Posts Tagged ‘excerpt’
We happened to be riding the ferry with the mayor of a neighboring town – a nice young guy with slicked back hair who looked a lot like Gavin Newsome, San Francisco’s mayor.
Gavin took a look at our clue and told us the “World of Ocean” in the clue was referring to Ocean World, one of Manly’s main attractions, and “7 miles from Sydney and 1000 miles from care” was a reference to Manly itself, which is where we were headed.
“Ocean World is not far from the dock,” Gavin said. “When you get off the ferry, you’re going to want to take a left and head down the beach. It’s a quick run up the coast. You can’t miss it.”
“Great, more running,” Zev said.
“Get used to it,” I told him. “It’s a race.”
“Don’t remind me.”
Thankfully, this run was quicker than the one to the ship. We found the cluebox right where the Mayor had said it would be – right by the entrance to Ocean World.
Race Rules stated that we each needed to do 5 Roadblocks by the time the last leg rolled around, assuming we made it that far. We had decided beforehand that I’d start things off, especially if it was a swimming challenge, which it sounded like this was.
“You do it,” Zev said.
“I’ll do it,” I announced as I ripped open the rest of the clue.
I was to head into Ocean World and SCUBA dive in a shark tank, where I would have to look for a compass.
As I scrambled to the changing area, we saw teams from the 1st plane just leaving the challenge, which was good news – we weren’t far behind.
I quickly changed into my wetsuit and climbed down into a shallow wading pool, where an instructor was waiting to give me a crash course in SCUBA diving. I had never done it before, mostly out of fear. There was no time for that now.
The teacher was nice and reassuring, which put me at ease, which is exactly where I needed to be to deal with the initial shock of an extended period of underwater breathing. It does not come naturally – to me anyway – and was not easy to get used to.
I realized pretty quickly that that staying calm and focusing on my breathing was the key. If you don’t stay calm, you might quickly find yourself panicking, and panic leads to more panic, which is not a good path to go down when you’re underwater with sharks all around you.
So as I lowered myself into the main tank I put the sharks and stingrays out of my mind and thought only about the in… out…. of my breathing, and my search for this compass I was supposed to be looking for, which I was told I would know when I saw.
It took a few seconds to get my bearings.
I let myself sink to the bottom and started to explore the sand on the floor of the tank with my fingers, thinking the compass was probably small and might be buried… but the sand looked like as though it had already been combed-through by everyone else.
I decided to find a place in the tank that others might not have wanted to check out for whatever reason. In general on The Race, it pays to go the way your gut tells you not to. “They” know what your gut is going to do before you do, and they count on it.
I need unexplored territory. But where?
I stopped and looked around. There was a tunnel running down the middle of the tank that looked tough and uninviting to climb over.
I moved to the tunnel and found that a net had been laid over one part to make it easier to climb, so I reached up, grabbed hold, and started to make my way over it.
After a slight struggle, I was on the other side.
I made my way towards the far end, into a dark, nearly pitch-black corner, which felt exactly like the less-explored area I was looking for.
Sure enough, there in the corner, leaning up against a wall, was a big, golden compass.
I thought about celebrating, but I was using my mouth for breathing, so I couldn’t yell like I wanted to just yet.
Don’t drown. This isn’t the time.
I grabbed the compass, tucked it under my arm, and starting making my way back across the tunnel, trying not to let my excitement interrupt my air intake.
It was a little tough to get back over the tunnel with the heavy compass in my hands, but I managed by tossing it out in front of me in the water a little and chasing it up and over the glass. Out of the corner of my eye I caught Zev through the window below me pumping his fist, and I answered with one of my own – but I had to check myself.
Stay focused on the breathing. In… out… and ignore the sharks.
When I surfaced back in the instruction pool, I finally let out the yell of excitement that had been building inside of me. A lot of things were going through me – I was pumped to have found the compass, happy to have successfully SCUBA dove for the first time, and just generally thrilled to be back on The Race again and living in the moment.
“Yeah!” I shouted again.
It was understandable. I hadn’t been far from that myself when I first went under.
“Just breathe,” I told her, giving her a reassuring rub on the back. “That’s the most important thing.”
I’m not sure she heard me, but I didn’t stick around to find out. I climbed out of the tank and moved to the changing room, ready to move on.
After The Pacemaker delay, we assumed we were about an hour behind the 1st flight.
Our clue told us to “TAKE IN A SOUTHERN SWAN ON THE ROCKS” to receive our next clue. It sounded like a drink, which we could all have used right about then, but a little research in LAX on a nice lady’s iphone had told us – and all the rest of the teams, unfortunately – that “The Southern Swan” was in fact a tall ship, and “The Rocks” was an area on Sydney Harbor.
We had to take a train from the airport into central Sydney, so we all sprinted through the airport to the below-ground metro.
We were on the 2nd train with the Cheerleaders, Kynt & Vyxsin, and Luke & Margie – but the doors closed just before Ron & Christina could get on, which didn’t upset us. It’s a game of inches sometimes.
Mike and Mel and the Cowboys would be with Ron & Christina bringing up the rear on the third train.
We got off the train at Circular Quay (pronounced “Key”) Station, which was right on the harbor, and ran along the water as some local Aussies had instructed us to do when we asked them for help on the plane.
On The Race you’re always looking for extra info, and the plane is a great place to get it.
As we ran up the harbor we passed the Globetrotters coming back the other way with a clue in their hands, which meant they had already found the ship, so we knew we were headed in the right direction.
It wasn’t a long run, but we had been on a plane for 20 hours and with the heavy bags it was easy to get tired quickly.
Zev did. Alarmingly so.
We had only been running for a few minutes, and he was lagging.
“Come on, bud. We’re just getting started here,” I said, trying to pump him up and keep pace with Luke & Margie, who were holding hands as they ran, as is their way… Luke seems to think it helps to literally pull his mother along as she runs.
“Just keep running, buddy,” I implored Zev. “No walking.”
He tried his best, but he was out of breath and slowing down quickly. Thankfully Margie was slowing also, and Kynt & Vyxsin were no speedsters either, so we were able to keep up with the pack.
“Welcome aboard the Southern Swan,” he said, and handed us our clue.
ROUTE INFO: MAKE YOUR WAY TO A WORLD OF OCEAN, 7 MILES FROM SYDNEY AND 1000 MILES FROM CARE.
The sentence meant very little to us, but the clue also told us we could only get to wherever we were going by foot or by ferry, so it stood to reason that someone back at the ferry area – near the train entrance – would be able to steer us in the right direction.
Not knowing the ferry schedule, we had to assume the ferry could be leaving any second – you always have to assume the worst on The Race – so again I refused to let Zev walk, no matter how badly he wanted to.
“Give me your bag,” I said as I jogged along next to him.
“I’m good,” he responded, trying to tough it out.
“No walking. If you can’t do it, I’ll take it. But no walking. I don’t care who carries what.”
“Ok, take it.”
Moving quicker now, we made it back to the ferry area in good time, where we were told by a ticket-taker that the ferry we needed was the one to Manly, just a little down the harbor.
We had ten minutes to get there. We made it with a few to spare.
The Globetrotters were there still waiting to board, and the rest of the teams from our train into Sydney had all made it as well. Ron & Christina, Mel & Mike, and The Cowboys would have to catch the next ferry, half an hour behind us, while the teams from the second-now-first plane were God-only-knew how far ahead of us.
So as our ferry pushed off, we were comfortably bunched together with a handful of other teams right in the middle of the pack. A fine place to be.
The ferry was our first moment to catch our breath and take in the scenery. Sydney was actually quite beautiful – reminiscent of California port cities like San Diego and San Francisco, where much of the city is on the water and the sun shines often. Since our winter is their summer it was a beautiful November summer day, and boats dotted the basin as everyone was out taking advantage of the weather.
“Yo Zev, how you gonna let Justin carry your bag for you?” Flight Time asked, taking the down time to rib him a bit.
“I’m not Steve Prefontaine,” Zev said.