If you’ve been on the Loop for any amount of time you have either read about Garbo’s famous Muskrat challenges or taken part. His challenges usually consist of monthly acts of silliness while running such as Remember the Ala Mode Pi Pie Run. The rules were simple: run 3.1 miles and eat an entire 8-9” pie while carrying a piñata and wearing a Dave Schultz mask wearing a mustache. Many of us Muskrateers still cannot look at a pie more than 6 months later. 🤢
A lesser known fact of Garbo’s Muskrating is that each month every participant must complete a Random Act of Kindness of their choice. To date money has been donated to different causes, coworkers have been brought doughnuts, dresses have been made for little girls in the Dominican Republic just to name a few.
When Hurricane Sandy hit my little part of the U.S. people from far and wide sent money, clothing, blankets, space heaters and food. Our tiny little church became a warehouse to receive and distribute all of these donations. It was truly amazing how giving the people of the USA were.
This is how Nicole and I met. Hurricane Sandy threw us together. We unloaded trucks, gave out flood buckets and even installed insulation in a house during a snowstorm.
We’ve been fast friends ever since.
When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas I felt so awful for everyone affected. There is just nowhere for 36-40” of rain to go. The flooding in Texas covered an area roughly the size of my home state of NJ.
I wanted to immediately send money or items to the people of Texas. I made a monetary donation but it just didn’t seem like enough.
Nicole sent me an email saying she knew it was late notice but could I go on a mission trip to Texas with her for Hurricane Harvey relief in less than 2 weeks. Ermmmmm....hmmmm...let me see what I can do about work. Must’ve been meant to be. Two people flipped their lives around so I could go.
Suddenly I had my November RAOK that was sure to win me points with Garbo. Garbo used to live in the part of Texas that was devastated.
N and I set out Sunday night from Newark.
We arrived in Houston at 1:00 am due to a delayed flight. Snug in our sleeping bags on air mattresses in a youth room watched over by scary Jesus by 3:00 am we managed a few hours of sleep.
With too little sleep but fueled by large Starbucks Americanos we set out to Miss Dorothy’s house. Miss Dorothy is a beautiful 80 year old lady originally from Louisiana but a Texas resident since 1971.
Miss Dorothy- center
When we arrived at her house the drywall had been cut above the flood line and all of the carpet and kitchen cabinets had been removed. We were to finish gutting the interior, rewire the electric that had gotten wet, insulate and drywall 2 rooms.
One of the saddest sights - her ruined closet with only 4 pairs of shoes hanging in it. I almost broke down at how much she had lost.
We were a group of 7 virtual strangers. One was competent in wiring, one was competent in carpentry and then there were the 5 of us who brought not much more than a desire to help and some muscle.
Day 1 we gutted 3 rooms of the remaining drywall and the ceiling in the living room. It was 85* and swampy with humidity. We pounded and pulled, scooped and dragged all day long.
Did I mention it was hot?!
The house was empty and the curb was full.
A shower never felt so good. For dinner we had Garbo’s recommended dinner from Whataburger. No Texas trip would’ve been complete without it.
The next morning I woke early and felt good enough to get a run in before heading over to Miss Dorothy’s. Hard to believe but Houston is flatter than New Jersey.
After seeing my run’s elevation profile on Strava I could understand how so many houses got flooded. The water just came down and since no area is lower than any other it just filled the streets and then the houses.
At Miss Dorothy’s the 2nd day I learned how to tack up electrical outlet boxes and then we insulated the walls while others were insulating the living room ceiling.
Ms Dorothy bought us sandwiches for lunch that day. Each one of us just loved her more than the other.
In the afternoon all of the men left the worksite to go to Home Depot or for a bathroom break. The ladies ruled the site!!
After dinner three of us found an ice cream shop called Marble Creamery (or something to that nature). I got a medium sized bowl of peanut butter and chocolate ice cream with Reeses and peanut butter mixed in. It must’ve weighed a pound!! Everything truly is bigger in Texas! The ice cream was so amazing after another 85+* day.
Day 3 dawned early again and I covered another 3 Texas miles a little slower than the day before. I blame this on offloading drywall from Home Depot (a perfect Spartan exercise).
The house was ready for us to install drywall.
Once again 5 of the 7 of us were newbies to this. Cullen gave us a quick lesson and Pastor Tom, Nicole and I made “quick” work of Ms Dorothy’s bedroom.
Posing in front of our work.
We moved to the living room where the other crew was using their heads to put up the ceiling.
Nicole, Tom and I started on the walls but didn’t quite manage to get the living room finished by the time we needed to head out.
I hope the next crew loves Miss Dorothy as much as we did.
A fitting send off for this well worn pair of beloved Zantes (also beloved shoe of Garbo - 2nd only to his Piranhas)
If you ever think Garbo’s Muskrat challenges aren’t for you perhaps you should think again. The world will be a better place for it.