This trip was a curious one.
When I returned from Greece (the first time), I was kicking and screaming.
When I returned from Greece (the second time), I did so begrudgingly.
When I returned from my working holiday in New Zealand, I experienced culture shock. (People at LAX were not as “No worries, mate!” as everyone in New Zealand and Australia.)
But when I returned from this worldwide venture, I could have knelt down and kissed the soil. I was back! To America! Where everybody knows my name!
I’m guessing that’s not what the organizers had in mind, trying to widen our horizons and all that, but man–it sure feels good to be home. We packed so much into three weeks that I feel like I’ve been away for a year. Seriously. A year.
I think I need a really good nap right about now.
But no rest for the weary! Scavenge, monkeys, scavenge till you die!*
(I will say that we arrived Friday night, 8pm-ish, and were given the rest of the night off. Hallelujah! But I 911’d my Greek friend Nikitas for dinner, and off we went until I fell asleep in my tiramisu. It occurred to me at one point that I’d been soaking in an Icelandic spa at the start of the day, and now here I was at an Italian restaurant with my Greek friend speaking to a Serbian waitress in New York City at 10:00 at night. What an interesting day.)
*Despite the fact that Bill, the organizer, calls himself “The Ringmaster,” he has not yet addressed us as monkeys.
Day 23: The Grande Finale
At this point I don’t think anyone was excited to scavenge. Maybe I’m wrong, but one team straight up didn’t show up at the 8:00 a.m. meeting to receive the scavenge booklets, so…
Mark took the lead on this one. He looked things over. He happened to know where a lot of things were. He gave me a general idea. I basically said yay or nay. And then we put on our walking shoes and hit the streets (final step count: 32, 199 –but this was on Icelandic time, and didn’t account for 6pm onward).
Our first destination (after a quick-ish stop at Grand Central Station, grabbing a New York Bagel, etc.) was the new One World Trade Center. We wanted to be the first ones there because 100 points went to the first team to make it to the highest viewing point in the city.
The entrance fee was $39. It felt a little steep, but we’re so entrenched in debt, it didn’t matter. This was something that seemed worthwhile given that my last trip to the top of the World Trade Center was in January of 2001.
And Oh. My. Word. What an experience. It was my Joyful moment of the day. You can follow that link to see the elevator video and get my full write-up, but essentially: it was one of the best things we did the entire trip. I was overcome with a sense of pride in all that America is and was and has stood for, and it was such a welcoming place, a high-tech experience, and a powerful memorial. I recommend anyone visiting New York City to go there, and to also take a minute to stand at the “Footprints” below, where the original towers once stood.
Other things we did:
Took the Staten Island Ferry (50 pts) and snapped a photo of Lady Liberty.
Ate some dim-sum in Chinatown (35 + 20 pts) and some pizza in Little Italy (25 pts).
And of course, we walked the Brooklyn Bridge (50 pts).
We found it rather poetic that we started the trip by walking on the Golden Gate Bridge, and ended the trip by walked on the Brooklyn Bridge.
At 4:00 p.m. we had our final check-in.
Mark and I were late, just shy of sprinting to the final gathering, much like our first check-in in San Francisco. I suppose we’ve truly come full circle.
Winners were announced before dinner.
3rd place: SLO Folks, Tom and Paula, who are SO AWESOME I WANT TO BE THEIR BFF. (We didn’t get a picture of them, though, because of angling. But here’s a photo from dinner of me and Paula, because I made her sit next to me.)
2nd place: our good friends, soon to be newlyweds, and totally deserving TSA Pre-Check Yourself
and 1st place: father-daughter Team Ying (14 year old FTW)
And there you have it, my friends. The Global Scavenger Hunt coming to a close.
I’m not finished talking about it. There will be another post–my retrospect, as it were–but for now, I’ll leave you with some final words from Team Thundersnow.