Saturday, October 25, 2008

Boxcar Crawdad Cove at Lake Mead

I drove to Lake Mead at 8 a.m. Saturday morning. This time not as a boater but as a volunteer in the Get Outdoors Nevada's group effort to clean up litter at the lake in the Boxcar/Crawdad Cove.

Passing many cyclists and bikers, I arrived at the check-in station and was greeted by a young, cheerful park ranger. She provided me with water, mini Cliff bars and several cards containing codes to download music from iTunes for free. There were also t-shirts, buttons and garbage bags for cars available. When the rest of the volunteers showed up, we each grabbed gloves, garbage bags, a bucket and one of those handy trash picker upper tools. We even had neck lanyards with a rubber ring to hold our water bottles!

Well equipped, I wandered off down the road towards the shoreline along with the other handful of volunteers picking up trash. There were grocery bags, cigarette butts, toilet paper, beer cans and lots of beer bottles (whole and broken). Some stood out like sore thumbs and others camouflaged into the landscape as if they were trying to belong to the desert. After all, they were discarded items that were no longer wanted.

Much of the litter was held captive by brushes and tumbleweeds so they were easy to spot. I felt like I was participating in an Easter Egg Hunt or playing a game of Operation but instead of pulling parts out of Sam, I was carefully pulling trash from shrubs, being careful not to damage the plants.

What I've found strewn throughout our desert the most were beer cans and beer bottles. Most appeared to be Budweiser, Bud Light, Corona or Rolling Rock (I don't mean anything by this; just a trend I noticed). Many were shattered against rocks, scattered like sparkling jewels decorating the desolate land. As strangely beautiful as I thought they were, they didn't belong there and so I spent quite a bit of my time close to the ground picking up the pieces with my gloves. But it was like picking up Humpty Dumpty; pieces I could never put together again. I didn't mind the tedious work. By then I had stopped listening to the quiet desert and had my earbuds in listening to tunes off my iPod. I wanted to take photos of the volunteers cleaning up to show you but it's not convenient to do with gloves on, a bucket on one arm, garbage bag in one hand and the trash pickup tool in the other. There is a photo slideshow on the Lake Mead National Park Service's website from previous volunteer efforts.

As the hours went by, there were just four people left including me. A gentleman, two military soldiers and myself. The day was getting warmer and I was grateful for my hat and sunglasses. Though I had slathered on suncreen, I am glad my long sleeve shirt offered extra protection against the sun and my pants saved my legs from the prickly brushes. By eleven o'clock, I decided to head back towards the check-in station with the two young men.

Along the way we picked up various parts for a car and so they joked that we were going to build a car from it. I had the to-go items for the lunch we would have in the car once it was built: a cardboard cupholder, a straw and styrofoam cup.

After we parted ways, I drove towards home. I was dusty, sweaty and tired but felt a sense of accomplishment and pride for the very lake that my husband and I have so often boated on. My car looked like it had been off roading for the first time in its life and I...I had a great time and would do it again in a heart beat.

(BTW: I'm aware that driving and taking photos is not safe but I know my camera so well to be able to operate it while keeping my eyes on the road. I just keep in mind that digital pics are free to take and if I were to wreck the car, it would really, really suck .)


TomboCheck said...

Wow, that is awesome!! Great to see you cleaning up the area that you love.

Daly said...

Thank you for the kudos, Tombo! John was working but next time he's going to participate with me.

I felt good about making a difference that when I exited the off-ramp towards our house, I saw so much trash around there and thought of taking it upon myself to pickup that part of the freeway (if my husband will let me). I don't know what kind of clearance I would have to get from the city to clean up that off-ramp. It looks awful.

Johnny said...

I am proud of you baby for doing that. So many people are always talking about who they are voting for to save the planet and you are actually out there doing something about it. Keep it up. Next time, I will make sure to get off work so I can help as well.

Daly said...

Thank you for your support sweetheart :)