Litter Run

Last weekend I joined up with a few members of a couple of area bike clubs to do some road clean-up in Valley Forge Park.

a6-sBasil didn’t come with me; I live too far away to ride to the site.  As a result, I had the opportunity to explore a little while waiting for the cyclists to arrive.

a6-trThe original date had been the previous week, but postponed because of rain.  This Sunday was beautiful; a perfect day for a ride, actually.  Or for litter-picking, as it turned out.

a6-bd2There were signs that spring is well and truly on the way.  Birds were nattering like crazy all over the place, too.

This section of Pennsylvania is known for its covered bridges.  They are charming things in all sorts of shapes and sizes, mostly cobbled together sturdily, but rather crudely.

a6-cbThis one is in Valley Forge Park, historic site of an infamous winter during the Revolutionary War.  The park itself, though beautiful, is a major traffic route, too.

a6-otI don’t know if there is a typical covered bridge, in terms of architecture or style.  I like the open-work on the side of this one; it looks a bit like very sturdy lattice.

a6-inThe bridge is wooden, of course, but there’s a lot of hidden steel reinforcement going on, too.

a6-rdLarge bolts and a lot of steel rods are visible on the inside, though everything is painted over.

a6-bltThat’s a steel joint plate holding two beams together on the upper right.

a6-bmThe upper struts are purely functional, of course, but I think they have their own primitive beauty, too.

The driving surface is made of sturdy planks, just one lane wide.


The original use would have been by  horses, buggies, and wagons, of course, not multi-ton SUVs.

On the litter crew, we picked up mostly cigarette butts and the occasional beer bottle, but also discovered this rather unusual bit:


My litter partner and I initially couldn’t figure out what it was, but I noticed that the word “spreader” was imprinted on one arm:  That was all the clue we needed.  We looked to the heavens, and this is what we spied:


Yep,it was  a utility line spreader, all right.  I wonder how often they fall off? Those open ended hooks look a little suspect, and we know they lost at least one.


Here were the fruits of our labor.  It wasn’t  much, really, especially considering that this was the end of winter, during which there had been no litter collection.

It was a little discouraging to see how many people still think its just fine to throw tobacco butts (including plastic-tipped small cigar butts) out a vehicle window — filled as they are with carcinogenic chemicals captured by the filters (the rest are in the lungs of the smoker, of course; that’s pollution of a different kind).

a6-edMost people, though, are kind to this stretch of road, and to the park in general.  In fact, it looked so good when we arrived that I wondered what we’d do as we walked along.  As it turned out, there was plenty of debris to salvage; in the end, we knew the area was actually just as clean as it looked.  It was a good few hours’ work.