This was the 5th episode of this RV odyssey, with two more to go. I continue to be impressed by the entertainment value of Great American Road Trip. It's not for everyone, a bit hokey at times, but the intra- and inter-family interaction is very interesting to watch. I know that some RFF readers see it as bratty children having tantrums, and there is some of that, but on the whole I find the children to be more interesting than the adults.
On tonight's show the caravan left Williams AZ and went to Seligman AZ, a historic Route 66 throwback town. They were dining for lunch at the RoadKill Cafe. Now I distinctly heard Amie Pollard order quail. That is not road kill. You have to have armadillo or possum or something like that to qualify. I think the producers really let them off the hook. It would be edible and maybe even tasty to eat real roadkill, but eating quail is in a different dimension. I eat quail when available, usually at fancy restaurants for relatively high prices!
Next stop is Hoover Dam as the RVs crossed from Arizona into Nevada. Their instruction book directed them to the Observation Deck and who should appear but Reno Collier. He told them it was time for a King of the Road Challenge to mimic the power generation facilities of Hoover Dam on a smaller scale. There was a large box of pipe and fittings to connect it. It had to be threaded through specific holes in pillars on a concrete surface. When connected to reach a mini-turbine, the water flow would generate enough air to blow up an inflatable connected to the turbine. Quickest time to finish wins this challenge.
The Pollards go first and generally do a good job, helped by Ron being a building contractor. They finish in 20 minutes 33 seconds. The DiSalvatores are next and they had to redo some piping but did OK at 27 minutes 34 seconds. The running joke of this competition is that the Cootes always win the KOTR challenge and the Pollards always finish second. Keith Coote has his wife and kids as plumber's assitants. He got it done in 19 minutes 7 seconds and they win a 5th straight KOTR challenge. The bottom 2 teams are threatened with a potential End of the Road challenge, but Reno does not want to lose a team this episode, so there is none and no team will be eliminated this week.
The top 2 teams are told they will have a special challenge in Las Vegas and the winner will get a night in a huge suite at a resort hotel. The loser family will spend the night in their RV in the parking lot along with the DiSalvatores. Those teams are sent to the Theatre of the Rio Hotel and Reno shows them the "Disapperaing Rabbit" trick which he has been "practicing for 8 minutes". He does it well and then introduces the very famous Penn Jillette. A magic illusion is set up on the stage and Ron Pollard and Keith Coote are asked by Penn (who obviously has been briefed well) to come into the magic cage. They do and in 2 seconds the cage door is opened and out comes Teller. Ron and Keith have disappeared, off on a jaunt with Reno. Their families will have to find them. Clues will direct them to selected Las Vegas hotels until they find their dad. First family to do that will receive that bonus reward.
The families are given a postcad for Circus Circus and run to a waiting limo that takes them there. They see 2 clowns with balloons and they decide to pop the balloons and see what happens. What happens is the letter hidden in some balloons are available to put onto a tray. When you orgainze them properly, it spells the next hotel which is Exacalibur. Jennifer Coote and her kids have never been to Las Vegas before but they figured that out quickly. Amie Pollard and her kids had also never been to Las Vegas (nor had their husbands) and she had trouble deducing Excalibur. The Coote limo got stuck in heavy traffic that miraculouslky disappeared by the time the Pollards came through minutes later. At the Exaclibur, the families had to pull swords and save the ones with letters on them, which spell the name of the next hotel. It took minimal time for the Cootes to deduce Mandalay Bay, but when they left the Pollards were arriving. How could this be? Camera tricks? Or maybe producers who had rigged this for the Pollards to win it for a change. The Pollards were primed for Mandalay Bay, which they had just passed on the way to the Excalibur. They pulled even to the Coote limo on the way there. That would not happen in real life, so I assume it was more producer tricks. So both teams arrive at Mandalay Bay at the same time. My goodness, have we morphed into Hell's Kitchen for a stage managed finish? Yes, I think so. The Cootes and Pollards are shown searching the 25th floor for room 25001. I guess that floor was so huge that the correct path there was not obvious. Who should arrive first? You know it will be the Pollards for their first (and maybe last) win over the Cootes. The Cootes faked taking the loss hard. The Pollards are magnanimous in victory and offer for the other families to stay with them in the palatial suite(it may have been big enough for 12 people plus a few cameramen). The Cootes reject their offer and the DiSalvatores accept it. They join the Pollards for champagne, wine, who knows what else and a fine meal that was set up. The Pollards are also given $500 cash spending money.
I liked this episode better than any other so far. On interesting fact about route 66 is that it never went into Nevada at all. It followed I40 west until intersecting with I15 in Barstow. It then follows I15 to I215 to I210 and then out to the Will Rogers Monument in Santa Monica off I10. One potential detour for the next episode is Death Valley National Park, which is a bit north of that route but probably the most interesting thing anywhere near it.