Levi and I enjoyed a yummy, deep fried meal, and some good conversation. He made a copper wire ring for his girlfriend and decided to propose to her tomorrow when she visits. It was great talking with another solo paddler. He said the Buddies Not Bullies folks behind me have only seen 2 deer because they're not stealth like we solo paddlers are (he's seen 46 and I've seen close to a 100). He kept telling me to give myself more credit. "You're plenty strong! You've made it as far as I have, and this hasn't been easy!"
In order to stock up on some canned food and wet wipes, we went to the convenience store in town. "What're you going to do with all this food?" asked one cashier. "Put it in my kayak and keep going!" "Oh," said the other cashier, "are you going all the way to the gulf? Good for you!" as I nodded. "And, you?" she motioned to Levi. "I'm paddling to the Iowa border." "Why aren't you going ALL the way?" they quipped. "See what I have to deal with, Alyssum? I get this everywhere! 700 miles, and no one cares because it's not the whole river!"
We spent the evening hanging out at some RV campers' campfire (Mike and Cindy). They were self-avowed climate change deniers, and Mike works at a plastic factory. Cindy was quick to mention the biodegradable soap they use, and Mike was very proud to share the stools/tables he made out of scrap polyethylene that would have been waste otherwise. He said that the company he used to work for never had recycling unless the recycling companies paid them (most recycling companies require you to pay them to pick up the waste). He said the new company he works with was bought out and it took the new management 6 months to implement mandatory recycling, and they recycled 70 tons (!!!!) in the first month. Both Cindy and Mike were unaware of the plastic gyres in the oceans. They were aghast to hear that there's a swath larger than the size of Texas swirling in the Pacific Ocean! I talked a little with them about microplastics and microbeads (against which you can take action here), and they seemed curious and receptive. I'll be posting more about my work with 5Gyres.org soon!