Like the week before, collecting trash seems to require a lot of rules. I suppose the reason for the rules is to prevent people from getting free stuff without collecting the trash first. In this case there were free work gloves (donated by Friedman Brothers Hardware), free T-shirts (donated by Guerneville Graphics & Printing), free BBQ lunch afterwards, a free canoe rental (donated by Trowbridge Canoe Trips) to collect trash from. The rules included registering weeks in advance so they had time to assign you a location to clean up and send you a card telling you about it. I had my own canoe which I was eager to use for the first time in ages. I didn't need a T-shirt or gloves, and could live without a BBQ lunch as well. I could have used the day as an excuse to go out on my own and collect trash. But I thought I would show up and try to be sociable.
I wanted to clean my favorite section of the river down by Jenner, but I was "assigned" to the Monte Rio area. The rules included meeting everyone in Guerneville (five miles farther from home for me) to fill out waivers, meet our group leaders, get passes to the BBQ, wait around for an hour for everyone to show up, wait for them to get organized, and hear an orientation talk. Then we were allowed to drive single-file to the Monte Rio Beach and spend another half hour getting organized there and getting another orientation. I was in my partially-canopied two- person Kevlar canoe. Sitting in the back seat of this boat with nobody up front, the prow rose way out of the water. I figured 200 LBs of garbage could fit in the front and meanwhile I felt very maneuverable on a calm day on the river.
With only 4 other canoes we paddled east up the north shore of the river picking trash out of the water and the low branches of trees. There were still items stuck in the branches that had been caught there during the floods last year. When we came to an isolated beach we stopped to search for more trash on shore. After only an hour on the water we rounded an island and planned to head back down the south shore. With my polarized "fisherman's" sunglasses, I spied two rubber tires on the bottom of the river. By leaning out the side of my canoe, bracing myself off the bottom with my paddle, and tipping the canoe until the water was an inch from the cockpit, I was able to snag one of the tires with my finger tips and lift it to the surface. After shaking most of the water, mud, and gravel out of it, this tire helped hold the nose of my canoe down. The second tire was lifted up on the handle of one of the canoe paddles which made a good impromptu boat hook. When we got back to Monte Rio we unloaded all our trash before continuing down the river west of the beach. We chased a great blue heron down the river ahead of us.
I found a calm backwater west of the bridge where trash tossed at the public beach tended to collect. There was also a steep drop from the Moscow Road down to the bank of the river and apparently people often drive by and toss trash over the edge. Two guys in a canoe found a microwave oven in the water here! I saw an armchair caught on a log at the waters edge and figured I would pick that up on the trip back. It would balance in the cockpit in front of the empty front seat. While traveling downstream and back, however, I filled up my front cockpit with a 5 gallon paint can and a huge piece of soggy open-cell foam. I eyeballed the armchair and decided it would fit behind the front seat and still leave enough room for my feet if I sat up on the edge of the cockpit. I rotated the armchair and dropped it off the log directly into the canoe. All my measurements turned out to be correct and it balanced in the boat leaving me just enough room to sit and paddle. I carried it this way the last few hundred meters under the bridge and back to the beach. The guys with the microwave oven said they were jealous: They thought they had found and brought back the largest item, but I beat them by a long shot!
I went to the BBQ lunch and went to an official looking table, expecting to get a T-shirt or a meal ticket. Those were at a different table, and I got those later. But first I found myself at the coupon redemption table for a water filter! It turns out that the free water filter I had missed the week before was still waiting for me. They allowed me to fill in the coupon-cupon and exchange it for a real coupon which can be exchanged for a free Britta water filter. Without expecting to get anything in return for helping to clean up my local waterways, I ended up getting all sorts of goodies!