DESERT: ARIZONA and CALIFORNIA
The opening music for this penultimate episode finally penetrated after not really noticing it for the first 6 episodes. It is classic 1950s music like the music from episodes of "Happy Days".
The first stop of the caravan is Boulder City NV. On the way Silvio promises Amy they will win the King of the Road (KOTR) challenge. The RVs have to drive in on a dirt road full of ruts to reach a bluff overlooking the countryside. The KOTR has triple zip lines, one for each competing family. The younger kids go against each other, the older kids go against each other, the moms do the same and finally the dads finish the competition (kind of like hitting cleanup in baseball). Each triplet takes the zip line and aims at targets with pictures of each of their family and of Reno (that's 5 total). Dropping balloons from above while moving on the zip line and hitting a circle that is most of the matching target with their team colors wins. Here goes:
Youngest Kids Blake DiSalvatore vs. Jake Coote vs. Ainslee Pollard;Blake demolishes the field with 2, Jake 1 Ainslee 1
Oldest Kids Mason DiSalvatore vs. Cassidy Coote vs. Aaron Pollard; Mason 1, Cassidy 1, Aaron 1
Mothers Amy DiSalvatore vs. Jennifer Coote vs. Amie Pollard; Zero hits for any of them
Dads Silvio DiSalvatore vs. Keith Coote vs. Ron Pollard; Silvio 1, Keith 0, Ron 0
Team Total DiSalvatore 4 Coote 2 Pollard 2
So Silvio was one-up on the other dads but it did not make a difference since his kids outscored the Coote and Pollard kids. I am going to guess that Mason is a big video game player, which has given him excellent hand/eye coordination.
So the DiSalvatores win one shot at King of the Road, with the crown and window sticker. Amy says "this is more significant than any of the prior 5 KOTR challenges." She is right because the DiSalvatores just won the right to compete in next weeks' finale. The other 2 families have face off in an End of the Road (EOTR) Challenge to determine who will compete against the Disalvatores and who will go home.
There is another dirt road to Oatman AZ with its ghost town and burros all over the place. The DiSalvatores are shown dining the the minimalist style of the local eatery there (not exactly las Vegas style) and the other 2 teams may have eaten in their RV or may have eaten before of after the DiSalvatores because there could not be more than one place to eat in Oatman. That eatery is known for its $55,000 is cash stapled to the walls, a tradition from mining days when out-of-luck prospectors could tap the "investment" they made in less lean times. Keith Coote bought a hat which was modernistic and weird. Amie Pollard got a coonskin cap and stated that "dead coons, dead Cootes... I want to make some Cootie Bootie." You can tell she is desperate given the track record of her family in finishing behind the Cootes every time except for the Las Vegas bonus. Keith says he will put his 9 year old Jake against 17 year old Aaron without hesitation. It turns out that there is also a 12 year old (Cassidy and Ainslee) on each team. The Coote kids are very smart, compensating for their lack of size, strength or agility and they are also super-competitive, which the Pollard kids are not.
Next teams drive across a salt flat to Soggy Dry Lake, also known as Soggy Lake, a dry lakebed in the Johnson Valley Area known for its off-road vehicle use. Reno is there and there is a setup of parked cars in patterns. The End of the Road challenge is for the adults to maneuver those cars (which move only straight forward and straight back) to allow a marked red car to exit through the back exit. The adults drive and their kids in one tower each direct them on which to move with mobile phones (sponsored by Radio Shack jsut as the marked car is). Reno calls it "a puzzle" which is accurate. The smarter kids will win this challenge unless the parents disobey their instructions (you never know for sure with some of the parents). The victory goes to the Cootes, who will drive to Los Angeles to face the DiSalvatores in the finale in Los Angeles for the next and last episode. The Pollards go home, with ron saying rightly so "We're proud of what we did" to calm down a distraught Ainslee. She was upset that her brother ignored her and monopolized the cell phone when she knew which combinations of moves would minimize the time to get the target car out.
Two great representatives of teamwork are going to face off. If you recall the first episode, the DiSalvatores incorrectly accused the Cootes of cheating for the first KOTR victory. Reno was trying to make something of this, but the $100,000 prize gives ample motivation without any other B.S. Stay tuned next week for the recap of the finale.
You should not miss the RENO CAM video available at http://www.nbc.com/great-american-road-trip/video/clips/the-reno-cam/1132111/
. It is hilarious and Reno is quite a charmer. I think he is the best host I have seen on television in 2009 (and that includes over Phil Keoghan, that paragon of TV hosts).