards each other. They're congratulating each other on getting this far and saying may the best team win. Next they'll be snuggling up in their warm blankets by the fire, singing kumbaya and sharing water pipes. {**Oooohhhh snuggling…in tight t-shirts. More drool.**} Yeah, dude, like, dude.

[** remember the postcard from the guy who moved to California that went:


Dude. Dude? Dude!

- dude

courtesy etherfarm. Love, your loving dude. **]

Right on time at 6.34am, the train arrives and teams pile in. Randy expositions that the journey will take 3 hr 20 min and they will reach Sapporo airport at 9.54am. {**Well, well…Hollow Cheeks can think with his brain.**}

"I wish we weren't so in the middle of nowhere, we had 6 hours to kill and nothing to do. We didn't come to the station straight-away, we stayed at the pension trying to look for flight information, but they didn't have internet and no one available on the phone," Willow bemoans.

"Will was too spazzed out to sleep, hopefully she can get some rest on the train," Tara sooths. {**I’d be spazzed without internet too!**}

On the dot of 9.54am, the train arrives at Chitose airport, it's a toss up between the Swiss or the Japanese as the nation most punctual.

Run! Run! Run! Up the escalator, loudly shouting "excuse me," that's Faith & Robin. They head straight for the JAL counter, immediately in front when they hit the top of the escalator. "It's an emergency!" they shout. I never like that, none of the "I have a sick child/mother/goldfish" that Racers have spewed over the years is palatable to my stomach. If TAR keeps scores, this will earn deduction points for Efficiency.

The ever so polite, but stickler for rules, ticket agent lady informs Efficiency that the earliest flight out of Chitose to Victoria is at 10.30am. She looks at her watch repeatedly and asks her supervisor in rapid-fire Japanese, but she regrets to inform that she's unable to let them on the flight, because the gate is about to close.

Efficiency beg and beg, but as many a Racer have learnt, Japanese bureaucracy is as immobile as Mohammed's mountain. [** or Bill Clinton proclaiming "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." Love, your not politically minded gf. **] {**Or Michael Jackson insisting he’s not a white woman.**}

In a rare flash of compassion, she books them on the 10.40am flight via Osaka (Kansai) and Vancouver, this flight has been delayed till 10.55am, so they have time to run to the gate.

My EEFPs, having done the research, helpfully detail the route:

  • Chitose 10.40am --> Kansai 12.45pm on JL2502
  • Kansai 4.30pm --> Vancouver 10.00am on AC0036
  • Vancouver 11.00am --> Victoria 11.26am on AC8063

R.Randy meanwhile, is at the next counter along, which is the ANA counter. They find a 12.35pm flight via Tokyo that connects to Seattle. At Seattle they have a short window to transfer to an Alaska flight that takes them to Victoria at 11am. They ask the agent to hold the tickets then run over to the JAL counter, where Efficiency are just finishing. The compassionate JAL lady tells them about the Osaka flight, but they compare arrival times at Victoria, and decline the offer. They look smug as they go back to the ANA counter. {**Okay, really, when don’t these two look smug?**}

"Sometimes it's not the earliest departing flight, with a complicated flight plan like this one, it's essential to be thorough," Rupert explains.

Thanks, EEFPs:

  • Chitose 12.35pm --> Tokyo 2.05pm on NH3124
  • Tokyo 5.25pm --> Seattle 10.05am on UA876
  • Seattle 10.25am --> Victoria 11.00am on AS2078

They have reason to be smug, but 20 minutes' transfer time at Seattle, that's cutting it very fine. If they miss the connection, they have to trek back up to Vancouver and won't reach Victoria till after 1pm.

Lovebirds are at the International Flights Counter. They find out more or less the same information, including the short layover scenario at Seattle. They ask the agent how possible it is to catch that connection and she answers that it's not very feasible. She explains that United and Alaska are at different concourses at Seattle-Tacoma, and they won't make it before the gate closes.

They book themselves on the same Tokyo flight as R.Randy, but they connect to Vancouver and will be on the same flight as Efficiency.

My lovely EEFPs again:

  • Chitose 12.35pm --> Tokyo 2.05pm on NH3124
  • Tokyo 5.25pm --> Vancouver 10.20am on AC0004
  • Vancouver 11.00am --> Victoria 11.26am on AC8063

It's a tough decision, whether to take a risky flight. Perhaps at this late stage of the Race it is time for risk taking, but what are the possible repercussions if something goes wrong? There are no right or wrong in these scenarios.

Two Amazing Yellow lines make their way from Sapporo to Tokyo and Osaka.

At Tokyo, Lovebirds are having another debate on whether to switch to the Seattle flight. Willow is being logic girl.

"What we know: Rupert & Randy's arrival time in Victoria. What we don't know: Faith & Robin's though I'm almost certain they took the Osaka or Nagoya flight to Vancouver. If we keep with our original plan, we're neck and neck with Faith & Robin, if we change, we're competing for first place with Rupert & Randy. But, Tara, I'm too uncomfortable with the short connection."

"I don't like it either," Tara agrees.

"I'd rather try to make up 26 minutes than possibly losing 2 hours," Willow declared. {**Logical women are so HOT!**}

And so they board the 5.25pm Air Canada flight to Vancouver, where they will meet up with Efficiency.

Meanwhile, on the Seattle flight, R.Randy are turning on their charms. Randy flirts, sucks his cheeks in and general pretends to be a movie star. While Rupert does his distinguished gentleman act. What does that give them? An upgrade to first class and assurances that they'll be first off the plane, oh my god.

Do I wish Lovebirds are there too? May be. But that's the thing with hindsight, it's always right. If they stand by their decision not to take the risk (and they did, even at TARCon), I'll stand by their decisiveness. {**Can I just stand by them? Really REALLY close by them?**}

Victoria is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I have to tell you this. {**Why do you have to tell us this? Hmmmm?**}

11.10am. R.Randy lands. They find their car and Randy makes this stupid comment about how great it is to be back on home turf. He exposits that no, he has nothing against the great countries they've visited, but [insert lengthy back-pedaling speech that tries to be diplomatic about other countries but makes him look even more like an ass]. I cringe. {**But the real question is…was he sucking in his cheeks again? Okay, wait…that was a stupid question. We know the answer.**}

Rupert, who is driving, makes a face like he just ate a piece of spoiled meat. He's cringing too. Despite all the exultations these two throw at each other, sometimes I can tell why they haven't spoken to each other for so many years.

It's a ten mile drive from the airport to Butchart Gardens, which considering the distance they've traveled so far, is akin to a hop and a skip. They rush off to the gardens' information center, called cutely the Plant Identification Centre, to inquire about 'Karen Blixen'.

11.30am. Efficiency and Lovebirds land and easily find their cars. Efficiency are a little ahead, Robin exposits that they're neck and neck, even though they don't know where Rupert & Randy are. Faith, who has been fairly subdued this leg, yawns through his musings, and doesn't respond. Do I sense a little KF?

In the Lovebirds car, it's a different atmosphere. They're singing! Or rather, Tara is humming and Willow is trying valiantly to keep up. They're so cute. I'm so biased.

"I slept like a baby on the plane, I decided to not worry about Rupert & Randy and the Seattle flight. Plus I'm hopped up on chocolate and caffeine, so I'm feeling extremely energized," Willow is trying to bounce up and down in her seat at the back of the car. {**No comments about Willow’s bouncy bits? I’m disappointed.**}

"The amount of chocolate you had, I can't imagine your blood sugar level now," Tara laughs.

"Well, my body clock is all twitchy, and it's telling me I need sugar," Willow pouts.

"It's dinnertime in Japan, your body clock, if it's still on Japan time, should be telling you to have dinner, not chocolate," Tara deadpans.

"Chocolate is its own food group, I can have it for any meal," Willow continues her energetic good humor. It's infectious. {**Can I rub up against her so I can get the infection too?**}

As they arrive at the gardens, it starts raining but their energy level is still up. [** they say if the weather's lousy in BC, wait ten minutes. Love, your umbrella toting gf. **]

They too, find out about the need to proceed to the Rose Garden.

R.Randy are already there, searching through the 30,000 rose plants for the routemarker. Rupert, fittingly, is the one to spot it, and he retrieves the clue quickly. They are to drive 120 miles to the Mount Washington Alpine Resort, located at the center of Vancouver Island (not to be konfused with Mount Washington in NH). The next clue is at the bottom of the Eagle Chairlift.

Randy takes his turn at the wheel, and starts describing himself as a 'wicked bad-ass' driver, and snarling in what he thinks to be a bad-ass attitude. I roll my eyes. I was watching this sequence with Hera and she was like "What is he smoking?" It has taken me 12 episodes to grudgingly come to terms with this team, and he fucks it up in one fell swoop. Great. Just great. {**Oh, be honest. He fucked it up in Episode 1.**}

Back at the Rose Garden it's Lovebirds who find the clue next, they wisely hide the clue envelope and walk away from the area, away from sight from Efficiency. Normally such sneakiness will earn a mild eyeroll from me, but this is the final run, plus it's my favorite team *swoon*.

No matter, Efficiency find the clue just as Lovebirds drive off.

More Amazing Yellow lines trace the progress of the three cars. And then we're subjected to false tension as the editors try to make us think Lovebirds and Efficiency are having a race to the death. {**Can I be in charge of mouth-to-mouth for all the girls?**}

"Come on, Car. COME ON, Let's Go!" Tara urges. {*Oh yeah, baby!! Music to my ears! **} Heh, Duel shoutout. Well, except for Robin as scary truck driver and Tara doing an impression of Dennis Weaver, that's what the Amazing Editors are trying to emulate. Snerk.

After all that fake tension, it's still R.Randy in the lead. They reach the bottom of the chairlift and find the cluebox. It's a Detour. In this last Detour teams have to choose between Ride for a Million or Drive for a Million. In Ride, teams go horseback riding along 3 miles of marked trail in the mountains; the trails can be treacherous, but once the Racers master the horses they should finish quickly. In Drive, they play a round of disc golf, and have to card par or better on the par 31, 9-hole course. No particular skill (apart from knowing how to throw a frisbee) is needed for disc golf, but needing par doesn't leave room for errors.

Oh my. Talking about disc golf, I found this disc golf game, and I can't stop playing. Help! {**Have another martini…you’ll do better.**}

R.Randy decide to do horseback riding. "We've both ridden before, not very well, but should be sufficient for this task," Rupert states.

They mount their steeds {**Okay, again with the scary images - Rupert and Randy “mounting” - please don’t do that anymore.**} and are on their way gently. At first the going is tough, as they pick their way along a narrow, steep trail and with unfamiliar horses. Randy grunts his way and grips the reins tighter, {**No grunting from Randy! Eeewww!**} Rupert is a little more relaxed and naturally assumes the leader position, as he has been doing all Race. Randy has pulled some weight this Race, but nowhere near his father. Right now, he is channeling Princess Kendra, he is fidgeting uncomfortably and constantly adjusting and re-adjusting his straps. (No, not those straps, gutterbrain.) {**Steal my thunder, why dontcha!**} Rupert glances back and tells him to get his act together, oooh I love it when Rupert gets all ripper-y. {**At least there’s one butch player on their team.**}

Randy is like, his feet are uncomfortable, feels awkward. Not sure why he's making a big deal out of it, he needs to stop being such a prissy nancy-boy.

Meanwhile Efficiency arrive at the chairlift. They head for the stables immediately.

"Who wants to be throwing frisbees at wire baskets? That's so, so, frat house," Faith smirks.

"We used to play something similar, only we used scrunched up paper and trash cans," Robin grins.

They're astride their horses and trotting within minutes.

"Ride for a million bucks!" Faith does a little war cry. I wait for her to bring out the war paint and battle-axe. {**Bouncy bits! What about the bouncy bits? You’re losing your touch.**}

Lovebirds at the chairlift with the Detour clue. Willow's face blanches when she reads, and she looks at Tara with pleading in her eyes.

"I'm scared of horses. Seriously petrified. But we agreed on the drive up that we'd take the quickest tasks, whatever they might be and even if it was our greatest fears. And it turned out to be my greatest fear," Willow interviews.

"Will, you've bungy jumped, you've climbed up bamboo poles, you've stroked a baby leopard, you can ride a horse for 3 miles, I'll lead," Tara re-assures her.

"But ..." Willow spluttered.

"Sweetie, the horseback riding is quicker, if we do the disc golf we may fall further behind, we're in third place, we have our work cut out for us," Tara reasons.

"I could easily calculate in the wind coefficient and determine the correct degrees to tilt the disc and just the right amount of wrist flick that would be needed, it's not rocket science. We won't waste time on the disc golf ... please Tara?" Willow begs.

Tara, hands on hips, gives her a short silent stare.

Willow gulped visibly. "Horses then, But if I lose an arm, it's your fault, Missy."

"Sweetie, if you lose an arm, I will gladly give you one of mine... come on," Tara says as she points toward the horsie task and waits for Willow to walk ahead of her, so she can keep an eye on Willow and make sure she doesn't run away.

Why hello there, Take-charge Tara, I like. And dude, is it just me or does Willow look TOTALLY turned on right now? Guess that's one way to get her mind off horses. [** noooo, dude, you're not the only one. Love, your understanding gf. **] {**Take-charge Tara would turn me on.**}

Awww, when they get to the corral, Willow is still freaked, but with Tara's steady hand on her elbow and gentle guidance she climbs on the fence, and from there hops onto the horse. She's very tense, but Tara is as reassuring as, wow, she's a good rider, cos she leads both horses onto the trail and makes very good progress.

Say what you will about me being biased, but I'm seeing someone who has a very real fear, and the support she gets from her partner in overcoming this fear, it's admirable. Usually with fears like this and trying to overcome them, it's a matter of mental preparation and gearing up for the event. Willow has, what, 10 minutes preparation? And people question why they're my favorites? {**What people? Point me at ‘em. I’ll give them something to question!**}

R.Randy are at the end of the trail and they get their next clue, it tells them to fly to Sunnydale CA, the FINAL DESTINATION of the Race. They are to locate the Hellmouth and stake some vampires. Oh boy. Stake some vampires? WTF? {**That’s kinda…kinky. Can they show that on prime time TV?**}

They hurry back to their car. "Back to Victoria," Randy says.

Efficiency reach the end of the trail and get the same clue. "Oh, I'd like to kill me some of those bloodsuckers. Wicked," Faith says.

"Let's go then, killer," Robin says.

Not long afterwards, Lovebirds arrive at the marker, with a less uptight, but still wigged Willow led by a very assuring Tara. Tara helps her partner off and Willow quickly scampers away from the horses. Poor Willow, she looks like she has been walking through hell. {**She ain’t seen nuthin’ yet! Look out Sunnydale!**}

They find the Sunnydale clue and head back to their car. When they are almost at their car, Willow grabs Tara's hand and pulls her towards the Lodge office.

"Let's check out the ferries, we can drive across to the mainland and head directly towards Vancouver," she explains. Oh, she is a sharp one, recovering so quickly after having the bejeezus scared out of her.

They grab timetables from the front desk and find their car. Tara takes the driving while Willow checks the timetables. "Willow is better and faster at research than me, we also have an Air Canada timetable from the airport counter, she'll find the best route," Tara beams, high on love. She reaches her hand behind to grasp Willow's.

Willow grins like an idiot and reaches out to squeeze Tara's hand. These two are as twitterpated as lovesick teenagers. Hee. [** I have to give you points (and hugs and kisses) for using twitterpated. I can be nice. Love, your very fair gf. **] {**You’re too nice, watty’s gf…"twitterpated" is sooooo last decade.**}

"Timing isn't right, for the ferries. It's better to go by air, there's a flight every hour on the hour to Vancouver, we can find flights to California from there," Willow says after a while.

"You ever visited Sunnydale?" Tara asks.

"No, but I know what the Hellmouth is, it's an amusement park, horror themed, with monsters and what-nots," Willow answers.

She voices-over that she is the only Californian in the final three but as she hasn't visited Sunnydale she doesn't know if it'll be an advantage or not. Every little helps, she says at the end.

Phil appears and I discretely wipe drool off the corner of my mouth. {**Discretely? Puhlease! Here, let me hand you this double-terry, super-sized bath towel.**} He introduces the Sunnydale Scary Monster Amusement Park, where rides and games feature monsters and demons. In this task, teams have to play a type of laser tag, aka Q-zar, where they are in pursuit of a vampire through a dark maze and have to 'kill' the demon using a laser gun acting as stake.

A couple of Amazing Stand-in Models does the run, hide and stake routine and the whole thing looks superduper fun. The maze has a warehouse-y atmosphere to it, with obstacles, corners, walls, nets and walkways. It feels like the lair in Blade Trinity. {**Still can’t believe they made that movie.**}

Phil, in a black leather jacket that makes me want to reach into the screen and grab it, {**Hands! Hands!**} explains that each team will be assigned a vampire to hunt and stake. After they dispatch their vampire, they will get the next clue.

Amazing Yellow Lines trace the progress of the Amazing Cars down the length of Vancouver Island. Randy exposits that ETA at the airport will be past 8pm. It's totally dark when they arrive, Randy again helpfully is the talking human clock as he chimes "8.15" when they exit their car. {**Please don’t degrade Cogsworth by referring to Randy that way.**}

At the counter they're told the last plane to Vancouver leaves at 9pm, but there are no more connecting flights south that night. They purchase their ticket to Vancouver and decide to work the airport when they get there.

Efficiency and Lovebirds arrive almost simultaneously. They share a small wave to each other at the carpark entrance and Robin even has the courtesy to let Tara go first past the barrier. Two observations: 1) Tara must have hauled ass driving down, cos they left Mount Washington behind Efficiency; 2) Tara really hauled ass driving down, cos Robin is a "wicked, bad-ass" driver, as Randy will say. {**Less talk about Robin’s ass, and more about Tara’s, please.**}

Everybody get on the 9pm Vancouver flight.

At Vancouver airport, the teams work to secure flights to Sunnydale.

"There are no direct flights, so we have to find the best connection. And without letting the other teams know what you're doing, it's very cloak and dagger," Rupert says.

Efficiency anchor themselves at the Air Canada desk. They find flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco. The LAX connection is tight, like 15 minutes tight, but it gets them to Sunnydale at 10.45am, if they miss it the next flight from LAX arrives at 12.25pm. The SFO connection is even more dramatic, they have one hour to make it by road to San Jose, arriving at Sunnydale at 11.34am.

They ask the desk agent if those are the earliest flights to arrive at Sunnydale, and he says yes. And they BELIEVE HIM ... without checking out other airlines. They get tickets for LAX, asking the agent to help guarantee they get on the connecting flight, even if they have to hold the plane. He sounds dubious, cos dude, a 15-minute connection? Are we, like, in the Twilight Zone now?

"It's very important," Faith says and blow me down with a feather if she's not using her deepest, lowest, most sultry voice, and looking like she's pushing her boobies out at him. If she weren't so, attractive and well endowed, and if I haven't been drooling all over her, I'd try to be indignant about flaunting sexuality, but she has the goods, so she can flaunt them all she wants. {**Can I get that towel back from you?**}

R.Randy are at another Air Canada desk and are told the same information. They have the presence of mind to ask the agent to check other airlines. The agent replies that she doesn't have the information, but she gives them the telephone number of the other airlines. Is she allowed to do that? Isn't that uncompetitive? Let's hope her boss doesn't get to know about this. [** or may be they are allowed to refer to other airlines, it's basically an oligopoly anyway. Love, your occasionally-able-to-spew-economics-talk gf. **]

Lovebirds are, quelle surprise, at a computer terminal. {**Smart chicks are so HOT! Can you sense a theme? **}

"I'm focusing on specific destinations from Vancouver. The earliest flight out in the general direction is Houston - but nothing from Houston to Sunnydale. The LA and SF fights look like our best bet," Willow explains while concentrating. She has like, 6 tabs open on her browser and taking notes with pencil and paper.

Tara looks over at the other teams. "They're at the Air Canada desk, they're probably looking at the same LA/SF flights," she reports.

"Oh! 6am departure for Salt Lake City on Delta ... no, no can do. Gets in at 12.46pm, that's even later than the second LA connection. Hmm, Phoenix ... Wait! Horizon Air via Seattle. Yes! Gets in at 10.25am. Now what's Horizon Air?" Willow continues her research. I'm very impressed.

Turns out Horizon Air is part of Alaska, the things I learn. I need to make a list, to keep track. Man, I need Willow's notebook.

  • Vancouver 6.50am --> Seattle 7.40am / 8am --> Sunnydale 10.25am on Alaska
  • Vancouver 7am --> LA 9.40am / 9.55am --> Sunnydale 10.45am on AC then UA
  • Vancouver 7.10am --> SF 9.27am / 10.30am --> Sunnydale 11.34am on AC then AA, with a change from SFO to SJC
  • Vancouver 6am --> Salt Lake 9.09am / 11.55am --> Sunnydale 12.46pmam {**Shouldn’t that be “pm”…cuz, otherwise…LONG ass flight!**} on Delta

    It's the final day. Final flight. Final everything. I'm getting sentimental. Today, one of these teams will go to bed rich and famous. Or so we're led to believe. Rich, yes. Famous? Don't know about that. I'd like to take Anya up on her offer, to calculate exactly how much the prize money they keep after taxes.

    Lovebirds are heading towards Seattle.

    "There was an unspoken understanding, the teams gave each other lots of room and didn't speak about where and when we're leaving in the morning. We boxed our backpacks to send home, we're traveling with the bare essentials," Tara explains as they board the Seattle flight in high spirits. I'm surprised R.Randy aren't on, thought they may have found it while calling the other airlines.

    At the Canada gate, both Efficiency and R.Randy are boarding the LAX flight. They wonder about Lovebirds, and I sense a little trepidation. {**Be afraid…be very afraid.**}

    "I thought Willow & Tara may be on the same flight, they're not even on the San Francisco flight, which leaves from the gate next to ours. I'm worried that they found a better flight that we completely overlooked," Rupert says with concern.

    "Right now our only concern is to get the connection at LA," Robin says.

    Cut to Seattle. Oh my god. The flight to Sunnydale is delayed by 45 minutes because of weather. {**FUCK! FUCK! DAMN! SPIT!**} Delayed! HOW CAN THEY DO THIS TO ME? And, weather? Gimme a break. How is it possible to put a time to weather conditions? Don't think we're stupid. Most of flight delays that are blamed on the weather are mechanical failure (they don't want you to think you're getting on a defective plane), crew schedules (the first officer got plastered again and was found with his hands firmly on the bosom of the chief cabin attendant) or air traffic (in airline terms bumper to bumper just doesn't work). ARGH! I'm frustrated, I have a bad feeling about this. {**Make that two of us. Pass me a martini.**}

    So my poor favorite team's lead is gone. Why does it always come down to the last flight on the Race? Colin & Christie got creamed by fog; Rob & Amber by a pilot who suddenly decided to re-open the doors even though the jetway had already retracted. I feel like hanging up my recapper hat, I'm that bitter. [** Hmm, the view here over by the Pyramids is super, I'll join you. Love, your gf who is as bitter. **]

    There's a glimmer of hope at LAX, where the Layover that Makes No Sense is underway. Efficiency and R.Randy charge out of the plane.

    Randy in a voice over explains that both teams left their packs on the plane, so they are not hindered by baggage. The crew also radioed ahead for them so the American flight doesn't leave without them.

    Now this is too fucking good to be true. The crew going so much out of their way to help passengers make a connection? Let's say the people making the connection are, well, Joe Bloggs and his wife, will they do the same? Of course not. CBS has such an airtight non-disclosure agreement that we'll never know, but with the show in its 8th season, a group of people including camera crew asking for a special favor? Yeah, that's incentive, they can look forward to telling their grandkids about that one time when they helped these famous (or is it infamous) people win loadsamoney. {**Smarmy Bastards! Someone get me another drink.**}

    They make the flight. I rest my case.

    At Sunnydale they hop into taxis and head towards the Hellmouth, which apparently is located where the high school used to be. So they replaced a high school with an amusement park, nice (not).

    R.Randy reach the park first and head towards the vampire slaying maze. They're kitted up in vests with laser sensors and a stake-gun. They head towards a Matrix-like screen where they watch a file of the 'vampire' they are 'hunting'. They get a ditzy blonde with a high voice and quick movements called Harmony.

    They are told they have 6 lives each and if they lose 6 lives, they have to go back to the control center to be 're-charged'. It's all very high tech and looks really fun. [** You said that already. I get the hint. Love, your playful gf. **] Randy says that he feels like James Bond, well, okay, has James Bond ever hunted vampires? He needs to get his superheroes right. {**Randy is shaken, not stirred…his brains, anyway.**}

    Efficiency arrive and get kitted. They get a fugly mofo by the name of Luke. They will be in the same game area as R.Randy but they are to only stake Luke.

    These games are taken very seriously. The elaborate setup, the settings, the atmosphere is very realistic. In other words, it does a good job of being the final task.

    The different styles of play come through. Rupert is cautious and prudent, constantly looking over his shoulders and around obstacles. Randy is much more impetuous, but like the rookie in a typical cop show, follows his leader well. Robin and Faith are pure gung-ho and displays very little vigilance; {**SEMI-COLON!**} Robin soon uses up his 6 lives and have to take the time-out.

    Meanwhile Lovebirds land and hustle into taxis. They update us that they're not sure where everybody else is. I'm all teary. This is so unfair.

    It's R.Randy who stake Vampire Harmony first, we get a funny onscreen special effect of her turning into bits of dust, well, it's just the image, the actress does a credible impression of shock and then falling to the floor. It would have been hilarious if I'm not so sad. They get the clue telling them to go to Musical Park and follow the flags to the finish line. {**Where the fuck is my martini?! If my glass is only half full, fill it up!**}

    Efficiency stake Vampire Luke and they're off. The Amazing Editors make it like they finish together, I can't blame them for trying to add tension. Man, I so don't want to sit through this.

    My last glimpse of my favorite team at a task. They look as cute as when they were at the SMUT Bunnies set, ah, good times, I smile. [** you mean drool. Love, your gf who is drooling with you. **] They apparently have to hunt a vampire called Drusilla. I snerk at the name, I don't know why, it just sounds like a crazy name. Or I'm still deep in Egypt. {**You’re deep in something. You should have worn boots.**}

    R.Randy cab. "Faster, please. Drive fast, I'll pay you," Randy urges his driver.

    Efficiency cab and they're doing the same, giving all their money to their driver so he steps on it. "If we catch up, we're going to win," Robin says.

    At the very pretty park, by the lake, at the bottom of a bridge, there's Phil on the Amazing Giant Bathmat. And in two lines leading up to the AGB, the other teams clapping, cheering, craning their necks.

    Last ditch effort to create suspense, as we get a Racer's view of getting out of a cab and running into the park. It's Rupert & Randy, they run up to Phil, and they win. {**@%&$*@&%*#(%!!!!! I NEED ANOTHER DRINK! MY iPOD FOR A DRINK!**} There are hugs and slaps on the back and handshakes and more hugs. Rupert gives a little speech about how much they have enjoyed the Race and it's been a privilege to meet everyone, he hopes that all Racers have learnt something about themselves, like him and his son. My bitterness is tempered by how articulate and gracious his acceptance speech is. {**Only because Randy kept his bleedin’ mouth shut!**}

    Faith & Robin run up, to much louder cheering. There are more hugs and backslaps and kisses. They congratulate Rupert & Randy for running a good race ("how the hell did they manage it," Robin is thinking to himself) and talk a little bit about how they showed that they are a good team. Faith even mumbles that she can see them looking at their future together. {**But he finishes quickly! She’d have a better future with me. I have stamina.**}

    Willow & Tara arrive and they get the loudest cheer, both from the Racers and in the bar. In fact, the cheer is so loud at the bar I could barely catch what they say. Phil asks if they achieved what they came to achieve and they're like yes to a million degree. They give us more reason to cheer cos they launch into a giant smooch. {**Details! DETAILS! How long did it last? Was there tongue? Did either of them cop a feel?**}

    Anyway, Rupert & Randy are the winners, and everyone pretends, albeit reluctantly, to be joyous. They haven't been bad racers, they just haven't been outstanding. But for a bad stroke of luck and last leg flight blues, the end result would have been so different.

    Yes I wanted the finish order to be reversed - my favorite team first, the most consistent team second and the inoffensive but boring team third. Well, c'est la vie. It wasn't the worst result that could have been (that would have been Snyder & Flutie, Buffy & Riley and April & Andrew), but it wasn't great either. {**It sucked. Just say it!**}

    And that's all I'll say on the subject. Until next season, take care. {**I need a drink.**}

    Useful links & information

    Butchart Gardens
    Pictures of Butchart Gardens
    Karen Blixen rose
    Mount Washington Alpine Resort
    What is disc golf?

    Continue to The Amazing Kitten Race Episode Twelve Extra

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