OK. Here’s the thing. I’ve never shared this with you – BUT – no one, and I am not exaggerating when I say no one, EVER picked me to be on their team. I was always the last girl standing. I struck out. I dropped the ball. I missed the ball – no matter how large or how obvious. I was a spaz-mataz. Still am, really. A golf instructor once told me that I have the greatest natural golf swing he’s ever seen in a woman who can’t make contact with the ball. I get nervous ya see, very, very nervous.
So, imagine my delight to hear that my assignment this month is to be part of a team. The first official CapeMay.com Surrey Rally. My two work colleagues, Stephanie Madsen, CapeMay.com’s artistic director, and Chris Goodroe, our assistant techy, are the other two members of the team.
The opposing team? None other than Exit Zero. Jack Wright, editor and chief, heads up the team along with his assistant editor Stefanie Godfrey and one of their top photographers Maciej Nabrdalik.
Celebrities really. Am I wrong? Anyone who lives on the island or even ten minutes off it knows I am not wrong. Great, I shall be humiliated in front of very cool people and shame my co-workers. Yes, I just can’t wait.
At the appointed time – noon – and date – Friday, August 20th – we arrive. CapeMay.com’s team looks over the terrain. Our guide to good surreying, Joe Volpe, owner of Cape Island Bike Rentals at Howard and Beach avenues, shows us a very spiffy – Jeepers Creepers this thing is a bloody bus! It’s way too big. It fits six. I’ll be stuck in the caboose. We’ll most definitely turn over in the thing. Wait. Stephanie is talking to Joe and asking her other team members a question. That includes me. Well of course it would. Why wouldn’t they include me?
Ahhh. We think the smaller surrey would be better for us and faster. Exit Zero’s team can pick when they get here. “And I’ll steer,” she says. God Bless her. “And Chris will pedal on the other side.”
Fabulous. I’m in the kid seat and all I have to do is navigate.
Well. All righty then. I’m pumped. I hear the theme music from the movie Rocky blaring in my head. I am prepared. I have my handy dandy pink satchel for carrying notebooks, pens and four bottles of water because it’s about 90 degrees out here. I also have a tape recorder and a cell phone.
As the minutes tick by, however, the theme music from Rocky is fading and I’m starting to nod off in the noonday sun. Maybe Exit Zero will be a no-show. Maybe they’re scaaarrred. Maybe they’re sissies and know they’re in for a surrey whoppin.’ Oops. Wait a minute… here they are. Exit Zero has arrived. Something about a sick puppy named Friday or April I can’t remember which.
Oh Gawd. We’re doomed. We’re going to lose and they’re all wearing very cool Exit Zero t-shirts. Why didn’t we think of that? CapeMay.com t-shirts I mean?
Exit Zero picks the bigger surrey.
The Boss gives us our instructions. Team One (that’s us) will go to Howard’s End and make a left onto Columbia Avenue. Team Two (that’s them) will go to Howard’s End and make a right onto Columbia Avenue. We have five stops we each have to make.
So. We’re off.
I take the whole adventure like I do everything in life – with ease and calm. Yeah right. In reality, I can be heard screaming all the way up Howard, onto Columbia, and across Hughes. After my teammates tell me politely and respectfully to shut up, I think about the first clue.
1. Go to Howard’s End. Turn Left.
Go downtown. Find a corner that plainly states 1898 in stone. If you’re thinking “Good God,” you’re on the right track. Look to the right of the stone for your next instruction.
2. Go to Congress Hall and pick up a “Camp Congress Hall” brochure. Then go to the Mad Batter and ask for your next instruction.
“Well it has to be either Our Lady Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church,” says Stephanie, “or First Presbyterian of Cape May.”
“Oh. I know this,” I say. “It’s First Presbyterian. Star of the Sea was built in 1911. I know this. I know it.”
After my teammates tell me politely and respectfully to shut up, we surrey on over to First Presbyterian. Chris jumps out and brings back two envelopes, one marked Team One, the other Team Two.
“No. We have to put one back,” says Stephanie, “These are Exit Zero’s clues.”
Of course, we’re all thinking – well, if we take their clues, we could really jam them up – but we reject such thoughts, put the envelope for Team Two back under the stone and we’re off to Congress Hall.
Mental note to myself – must stop screaming as we run over curbs because tourists are looking very scared.
I run in grab the brochure and we’re off. Chris is in the middle and I’m pedaling on the outside. We swing onto Jackson and head toward The Mad Batter Restaurant.
“The cars. The cars,” says Chris as we swerve a little close to the cars parked along Jackson. Out I pop, run into the restaurant and grab the next clue.
3. Go to the SFISMENHER RIAMELMO (yeh I know it’s at least a mile!) Once there, find the “N” for your next instruction. (Suggested route: Columbia, Michigan, Indiana, Missouri)
Oh no! An Anagram. I hate anagrams.
Then, I have a brainstorm.
“Hey – if the parking garage at the Tides is open at both ends, we could cut through there, cross Decatur and cut over to Columbia without going down Beach Ave. We’d shave at least five minutes off the trip.”
Wreeeeeeek. A sharp turn to the left and through the parking garage we go.
“There’s only one flaw to this,” I say as we whiz toward the Decatur end of the garage. “The garage doors are electronic. They could close at any time.”
But they don’t.
Now what about this anagram. Stephanie takes a quick glance at it while simultaneously pedaling and steering– “Fishermen’s Memorial,” she shouts.
“They totally have the edge with that six-seater surrey,” she says, “I know it’s quicker than this one because three people can pedal at once.”
“We’re right next to Howard and Cape Island Bikes,” says Chris, “let’s switch.”
“Would that be cheating?”
“No. Just evening up the score.”
“We’re passing the street.”
“What should we do?”
“NO.” I say firmly, “Let’s go on in this one.”
“OK,” says Chris, “you had your chance.”
Yes and now it’s time for Chris to takeover the driver’s seat. Stephanie’s in the middle. When we get to Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh, we get out of the surrey and push it across to the Fishermen’s Memorial.
“I bet that Jack steals our clue,” says Stephanie.
Sure enough. Nothing under the letter N or anywhere else, including the trash can.
Now what? The cell phone – that’s what. The Boss must give us the clue over the phone, but he drives up to us as we’re leaving the Memorial to make sure, we actually went there. Fourth clue?
4. First go to the Wawa and get a “Cow Tales.” Then go to the “White House” on Washington Ave. (Suggested route: Mass Ave to West to Washington) If you pass the Physick Estate you’ve gone too far. Look for “BT 190 CA” for your next instruction – Remember there is no parking between the signs.
Stephanie’s back in the driver’s seat and I’m in the middle. Chris bags the “Cow Tales” but we’re exhausted. We may have to quit. It’s too hot. We’re too tired. We’ll never find “The White House.” Besides, isn’t the White House somewhere further down south? Like Virginia. Hey. Wait. This is the next to the last clue. We can do this. We’re psyched. We find the “White House” with no problems and Stephanie spies the clue on the telephone pole marked BT 190 CA which stands between two no parking signs. The final clue?
5. Go to the hotel founded by Henry Sawyer.
Go to the main desk. Hurry up. That’s the finish.
Make sure you have the Cow Tales and the Camp Congress Hall brochure
Chris mans the driver’s seat. Stephanie’s pooped. I’m almost pooped. Chris stands up and looks just like Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic. He is the “king of the world.” He propels us up Washington Street, left onto Madison, and a right back onto Columbia. We stop briefly for Stephanie and me to change seats. Soon we’re at Howard’s End and parking in front of the Chalfonte Hotel.
Now the big question? Are we here before Exit Zero? We don’t see them. The Boss is standing on the porch.
No. There must be a mistake. I look around. No Exit Zero. We won! We won! I was on the winning team and I helped. I helped. Was I a big help? Did I do good?
Could you have won without me? My teammates politely and respectfully tell me to shut up and we wait on the porch for Exit Zero to cross the finish line.
Twelve, count ‘em twelve minutes later up they come from Beach Avenue with their arms raised in triumph. HAHA They think they won. Then they see us lined up along the porch watching them.
“How did you get here before us?” asks Jack, his Scottish accent just a little more Scottish than usual. “You couldn’t have won because I ripped up your clue and hid it under some leaves near the S. Where’s the clue? Where’s the Cow Tales? Where’s the Congress Hall brochure?”
Alack, alas. We did win.
But hey – we’re up for a rematch in the fall.
Whad ya say, Exit Zero?