Yesterday was Earth Day so I headed to the National Zoo in DC with Stephanie and Courtney (girls rock!) to help clean up Rock Creek Park behind the zoo. We met at the metro at 7am (whoo, that's early on a Saturday) and headed downtown. The zoo volunteers organize this clean-up every year and lots of people besides us showed up to help. Once we checked in at the zoo, a shuttle bus took everyone over to the clean-up site where we had our choice of easy, medium, or difficult terrain. Being tough girls, we took the hard route. They gave each of us a trash bag and a bag of gloves and pointed us in the right direction.
The difficult route lived up to its name and we couldn't find much trash on the steep hill. We started making our way down the hill, but since it had recently rained the muddy trail gave way and we had a hard time keeping our traction on the hill. There was so little trash, that we started eyeballing the other volunteers' trash bags and asking them where they found their trash. I guess that's a good thing we weren't finding a lot of trash, but it's a little disappointing when we traveled so far to pick up trash. Courtney decided we could find more trash down below on the bike path next to the creek, so we slowly made our way down the muddy, steep hill. She was right and we happily found much more trash to clean up. I found a small suitcase along the side of the banks, which I dragged back to the bike path since it was too heavy to drag it back up the hill (I alerted the zoo volunteers as to its location). I also found a shopping cart buried in mud so deep that there was no way to get it out. It had been there a while, judging by the small tree growing through the metal.
After we managed to pick our way back up the hill and figured out how to get back to the volunteer station, we sorted our trash so it could be recycled. We headed back to the zoo grounds to see the animals, particularly the elephants and the pandas. It was crowded with lots and lots of people and strollers by then. It was almost a little too crazy and people in large groups like that tend to lose any sense of manners they might have had alone. People suddenly stop in front of you with their large stroller to chat with each other, oblivious to the fact that you're behind them and now can't get around them. I have no patience for these kind of people - pay attention, people! We managed to fight our way to the elephants in time to see them showing off their balancing skills at an elephant training demo. Later, we picked our way through the crowd to see the newest panda, Tai Shan climbing trees, somersaulting, and galloping around his yard. What a cutie and he put on quite a show.
After lunch at a really awesome cafe in the city, we headed back home tired and a little dirty from our Earth Day adventure.