Anacostia River Clean Up With UD DC Alumni Association
I found the Ballpark Boathouse not far beyond Nat's Stadium and was welcomed by CJ who could easily identify me by my University of Delaware t-shirt. We were soon joined by a half dozen others and I was instantly relieved to see I was NOT the oldest Blue Hen on the dock (I was the second oldest!). Since I had never participated in an alumni event before nor had I cleaned a river by kayak, this checked my boxes and made it the PERFECT inaugural event to launch my Follow Me To 50 project!
I was given a life jacket, paddle, mesh bag, a pair of yellow kitchen gloves, and was directed to a kayak. The instructions were simple -- fill the bag with as much trash as you could and report back to the dock in 90 minutes to weigh it. I was ready to go! I took off and looked for a spot far away from the other volunteers. I guess I am competitive about collecting garbage! Really? Most of the trash I came across were empty plastic water bottles but there were also some disgusting personal products as well (USED feminine AND male products if you get my drift). In all honesty, I tried to ignore and avoid it but after it continued to bob up and down next to my kayak, I felt like it was a test and added them to my bag. Eww!
The time went by quickly and I was really having a good time. It was such a beautiful day. Right before it was time to turn around to paddle back upstream, I came upon the MOTHERLOAD of garbage and got super excited! At first, I loaded the dozens of water bottles and soda cans into my bag. Then, as I cleared the area, a big mallard duck looked straight at me! Not a real duck, an inflatable duck raft that was filthy and filled with water. I had no idea how I would get it back to the dock but was hellbent on doing so -- as if I were going after a big prize! I towed it using the bungee on the back of my kayak but had great difficulty paddling upstream as it weighed over 18 pounds. There were times when I thought I'd have to abandon my mission but I was not going to leave this duck behind in the river! Finally, I reached the dock and was greeted with cheers and curiosity! CJ weighed my trash and I declared myself the winner! Not only did I likely collect the heaviest load (over 20 pounds), but I caught a duck as well!
Before heading home, I sat outside of Nat's Stadium watching fans come and go and rewarded myself with a big yummy hot dog. Now, that was a good day!
My Takeaways: (1) Drink water from recyclable containers please and if you must use plastic bottles, please don't litter! (2) I'm amazed and grateful that our organizer does this EVERY Sunday morning from April - September. Thank you, CJ! I'm going back in the spring. Who wants to join me? (3) This part of the SE waterfront is so nice with trails, restaurants, bars, etc. I want to check it out; (4) I might even contemplate doing another event with the UD DC Alumni Association especially since there will be at least one other Blue Hen alum in the family!