Days 19 & 20 – Erie to Conneaut to Ashtabula

IMG_2027Yesterday was World Ocean Day! Yes, I refuse to make ocean plural-it is really one, and we are all connected. Even here on the inside, like the inland state of Ohio. This whole paddle has been an upstream paddle battle, and more to come with winds in my face. The water in the Great Lakes flows out the St. Lawrence, and even out through the locks and canals to the Hudson and down. Bad stuff goes out, and also comes in, usually in the form of invasive species like zebra mussels and even sea lampreys!

Ohio borders a pretty big river (of the same name!) that drains into the Mississippi which of course dumps out into the poor ailing Gulf.  So Ohio isn’t really as landlocked as one might think. Eventually you can reach the ocean leaving any one of Ohio’s waterways, whether it’s Lake Erie or the Ohio River which actually starts in PA. And let us not forget that PA, by virtue of the tidal Delaware, is also a coastal state in a way!

It is really incumbent, as a nation, as individuals, to get our acts together to protect our water resources. It’s not just government actions and policies, not just regulations, not just the various organizations working on the ground to remedy these issues, it’s going to take all of us, in our daily lives, changing habits we’ve fallen into that really are bad for our water.

I do feel we can do it-we can make needed changes-but first we need to be aware of the problems. Plastics are an easy one-you can see them. BUT micro-beads, teensy weeny bits of plastic labeled as “polyethylene” or “polypropylene” in your hand wash, face & body soap, even, from what I understand, inyour toothpaste!-are more and more present in our watershed. Why is this a big deal? Well, it IS litter and never breaks down-just into itty-bittierpieces by the sun.

Rather than have me go on about it- check out any number of sites devoted to the issue of plastic in our oceans. Both Project Kaisei and 5 Gyres are doing great work educating folks about the problems of our disposable plastic problem. Here are there links:

And of course, we cannot forget Surfrider Foundation’s work on this!

I know it seems so trivial, plastics. Plastic was a topic of discussion in “The Graduate,” and mentioned in an old Christmas movie-“It’s a Wonderful Life.” The funny thing, though, is that movie was made when??? The Heehaw buddy of George Bailey was looking into investing in a plastic plant that made plastic from-SOYBEANS!

So what happened??? How do we now get plastics from petroleum products? One can only wonder. Maybe it’s for the same reason folks ditched their solar hot water heaters to electric ones in Florida? Hmm…the thought of the day.

So the plastic issue isn’t just the only issue we need to work. But it is certainly a glaringly obvious issue as well as one that demands the most individual action. Beach Guardians Atlantic Coasts is a new organization that is working to promote a more sustainable, ocean/beach (wherever your beach might be-even along a river, even along a lake) mind set.  Linda Emerson is busy at work making this happen, please check out her FB page and “like” it.

Enough from me today-time to hit the water-it will be a bit of a battle between the wind and me. Hard to always snuggle close to the coast-and that is the place to be, because of the rocks. The wonderful folks who are hosting us, Diane and Rich McKenna, who are members of the Conneaut Boat Club which also kept my canoe overnight, have housed us and fed us for TWO days!! We are so grateful for these “strangers no more” as John Vargo coined it. I so hope they can visit us next time they come down to the Marlton area to visit their relatives.

Diane and Rich have a sweet spot on Lake Erie. They told us that when it’s really kicking out there, you can see the giant swells marching across the horizon. I’d love to see that. When I’m not paddling!

Lindsy and I have been so incredibly lucky to meet nothing but wonderful, supportive, and helpful people along this journey.


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