August 9

When I woke this morning I realized I wasn't alone on this campsite. I found a small crab in my boat. I'm sure it was comical watching me try to get it out without getting pinched. I fought through the marsh and started paddling. I was taking a tangled highway of winding channels through the bayou. My only map was satellite images and I hoped they had water in them. There was something peaceful about paddling through this area.  When I got to the point that I rounded the last bend, I could see it. The Gulf of Mexico. A dream of mine for a long time now. I had finally made it. I paddled out of the bayou into the open waters. I looked around for the crowds of people and news crews but no one was there. Only a flock of pelicans who instead of cheering and taking pictures took off as soon as they saw me. But that was ok with me. I'm not doing this for anyone other than myself. Just like when you are trying to get clean and sober, if you do it for someone else other than your self, it probably won't wok. I wish I could say it was this amazing feeling with warm fuzzies going off in my body but it wasn't. I paddled out into the ocean and threw my hands up. Added a few fist pumps and claps in, and let out a few yells. But then it was back to paddling. I took a left and headed down the coast. There was still no dry land around. The entire environment had changed. Nothing stood in the way of what you were looking at. A large hotel stands where the first dry land is. I can see it and it doesn't look so far when in fact it's 4 miles away. Normally I could get there in an hour. But the ocean is completely different than a river or bayou. The water was calm for the gulf. But I still felt like a barge had just passed by and I was going over the wake. It's just the wake never stopped. Moving about 2 mph I finally made it to the hotel, which is connected to a casino. I decided to try my luck and sure enough I hit the jackpot!  It was half price time for the buffet!  Normally I would have treated myself to a steak for completing another section of this journey, but for $12, a casino buffet was a sure bet. I ordered the largest water possible. That's when my fear that I have been having for a while came true. If you drink water, then you know that not all water tastes the same. And water in coastal areas has a higher content of sulfur. If I wasn't so dehydrated I would have passed on it. But it wasn't a problem because no one refilled my water till I flagged them down after plate # 5. I got my money's worth on food and should have gotten an award for being the youngest person in the entire restaurant. I continued on down the Gulf for a few miles to find a place to camp. The beach is right next to a road with no trees for cover. Some places it's just a wall and the road. I came to a small peninsula of sand that looked like it would do. Across the street was a state park that had camping right there. I walked over to check it out and found a worker. He said I could camp there, for 35 dollars. I try not to pay for campsites if at all possible. I looked at the maps and didn't have many other options so I loaded up my boat and pulled it across the road and paid the man. I figured that it was a good thing to have a nice spot to over haul my gear and get it ready for ocean travel.  As I was getting ready for the nightly storm one of the guys in a camper came over and struck up a conversation. He said I could crash in his camper if the storm gets too bad. The sad/weird/interesting thing is that I feel at home and safer in my tent then I do inside.