The Amazing Race

For some reason people assume by virtue of what I am doing that I would be a good candidate for the television show, The Amazing Race. I have never seen the show in its entirety but from what I have seen I figure I don’t have the time or energy to go racing around the globe with a travel partner stressing out about local customs and schedules. I’ve never considered myself a suitable person for the show’s premise.

After a harrowing driving experience during rush hour in Sydney, I have changed my mind. Brooke and I would be ideal candidates for the show. Imagine doing what we do and possibly winning a whole bunch of money just for doing it? So far we have hunted for native wildlife on a golf course in Canberra in the dark. Had we actually found something out there we would have been terrified. Instead we drove down a road on the wrong side, well, right for us, wrong for Australia. We flew in a hot air balloon, hit a tree while landing and tipped the entire basket with 11 people in it over. Okay we weren’t responsible for that little mishap we just happened to be a part of it. We soon discovered that the GPS system we rented from Hertz has no clue where anything in Australia is, constantly flips roads, tells us to make U-turns or shuts down completely just when we need it the most. We named her, but I can’t repeat the name on a blog. Suffice it to say Hertz gave us a refund on that one.

Sydney proved to be our Achilles heel and after a week of patting ourselves on the back as we made our way around the country, Sydney humbled us. We started to bicker which would have made for great reality tv. We circled the same streets having no clue how to proceed out of them. We got a great photo of the famous Sydney Opera House only because we accidentally ended up right next to it. Just as we were ready to quit and change our plans – we found the Hilton. Not a moment too soon either. Not having a reservation I was afraid that after the bad luck we were having they would be sold out. Instead we got a great room and a bottle of champagne sent up with a personal note congratulating our 6th summit and wishing us the best on Everest. We walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner and a few stiff drinks only to end up next to a table of boisterous ‘blokes’ who wanted to insure we understood their country and customs. I asked if they worked with sheep? Just like our GPS name, I can’t repeat the jest of this conversation.

This morning we awoke early to allow plenty of extra time to get to the airport for our flight to New Zealand. We got to the airport forty minutes late. We probably shouldn’t have given the GPS one more chance. The airlines, in typical Aussie fashion, were wonderfully accommodating. “No worries Mate! You’re not late. This flight left yesterday and you weren’t on it!” Guess somewhere between time zones, mountains and just laughing too much neither of us looked closely at our itinerary. We really weren’t supposed to be in Sydney at all.

Heading to New Zealand and the “Kiwis” a day late. Brooke and I are still speaking. Still laughing more than ever to the point we are rendered useless and continue on with our ‘mountain’ adventure.

I think we could have won The Amazing Race!

Climb On!


4 Responses to “The Amazing Race”

  1. 2 Penny January 10, 2009 at 3:18 am

    Hi Wendy,

    Hilarious tale. How I envy your mobility and courage.

    I first saw you on a CBS newscast months ago (the story about the kids who adopted you?) and was speechless. Someone with MS (like me) was climbing mountains! I saw the story’s clip and it was true. You were putting one foot in front of another, one slow, sure step at a time, reminding me of that old Chinese proverb about the journey of 1000 miles beginning with one step. I couldn’t get to the kitchen without a walker (at that time) and you were climbing a mountain!

    I knew from the very beginning (diagnosed in 1989, at 39, but I’ve probably had it all my life) that MS and I would never be fast friends. I had been too busy chasing excitement (CIA, television) all my life to simply stop and surrender to illness. I’ve found defying – and occasionally just Ignoring – it to be serviceable coping mechanisms, but two back surgeries in the last three years definitely put a cramp in my style. Seeing you on that mountain, just knowing that it could be done, inspired me to ramp up my own sagging battle spirit and get busy finding my own “mountain.”

    The image of you on that mountain is the inspiration for my legs (and I’ve co-opted Dare Torres’abs as inspiration for my core). Shoot for the moon (or the top of a mountain) is my new mantra. I’m 3-months into some intensive physical therapy and seeing amazing progress every day. There may be limitations to what I can achieve, but won’t it be fun finding out just how far I can go?

    I can’t wait to read up on your adventures and absorb even more inspirstion from your accomplishments (an on-going Google search I have for “MS” finally pointed me toward your website just today). What you have accomplished is truly amazing (and I have first hand knowledge on that). All this to say “thanks” for lighting the way….I’d almost forgotten how good life can be!

  2. 3 brandy February 11, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    i believe you are one brave person and i would not be able to go and climb sevral mountains i read your artical in the one magazine we read at our shcool and i was very interested about your story so if you can email me back your friend,

  3. 4 paige innocent February 11, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Wow i am so amazed you climbed so many mountains with the ms, and i think that is amazing. my class and i read your articles and our jaws dropped we thought it was awsome. You are such a role model to kids and people you accomplished so much with your ms. good luck on mount everest! your friend paige innocent

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November 2008
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About Wendy Booker

In June of 1998, this 55 year old mother of three was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS after experiencing balance problems, blurred vision and numbness on her left side. When first diagnosed, Wendy was devastated. But it took very little time for her to transform anguish into inspiration. She immediately turned her hobby of casual running into a continuous pursuit and has now completed nine marathons.

Mountain climbing became the next conquest. Wendy learned about a team of mountain climbers with Multiple Sclerosis who were attempting to climb Mt. McKinley (Denali) in Alaska. With no previous climbing experience, she dedicated a year to hard training and set off with them in 2002. Although weather conditions prohibited the team from completing, Wendy attempted the summit again in 2004 on her own and she succeeded!

The feeling of accomplishment she experienced propelled her next aspiration: to climb the highest mountain on each continent. Just five years later, Wendy Booker has successfully reached the top of six of The Seven Summits – Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. McKinley, Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Aconcagua, Mt. Vinson Massif and Mt. Kosciuszko. Mt. Everest, the highest mountain on earth, still awaits for 2010.


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