Saturday, August 30, 2014

DC Car Free Day!

Hey folks, if you are in the DC area, Car Free Day is Monday, 22 September.  If you go to the website and pledge not to use your car that day, you could win a Kindle Fire or other prizes.  Even if you don't normally use your car to commute to work, you can still pledge to go car free that day.

Also, I know it's been a while since I posted about this before.  I've met a few people recently who were new to the DC area and were not aware of the Guaranteed Ride Home program.

In order to encourage people to use public transit in the DC area, you can register for the Guaranteed Ride Home.  If you have some sort of a family emergency an you need to go home during the middle of the day, they will pay your cab fare to go home up to 4 times per year.

I used it.  It works.  One day, one of my kids was sick at school and needed to be picked up and my wife was out of the area.  I called the Guaranteed Ride Home program and there was a taxi at my doorstep within 10 minutes.  It drove me from Crystal City all the way home to Ashburn and I signed a slip for the $70 cab fare and didn't pay a dime.

It's FREE!  If you live in the DC area and use public transit to get to work, SIGN UP!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Paddle Log #32 and 35 - Keep Loudoun Beautiful Potomac River Cleanup

It occurs to me that I never posted about last year's Keep Loudoun Beautiful cleanup event on the Potomac River, and here it is time for me to write about this year's cleanup.  So this post is a dual paddle log entry for both excursions.

Last year (2013) all geared-up and ready to go

Each summer, Keep Loudoun Beautiful hosts a couple of cleanup events on the local waterways.  The great guys at River and Trail Outfitters provide the canoes, paddles, and PFDs, and KLB provides trash bags, recycle bags, and long-arm grabbing tools.

2014 Washington Post photo by Lisa Bolton

They always have more people interested than they have boats, so you have to sign up in advance.  They won't even tell you where they're going to get in the water or get out of the water until you are a registered participant.  They don't want a lot of extra people showing up to participate and not have boats for them to use.

Safety brief before boarding the bus.

Our guide telling us some history of the river and reminding 
us of some safety rules before heading out. (2013)

Although KLB provided pizza at the take-out both years now, it's important to bring some snacks (or lunch) along.  Both times, we've met up at the take-out location at 8:30 a.m., turned in our liability waiver forms, had a safety brief from the River and Trail Outfitter guides, and boarded River and Trail Outfitter buses that take us up stream to the put-in location.  By the time we get up there and get in the water, it's about 10:30 a.m., and both times it has taken about 4 hours to get down to the take-out.  After arriving about 2:30 p.m., there's another 30 minutes or so of work unloading the trash from the canoes into the dumpsters, so it's 3 p.m. by the time you're getting in the car to go home. 

It's a beautiful stretch of the Potomac River here in Loudoun County.  Both times, we had beautiful days on the water and saw bald eagles, great blue herons, fish, and dragonflies.

My youngest son passing a can back for the recycle bag.

Last year, we were picking up every piece of trash we found as soon as we got on the water.  An hour later, we were only 1 mile into our 7 mile journey, and I said, "Alright boys, we're done picking up trash for today.  If we keep this pace, we won't make it home for dinner."  We just paddled onward to the takeout point.

This year, the guide said in previous years they get a lot of the trash at the upper stretch of the river, then everyone gets tired and just starts paddling for home.  So this year, he asked us not to pick up trash in the first mile so that we could focus some of our attention on the later miles of the trip.  We did.  It worked out well, but again, there came a point where we said "enough" because our canoes were pretty full and because we needed to paddle onward to the take-out point.

2014 Washington Post photo by Lisa Bolton

It amazes me how many tires we find in the river.  This year, we set a new KLB record for the number of tires pulled out of the river on a cleanup event - 90 tires!  The bin in the picture above was empty when we started.

We pulled 45 bags of recyclable material out of the river this year, plus filled up a 8 cubic yard dumpster with trash.

My silly boys describing this foreign concept 
of "land" after being on the water for so long.

Overall, the KLB cleanup events are a great way to get out on the water for the day, experience the beauty of the Potomac River, and provide a service to our community cleaning up the trash and preserving the beauty of the river.  Both years now, I have enjoyed the day with my boys on the river, and I hope we'll be able to do it again next summer, too.

If you're interested, please visit the Keep Loudoun Beautiful website.  Of note, they recently lost their funding from Loudoun County due to budget-crunch and belt-tightening, so they're relying on donations to keep them in operation.

GPS Stats:
Paddle Log #32:  7.1 miles, 3 hours 59 min, average speed 1.8 mph
Paddle Log #35:  6.9 miles, 3 hours 48 min, average speed 1.8 mph