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My Blog

A Road Rally on Foot

Good morning to everyone.  It will be another hot day for us here in the Chicago area.  I try hard to look on the positive side of things, but to wake up to a predicted ninety something day and a sore throat is not my idea of a way to start the day.  But thank God my eyes opened. and my feet touched the floor...so I am good.  I look forward to a number of performances this week...these are with the younger crowds and I will spend today preparing the props and costumes needed for the performances.  Yesterday was a an art day with the Alzheimer.  Our theme was picnic, so we painted red and white checkered tablecloths with ants on them and then a slice of watermelon on half of a paper plate and attached it.  They came out great. I am so proud of what these residents are able to accomplish, but I must share how difficult it is for them, but they continue on.  It is hard for me to see the inability or the forgotten art of holding a paintbrush, or the questioning look of what do I do with this once the paintbrush is in their hands.  But, once guided, they accomplish the task at hand.  I always feel so blessed when I leave the facility knowing how happy they are to see their finished pieces of art.  I have to share this as well.  I had 9 residents yesterday....this is a lot to have when you are dealing with Alzheimer.  I ran around in circles for an hour helping each individual.  It is warm in the facility and they are all cold...I, on the other hand had sweat pouring down my neck and off my forehead.  I held a paper towel in my hand to catch the drips and one dropped onto one of the residents arms as I leaned over to help her.  She asked if it was raining in the house?  I just sang to myself "Raindrops keep falling from my head?"  By the time I left and got to my car, I had about 1/3 of a glass of water left in my water bottle and it was warm by now.  All I could think of was getting something cold to drink.
When I turned the corner...there were these sweet 4 or 5 year olds waving a sign towards the car...they were advertising a lemonade stand...now I am a sucker for kids, stopped the car...asked what they had to sell?  Of course I already knew....I told them I would take a glass...when they asked if I wanted ice...I just silently looked up and said "Thank you Lord!"  I was never so happy for a glass of lemonade in my life.  I added it to my water and it quenched my thirst. God is always there watching out for me and I am grateful!  Sometimes...we just need to recognize how subtle He can be!
Now on to today's story.  For those of you reading this, you may not understand what a road rally is and I will begin with a definition.  My husband used to go on Road Rallys when he was in college.  It is like being on a treasure hunt....only you are in a car and the treasure hunt is done by various directions.  They are not go 10 feet and go to the left.  They are written  with directions and there can be riddles or clues, questions to be answered along the way.  You are trying to solve puzzles along the way.  You are handed some sealed envelopes when you begin, which if they are opened, points are deducted from your score at the end of the race.  If an envelope is opened, it will direct to the next check point and you are given your next direction.  There are usually a few checkpoints along the way to keep everyone on task and used more or less as a safety zone.  Sometimes you are asked to do something when you reach the checkpoint, like do a Chinese fire drill...which is get out of your car and run around I like an idiot and get back in before you leave.  You will often have to get a signature from the person at the checkpoint for extra points and sometimes there is a lead story that makes you count things for extra points along the way if you understand that that is what you are being told what to do....often times the story just befuddles the group and they land up wondering  why in the world it was even there.  One time we began our story with a wild intro about the Grecian Olympics ....it was an interesting little blurb that in the end we asked how many of these will you have seen along todays route...what we were actually saying was count how many MARATHON GAS STATIONS you see along your travel today. 
It takes quite a bit of work to get the map prepared.  We go over it and over it.  We send someone on it that is not part of the group to test it.  You have to double check it right before the event to make sure nothing has changed or that a business that you might have used in a question or direction hasn't gone out of business.  Once, we had a friend, Jeanni who worked n a Gas station who was willing to be part of our plan.  The participants had to go in and purchase a special package of LIFESAVERS that had the next direction on it.  I had frozen directions in an ice cube and they were directed to arrive at an ice company and had someone sitting there with the cubes, they had t pay for it with 10 pennies.  Then they had to figure out how to quickly melt the cube to get the laminated directions out.  The key to all this, was that the Race was timed...so timing was of the essence. 
Now, I am the Queen of a Red Hat Group and wanted to give this fun experience to my friends.  Only a Red Hat group are woman who are 50 and older...and putting them in a car to do a rally didn't seem like the safest thing to do, so I decided to do one on foot.  I enlisted my husbands help and we went to the Schaumberg Mall to write a Walking Rally.  Now if you are not from Illinois...let me clue you in on the fact that the Schaumberg Mall is an extremely large two level mall.  My husband and I must have walked it at least 5 or 6 times the first time out.  We had to pay attention to names of stores, side aisles, outdoor surroundings, etc.  We wanted to keep the ladies from going into the stores, so as not to interfere with any of the businesses.  We looked at plants, lighting in the mall, odd things that might be on the beaten paths.  Once we got a layout of the Mall, we sat down to have a drink and tried to see which of the stores could be written into a clue.  Now, it would be something like the following....you will pas the most famous place to have breakfast at, turn right at the next corner.  What is this place called......?  The first thing in their heads might be to head towards the food court....the real answer would be TIFFANY's Jewelry store. 
Well, the time finally came for what I called the Winter Olympics.   We did this in the Winter when walking outdoors was not an option.  The girls all showed up and were paired with a partner.  When they were checked in and ready to start the race, we marked their sheets of instructions with the time they started. They were handed their emergency envelopes and sharpened pencils, and off they went.  Now I had 2 husbands planted at 2 different locations called the checkpoints, my husband being one of them.  Once all the girls were checks in, off I went with a camera and took pictures of them roaming the Mall.  The last location for them to find was the restaurant where we would be having dinner at.  It was a blast!  Watching the confusion, overhearing their conversations was priceless.  They all managed to land up at a place where gorillas are in the mist....."The Rainforest Café".  I had the husbands tally up their paperwork, the answers and the count of the specific things they were to keep count of, and the timing.  You got certain points for certain things.  When the end of the dinner came, it was time to announce the winners.  I made trophies and the top 2 got Gift Certificates to Payless Shoe store for walking their feet off.  Fun was had by all.  It really didn't cost much to run the event.  A bit of imagination and some donated time by myself and my husband.  Sometimes we forget that we don't need a lot of money to have a great evening.  To top it off...my husband and I spent a number of hours together, anticipating what the girls might do, laughing at the prospect of tricking them.  being as creative as we could possibly get.  Not only were we having fun, but making an event and an opportunity for them to remember as well was quite rewarding.  So if you are ever looking to do something on the unusual side, want to get some exercising in, this is a great way to do it while having fun at the same time.

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