Monday, May 07, 2007

Fun Filled Saturday: Cleanup 2007, Bike Ride, & Barbeque

Many people complain that Alaska only has two seasons; winter and the other one. As for me I like to think there are five distinct seasons; summer, fall, winter, breakup, and spring. What’s ‘breakup,’ you ask? Well, breakup is the season when the snow is melting. It is a muddy, bleak time. It is a time that only locals can find beautiful, because they are just so glad the snow is disappearing and the sun is reappearing. Part of the problem is the six months of accumulated trash final is visible as the snow melts. So to combat it Anchorage gets mobilized and sponsors a citywide cleanup.

While growing up, the first weekend in May was cleanup day. Everyone would get out on Saturday with orange garbage bags and pickup their neighborhood, park, or trail. Then you just take the bags to the nearest schools and the city takes them away. To encourage people’s own spring cleaning there also is free dumping at the landfill. Add the first heavy shower and by mid-May everything is cleaned up and greener than ever.

When we moved back to Anchorage I was glad to see the city was still doing it. This year the kids’ school really promoted it. For each bag of trash they brought in they got a raffle ticket for a chance to win an ipod shuffle. It was a bike when I was a kid.

So Saturday morning we road over to a school by our house and picked up the orange bags. This year the city also provided t-shirts for the cleanup. The kids thought that was pretty cool. So wearing our new shirts we set about picking up trash. We started along a trail next to our house. I was glad we did because some of it looked like it could have come from us. Then we walked our neighborhood. The kids turned it in to a treasure hunt with the mom and dad bringing up the rear with the bags. Every bottle cap and old board was a find. At one point, Gwenna exclaiming, “Eew! an ear plug,” and then a few minutes later shouted proudly, “Oh! I’ve found the match.”

We had originally intended to ride bikes to a nearby park for cleanup, but with five kids you have to be flexible. So when Xian decided she needed to be fed, we stuck around the neighborhood. We even ate our picnic lunch on the front lawn. After lunch, we decided we still had time to ride to the park. So we packed up two bike trailers with kids and rode off. Gwen and Will raced the whole way. Once we got to the park we quickly realized that someone else had beaten us to the cleanup. So we ended up playing instead. It is a really cool that over looks the inlet. There is boat shaped jungle gym and a real climbing wall. The kids had a blast.

There park was crowded with thirty or so people having a barbeque. Even though we had just ate, the smell made us all hungry again. After an hour we decided to head back home. Once home we all hopped in the car and drove to the local school to drop off the filled bags. We also picked up the raffle tickets, but since the tickets have to be dropped off at the kid’s own school, we then drove across town to Northern Lights ABC. We got there right at 2 PM just before they closed. On Monday the kids will find out if they won the ipod or not. Of course, what is a five or seven year old going to do with an ipod? Maybe a Father’s Day gift?

On the way home, we decided that we needed to have a barbeque too. So we stopped off at Costco. After trying all the free samples, we left with the reindeer dogs, buns, chips, and other goodies necessary for a barbeque. Thanks to cell phones, we were also able to call my sister who is back from college to come over.

During our short bike ride we realized William’s bike was way too small for him. So I broke out the next sized bike and made some repairs. The bike was left in the house, with tons of other junk, when we moved in. I only need to repair the flat tires and add a missing petal to get it running again. I also installed training wheels on our smallest bike. In no time, we had just upgraded half the kids to ‘new’ bikes. I sat back and grilled hotdogs on the driveway as the kids tried out their new bikes. Will even hauled out some scrap wood to make a sweet jump.

Later that night after the kids were in bed, Rebecca and I sat around playing Scrabble with my sister. As we talked about the day we realized that a simple cleanup day had ballooned into a bike ride, park time, shopping trip, bike repair, and barbeque day. And we loved it. Saturday is always a packed and fun filled day.

1 comment:

Angie M. said...

I am glad to hear that they still promote Citywide Clean Up in the schools! That is something we used to do every year in an effort to win the prizes. Plus with Chester Creek running through the neighborhood I grew up in (College Gate), we would find some interesting things under the snow.