An exploration of things to do in Arlington

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Guest Blog: ACE Hike and Happy Hour

This week we unveil our first guest blog. I still have this grand vision of this blog being more of a community review of things to do in Arlington, so if you would ever like to contribute something, please let me know. I would love to have it.

So, this week, Miles Grant takes a look at the ACE Hike and Happy Hour. Drumroll please ...

Just walking up to the Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE) Hike & Happy Hour, you could tell it was going to be a big crowd. Well before the event's 4pm start time, there were already a couple of dozen people gathered around the back of the ACE worker's van in the Roosevelt Island parking lot, and the two bird-watchers who were leading the hike looked a little overwhelmed. They'd only brought a few pairs of binoculars, but fortunately they got some help from the crowd! Several other bird-watchers volunteered to help lead the hike and share their binoculars.

After County Board Member Paul Ferguson welcomed everyone to the event, the birders decided to split the crowd (now about 40 people) into two groups to make things more manageable. Once we got onto the island, our group actually split up again, into people who wanted to spot birds and people who wanted to get a good hike in! I went with the hikers, and it was such a perfect day to be on Roosevelt Island -- 75 and sunny. Even the far side of the island, normally a hot, muggy swamp, was bearable.

In the swamp we got a surprise -- a red-tailed hawk perched in a tree just a few feet off the path! Some smaller birds, including a cardinal, were buzzing around it, and we speculated the hawk was a little too close for comfort to their nests. But the hawk wasn't bothered by them or us, and stayed perched for pictures. We laughed that the hiking group may have gotten a better bird sighting than the birding group!

Once the hike wrapped up, we headed over to Continental for the Happy Hour end of the event. Continental is more of an after-work bar, so on a Saturday evening, we had most of the place to ourselves. The group of about 40 people was twice as many as we'd had expected, and Continetal wasn't quite prepared ... we got a new waitress who was totally overwhelmed by the big group. But with Continental's low happy hour prices (half price drinks and appetizers), we didn't mind waiting a bit.

Continental donated some lounge space and pool tables for the event, so we played a few games of pool while we filled out trivia sheets for the evening's door prizes -- gift certificates to the restaurant Pinzimini (in the new Westin in Ballston) and LaTasca in Clarendon. We also talked about future ACE events, with people buzzing (no pun intended) about the Organic Beer Tasting planned for this fall, and several people suggested we plan a screening of Al Gore's new movie "An Inconvenient Truth", so we're already talking to Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse about planning that. For updates, you can join the ACE email list

I hope to see you out sometime soon.


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