Skunks Misery Road Rally
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The Skunks Misery Road Rally

The Skunks Misery Road Rally, sometime in the 1980s

My grandparents were huge fans of The Avengers–not the comic books, but Steed and Mrs. Peel. There was an episode of The Avengers where Steed and Mrs. Peel compete in a “road rally,” a sort of scavenger hunt on wheels. Well, my grandparents were inspired, and thus the Skunks Misery Road Rally was born.

My grandparents loved to entertain, and they loved their town, so this was a perfect way to combine these two things into one amazing party.

The final results for the 1991 Road Rally

The premise of the road rally was simple–a clue would be given at the starting point, then competitors would have to solve the clue, which would give them the next location. The clue would be at that location, giving the competitors a hint to the next location, and so on, until the end. My grandparents would time the fastest possible time to each spot while staying within the speed limit, so if competitors were speeding, the people stationed at each checkpoint could penalize them.

(There’s actually a hilarious story that has entered family lore with me, at age seven, very clearly telling the CEO of a major magazine conglomerate “You have a ten-minute penalty because you were speeding!” He was a good friend of my grandparents, so I wasn’t intimidated (and also didn’t know who he was in relation to things!))

My grandmother and grandfather making a toast at the cocktail party following the rally.

At the end of the rally, once everyone had finished, they’d have a big party for everyone. I remember being so happy to play with my friends and run across the lawn while the grown-ups were having their cocktail hour… and sneaking inside to wheedle Shirley Temples from the bartender! It was always a highlight of the year.

I love thinking about large-scale events like this, where everyone is joined together in something more unique than just another cocktail party. I’d love to plan something like this again in a post-covid world! The time, effort, and care that went into all aspects of the road rallies, from writing the clues, to planning out the route, to organizing the party, is astonishing to me in a world where almost everything is outsourced now (and not just because of covid). But it’s a wonderful thing to put so much effort to an experience that is, by its very nature, only temporary.

I wish I had more photos of the road rallies with me–they are mostly in storage after my parents packed up their house–and so I only have a few, which I’ve shared here. But should we revive the road rally, I’ll be sure to take more 🙂

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