Weekly 1 of 7


    Seven years ago, an over-served bartender handed Kip what looked like a treasure map sketched out on a wrinkled cocktail napkin. The cryptic drawing, the guy solemnly swore, would direct the holder to what he called his "secret swimmin' hole," described as a water-filled granite quarry in rural West Virginia, known only to a few other lucky souls. 
    Kip and said bartender had spent the previous hour swapping travel stories, which focused mostly on the best places in the world to jump off high cliffs into water (one of Kip's favorite past times).  Somehow, Kip charmed said bartender into giving up a closely-held secret - the location of the quarry a mere two hours from DC, with a boulder to launch from into the water 60 feet below.
    And so, our story begins...
    The first trip out, we never found the place. And we looked hard. The next time, still cursing the bartender, we re-studied the drawing, trekking down a railroad track, traversing an overgrown field and sweating through thick underbrush until we stumbled onto what looked like a rabbit trail. We followed it until the narrow path opened up into a small clearing, blocked off by thick vines on one side and a massive boulder on the other. As we stood upright and creeped forward, we saw an opening that slowly widened as we got closer. As we walked up to what became a cliff, we looked out across a green pool shrouded by trees and vines and shouldered by steep granite and we knew we’d found the spot.
    But this story isn’t so much about the quarry itself. It’s actually about how garbage can ruin one of the most unique places on the planet.
    It seems that quite a few people had found this secret spot before us, and sadly, they didn’t live by the “leave no trace” mentality.
    So for the past few years, Kip and his friends Adam, Alex, and Nick have made an annual pilgrimage to the quarry, primarily to jump from the cliffs, swing from the rope swing and try to capture a youth that’s not that far removed from any of them (at least mentally). But when they’re done playing, they spend some quality time filling garbage bags until the place looks, at least, a little less discovered. It lets everyone give back a little, which is what it’s all about, really. That and jumping off cliffs and living to tell about it.
    Big thanks to Adam, Alex and Nick for joining the clean up! We're looking forward to the next one!

    Like the well-known hair stylist in New York who gives free haircuts to homeless people, using an existing skill to help others can be an easy and fun way to do something nice.
    As Kip found out, you don't even have to be a pro at something to help out a friend. Maybe you just have a nice camera, some free time and a buddy who needs an engagement photo!
    Congrats to Adam and Lauren on your upcoming wedding! 
    And btw, the photo above was NOT the official engagement photo, but it looked so cheesy we had to put it up here. The real one's below:


    TVs. Toaster ovens. Laptops. Running shoes. Bicycle tires. 
    These are just a few of the discarded items we picked up during this year's Rock Creek Park Extreme Clean Up
    One of the largest city park's in the country, Washington's Rock Creek Park runs from the northern tip of DC down to the Potomac River just a mile from the White House. It's an urban getaway, home to hardwood forests, hiking trails, steep ravines, rushing water and plenty of deer and birds. 
    Surprisingly, it's also home to trash. And lots of it. Which is why the Rock Creek Park Conservancy every spring hosts its annual Extreme Clean Up, featuring trash pickups at more than 50 locations along the 33 mile length of Rock Creek.  
    Together with a few recruits helpful 1 of 7 recruits, we joined the Conservancy for this year's event, helping clean up an area of the park of the park near the Adams Morgan neighborhood (see photos from our work at last year's Extreme Clean-Up).
    Thanks to everyone who came out to join, especially David G (above with Liz), Jordan B (below), Matt, and Brian. 

    Yes, that's a toaster oven Kip's carrying. 

    If you're in the DC area next spring, don't miss the Rock Creek Park Extreme Clean Up. It's a rewarding, fun way to spend a few hours getting to know one of the nation's finest city parks. Plus, you never know what you'll find.


    THIS WEEK'S 1 OF 7: Spring is finally here! For most of us that means warmer temperatures, flowering trees, and happier humans (yayyy!). It's also the perfect time to do some serious spring cleaning.

    This week, dig into those closets and cabinets, climb around the attic, go deep in the garage and get rid of all that stuff you no longer need and/or haven't used in a while. When you're done, pack it all up and donate it to a nonprofit in your area. Your house will be cleaner, you'll be doing something good, and you can even save money by scoring a nice tax write-off. Need tips? Here are a few on donating clothes and finding an organization to donate stuff to.

    EXTRA CREDIT: Have a yard sale and donate the money to your favorite charity. Extra bonus--convince your neighbors to spring clean and join the sale!

    ALTERNATIVE: You really expect us to believe you're totally clutter free?! If you really are, then you're our hero. Help family or a friend de-clutter their place and donate the stuff afterward.

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