Corbett resident organizes fourth year of road trip scavenger hunt
by: Jim Clark The “Bad Habits” team — Mark Rickey, Chuck Berg and Jim Harum, all of Ellensburg, Wash., — studies the rules of the Dumball Rally before leaving the Home Depot parking lot in Northeast Portland.

What do cops dressed as nuns, men in super hero underwear and a 'dog' van covered in fur have in common?

All these - and many more decorated cars and characters - are participants in the fourth annual Dumball Rally USA, a glorified three-day scavenger hunt road trip from Portland to Las Vegas.

Corbett resident Tim Foertsch started the competition in 2008 with his close high school friends, wife and husband Courtney Givens and Adam Muellner, of Battleground, Wash. Over the years, the group has journeyed to Las Vegas, San Francisco and Jackson Hole.

The rally, to end at the Golden Nugget hotel in Old Town Las Vegas, began Wednesday morning, July 27, at the Home Depot near the Portland airport.

Givens, Foertsch and Muellner spend about nine months planning each year's event.

'It's silly, and it's pointless, and it's a little immature, but at the same time there's a lot of thought that goes into making it that way,' Muellner said.

This year 24 people, divided into seven teams, are competing.

The idea is to buy a car for less than $1,000 and decorate it, then drive it on a specified route and complete odd scavenger hunt tasks along the way.

'I like doing things in different parts of the country you wouldn't generally see, since we take back roads,' said Blake Quorn of Portland, who has participated in Dumball since its inception.

Competitors usually get their cars from craigslist or other re-sale sources. At the end of the rally, the cars are usually donated or sold.

'A lot of people follow what we do, know we are always looking for these crazy goofy things,' Muellner said. 'We've had cars literally given to us for free.'

This year, Foertsch's vehicle is an old van that is decorated to look like the 'mutton cuts van' from 'Dumb and Dumber.' It is a Plymouth Voyager and was donated by Leah Yamaguchi of Gresham Acupuncture.

'I want my van to break down,' Foertsch said. 'I think this might be the car to do it.'

And if it does, he won't have too much to worry about, as the rally has a safety van, driven by Givens' parents, that follows the route. If the car breaks down near a big city, it can be picked up by Kars4Kids and donated to charity.

In this same spirit, the proceeds from the event - $100 per person and $50 per car - will go to, an organization that raises money to feed dogs and cats in shelters across the nation.

This year, the rally heightened its charity focus even more with a fundraising challenge before the road trip even began. Winning the charity challenge and getting extra points to start off the rally was the 'Bad Habits' team, made up of three police officers from central Washington dressed as nuns. They raised $560.

Rally contestants also are given piggy banks to collect change from strangers on the road, called 'panhandling for points.'

Though it does ultimately benefit a good cause, the point of the rally is, as its name suggests, to be a 'dumball.'

'You have to throw all your inhibitions out the window and be dumb and childish for a few days,' said Shane Williams of Vancouver, Wash., who is participating in the competition for the third time this year.

One thing the organizers make very clear, however, is that the contestants are not to do anything illegal. The competition does not condone speeding, and strives to ensure everything is done safely.

But in the end, the rally is a chance to enjoy the trip of a lifetime.

'You share this really intense epic journey with people you didn't know and at the end you can't wait to talk about it,' Foertsch said. 'You have a kinship afterwards.'


• Those interested in becoming dumballs can join 'Dumball Light' in the spring, a one-day version of the summer rally. To get involved or to find more information, visit

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