For my 30th birthday in January, Skyler celebrated me well. He went all out and planned the best birthday I have ever had. Being ‘The Amazing Race’ fanatics, he planned my entire birthday as a leg of the race and promised we would continue having dates in this fashion! It was the best date, ever!
I knew I had to do something fun and outrageous for his 30th birthday in March too. Not to compete or because I felt I had to keep up with him, but because I wanted him to feel just as celebrated as he had made me feel. So, I told him that for his birthday I would be taking over the March leg of the race.
He came home on a Friday night, the day before his birthday, to his wife headed out the door with some girlfriends for “Mom Prom” and this backpack on his side of the bed:
Inside was this note and suggested packing list:
Now, granted, we had already been on one leg of the race from celebrating my birthday but I needed something that would let him know he needed to pack and prepare that night instead of waiting for his first clue the next morning. So I went out of true order and put in this ‘congratulations’ note to get the ball rolling.
Note: Match-Match = athletic shorts in our house, named by Zeek a few years ago. Also, our running joke since we were dating and making surprise dates for each other is that the only info we ever give the other person before our surprise date is to “pack matches and a paddle.”
The next morning, the kids and I made daddy a big breakfast of eggs and sausage and sang him Happy Birthday. I told him to go shower and get dressed for the day and after emerged, we started playing this video for him:
Yes, I made him go drive the kids to grandma’s house! I needed that extra hour that would give me to get a few last minute tasks completed. :)
When he arrived back home an hour later, the car was packed and ready to go. I handed him his first clue and in true Amazing Race fashion, I made him hop in the driver’s seat.
First clue: make your way to the Dutch Bros. on Mission Street for coffee! (Also, I have to note that the Dutch Bros. employees were awesome and ecstatic for their small role along this race. One asked if we actually were on the race…. *laughing tears emoji face*)
Once he had gotten his drink, the server handed him his next clue:
He knew exactly how to get there after a quick study of this map but wasn’t sure what was there. He was pleasantly surprised when he pulled up to one of the local gun clubs (Mid-Valley Clays & Shooting School).
Once parked, I handed him his next clue which was a Road Block – something only one member of the team could complete. :)
He was impressed that I managed to secretly pack everything – his gun, his shotgun shells, his safety goggles and hearing protection… (if you’ve ever seen inside our garage, you might be quite impressed with my ability to find everything too! haha).
After about an hour or so of shooting (it doesn’t take long to get through 50 clay targets, as we found out!), we headed back to the car. I had already laid out the next clue for him to find:
Yield’s are things of older seasons and aren’t used anymore but I thought it would be perfect for this next part of our race!
We waited out our Happy Hour Yield time at Gustav’s pub in Tigard with neither brats or beers, but rather some fondue, caesar salad and chicken schnitzel! It was an excellent choice that we did not regret. ;)
After we feasted, he received his next clue – a Detour where he had to choose one task to complete:
He had never heard of the Interactive Museum of Gaming and Puzzlery (which I just realized I spelled wrong on the clue! Ha! Whoops.) before so he chose to head there. Now, this place is a little hole in the wall in some industrial area. It’s not done very well as far as atmosphere and is not trendy whatsoever but it’s fairly clean, relaxed and an amazing idea of a place. If they wanted to amp up their business, they easily could make this a super cool place! It does cost, I think it was a suggested donation of $5 per person or you could buy a membership for the year for less than $30 I think. They have over 3400 games and are the largest game center in the states! Not only that, but all the games were alphabetized. I have no idea how they maintain that kind of order but it was awesome!
Side note: I need another Friends fanatic to go back with me and play Bamboozle!
We played about 5 different games (yes, including the dvd version of The Amazing Race!). It was so fun to just look at all the games they had and find old children’s games that we remembered playing… you know, way back before either of us was 30! (waaaaaah).
Skyler, a remarkable mosquito magnet, has an irrational fear of mosquito’s and even of perceived mosquito sightings. He took one glance at this game and stated, “wow, that looks like the worst possible game in the world.” Needless to say, he didn’t want to play it.
They had this game on display as a valuable antique in their museum portion of their shop and I had to snap a photo to send to my mom because we have this exact version sitting in our attic space at home!
We finished up our games and snacks (oh yeah, you can take your own snacks and drinks in to enjoy while gaming, or buy some there!), and we headed back to the car where Skyler learned that we had been Blind U-Turned (oh NO! He didn’t see that one coming…) and had to complete the other side of the Detour: video gaming at Ground Kontrol!
As we were making our way to Ground Kontrol, we saw signs just off the road pointing to Pittock Mansion. I had never been there so we made a quick stop to check it out – even though the weather was crummy and we didn’t have the normal mountainous gorgeous views of Portland.
Fun fact: The Amazing Race Season 13 had its final leg filmed around Portland area and the finish line of the race for that season was right here in front of the Pittock Mansion! So, even though we made a detour from our own planned out Amazing Race adventure, we felt okay breaking the race for some real Amazing Race reminiscing!
This is Nick and Starr (brother and sister team) racing to the finish line in front of the Pittock Mansion (photo from CBS).
So of course, Skyler had to close out our time there imagining that he was winning the race…I think this is his victory pose.
We got back on track and headed into Portland towards Ground Kontrol: a 2 story, jam-packed, low-light, beer-serving, vintage arcade game venue where all games are still a quarter. The low light lent to some crummy pictures, but we enjoyed playing several games: Time Crisis II, Bust-A-Move, Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris, TMNT and more.
We played for about an hour and then started getting quite hungry (as it was already 7:30). Thankfully, I had his next clue ready which would lead us to dinner…
This led us to a new little Thai food restaurant called Chai Thai. (He loves chai tea and Thai food.) It had great reviews and the food was amazing but I should have researched it a little more because it was a very very small restaurant and the atmosphere wasn’t great. We stayed just long enough to scarf our delicious dinner and then he got his next clue, as well as his Travelocity Gnome (thanks Target Dollar Spot!):
We drove the 30 or so minutes to get to the Pit Stop of the race – the Best Western hotel in Cascade Locks. We settled in quickly with a glass of wine and decided that we had better relax by watching the episode of The Amazing Race that took place in Portland (Season 13, episode 11).
It wasn’t until part way through the episode that we realized we were staying in the hotel that was actually IN the same episode! In it, the 3 remaining teams had to do a zipline from the Bridge of the Gods to the little Marine Park island. Our hotel was smack dab in the middle of those two things!
Here are some screen shots from the episode (so they’re blurry, but you get the idea…):
Here they are pulling into the Bridge of the Gods and you can see the Best Western sign in the background!
The brown building in the background is the Best Western and the grey building is its partner restaurant where we ate breakfast the next morning.
And there they are ziplining to the Marine Park. Our hotel was directly on the other side of the railroad tracks.
Our little TAR-hard hearts were geeking out. I couldn’t have planned this Amazing Race date any better if I had tried! I couldn’t believe it worked out like that. I was tempted to lie to Skyler and tell him I knew that was the hotel and that’s why I planned us staying there… ;) Truth was, we love Best Westerns and I was hoping for decent weather to be able to do a short hike at the nearby Multnomah Falls…
The next morning we ate our delicious breakfast at the restaurant next door and gawked at the Bridge of the Gods and Marine Park which we could see from our breakfast table.
(Also, this was the hotel’s complimentary breakfast! If you are ever out that way and need a place to stay, this was a fantastic hotel.)
Then, just like the episodes where the contestants get to a pit stop, get told they’re still racing and get handed another clue, I pulled the same move on Skyler. Handed over his next clue and told him we’d better get going.
This little observatory is called the Vista House and I had never been to it but seen it every time we drove past on the highway. Unfortunately, the weather was so crummy and foggy so the views weren’t as breathtaking as I know they could be underneath all those clouds, so we’ll have to go back another day. :)
He successfully completed his gnome picture, so I gave him his next clue:
We were making better time than I anticipated and had an hour to kill before the next activity, so on the way home I suggested that we stop at our favorite bakery, the White Rabbit Bakery in Aurora, for some coffee. Skyler said we take our coffee to go and stop by the Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage down the road from the bakery – of course I wasn’t going to say no to that!
Even though everything there is astronomically priced, it is still one of my happy places.
After some lovely mindless wandering, it was time to hit the road again and make our way back home.
We walked back in our home to the wonderful smells of elk roast cooking in the crock pot (thanks to our amazing neighbor-friend Michelle coming over and preparing the food before we arrived!), and Skyler found a box on his bed with another clue:
Skyler loves Napoleon Dynamite. If was really thinking this one through, I would’ve chosen a picture with Uncle Rico like this:
The box was filled with his old high school football team attire, his cleats and a couple packs of flag football sets.
He put on his gear, I packed up the food and we met up with his brother and a group of guys from church at one of the nearby high schools where we had elk roast sandwiches, chips and cookies and then the men played a serious game of flag football.
The weather was questionable the whole time but the rain held off until the very end. It was so fun to watch them running around together! I even captured one of Skyler’s touchdowns on video:
After the football game was over, I handed Skyler his last clue:
Some of the guys headed over to a friends’ house to have a night of Halo (I think? I have no idea what men play when they gather! haha).
Skyler came home later that night from this last Road Block grinning ear to ear. He couldn’t stop smiling and thanking me for the fun birthday adventure that I planned out. He loved the parts where we spent time together of course but he what really filled his cup was the extra mile I went by planning the last two activities with his brother and other dude friends. It always makes him feel so honored when friends gather in his name. I’m so glad it turned out so well and am thankful for all the helpful hands working behind scenes to surprise him!
HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY SKYLER! Love you madly.
I think it’s safe to say that we are hooked on doing our dates The Amazing Race style! While I’m sure these first two were the most grand ones that we will be doing for a while (since they were for our 30th birthdays), I still want to plan more dates in this fashion even if they will be much simpler. It’s so fun for both the planner and the receiver.
If you want to do some similar style dates, you can find the templates for The Amazing Race clue cards all over on Pinterest! In true Kayla fashion, I got so excited about all this that I downloaded my templates and didn’t pin them or save them to figure out where I got them from, and as always, I can’t re-find them on Pinterest. Gah. I always do this. Anyway – so many ideas already out there!