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22 October 2011 @ 11:18 pm
San Jose Gorilla Challenge  


Today Seanie and I participated in the Gorilla Challenge in downtown San Jose. I had found out about it through AmazonLocal – a discount service similar to Groupon and LivingSocial – and I wasn’t really sure what the ‘challenge’ was, but it was only $20 to participate, so I thought we could give it a try. It turns out that it is a race/scavenger hunt, which seemed like an entertaining way to spend a Saturday.

Teams are encouraged to dress up, but I couldn’t convince Seanie to wear a costume. We compromised with green t-shirts; it’s hard to tell in the picture above because my arm blocks it, but both of our shirts also have a giraffe on it. Thus, we were Team Green Giraffe! (I’m really creative with last minute names, I know.)

Around 9:00 we arrived at Gordon Biersch restaurant to sign in, which took about three seconds because very few other contestants had arrived. (The race proper didn’t start until 11, but we came early to beat the crowds.) We walked over to a grocery store to buy some canned food, since the GC was collecting them in bins, and then wandered around downtown San Jose, trying to guess the places that might be part of the challenge.

By 11:00, the restaurant was packed. People were seated and standing in a courtyard around a raised platform. At first, it seemed like the GC’s organizers would address us from the stage – makes sense, right? Easy to see, easy to hear. Instead, they led us out onto the sidewalk by the street, where the crowd swallowed up the crew and the sound of cars rushing by made it impossible to hear the instructions, even with the staff member yelling into a megaphone. Way to go, GC.

We were given a sheet with six clues, each of which would lead us to a site somewhere downtown. At the site, we were to take a photo – that would provide the proof that we’d made it. At one of the sites, GC staff would hand us a second sheet of clues. The goal was to complete nine clues before 2:00 and be the first ones back at the restaurant.

I wish I still had the clue lists, but I lost them somewhere…some of the clues were pretty obvious. San Jose Library, the Monopoly Board in front of the Discovery Museum, the Tech Museum…etc. They really messed up on one of them, though. One of the challenges was to “Take a picture, Egyptian-style, in front of the food cart [at this place].” Well, the place was the Tech Museum, but the food cart is only there Monday-Friday – not Saturdays! So this was technically an impossible mission! I think a lot of people just took pictures in front of the Museum’s café, because it was the closest thing, but I feel like someone from GC should have caught that before the event…

After three and a half hours, we’d only managed to complete seven clues. This was my fault. We couldn’t figure out one of the clues – we knew it was a park, but there are tons of parks in downtown San Jose, which one did they mean? The one that I thought it was is located pretty far off from the main downtown area, but we trudged all the way out there. Not only did that eat up forty minutes, I wasn’t even right, so we made that long walk for nothing. Oops.

But it was fun. Seanie got to drink something foul – he said it was vinegar – and put a puzzle together while wearing a blindfold. I got to stand around laughing at him. Good times!