About a week late, but better to write this now when it’s still fresh in my head than never. It’s been a crazy last two weeks but without further ado, my Survivor Finale Wednesday running diary!
I feel like I need the 24 countdown clock to start the day.
Ok, that’s better.
I wake up and hit the snooze button but don’t fall asleep because I’m so amped for the day.
Shower and get ready to go.
My bag is already packed from the night before, which is not normal. Usually I just cram a bunch of clean clothes last minute before any flight.
My friend Casey meets me outside my condo and we Uber it down to SeaTac. Casey was in Kelley’s entourage at the finale and was able to go to his second finale. (what a dick!)
We get to SeaTac on time and I have just enough time to grab a hash brown and Sausage Egg McMuffin from McDonalds. Ate the hash brown in maybe eight seconds and then was that guy who brought McDonalds on to the plane that everybody hates. YOLO
Landed on time and we call our friend Corey who is also in our Seattle Survivor group to let him know that we landed and where to pick us up. Corey is about 45 minutes away, so Casey and I take a taxi to a mall halfway between us to get coffee and to speed the process up.
Quick backstory of Casey, Corey and myself. All three of us are members of an online Survivor group called RHAP, which stands for Rob Has Awesome Patrons, which is a super secret members only group that supports Robhasawebsite.com. (Just kidding, it’s not secretive at all.) Ok, so I started seeing messages in the group from Casey about Seattle so we got connected on Twitter. Around the same time, around February/March 2014 a Seattle Survivor group got started by our friend Ariel who also happens to be a moderator for the Survivor Reddit page. There we met Corey who also happened to be a patron and soon our bromance blossomed. After some watch parties for this season, the three of us decided that if we were ever going to go to the finale, this would be a good opportunity. In talking to Kelley and arranging some things, this trip came to fruition.
Around 10:20-10:50 AM
Casey and I get dropped off at the Westfield Mall in Culver City. I thought there was going to be a Starbucks there for our coffee fix, but it turns out it was one of those half-assed ones in a Target. It works out anyway since Corey meets us in the Target, and we load up on beer and other supplies for the day/night. No coffee for Wes yet.
Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City
Around 12:15-1 PM
We get to the hotel, but we know that we would have to wait a little to check in because our room wouldn’t be ready yet.
(Before I went on the trip, I knew that I would see a bunch of former contestants, but I didn’t realize how many that I actually would see!)
One of the people I was hoping to meet, was Bob Crowley who won Survivor Gabon. Sure enough, right when we enter the hotel there is Bob. (Now, if you know me, I’m not one to shy away from approaching a “celebrity” or person I know. I’m not going to hesitate, I’m going to march on over to them. This helped me later in the night.( Of course I have rules though. This goes for everyone, don’t bother someone who is “famous” when they are busy or eating.)) Bob grew up with my Mom in Portland, Maine. I wanted to see if he remembered her. Bob, unfortunately didn’t remember my Mom specifically, but he did know her family and definitely knew my grandparents farm. The Rogers are sort of Portland royalty! Talked to Bob for a good 10 to 15 minutes and I couldn’t speak more highly of him. He was so nice, and loved talking about the game. With Bob was Gillian Larson who was also on Gabon. More about Gillian in a bit.
As we are talking to Bob, Will Sims and Rodney walk by and we talk to them for a brief bit and then Casey spotted Missy who was a little hesitant in taking a photo with us because she wasn’t dressed up, but still took it. She looked great regardless.
We meet up with Dale, Kelley’s dad, and he tells Casey plans in getting to the finale later and other info he needed and fills us in on other happenings. Dale is of course another Survivor player, so if you are keeping track, I’m up to six former players less than 20-30 minutes after arriving. Dale and I go way back (like one month), so it was like seeing an old family friend.
1 – 2:30 PM
After our run-ins in the hotel lobby, we drop off our bags and head to The Hard Rock at City Walk in Universal Studios. We meet up with Kelley’s fiance Arlen (nice guy), Arlen’s sister Alana, Kelley’s best friend Kelli and Kelli’s sister, Lisa. Lisa, Corey and I at this point try to come up with a watch plan for the finale.
Corey and I got shut out of being seat fillers, so we initially thought that maybe we could go wait in line at the studio for a couple hours to see if there were any available seats. We were told that this was beyond a long shot, so we then decided to watch at the hotel on my Ipad at the hotel bar on an East Coast feed.
We leave Universal and I finally get my coffee and we are also about two to three beers deep at this point!
Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City
3 – 4:45 PM
We walk back to the hotel and Casey has to go get showered and get ready. Corey and I head to the hotel bar to slug a couple back assuming it might be a festive scene. We are the only ones at the bar.
We run into Gillian around this time and she was wondering where people were watching the finale. I told her that we can get the East Coast feed so if worse comes to worse, we could watch on someone’s computer.
At some point, Mike Holloway, Tyler and Sierra stroll on by and I go up to them and ask them where the watch party is going down. Tyler and Sierra remained silent hoping Mike would come up with a good excuse. Mike said that they were going to the Anglim party and that it was invite only and that he was really sorry. I say, “cool no worries!” In my head though, I’m thinking, “That’s bullshit, what dicks.” In all seriousness, I would probably say the same thing if two guys randomly came up to me in a hotel asking that same question.
Former contestant count up to 9
Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City Bar
My Ipad isn’t picking up the feed… We start worrying a bit. What are we going to do? Corey and I think for a second then look at each other at the same exact time and say, “THE BUSINESS CENTER!” (It didn’t play out quite like that, but let’s just assume it did. )
We head to the business center, and thankfully no kids are hogging the computers playing solitaire. In the watch group are Corey, Lisa (Kelley’s sister’s friend) Gillian, Gillian’s friend, Jeremy’s brother’s girlfriend and some other randos who showed up.
Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City Business Center
5 – 8PM
Our East Coast feed works perfectly. No other run ins or anything that interesting happened around this time.
Vytas and Jenn Brown did walk by us at one point and I said, “Hey.” I didn’t get a response.
Former contestant count up to 11!
Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City Shower
After the show ends we head back to the room to get ready. All the Second Chance contestants and their family and friends would be heading back and going to the bar/restaurant area of the hotel soon.
Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City Bar
We get to the bar of the hotel again. (if felt like I was there for six hours of the day) My Survivor contestant count at this point goes through the roof.
I think I meet everybody from the season at the bar with the exception of maybe one to two people.
Talked to Jeremy but didn’t ask for a photo because he seemed extremely busy and had lots on his mind.
Also talked to Spencer for about 30 seconds but didn’t want to bother him too much since he was obviously sad and was with his family.
Other quick run ins from here were with Terry, Abi, Savage and Kass who were all awesome and really personable. Had John Fincher take a picture of me and Terry (didn’t see Parvati, who he is going out with). He must have to take tons of photos of Parvati with other people. Wonder if it bothers him always taking photos of other people? More about Abi in a bit.
Hung out primarily from here on out with Dale and Corey. Real tight crew!
Based off the times of my photos, I think we took an Uber from the hotel to the finale after-party bar around midnight.
(All this talk about drinking and thinking about being at the bar gave me sort of a rush. Is that bad??)
Planet Dailies Restaurant and Bar
Sometime around midnight to close
We get to the location and as I walk up the stairs to the bar, all I can think of, “Hey, is this Heaven? No, it’s the Survivor Finale after party.” I’ve been a fanboy of the show for so long with such a crippling desire to play and prove to everyone how good I could be at the game and how loved and hated I would be on the show. As I get to the bar, I instantly turn into not a game fanboy, but a contestant fanboy. I already had a full blown fanboy boner from earlier on the night, but at this point it was at an all time high.
Also, being in Kelley’s posse, it seemed like we were the life of the party just showing up.
Had so many amazing run ins and conversations that I’m sure going to miss mentioning here. Alright, here is what went down.
Mike Holloway must’ve come up to me at least 3-4 times and apologized for not letting us up to the viewing party. Guy was genuinely really nice and awesome.
Enjoyed brief talks with Rob C,Tyson, Cochran and Stephen.
Gave crap jokingly to two writers who I read all the time, Josh Wigler and Steve Helling. I think they appreciated someone other than the contestants recognizing them. Both of them each were great to talk to and have awesome jobs.
Talked for awhile with Abi, Malcolm, Jeff Varner, Pete (Abi’s boyfriend who was also on the Philippines) and Peih-gee. Once again, all really nice and open and just enjoying the experience and ambiance.
Two of my favorite conversations happened separately with Tyler and Max. I had some nice back and forths with Max and then talked with Tyler for awhile about Star Wars and obviously the game. Both were super approachable and genuine.
Spoke to Daniel Lue from WAY back in Survivor Amazon. Wonder if he has ever missed an after party?… I probably wouldn’t either.
So much more happened. A lot that I remember, and some that I probably don’t, but that’s the afterparty lifestyle folks.
Some follow up thoughts
It was one hell of a night. Saying that doesn’t even give it justice. I feel like some people who played may not appreciate the party as much as say a superfan like myself did, but the night I had on Wednesday, excuse my French, was fucking awesome.
Almost everyone I met had such positive energy to them. Enjoyed all my conversations from Daniel Lue to Joe to Neal Gottlieb who is on the upcoming season.
As expected, the group at the bar was separated into groups. Not exclusive cliques, but it just seems like there are some people who float between groups, but the group as a whole has a sort of a high school reunion vibe to it. Grades stick together with a couple people in each group wandering off from time to time. It’s basically one big dysfunctional family with infighting from time to time but they all share the bond and experience they all went through.
The Survivor finale feels sort of like Superbowl Week. Tuesday is like media day where all the players meet the fans. The night before is the preparty where people can get in trouble if they go too hard. The anticipation of the day of before the winner is crowned and then the afterparty following the finale.
I loved everything about that day. From waking up early and the anticipation to going, to meeting everyone in the hotel, to our awesome business center watch party and then of course the afterparty. It was almost better that Corey and I didn’t go to the actual finale to be able to have some of this experience.
It would be remiss of me not to mention and thank Kelley here. I’ve been very fortunate to see behind the curtains of Kelley’s actual game from San Juan Del Sur to finishing fourth and arguably being the best and most entertaining player of Cambodia. I’ve gotten to know her wonderful family and friends and because of her, this whole day probably wouldn’t have happened. Thank you Kelley, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you and hanging out with you. I’m looking forward to all the future watch parties and shenanigans in Seattle!
Running diary after winning next year?…Or the year after…