I'm For Bikes!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Longest Causeway 5K Report. PURE. AWESOME.

Ahhhh YES! This was SO. MUCH. FUN!!

Here's some info about the causeway:

Located in southern Cameron County, Texas, the two-mile long Queen Isabella Causeway is the only road connecting South Padre Island, Texas to the mainland. The Causeway was opened in 1974 and replaced the previous bridge which had also been named Queen Isabella Causeway. The Causeway is the 2nd longest bridge in Texas, stretching 2.37 miles (3.81 km) across the Laguna Madre.

Today was the 28th annual Causeway 10K run/5K Fitness Walk. My teammates and I (minus Sig, who had to work), in our quest to do one 5K per month this year, were SUPER excited about this one. We've all driven over the causeway a gazillion times, but since pedestrian traffic is not allowed, we've never walked it.

My sister picked us up at 7am (aka oh-dark-hundred) and off we went. The weather was pretty chilly, so I had my trusty gloves and ear warmers just in case.

South Padre is about 90 minutes from where we live, so we left early so we could be sure and get there on time so we could get our t-shirts. We arrived in good time - and it's a good thing, because the place was PACKED! Luckily, we had pre-registered so we were able to waltz right in and get our wristband and t-shirts. We went back out and drove over the causeway onto Padre Island at the finish point (or so we thought) so we could catch the shuttle back to the starting line.

People in front of us waiting for the shuttle

People behind us waiting for the shuttle

Fresh feet! Not for long!


The atmosphere was awesome - very relaxed, everyone in a great mood, awesome weather. We hung out for a while, discussing our "strategy". With so many people (we learned later there were over 4,000 people there - a new attendance record for this event), we were not even going to attempt to get to the front. We weren't given race bibs and no official time was being kept (it's billed as a fitness walk), so we were happy to just take our time and enjoy the experience.

LOTS of people!

Starting line waaaay in the distance

Fellow Packers fans - WOOOO!

Walking by the historic Point Isabel lighthouse

The race was very well-organized. They let all the runners go first, then held the mass of walkers for a while to give them a good start. It worked, because we encountered ZERO runners along the route - good for us and great for the runners. I enjoyed people watching, loving how diverse the walkers group was. It's always fun to see all kinds of people - young and old - out there doing something healthy!

I snapped a bunch of pics from the causeway itself to try and give an idea of how many people were there and how awesome the weather was. It was a little windy as we got closer to the top, but the temp was nice and it was an absolutely gorgeous day.

Looking toward the causeway

The people behind us

More people

What a gorgeous day!

We stopped at the top of the causeway to get some shots - no big deal, since people were stopping all long the way to get their pics, too!

Teammates Josie and Kristi

My sis Kristi

Me trying to keep my hood from slapping me in the face

Going downhill
We got to the end of the causeway and were a tad disappointed because there was no official finish line for us to cross. Everything just kind of ended. There was a finish line for the 10K race, but by the time we walked there to get the car (an additional 1.5 miles or so) we were so tired and hungry all we wanted to do was find a place to sit down and eat.

I'm always on the lookout for silly signs, and I had seen this one on the way in, so we stopped so I could get a shot of it:

Hmmm...not sure I want to shop here!

This was a great day, and we will definitely be doing this event again. Maybe next year we'll be running it!

Thanks to my teammates Kristi and Josie for doing this with me and making it so much fun!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Amazing 5-Day Kitchen Remodel - LOTS of pics

I mentioned in my last post I've been a bit busy - now you'll get to see why.

Let me preface this by saying I have the BEST. FAMILY. EVER. This project would NEVER have been completed without Uncle Pat, my mom and dad, and my grandfather - not to mention my grandmother, who graciously fed us for 5 nights in a row since the kitchen was, as you'll see, decidedly NOT functional.

The house I live in is 35 years old, and my family has owned it since I was in the 6th grade. I moved in when my parents moved to New Mexico about 10 years ago, and it's been quite an adventure. The house is, shall we say...OLD. As we all know, when things get old, they tend to fall apart. This house is no exception.

This particular journey began when a leak from the upstairs bathroom was discovered. How was it discovered, you ask? Well, the big water stain forming on the dining room ceiling - plus the hole it was creating - was a big clue. The leak got fixed and my parents were able to claim the extensive damage on their insurance. A few weeks and $5,000 later, the project began.

This project was actually 2 parts - we had to repair damage to the upstairs bathroom, bedroom and hallway first, and that was started and mostly completed in about 5 days in November, over Thanksgiving week. I don't have many photos of that one, unfortunately, because I just didn't think of it.

My parents came down from New Mexico for Christmas, and work started on the 26th. No rest for the wicked! This time I remembered to take pics from beginning to end, which I will now share with you. Hang on to your hats!


Packing everything way (except the dog)

Note the outdated "butcher block" countertop

This bar/half-wall is going away

Yes, that is an entire cupboard wasted to make room for the microwave

Very limited counter and storage space

Uh oh - we've got the duct tape out!


Demolition is fun, but a little scary. Once you begin destroying something, there's no going back. It also gets pretty messy!

Bar top removed, trying to get the half wall loose

Got the wall loose, making sure no important wires are being pulled out

Wall gone, moving stove

Dad and Uncle Pat figuring out how to remove the plumbing

Bottom cabinets gone!

Removing top cabinets

Removing more top cabinets

Opening up the ceiling to assess the water damage

More holes in the ceiling

Found a lot of interesting problems once the ceiling was opened up
Once the demolition started and the drywall was pulled off the ceiling, they were able to inspect the water damage from upstairs. It became clear, as the ceiling was coming down, that we'd had a significant rat problem - so many rat pellets fell from the ceiling that it was all I could do to stay in the room. I became a compulsive sweeper and followed everyone around with a broom and dustpan (until the Shop Vac arrived, then NO ONE was safe). The highlight came when a DEAD RAT (yes, you read that right) fell out of the last bit of ceiling that was pulled down.


And no, I didn't take pics of it. It was just too gross for words. Luckily, it had been dead a while so it didn't smell too bad...but still....

There wasn't much I could do while the guys were busy fixing things except frantically sweep and vacuum the floor, so I did that with a vengeance. My poor dogs were stuck upstairs for most of the day while all this was going on, so I went up to check on them periodically. Luckily the weather was pretty nice so, once they got to a point where they (and by "they" I mean Bailey) started getting bored and destructive, I was able to leave them outside for most of the day. More on Bailey's...er...deconstruction later.

The hole created by the upstairs leak, which was actually in a corner of the dining room, had to be patched, so we decided to strip the popcorn crap off the ceiling and smooth it out to make the repair easier. Finally, something I could do! I spent a lot of time up on a ladder scraping the ceiling smooth and getting it ready for painting. The guys installed all the new drywall and did the taping and floating to get ready for spraying the texture on the walls and ceiling.


Protecting stuff from the wet plaster slime from the ceiling

Popcorn-free ceiling - note the hole from the water leak in the upper left corner

Tape and float

Waiting for everything to dry

Sanding the walls and ceiling smooth
Protecting the rest of the house from the texture spray

Bye bye, 70s kitchen!

Living room turned into a storage room - no, I'm NOT storing my mom there!


Once all the texture was sprayed and dry, we started painting:

Mom and Dad painting

The view from my roller

Niece Avery helping clean popcorn slime off the walls

Painting the ceiling

Once the painting was done, the guys started working on installing the new cabinets. There were many issues to be dealt with, but the biggest issue is that THE FREAKING HOUSE IS CROOKED. It's unbelievable to me what shoddy work the builders did on this house. After many ingenious adjustments and solutions, the cabinets were finally leveled and installed. The new countertop also proved to be a challenge - again, because the house is not even remotely level. 

By this point, we were literally racing against the clock. My parents had to leave on Friday, and they were determined not to leave until everything was installed and working properly. Thankfully, everyone pitched in and, with the exception of a few minor details, almost everything got finished:

This is going to be easy, right?

Crap. The house is crooked!

Figuring out how to make it work

Notice the shim on the end of the top cabinet. Yup. Lots of shimming happening here.

The gorgeous new countertop

Um...will it fit??

Installing the new kitchen fixtures

Things are looking good!
Needless to say, this was QUITE a learning experience. I am so blessed to have a family of handymen and women who can work miracles like this. The most amazing thing is that we did this in FIVE DAYS. I still have to pull up the old tile and install new stuff, but that's going to be easy enough now that everything else is done.

Here are some shots of the finished project (before it gets cluttered with our kitchen stuff):

Pretty amazing, huh? It's incredible how much it opens up the downstairs area! As you can see, the flooring needs to be done (working on it!), and we're going to get a rolling island/breakfast table to add more counter space. I will definitely post more pics once everything is completely finished.

It was a hard five days, but I'm so grateful to my family for being willing to give their time and talent to help get everything finished. I'm also glad I was on Christmas break during all of this so I could help, too!

An amazing transformation!