Day 19 – June 6th – Colonial Beach to Fairview Beach

My total bad for not mentioning two key players in this last stretch, without whom this would absolutely not be possible. Jana Mars, who has a water/SUP-lifestyle and yoga shop in Philly , and who has partnered with Clean Ocean Action in various adventures, made the trip down the day before her daughter’s birthday to help us out. Without her help we would not have been able to get all the gear we had from Point Lookout to Coles Marina and then to the Monroe Bay Campground where then yet another trail angel, Jim Foster of the Anacostia Watershed Society , picked up. Jana even so gamely slept in Rodrigo and Natalie’s roomy tent, where we had such a nice view of the river.

These ocean missions would not be possible without the help of so many, and for sure this paddle to the March for the Ocean on June 9th is no different. Where we have our tents pitched now is under the tent of an outdoor bar, which as luck would have it was closed yesterday so we have the place to ourselves. We were going to stop at the Fairview Beach Yacht Club, which is right next door, but Jim figured we needed a little shade,  after having been beaten up by wind and sun. It IS the perfect place. We’re powering up our electronics and yesterday we had a good meal at the other Tim’s restaurant here.

Yesterday’s windy paddle had me digging in hard against chop and snotty mess, not the worst I’ve been in but it was consistent and slow. I felt like I was making good headway to the bridge, as I was approaching Dogren Naval grounds, when I heard a big heart stopping boom. I continued to paddle on a little bit, talking on the phone to David Helvarg, who had called shortly after the blast. I was going to put on my marine radio to see about getting information when I noticed a Range Control boat making a beeline for me. They suggested I wait in the little river entrance nearby and that they would signal when the tests were over. They had four more rounds to set off and then it’d be clear. It was kinda cool to see the splash of the ordinance while also realizing that that was the general area where I would have been if I hadn’t been pulled out do the way. Apparently they don’t have specific days for when they do their tests, so perhaps today I’ll radio to see if anything is going on at Quantico when go by that. Last time I was this way I had some near misses there, and no one ever came out, but, as the Range Control officer pointed out, I am hard to see.

Today Rodrigo and Natalie will join me for this leg, where we hope to be by Morrow Bay, I think it is. It’s NOAA’s newest marine sanctuary so we figured we’d have a peak. It’ll be a nice casual paddle, which is good because yesterday was a total slam fest to make headway against wind and swollen tide & current. We are going to have a late start because low tide is at 9, and we most definitely want to go up with the incoming tide tho we probably won’t feel it’s push til noon, since there is such a strong downward current from all the flooding.

Jim decided to sleep in his car since he’d have a four hour round trip otherwise. He and Jana and Rodrigo and Natalie are the hero’s of this leg-I’ve been using Rodrigo’s hotspot when I have no service or WiFi. Fortunately there is very good WiFi here at Rick’s. We have our own little ban of “the usual suspects,” we’re just missing a piano player. But we WILL have music on Saturday!

The water quality right now is also pretty suspect. Water levels are ridiculously high due to all the rain, and with this flooding comes a mixed bag of pollution-lots if run-off from people’s yards, combined sewer systems being inundated and releasing raw sewage into the water, and hazardous debris and trash heading out to the ocean. I didn’t want to hop in the water to pee, so I pulled up at Caledon State Park, where the cleanest port’o potties on the planet are. If you break there, or camp there, you won’t help but notice that, while the grounds are clean, the water’s edge is littered with trash, mostly plastic, from upstream. That would be the perfect site for a clean up party/campout trip. I would definitely be game for that and I bet Rodrigo and Natalie would, too.

I am so looking forward to today’s relaxing paddle with company and to paddling in to the sign making party at the Matthew Henson Earth Conservation Center! I’m hoping to arrive anywhere between 4-5. Even my little mother will be there! So it’ll be my whole immediate family, minus the conure, the parakeet, and the crazy-Co dog. Can’t wait to see them and make some signs!

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