Even Marines wear spandex
Relaxing with our laptops in front of a fireplace in Florence, Oregon after a great event in Newport and a phenomenal 60-mile ride down the coast, we’re both incredibly grateful for this opportunity. A chance to reconnect with real people and beautiful places – and recharge the battery that urban life has a way of draining.
We spent Sunday in Newport, catching up on emails and errands, and reveling in the spectacular setting. Though we were strangers in town, Newport turned out to have a familiar feel – everywhere we went, we saw flyers advertising our event, and met people who recognized our mission, “Are you those plastic folks on bikes? Yeah, we heard something about you…”
This was all thanks to Charlie Plybon, Newport’s Surfrider chair, and tireless organizer. We even heard him referred to as “King Charlie” by John, the owner of a convenience store where we stopped in to take advantage of the “free internet” sign posted outside. John also told us about a Sea Lion that held court daily on the dock, with a fishing line trapped around its neck.
We immediately went to investigate. Sure enough, flopped on the dock, amongst a group of grunting, puppy-faced blubber balls, one Sea Lion had a distinct collar cut deep into its neck – remnants of a synthetic line. Its one thing to state – as we often do in our presentation – that hundreds of thousands of marine creatures die due to entanglement. It’s another thing entirely to watch a beautiful animal trapped in a piece of our garbage.
Fortunately, the fishermen in the area seemed on board with our mission. Fishing is a way of life in coastal Oregon, and those we spoke to were the first to agree that we need to protect marine resources. One even agreed to an impromptu interview on the dock. And doing our part to support the local economy, we bought some fresh crabs and local, wild caught Salmon, which our friend/filmmaker Elan Glasser slow roasted on a cedar plank over hot coals, and paired with a local Pinot. Even activists need luxury at times….
Our final, critical mission before Monday’s talk: outfitting Marcus in some padded bike shorts. The 60-mile ride from Corvallis was the final straw pushing him to set aside pride, and don lycra. Elan and I had a good laugh, as he quipped, “even Marines wear spandex”.
Monday night, we rode over to the Hatfield Marine Science Center for “Synthetic Sea”, the widely publicized event featuring our talk, and 3 other panelists discussing marine debris issues. Charlie’s flyering and
outreach efforts paid off – a great crowd turned out for the event. And 59 audience members signed Surfrider’s pledge to avoid disposable plastic bags! Little by little, we’re seeing shifts from the ground up.
From Newport, we headed south, perhaps the most beautiful stretch of this entire ride. Lush, forested cliffs meet wild, sweeping coastlines, seemingly untouched in parts. Makes one feel a sense of hope, that there are still unspoiled places, at least to the naked eye….