Pat and Sean, Day 1, Sea World Fall 2013 Trip

Posted On September 28, 2013

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This is my Fall trip with Sean, and it started out pretty rough.  Jim dropped me and Sean off at Philadelphia airport at 6 am.  As I exited the car, I realized I forgot Sean’s ID!!  I had NOTHING!  The skycap saw him in his chair, and did not ask for it.  Jim was like, go for it, maybe it will be ok……. Jim had to drive all the way home, 90 minutes, and then another 4 to Albany, NY for work….WELL, I was stopped at security.  It is a very long story, but god bless PHL airport, they got some high up official to set him fly, after we were both body searched.  We JUST made it, last ones to board etc.  Poor Sean had not even eaten anything, glad I had a bag of goldfish in my carry on.  (PS they are Fed Exing his ID so going home will be ok).  I felt awful, it was completely my fault.  

Arrived and picked up a nice Toyota RAV4.  I love it!  Drove over to the hotel near Sea World.  Got there about noon or so.  We were tired and took a rest after a McDonalds stop.  It was the Residence Inn.  I need a suite with Sean.  It was nice enough, we got a parking lot view, but it was just one night, so who cares. We did not swim here, too tired.Image

After a rest we went to Sea World, it is about a 5-10 minute drive, 5 if you don’t make a wrong turn, like I did.  Arrived at around 2:30 pm.   It was fairly hot yesterday.  So ugh.  Antartica penguin thing was down, the ride part, and the line was long so we did other stuff.  I saw that Manta ride, I WOULD ride it, but I was nervous to take Sean on.  The other big one was closed.  So first we rode the Atlantis flume.  It is OK…… Sean loved it.  It has a nice high drop hill, but the ride is so weird, up at the top, you are rolling along in a dry canal, not in water.  It LOOKS like water is supposed to be there, but it is dry.  Needs a refurb.  We got wet, but we wanted to get wet.  Now let me say, we were hot and tired.  I find Sea World very very confusing.  I was reading the map, using their phone app, watching the signs, and still was confused there.  (last visit was 21 years ago).  

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So after this, we went to see the dolphin show on a whim, it was starting in a few minutes.  Just made it.  The park will seem fairly uncrowded, but then you enter an arena there, and you realize it is all about the shows at Sea World!  That is where everyone is!  Anyway, the dolphins are cute, but don’t DO much here.  Image

This show is BIZARRE.  The trainers do not talk.  But, they dance.  And after 5-7 minutes of dolphins, you get BIRDS.  This is SEA world folks.  Birds???  Then dancers?trainers? come out, dressed like birds.  The boy dancers?trainers? have faux mohawks on their heads with their wetsuits.  Birds fly around the arena, right over your head a few times.  Dancers fly around on ropes.  I was thinking, where are the freakin’ dolphins??  I wish I took more photos, but I did not like this show so I only took a few.  Other people seemed to like it just fine.  I am unsure if the trainers are the dancers, or if the dancers are another team.

So at this point, I was thinking, Sea World is not really for me.  To improve my outlook, we made it to Shark Encounter, this was new the last time I was here.  Still pretty good, I wish you could walk thru and stand there longer watching them, but that would mess it all up, the lines would be so long I guess.Image

 Next up?  the Sea Lion show.  Still called Clyde and Seamore, now themed with pirates.  I still love this show!!  First of all, the trainers are having a blast, and they are sort of hot too.  HAHA!

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 Anyway, just like always, at the end the walrus comes out.  I always feel bad for him, he has few tricks and is so awkward.  But I appreciate him, he is trying!  Blog will not let me upload any more photos.  I am ticked off.  Anyway,  those Sea Lions are crazy cute.  They mess up and the trainers make fun of them, part of the show I suspect.  I saw the Flamingo boats.  They also have flamingoes here, not sure WHY, more birds.  Only penguins work for me as acceptable sea like birds, because they swim in the sea. whatever.  So we left around 5:45, it closed at 6 pm.  Got some rest, another 1/2 day of Sea World Park to go….

Struggling with this blog, and this software as usual.

 

The “Project” Begins

Posted On June 3, 2013

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Above is my dreaded before photo, I swear it looked worse in person.

I have read various blogs of others (THANK-YOU all for your step by step blogs!!) who tackled the removal of carpeting from their stairs, and sanding and re-staining the steps, painting the risers white, etc.  I got inspired.  And sick of my 18 year old builder’s grade light beige carpeting.  We were about to replace the carpet in the hall upstairs, (hardwood not in our budget), so it seemed like a perfect time to tackle this…..  My husband is a carpenter, but is not REALLY involved in this PROJECT.  I am somewhat handy, from helping him over the years, but I really went into this with no idea what I was doing.

There is quite a bit of pre-planning on a project like this.  My railings and spindles were all golden oak, covered in polyurathane.  Very 90s.  First step of course, is removing the old carpet, and removing the tackless strips.  Carefully.  LOTS of staples and tacks.  Leaving many little holes to be repaired later.  Steps are pine, I think, and had the usual stains and paint overspray on them.  I had to remove the tackless all along the top railing in the foyer, and on the steps.  Thankfully, they did not use any GLUE.  I divided the initial project into 4 phases.  After all, I work 2 part time jobs, and have all my usual jobs to do, like food shopping, laundry, preparing meals, cleaning, etc.  Phase 1, was the railing and bannisters on the 2nd floor that face into the foyer.

And even WORSE, the dogs chewed up many of the spindles.  ARGHH.  They did this years ago, when they were puppies.  And it meant, no staining those again, it would be impossible to repair them and re-stain, and have them look acceptable.  I wanted to paint them white, I figured some wood putty and paint would work well enough (more on this later).  My husband was upset about painting the oak spindles, but they were just too damaged and we were NOT going to replace them.  OK, so spindles will be painted white.  I decided to stain the posts though, even though that violates the “Stain horizontal surfaces, paint white the vertical surfaces (unwritten) rule”.  The posts were in good shape, and quite nice with the oak grain, I thought.  Next decisions were about the products to use.  I was going to use regular oil based Minwax and poly.  THEN I began to read about the fumes.  This project is in my large 2 story centrally located foyer, there is no way to block it off from the rest of the house.  And no easy way to ventilate it, with summer approaching.  So, ALL WATER BASED products will be used, I decided.  Returned the oil based one to Lowes, bought water based.  I decided to use a stripper first, before sanding.  I thought this would help me, because the spindles and posts were round, and had tight little sections that would be impossible to sand.  I used the orange Citristrip gel.  This does not smell too bad, either, water wash up.  Washes off your clothes and any rags you may use, too.  I painted it on, with a cheap brush, rather thickly.  It dries relatively quickly.  I read on the internet, to spray it with alcohol to keep it moister, and easier to scrape off with a plastic scraping tool.  Otherwise, it gets all dry and crumbly.

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At this point, I went off on a week long search for the correct color stain.  We will be putting hardwood on the first floor.  I tried to make that decision, and find a “matching” stain.  After several days, I picked a dark brown flooring, with reddish tones as well.  I went out of my mind, more or less, trying to find something suitable.  I got a board of oak from Lowes to practice on.  I have NEVER stained anything in my entire life.  And I ended up buying 4 different colors, none worked, and finally, I ended up mixing 2 colors.  It was close.  I added a bit of a 3rd color, and BOOM, I have my color!  Scary if I run out, I know what I mixed, pretty much, but not sure I could duplicate it 100%.  Moving on!

I sanded after the stripping.  Image

You want to get ALL the poly off the part you are staining.  Or, the new stain will not take, if you miss a tiny spot, you will have a problem.  I found a WEIRD tip to help with this, by accident.  I use my iPhone flashlight app to go to bed sometimes, in the dark house.  When I used it going up the stairs, I saw shiny spots where I missed with the sanding.  I even hand sanded these little spots in the dark, which my daughter thought was creepy.  But, it helped!  I also got the spindles down to the bare wood.  I probably did not have to sand the spindles as much as I did, since I was painting them, but I did anyway.  Wiped them afterwards with the Citristrip after strip cleaner, to get all that orange stuff off.

Then I had to do the repairs on the dog damage with wood putty, and sand that too. Here is one example, one of the worse ones.Image

I stained the railing first.  I was learning on the first section.  You CAN slop your stain onto the spindles, if you are painting them later anyway.  I used a good primer.  (If you are staining you would not want to get any on the spindles until you were ready to stain them).  I applied the water based pre-stain conditioner, even though I read that with oak, you don’t really need it.  Why take a chance, though?  It is very easy to slap on, then wipe off excess.  Next, with water based stain, you need to work on small areas at a time.  It blotches fast, especially on the first coat.  So this is tricky, when you apply an area, then wipe it, then start the next section, where you sort of overlap, it will be a little darker.  Don’t worry too much about this, try and smooth out the color, but since I was going dark, I figured I could even it out later.  On the first area of phase 1, I made a huge mistake, and forgot to wipe the stain off under the railing of a 6 foot section for about 10 minutes.  BLOTCHY!  I was panicked.  It looked horrible.  I later had to re-sand it, and start over, and it finally looked ok.  I later read good advice, do under the railing first!  And with the water based stain, you put on about 2-3 between spindle sections, wipe, repeat.  On the railings, about 12-18 inches, wipe, repeat. First coat, 12 inches length, maybe.  (at least, that is what worked for me).

I used many ways to apply the stain, rags, foam brushes, and staining pads.  I seem to prefer foam brush for the first coat, wipe with rag.  Later coats, staining pad, wipe with rag.  But I used all sorts of methods.  Try it all!

With water based stain, you can second coat in 2 hours!  Hooray.  It took me 4 coats to get dark enough for the look I wanted.  The first coat will be quite light, Imagedo not worry about that.  With water based stain, you CANNOT just leave the first coat on longer to get it darker!  You will get blotches.  Since it dries so fast, just use multiple thin coats.  4th coat: Image

The day after staining, I would start the coats of poly.  You can do it the same day as the stain, but by the time I got to the fourth coat of stain, it was 5 pm, and I had to start dinner. Again, I used water based poly, no smell.  I used a brush for this, and honestly, I went back over it numerous times to smooth it out.  Because I never did this before.  It seemed pretty easy.  I used 3 coats on the top of railing, where your hands would rest.  2 coats, under railing and on the posts, and on the bottom rail, which is only on the top part of the railing, above the stairs.  I did NOT sand between coats of poly.  It honestly felt smooth enough to me, I am fine with feeling a little bit of the grain, for us.  IF you must sand, do it before the LAST coat of poly.  The water based poly is thin, and if you try and sand before a few coats, you will start to mess with the stain itself (happened to me).  Image

Above is the first section.  Looking back, I screwed up the painting of the spindles, by using a paintbrush.  Duh.  Realized later, a foam brush is the answer!  And get one that has the plastic inside, to make it a bit stronger.  I am debating RE-sanding them to fix it.  The entire top section.  Rats.  AND, there are parts of the top that are not stained as dark as the rest. Again, do I want to try and correct this?  I sort of DO, but for now, I must press on to get more progress on this thing.  It is not as red as this photo appears, and not as light.

My days and weeks evolved into Monday, strip with Citristrip.  Start sanding.  Tuesday, SAND.  Wednesday, STAIN.  Thursday, apply polyurathane. Friday, paint the spindles.  There are 63 spindles, I counted (!!)

Section 2, was 1/2 of the lower portion.  Section 3, the other lower portion.Image

As you can see, there is a 4th section, that looks super difficult.  And it WAS  tricky.  My dear husband built me a scaffold.Image

OK, after 5 weeks, I have the entire railing and spindles done!!  I had to hop over the railing on and off that scaffold, too.

Now I must begin to sand the steps, and the risers.  We also found some little challenges under the carpet.  The first one looks like a Tom & Jerry mouse hole!  (not literally)Image

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And the landing is a disaster that husband has to figure out.  It is plywood, and the bullnose is broken in a few places.  And we have to have the landing the same height that it is now. We are working on this.  Well, husband is.  I hope.

Hello world!

Posted On December 7, 2009

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