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Seven families hit the road for $100,000... and the road hits back.

Recaps by Chico Alexander, GSNN
Host Reno Collier
Creator/EP Lisa Hennessy
John Hesling
Packager BBC Worldwide Americas for NBC
Origins Historic Route 66
Airs 8p Tues, NBC
Available Streaming Online

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Pilot: Chicago to St. Louis
July 7

It's summertime. Somewhere in America, families are loading up whatever wheels they can and setting out for adventure. And somewhere, someone aged 4 to 11 is asking that all-important question... "Are we there yet?"

Thus is the allure of "The Great American Road Trip", which begins tonight from Wrigley Field and heads out west on a course that traverses America's highway, Route 66. Seven families will head out on a trip of a lifetime, and along the way, they'll find challenges, mostly brought on by each other, compete in contests, and discover America, the wonders of the road, and the strength of the familial bond. And at the end of the rainbow, a pot of gold...

The journey begins in...

Wrigley Field

Seven families from all across America will begin from this point. They are...

POLLARD (Wicksburg, AL): They consider themselves a mix of city and country, something they call "hardcore redneck".

RICO (Katy, TX): wife Erica calls husband Rico a Mexican version of Clark Griswold.

diSALVATORE (Yonkers, NY): the dad is only happy with a blow-dryer and a mirror. The mom says that it's like having another child. Overall, it's your typical NY family.

FAVEREY (Long Island, NY): they want to travel and see America.

MONTGOMERY (Montclair, CA): competitive Marine family

COOTE (Lockport, IL): son Jake is a showoff. The rest of the family... just as weird.

KATZENBERG (Westport, CT): They can't wait to see who they're sharing this experience with.

The families will head down Historic Route 66, beginning in Chicago and ending in Santa Monica. Along the way, they'll compete in challenges to determine who stays on the road, and whose vacation comes to an end. And the last family standing goes away with $100,000.

Remember, though. This is NOT a race. This isn't about the destination. It's about the journey.

Alright, now that legal is out of the way, let's get in our personalized decked out El Monte RVs and hit the road! For example, the Pollards' RV is all decked out in Alabama gear, while the Katzenbergs are very much citified.

Okay, let's go see America! Next stop, Springfield, IL. Amy D. is nervous about husband Silvio driving... And for good reason, as the rest of the pack... and the police escort... drive off without them.

First up, the families pass the Sears Tower. Yes, it's that tall. The Cootes do their best to hype up the local crowd. They're the only ones from Chicago, after all.

Meanwhile, Silvio doesn't know where he is. He thinks that he's in the mountains, when he's actually in the heartlands. Silvio does his best to annoy his family with the DV cam on board. End result.... they're driving on two lanes.

The Katzenbergs don't like following people. Andrew is ready to put the pedal to the medal. They think they have the advantage being educated. Dad is a crazy driver.

And the time is 15 minutes in... and we have our first "Are we there yet" courtesy of the Favereys. The kids want dad Lenny to catch up with the rest of the pack, but he reiterates that this is not a race.

Illinois State Fairgrounds

The families arrive and finally get to know each other as they start to camp out. Enter first awkward moment between Silvio and Amie, as they prove the old adage of common people separated by a common language. Silvio, from New York, says "youse". Amie, from Alabama, says "y'all." The kids meanwhile go off and play football. Amie says that there is an air of good feelings that will last throughout the entire trip. ... She's new at this whole "being on a reality show" thing, isn't she?

Amy has to deal with the "black water" tube that empties from the toilet tank to a hole in the ground. Meanwhile Silvio looks for a place to get some sun.

Next day, the families are headed to historical Springfield, where they will celebrate all things Abe... That's Abraham Lincoln, folks. At this point, they'll participate in their first challenge.

Each week there will be two challenges... the King of the Road Challenge and the End of the Road Challenge. Winners of the KoR will receive a reward that will expand... and enhance the vacation experience. Bottom three families will compete in the EoR, and for the loser of that, it's game over.

KING OF THE ROAD: Presidential Race

Every family will race toward the "White House" by grabbing as many "votes" as they can, running over a "reflecting pool", climbing through a "Rose Garden", overcoming the "Cabinet", and cutting through "red tape". Whoever gets the most votes in their ballot box by the time the polls close in three minutes will be declared the Kings of the Road this week.

Oh, and one more thing... You will be wearing the bobbleheads of some notable presidents of the past... Washington... Bush the Younger... Nixon... Obama... Kennedy... Reagan... and Clinton. The kids will be "Secret Service" agents while the parents will be carrying the votes as presidents.

The Cootes decide to mount all of their votes at once, while the rest of the families are all off and running. After a while, the Cootes are finally on the road to the White House. Nixon loses most of his votes in the pool. Not much luck with things that begin with water there... while Obama charts out in the lead... Yes we can! Yes we can! Okay, that's enough. The Katzenbergs are the first to stuff their ballot boxes. But it's not about who gets there first, it's about who has the most.

The Cootes are struggling to get within that three-minute mark. Fifteen seconds left... 10... five... in. And... we have a dispute on the field. The diSalvatores are calling shenanigans on the Cootes, who used their shirts to carry the vote. The rules state that as long as it wasn't stuffed in any crevices then it was okay. Amy does the right thing and apologizes. Jennifer C.'s still smarting.

Winners... and Kings of the Road... The COOTES! Strategy pays off. Their reward, a special family dinner on the Mississippi. The bottom three are the Montgomerys (27), the Favereys (26), and the Katzenbergs (19). These three will be competing at the End of the Road challenge, while the other families are safe from the threat of elimination.

Back on the road! Next stop, St. Louis!

The Favereys are starting to experience a little cabin fever, as the kids turn on each other over... of all things... gummy worms. Meanwhile, the Cootes and the diSalvatores share a campground. Awkward after Amy's outburst, but she puts on her big girl panties and offers a more substantial olive branch. Meanwhile, the mayor of Madison, IL, where the families are stationed right now, takes the Cootes over on his firetruck to the middle of the Mississippi to have dinner.

Gateway Arch

END OF THE ROAD: Zorb Croquet

Each family must choose one person to enter a zorb. That person must be rolled through several small arches to a finish line. Vacation ends for the slowest family across the finish line.

Oh, and the zorb is tethered to 450 ft of rope, only enough rope to get to the finish, so strategy will decide who wins this thing.

Favereys start by cutting through the left... then around the right... then run out of rope. They have to retrace their steps, first to the left, then to the right, then back to the left. That seems to be the best way to do it. They didn't give up, and they finish in 15:52.

Katzenbergs are next. They use the zig-zag... and... they're through half... and not enough. Final time: 41:51. Favereys are safe.

That leaves the Montgomerys to tackle the course. They have to be 41 minutes to stay on road. They follow the same path as the Favereys (shortest distance is a straight line, not a zig-zag... geometry, baby) and clock in at 2:24.

Sorry Katzenbergs, but it's the end of the road for you. They've grown closer, but it's time for Marc & Hyleri to go home and plan their wedding.

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