Tag Archives: boulder colorado

Happy 25th Birthday, Chris! (aaand #boulderflood)

This is going to be a joint post, written by the both of us, about Chris’ birthday and the flood that erupted on his very birthday here in our home of Boulder, Colorado. And it isn’t stopping. As I sit here, I’m watching more rain pour down as it has since 8am. We got a few dry days, but now the rain is here for a while. Where to begin? Let’s just start with Chris’ actual birthday. I’ll be writing most of it, and he will pop in here and there for certain things.

6:30am, Thursday, September 12th. Chris is still sleeping in bed, I need be at work by 8, but I want to go to our favorite bakery and surprise him with croissants. It’s been raining for a few days now, started Monday and worked its way until today. It’s still raining now. I slip socks and crocs on and head out. I get to the bakery but I am kind of dumbstruck and don’t know where to park. The entire right side of the street is flooded. Now this is before we had any flood alerts or thought there was a problem. I turned around and parked on the other side of the street. The bakery was open and I wanted to get him croissants! There was a worker outside and I asked him how to get through it, and he said, “I just got my feet wet.” I still looked for a way, but it was useless. Water was pouring from the north and streaming into the streets. I ended up walking through a foot and a half of water and they had no croissants! Wish I had taken a picture.

A now-famous picture taken by someone at the library

So I get back, wake Chris up, wish him happy birthday and give him breakfast. We turn on the news and see that it’s pretty bad all over. Highways buckling, houses flooding, people trapped. We eat breakfast and open presents, all the while he is communicating with his coworkers. (It’s Chris now) I want to thank everyone for all of the awesome gifts. I’ve always been quite spoiled. I received a gift card to Macy’s, Amazon, and AMC cinemas along with $30 cash. I also got some nice Burberry cologne, a handmade snake-like bottle opener, and a handmade Giraffe head cork wine topper. I was upset with Alana for getting me so much. She got me the newest iPad with a case and keyboard attachment. She also got me two hoodies: one sleeveless one from H&M and a Legend of Zelda one from Woot. I can’t say what I like the most but all of the gifts were very thoughtful and will fit in this household nicely. I am excited as always to use the AMC tickets for two free movies for the two of us. Especially since there are a few movies coming out next weekend that I want to see. Thanks again to everyone for the kind wishes whether it was family or friends.

Birthday breakfast!

Birthday breakfast!

Back to Alana. The 119 (how I get to work) is flooding and Longmont is bad. Chris and his staff decide to close the shop and he goes to make sure the flood damage is okay. Everyone advises me to stay home, so I do. This is all very new and not exactly sure what to expect. It was nice for Chris to have his birthday off of work, but we felt for everyone suffering. Luckily, our apartment is 3 floors up, and we are on a safer side of town. We didn’t do much that day, played video games and stayed inside.Chris loved being able to do that, since normally we have too much on our plate. We just made sandwiches for lunch and enjoyed the down time.

We get a call around 3pm from one of our good friends who lives a block away. He is driving home from Littleton (highways are an absolute mess) and his wife and kid are at home with a flooded bedroom. We run to get the shop vac and bring it over to their place. They were the lucky ones. The western building of their apartment complex got completely flooded with 2 feet of water. We immediately begin to vacuum the carpet out which is saturated and getting worse. A battle we can’t win against the pelting rain coming at us. By the time our friend gets home, we have already dumped out 32 gallons of water.

Shop vac

Shop vac

Pouring out gallons of water

Pouring out gallons of water

Kicking up water

Kicking up water

We knew we couldn’t suck up all the water so we go outside and decide to dig a trench away from the windows and then use the mud to create a barrier. It was messy, wet work, but it did give some layer of protection.

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Those rainboots ended up having holes in them…surprise!

Packing as fast as we can

Packing as fast as we can

Flexing, obviously

Flexing, obviously

After we finish up, we wash the mud off in a flooded street. We go inside for a little bit more clean-up. Chris is bummed so many places are closed. I had this elaborate plan for the day, that I would take him out for lunch, that after work we would workout and then surprise him with China Gourmet and a birthday cake. Nope, not gonna happen. However, one of our most favorite places in town was miraculously open. They know us well at Korea House and invited us with open arms. We were soaked, muddy, and tired, and this meal invigorated us. We got a fixed menu with beer, bulgogi, korean soup, soups, salads, and mochi ice cream. Because it was Chris’ birthday and because the chef loves us that much, he served us with a big beautiful plate of some of the most flavorful sushi I’d ever had. He also gave us a large bottle of hot sake and another beer for free. Happy Birthday, right? It was just what we needed to bring our spirits up. We told them if they needed a place to stay (they live in Longmont), that they could always come to us. We left happy and it was pouring harder than ever.

Korean birthday feast

Korean birthday feast

We get back safely, though main streets are flooding. We play some more video games for a while and then we get into bed. Things are only getting worse. Chris passes out, but my stomach is in knots. So before I continue, let me just tell you about the wonderful Twitter #boulderflood. Online news can’t do enough. I have been on the #boulderflood this entire time, getting minute-by-minute updates from news agencies, emergency agencies, and real-life people struggling in the flood. It has been an absolutely amazing resource, I still follow it now. So as I’m lying in bed, reading the #boulderflood hashtag, things start getting worse. The Emerson Gulch has broken and now a 30-foot wall of water is heading straight for the Creek. I know college kids can be drunk and stupid and people reported seeing some near the creek, fooling around. I stress about their lives. About how the death toll might rise. After a few hours, I finally get to sleep, only to dream more about the flood and wake up too much. Here are pictures from the house we house-sat at:

Beginning of the day

Beginning of the day

End of the day...that used to be a back yard

End of the day…that used to be a back yard

Friday. Despite only a few hours of sleep, we wake up semi-early. The rain has stopped and light can be seen. We stay inside for a bit and then decide to go venture out with Marga and Michael to see the damage. The “unaccounted-for” toll has risen to around 130. There is a lot of debris everywhere, but things are drying up. Mud is the problem since there were massive mudslides the previous night. I hear Lyons is an island and Longmont is incredibly flooded. The YMCA where I work at is closed. Our old street (we just recently moved) got flooded and now instead of pavement, it is a mud street. Our previous neighbors are carrying buckets of mud-water out of their house. It is all mucked up. We continue on for about 5 miles total, seeing the damage. But we don’t even go to the bad area, we get tired and head back.

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Our old street

Our old street

a parking lot nearby

a parking lot nearby

Goose Creek where I run next to

Goose Creek where I run next to

The creek rose to ridiculously high levels

The creek rose to ridiculously high levels

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We end up going to the gym, finding a bit of normalcy in our recently turned-upside down life. After a great shoulder workout (my traps are still sore!), we head back home. More video games. We are happy for the lack of rain. I can even see a star or two. We also watch From Up on Poppy Hill, the newest Miyazaki film. We go to bed around 2am.

Saturday. Another dry morning! Evacuations continue at a much higher rate now. The National Guard is here and you can see and hear the military helicopters going here and there every minute (no exaggeration). Our friend (with the flooded bedroom) invited us to go play frisbee golf as we often do on Saturdays. Sure, why not! Well, half the course had some bad flooding, but that didn’t stop us. Afterwards, we went to Glacier (our favorite ice cream joint here) and Chris finally got his free ice cream (because it’s his birthday). We go back to the apartment for a little bit and then head out to the gym for a good chest workout (yes, my pecs are sore). As the day continues, formidable clouds begin to form. We come back, watch Castle and play video games. And have mac n cheese and ramen for dinner, good comfort food.

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photo (20)And now it’s Sunday. Still raining strong. Flood alerts are back. Road closures are back. Unaccounted-for toll is up to 530 people. Tragic stories on the news. I hope I can get to work tomorrow. And I truly hope everyone stays safe. I wish I could reach out and help more people, but it’s hard to get to most people right now. Chris certainly had a birthday that nobody will forget. I will stay vigilantly attached to the #boulderflood to stay in touch with everyone and all events. Please send good energy this way. And some dry weather. And despite all these horrible events, everyone reaches out to each other to help. That is what is keeping spirits up, when everything else is gone. Stay hungry and fit!

BONUS KITTY PIC

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Nymeria staying warm

I’ll Need a Bigger Helmet: Biking in Boulder

This will be a quick one, mainly because we had long days and have an early day tomorrow, but also because I don’t have much to say about this, or perhaps I actually do and want to prevent an all out rant.

Essentially, again today on the way home from work I almost got hit by a car… in the sidewalk. I’m a responsible bike rider and good on my bike. I ride it at least 4 days a week, typically more. Some days I only ride it 2-3 miles to and from work but some days, doing multiple jobs, I can ride up to 12 miles a day. These are all commuting miles, on a mix of flat and graded terrain, typically sidewalks and roads. I have an old Trek mountain bike that has been transformed into a commuter bike and I custom fit it to meet my needs.

 
It has a 17″ frame, and some extra grooved tires for the snow. It has trigger gear shift capabilities that work relatively well and old but reliable brakes. It has a loud bell, a retractable steel grocery basket that fits onto the mountain rack on back, that I use as a makeshift splash guard. I have a decently comfortable seat that is locked to the frame with a wire lock. I keep my heavy duty u-lock attached to the frame and I use a large thick black bell dome helmet. I have all my reflectors in place, plus a flashing or steady rear led red light in addition to my steady or flashing led headlights.
 
Even with my ability and all these flashing lights, I almost always get hit day or night and it happens in the crosswalks! I come from an area where drivers have a tendency to lack patience and manners, but they are extremely efficient in terms of keeping traffic moving but also very aware of the stop signs, lines, lights and pedestrians.
Many of the drivers in Boulder are the opposite and it’s been tough to get used to it, but that’s not the issue. The issue comes with how bike friendly the actual city of Boulder is! There are crosswalks for pedestrians and bikers that have flashing lights and announce to slow down and stop, and there are bike lanes everywhere.
Bike are people too!
So every day I happen to be riding in the bike lane, or on the sidewalk if there aren’t any and someone almost hits me in that safe area! It’s because many of the drivers here happen to think that the stop line is for your back tire or the back of your car! Then they usually try to make some apologetic gesture, knowing that if they hit me, they would be in a big trouble, legally. So please, be considerate of pedestrians, be efficient but aware, and recognize the fact that your automobile is a powerful weapon if not handled properly.

Let’s keep our streets and sidewalks safe for everyone! Biking is a physically and mentally rewarding activity and although I may not like the snobby cyclists that wear racing gear and use $5,000 bikes to commute, I enjoy biking to work everyday. It is great for the environment, which I care much about, and it’s a decent leg workout if done correctly. Plus, it always wakes me up before I get to work on the early cold days. I love riding through the snow in the mornings here when the powder is untouched.

Oh well, enough of that, thanks for reading and remember to use green and alternative transportation!