Paddle Florida's Paddler Profiles

Charlie Para ~ December 2016

November 30, 2016

Where are you from?  Your profession (or former one, if retired)? I am from Jacksonville, Florida. I am a retired engineer for the local electric, water and sewer utility. When and how did you become interested in paddling?   I am mainly a sailor.  I bought a foldable kayak for a trip to play with and because it would fit on my sailboat.  It turned out that I enjoyed paddling around. Where is your favorite place to paddle?  I like to explore around small islands and paddle out to a reef to do some snorkeling. So far, it has always been possible, if not graceful, getting back into the kayak from deep water. What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  In the Bahamas, there is an island with wild pigs that swim out to meet you as you paddle by.  They are pretty big, not cute, and fairly insistent that get their toll of cabbage or an apple.  Fortunately, I was able to paddle faster than they could swim. How many Paddle Florida trips have you...

Bruce & Bunny Ryba ~ November 2016

November 1, 2016

Where are you from?  Your profession?  I’m originally from Missouri and am currently employed as a Fiber Optic Specialist at Kennedy Space Center.  Bunny is originally from Cranbury, New Jersey and is CEO of Space Coast Applications. We live in Cocoa, Florida.   When and how did you become interested in paddling? Both of us have always been fairly addicted to fishing, diving, and wind surfing and, in the early 90’s, we began canoeing in the Kennedy Space Center “No Motor Zone”— an 8,000-acre manatee preserve in the Banana River. After about 20 years of incredible fishing, we retired the canoe and progressed to fishing kayaks.   Around 2008, my brother in Missouri sent an article about the “world’s longest non-stop kayak canoe race.” The MR340 is a 340-mile race down the Missouri River from Kansas City to just upstream of St. Louis, with an 88-hour time limit. We were hooked! The race led us to upgrade our fishing kayaks to expedition kayaks, learn some basics,...

Dale Hoffman ~ October 2016

September 29, 2016

Where are you from? I have retired to Duncansville, Pennsylvania. Previously, I lived and worked in Detroit. When and how did you become interested in paddling?   Just about everyone who lives in Michigan has a canoe. Kayaking was a natural transition. Where is your favorite place to paddle?  We spend time each year in Key West, where we link up with an informal kayaking group called the Green Parrot Kayak Club.  I love exploring and paddling the flats off Geiger Key and other areas. The birds and marine life are incredible. What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  Last year my son went with me on the Suwannee River trip in October for the first time. He couldn't believe the springs and caverns. We tried to snorkel every spring we came upon. While walking up Anderson Run we bumped into Eric, who likes to snorkel and explore the caverns as much as I do. We proceeded to the spring head and found a cavern in the middle of the spring. We...

Suzanne Gauthier ~ September 2016

August 29, 2016

Where are you from? Your profession?  I am originally from Montreal, Canada, and now live in Melrose, Florida.  I am a retired RN.   When and how did you become interested in paddling?   I have always been a water baby. I became interested in paddling when I saw a friend's kayak 33 years ago and was severely bitten by that kayak bug.   Where is your favorite place to paddle?  That's a hard one to answer.  The Keys, the “Chaz” (Florida’s Chassahowitzka River).  So many! What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  On one of Paddle Florida’s Keys trips, paddling beside the Seven Mile Bridge…a giant manta ray leaped up out of the water right beside my boat and splashed me. My heart skipped a beat!                                                 How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  Two Florida Keys Challenges and the Great Calusa Blueway trip last February.  I am hoping to go on the Suwannee trip this...

Farley & Karol Doucette ~ August 2016

July 29, 2016

Where are you from? Your profession?  Karol and I live in Hammock, Florida. We are both retired educators. When and how did you become interested in paddling?   We both have been paddling since we were kids. Canoes, kayaks, river rafts, row boats, if it was on water we tried to paddle it!   Where is your favorite place to paddle?  I enjoy surf kayaking; there is something about riding that wave that just gets me.  Karol favors the expedition paddling.  It's a nice balance for the both of us.   What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  For Karol, it was when she was paddling in the ocean and thousands of Monarch butterflies came toward her from the west. They landed all over her and her boat. As for me, I was surf kayaking off the coast of New Jersey in the dead of winter and it started to snow.  The solitude of the ocean in winter with that visual was something to see and feel.  How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to...

Amy Seaman ~ July 2016

June 29, 2016

Where are you from? Your profession?  I am from Council Bluffs, Iowa.  I work as a legal assistant for a utility company.   When and how did you become interested in paddling?   I have always had kayaking in the back of my mind.  Most my life, I have lived on an acreage with horses, chickens and more…but, under “life happens” circumstances, I decided to sell the horses and move across the river to Papillion, Nebraska.  That’s when I thought it was time for a new lifestyle.  And 7 years later…here I am!     Where is your favorite place to paddle?  I have paddled several areas, but the Florida Keys is by far my favorite.   What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  It’s usually so peaceful, but one incident that always come to mind...  I was kayaking and camping down a river in Iowa. We were getting ready to set off the bank and a snake came swimming by with a big fish in its mouth.  Something I have never seen before and...

Brack Barker ~ June 2016

May 28, 2016

Where are you from?  Your profession?  I was born and raised in Melbourne, Florida, and currently live in Williston. I’m the owner/guide/instructor at Wild Florida Adventures, providing kayak and hiking day tours since December 2002. I also provide classes at Santa Fe College in Gainesville relating to the outdoors. When and how did you become interested in paddling?  In the summer of 1963, I became exposed to canoeing via the YMCA summer camp in Brevard County. I’ve paddled the waters of the state since then, switching over to kayaks in 2000. Where is your favorite place to paddle?  That is like asking which is your favorite child! I love all waters whether fresh or salt, though I do especially like the coastal estuarine environment and visiting offshore islands. What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?   Observing wildlife and nature in all of its forms. Seeing a species, whether plant or animal, for the first time while...

Ray Steed ~ May 2016

April 28, 2016

Where are you from?  Your profession?  I am originally from Houston, Texas, and after a series of moves around the United States, we settled in the Atlanta, Georgia area where we have lived for the past 25 years. I retired from The Coca-Cola Company in 2014 after a 33-year career in technical - I am a microbiologist by education. My last role was VP, QSE (Quality, Occupational Health & Safety, and Environmental Sustainability) for Coca-Cola North America.   When and how did you become interested in paddling? Growing up on the Texas coast, I spent my spare time in and on the water. I started paddling canoes on the rivers and bayous around Houston. I actually purchased my first kayak for my oldest son when it became obvious that my family had outgrown our canoe during a paddling trip in Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp. That was the beginning of many more kayaks and family kayak paddling trips. Where is your favorite place to paddle? Most of my kayak paddling is on the Chattahoochee...

John & Beth Courtright ~ April 2016

March 31, 2016

Where are you from?  Your professions? John worked as a Miami-Dade County firefighter/ paramedic. Beth worked as a registered nurse.  We both retired in November 2009 and live in Naples, Florida.   When and how did you become interested in paddling? After retirement, we finally had the time to pursue new activities and interests.  We both love to be outdoors and active, so paddling was a natural fit for us.   Where is your favorite place to paddle? We love paddling and camping in the 10,000 islands, but we also enjoy exploring the springs/rivers of northern Florida.   What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? Perhaps this would be better characterized as the most challenging thing to ever happen on a paddling trip.  In May 2012, we were paddling from Hillsborough River State Park as we approached an ominous sign that warned “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” We were at the start of a section called Seventeen Runs.  We noted...

Paul & Debbie Gelderblom ~ March 2016

February 26, 2016

   Where are you from?  Your profession?  Paul worked for Michigan State Parks as a ranger, the Department of Natural Resources in the Fisheries Division, as an eighth grade science teacher, and coached track and cross country. I have been a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling our eight children at different points of their education while running a small whole grain bread and cookie business out of our home. We have fostered over 45 children before adopting five.  We live on 40 acres in Charlevoix, Michigan, where we raise grass fed Irish Dexter Cattle and chickens for eggs to sell. We grow a large garden and love to educate people in homesteading skills. When and how did you become interested in paddling? After the kids moved out, we had time to explore more. The Charlevoix area has many types of water to paddle.  We wanted a craft that could explore the various options from lily pads in shallow waters to Lake Michigan. We decided on individual kayaks.     Where is your...

Ed & Marylyn Feaver ~ February 2016

January 25, 2016

Where are you from? Your professions?  Quincy, Florida, which is just west of Tallahassee.  Marylyn: retired fee-only certified financial planner and registered investment adviser.  Ed: retired public service; Secretary, Department of Children & Families & Health and Rehabilitative Services. When and how did you become interested in paddling?  When we realized that having our own kayaks was more fun than a tandem canoe in 2011.   Where is your favorite place to paddle?  October-May: In Florida on Womack Creek in Tate’s Hell State Forest, a tributary of the Ochlockonee River and Fort Gadsden Creek in the Apalachicola National Forest, a tributary of Apalachicola River.  June-September: Canadian Rockies, Southwest Alberta, Canada: Cameron Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park (northern extension of Glacier National Park), Alberta. We’ve paddled 31 states (including Hawaii) and three Canadian provinces.  Hope to paddle 50 states and all Canadian provinces.  Our favorite paddles: ...

Janice Hindson ~ January 2016

December 23, 2015

1) Where are you from?  Your profession?  I currently split my time between St Augustine and Gainesville and have been in Florida since 2009 after relocating from Chicago for my job (SVP Wells Fargo). 2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I have always loved the water and have served in the United States Coast Guard running search and rescue missions mostly on the Great Lakes. It was in the 90's while I was up in Michigan that I first became introduced to kayaking. I bought my first kayak at Canoecopia in Madison WI in 2000 and took classes first at Rutabaga and then on the Wolf and Eagle rivers (whitewater). 3) Where is your favorite place to paddle? My favorite places to paddle are any of the springs and the Keys in Florida, Peninsula State Park and the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin, the Mexican Baja, and Escanaba, Michigan.  4) What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  The reason I paddle is because of the...

Angelia Tindel-Douglas ~ December 2015

November 30, 2015

Where are you from? Your profession?  I was born in Sanford, Florida. I live in New Smyrna Beach. I'm an accountant. When and how did you become interested in paddling?   It was so long ago I can't remember. Paddling has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Where is your favorite place to paddle?  All over Florida. What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?   Paddling over the shoals on the Suwanee River a few months ago. I didn't think I had it in me. How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  I've been on three trips so far. Twice on the Wekiva/St. John's River Ramble and just recently on the Suwanee trip. What keeps you coming back?    I love meeting new friends that share the love of paddling like I do. I've formed some great friendships from these trips. Can you describe a particular Paddle Florida trip highlight?   Camping at Wekiwa Springs State Park. That place is awesome! What...

Dee Graham ~ November 2015

October 31, 2015

Where are you from?  Your profession?  I currently live in Milton, Georgia, but for 35 years I lived and worked in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Before retiring in 2003, I was a professor at the University of Cincinnati for 30 years, doing research, teaching, and a small amount of administration.  By training I am a developmental psychobiologist. When and how did you become interested in paddling? When young, I fished with my dad and in the process learned I loved being on the water, especially in the early morning when it’s quiet, fog hides everything except what-is-near, and the sun is just coming up.  While in grad school, I felt I had no time for anything but work, but then the dad of a friend almost died in surgery and I rethought my priorities, which meant I purchased a canoe and started paddling.  That was more than 40 years ago. Where is your favorite place to paddle? When I lived in Cincinnati, I loved paddling into town on the Ohio River at dusk after a lengthy paddle.  The...

Connie Hollis ~ October 2015

September 29, 2015

Where are you from?  Your profession?  I was born and raised in the Atlanta area.  In 1966 as soon as I turned 20, I began applying to Delta Airlines to be a stewardess.  Most young women were looking for a husband. At the time, we had to sign a contract that we would quit at 35 or when we married.  I knew I wanted a career.  Fortunately, laws eventually changed and I began my career.   When and how did you become interested in paddling? I now live on Jackson Lake in Georgia. I got my first kayak as a birthday present in 2000.  It was a 10-foot Hobie with paddles, pedals, and a sail.  I still love it!  Shortly after getting mine, my husband bought his fishing Hobie.  I was looking for a kayaking vacation online in 2008 and stumbled upon Paddle Florida’s inaugural trip down the Suwannee River.  I signed us up, and we’ve been hooked ever since.   Where is your favorite place to paddle? Ebenezer Creek near Savannah, Georgia is probably my favorite place to paddle…it’s...

Sandy Theissen ~ September 2015

August 10, 2015

Where are you from?  Your profession?  I was born in Washington, DC.  Since my Dad was in the Navy, we traveled extensively, and I lived in various cities in Europe, US west and east coasts, Bermuda, and finally Florida.  I’ve had a 25+ year career with the State of Florida as a Computer and Information Systems Manager, providing all aspects of support for network systems and personal computers for my team scattered throughout the state.   When and how did you become interested in paddling? I’ve enjoyed paddling for more decades than I like to admit, mostly in canoes.  Once I discovered kayaks about 10 years ago, I’ve only gone back to the single paddle once or twice, although I suppose some of the new lightweight canoes would be enjoyable. I started out with the typical recreational kayak, renting them for day trips from local outfitters on the Ichetucknee, Santa Fe and at Cedar Key, Florida.  After figuring out that I really liked paddling, I started purchasing…and I...

Ken & Nyla Campbell ~ August 2015

July 28, 2015

Where are you from?  Your profession? We have lived in Lakeland, FL for many years.  We are both retired (Ken for 6 years, Nyla for 7 years). Ken was a registered professional civil engineer and Nyla was a certified planner (AICP) who worked for the City of Lakeland for her last 13 years before retirement.   When and how did you become interested in paddling?  Ken took up whitewater paddling 25 years ago by taking canoe classes from the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina. That led to kayaking in Florida. Ken introduced Nyla to kayaking 18 years ago by arranging for an introductory class at Bill Jackson’s in Pinellas Park.   Where is your favorite place to paddle?  We greatly enjoy paddling in the 10,000 Islands (on the west side of Everglades National Park). A number of years ago, we paddled the 100-mile Wilderness Waterway over six days from Everglades City to Flamingo at the south end of Everglades NP.   What’s the most interesting thing that’s ever...

Roger Cayer ~ July 2015

June 29, 2015

Where are you from?  Your profession?  I am from the Northeast. Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire. I was an Ob-Gyn for 38 years. The last eight years of my career were spent working for the Choctaw Nation Indian Healthcare System as Director of their Women's Health Center in Talihina, Oklahoma, way too far from the ocean! I have been retired for three wonderful years and my wife Ellen and I are living on Skidaway Island, Savannah, Georgia. When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I had done some paddling in Maine and on Lake George, New York in the past but because of work obligations never really took it seriously. Now that I am retired and living on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia I had no excuses! I am on my third kayak in one and one half years. I have taken basic and advanced paddling classes with Savannah Canoe and Kayak. No Eskimo roll yet, but I am getting really close! Where is your favorite place to paddle?  My favorite place to paddle is...

Artist Eleanor Blair ~ June 2015

June 1, 2015

My first experience with Paddle Florida was at Suwannee River State Park in March 2008, where my band, the Weeds of Eden, was the evening's entertainment for weary paddlers.  I got there early, so I'd have time to paint.  I'd assumed that the people who joined a group like Paddle Florida were all young and athletic. As the paddlers pulled their kayaks and canoes up on the bank, I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of them were actually closer to my age, and I realized that a week-long trip down the Suwannee was completely within my realm of possibilities.  A year or two later, that dream became a reality.   I brought a box of paints and my camera, along with my kayak and camping equipment.  I'd done a bit of river camping in my youth and appreciated the truck that carried all my bulky camping supplies campsite to campsite.  Since everything didn't have to fit in my boat, I had the luxury of a thick air mattress, a soft pillow, and a down comforter.  The river was...

Barbara Washin & Frank Garofolo ~ June 2015

May 27, 2015

Where are you from?  Your profession?  We live in Saugerties, NY. Frank is a retired electrical engineer from IBM and tech guy at BOCES vocational school. Barbara is a retired special education teacher.  When and how did you become interested in paddling?  We both became interested in paddling when a friend took us out on the Hudson River and other local creeks a few times. We knew we wanted to try more of this. We love the water. Where is your favorite place to paddle?  Barbara's favorite: There is nothing more beautiful than the clear light blue waters of the Florida Keys. Frank's favorite: Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville, Florida for the wildlife- birds, manatees, and dolphins.  What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?   Frank: Paddling with alligators, manatees, and dolphins. Also paddling  the locks on the Erie Canal. Barbara: Paddling seven miles on the Hudson River to the Esopus Meadows lighthouse in the...

Robin Newcomer ~ May 2015

April 28, 2015

Where are you from?  Your profession?  I moved to Apollo Beach, Florida, in 2003 from Seattle with my husband, Paul. However, I grew up in the beach-cities area of Southern California (Redondo-Hermosa-Manhattan environs) and consider SoCal my "real" home. I have been fortunate to have had two careers: first as a reporter (10 years) and later an editor (another 10 years) for daily newspapers both in SoCal and in Washington state; in 1992 I decided to use my Master's degree in Mass Comm to teach journalism and English at Olympic College, a two-year community college in Bremerton, Washington. I retired from my tenured job once we moved to Florida but continue to teach English online as an adjunct for the college. When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I have always been drawn to and lived near water--I am a Pisces, after all--but once we moved from Southern California to Western Washington, I realized Puget Sound, at 40-50 degrees nearly year-round, was too cold to...

Gigi Frye ~ April 2015

March 31, 2015

Where are you from?  Your profession? I am a native North Carolinian relocating to Charleston, South Carolina. My background for 20+ years was in Information Technology, of which I spent 14 years as a software support engineer with a large software firm. Since 2013, I’ve been self-employed as a licensed massage therapist and will soon be adding yoga teaching to my service offerings.   When and how did you become interested in paddling? My first kayaking experience was in 2000 in the Outer Banks of NC.  After that experience, I bought a kayak kit and built my own wooden kayak but never used it! At the time, I didn’t know how to find community and I didn’t want to paddle by myself. It wasn’t until 2009 that I tried kayaking again after being inspired by kayakers paddling among the spider lilies on the Catawba River as I watched in envy from the bank. A week later, I bought a kayak and have been paddling ever since. In 2009, I found community when I started...

Frank Konciewicz ~ March 2015

February 27, 2015

Where are you from?  Your profession?  I am a retired Project Engineer/ Project Manager from Birmingham Alabama. Where is your favorite place to paddle?  My kayaking phase began in 2008 with an article appearing in the Birmingham News regarding the Paddle Florida's inaugural Suwannee River trip.  Since then I have enjoyed about a dozen Paddle Florida trips.  I would have a difficult time selecting a favorite.  I liked the beauty of the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers, the wildlife on the Peace River, and the thrill of paddling island to island in the Keys.  What’s the most memorable thing that’s ever happened to you on a paddling trip?   The fantastic lightning display from inside my tent during last years Ochlocknee paddle. What keeps you coming back?  I enjoy our trips because of the beauty of the rivers and getting back each trip with the friends I have made over the past seven years.  Paddle Florida trips are well planned and  can be enjoyed by people of varying skill...

Leslie Maple ~ February 2015

January 30, 2015

1) Where are you from?  Your profession?  (or former one, if retired) Don and I retired to Charleston, SC after 30 years as a military family. 2) When and how did you become interested in paddling? We bought our first kayaks about 13 years ago while still living in the Washington, DC area. Kayaking instantly became our favorite way of exercising and shedding the stresses of hectic work weeks. 3) Where is your favorite place to paddle? It's really hard to pick a single favorite place to kayak! Every body of water has something wonderful to offer. We love the challenges of the ocean and open water paddling, but paddling the twisting black rivers around Charleston and slipping through the clear spring fed waters in Florida exposes us to scenic beauty and wildlife encounters that offer an other kind of thrill. 4) What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? One of my very favorite experiences while paddling was during a kayak rolling...

Woody & Kathy Lewis ~ January 2015

December 31, 2014

1)    Where are you from?  Your profession? We both grew up in North Florida, in the Tallahassee area. Woody worked as an air traffic controller in California after serving in the Air Force in Vietnam, then became a computer specialist at a private firm, and finished his career as an analyst for the State of Florida, retiring last year. Kathy will be retiring from her position as an analyst for state government later this year. We are both certified green guides and enjoying providing kayak tours on the St. Marks River. And we both intend to spend more time kayaking, traveling, and camping in 2015.    2)     When and how did you become interested in paddling? Kathy's younger brother built a Folbot kayak from a kit when they were teenagers in the 60’s. Basically a wood frame covered with waxed canvas with (very hard) wooden seats. She used it in local ponds and lakes and later canoed the Wacissa, Wakulla, and other local rivers with friends while attending FSU. Woody was a...

Whitney Sanford ~ December 2014

November 26, 2014

Where are you from?  Your profession?  I was born in Savannah, Georgia, and I now live in Gainesville, Florida. I'm faculty in the Religion Department at the University of Florida, in the area of religion and nature. When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I first became interested in paddling when I was a camp counselor in North Carolina, but I didn't really start until I was in Iowa. My friends were into whitewater paddling, and I got hooked. Today, I especially love coastal kayaking because it blends the thrill of whitewater with the fun of multi-day camping trips.   Tell us about your kayak teaching experience.  I helped the outdoor rec program at Iowa State University when I was on the faculty there, and then I taught at Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) during my first (I hope of many) midlife crises. I loved teaching there, but when I moved to Florida, I switched to coastal and sea kayaking. My husband Kevin and I have been training under both ACA and BCU...

Al Ogden ~ November 2014

October 31, 2014

Where are you from?  Your profession?   I spent most of my young life traveling between my many brothers and sisters homes with my mother. Hot Springs, South Dakota is where I spent high school.  I joined the Army and continued moving around. I have lived in Gainesville since 1982. I am a staff engineer with the Nano-Scale Research Facility at the University of Florida. When and how did you become interested in paddling?  About five years ago, I got into a try “something different mood” and kayaking met so many other needs as well, as a photography and fishing platform. Where is your favorite place to paddle?   Lakes or rivers with wildlife and good fishing. I suppose that my favorite is the Ocklawaha River between the Silver River and Eureka.   What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  That’s tough, since it’s always interesting.  But if I had to choose one, it would be finding out that my boat floats and maneuvers even when...

Scott & Erin Smith ~ October 2014

September 30, 2014

Wh      Where are you from?  Your professions? Erin and I currently reside in Palatka. She works as a construction law attorney in St. Augustine and handles cases throughout Florida. I run my own business as a professional photographer and serve a variety of clients such as magazines, advertising agencies, and designers regionally as well as internationally. When and how did you become interested in paddling? I grew up on a sailboat, so I have been on the water since I can remember. I have always enjoyed the freedoms that exploring on my own craft offered. When I was about 15, I was invited to race kayaks in the St. Augustine Maritime Festival.  While I had rowed many a rowboat, I had never kayaked.  I grabbed a loaner kayak and raced; I was hooked!  A few years later I convinced a friend that we should build our own wood kayaks. Erin grew up in Fort Pierce and enjoyed paddling canoes and exploring the various spoil islands along the Intercostal Waterway with friends as...

George Wilson ~ September 2014

August 30, 2014

1)    Where are you from?  Your profession?   I grew up on Cape Cod, MA, but my wife, Renee, and I have lived on Marco Island for the last 30 years.  We retired to Gainesville a few years ago.  Renee is from Keystone Heights; we met at UF in 1969 and were married in the courthouse after graduation in 1971. Lots of great memories. I am a third generation carpenter by trade, general contractor by profession. 2)     When and how did you become interested in paddling?  My hometown was a maze of creeks, rivers, tidal rivers, cranberry bogs, mill ponds, bays, and beaches. I could walk out of my house and be on the water in a few minutes, or ride a bike to a beach in less than five. I've spent most of my life on the water--swimming, canning, surfing, snorkeling, sailing--but never really liked motor craft.  With our friends on Marco--Bill and Jo Hammond, Paul and Jory Westberry, Scott and Beth Keyes--Renee and I found that kayaks were probably the most fun way to be on the water in the...

Kim Heiss ~ August 2014

July 21, 2014

1) Where are you from?  Your profession? I grew up in Pennsylvania, but I have lived in Gainesville, Florida since 1998.  My graduate degree is from University of Florida in Landscape Architecture.   I'm a landscape designer at Cottage Gardens, Inc.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  My family used to camp in Maine in the summer and we had a canoe—that was my introduction to paddling.  Soon after I came to Gainesville, a friend of mine took me on one of Lars Andersen's Adventure Outpost trips and I've been hooked ever since.  I think it was on the Ichetucknee.3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  I love to paddle from Shell Mound, near Cedar Key on Florida’s west coast, out to Derrick Key.  I've had great times paddling around the Indian River Lagoon near Vero Beach.  Of course I love to paddle ALL the springs - Rock Springs Run, Ichetucknee, Juniper Springs.  I also love the high, eroded limestone banks along the Suwannee River.4) What’s the...

Joe Devito ~ July 2014

July 1, 2014

1)  Where are you from?  Your profession? (or former one, if retired)  I was born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey.  I went on active duty with USA in 1968, retiring from the Pentagon in 1992 as an Aviation officer.  I now live in St. Cloud, Florida. 2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I moved to Florida full-time in 2000 to goof and golf.  Being an outdoor enthusiast, I enjoy fishing, diving, hiking, biking, and got into kayaking to explore all the lakes and waterways here in the Orlando area.  I started off with a small 9-foot kayak locally and then took it on my first trip with Paddle Florida on the Suwanee. Bill Richards looked at it and thought maybe I was a little nuts to try doing 123 miles in it, but I made it and he gave me a kayak calendar for my good effort. 3)  Where is your favorite place to paddle?  Hard to pick just one.  I have been on most of the Paddle Florida trips, some more than once, and enjoy them equally as they are always fun...

Debra Akin ~ June 2014

June 30, 2014

​Debra Akin1) Where are you from?  Your profession?  I was born and raised in south Florida, but have lived in the Gainesville area on and off since 1973.  I'm a researcher at UF's Medical School studying cancer cell biology and drug discovery.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I started paddling as a teenager in North Carolina when I was visiting my brother, a raft guide, for the summer.  He gave me a purple Dancer so beat up it was lavender, a PFD and a helmet, five minutes worth of instruction, and let me go.  At the end of the run, I would pull my boat out of the river, hitch a ride with a raft bus back to the top and start over, every day, all summer long.  My mother would have killed him if she knew.3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  North Florida's Ichetucknee, Silver, and Santa Fe Rivers in the winter and Boundary Waters, MN in the summer.4) What's the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  I guide inner city...

Bill Erwin ~ May 2014

June 30, 2014

​Bill Erwin1) Where are you from?  Your profession?  I am from upper east Tennessee, in the midst of a number of TVA lakes and small rivers.  Our family farm was along the Holston River, which I poled but never paddled.  I worked as a statistician with the USDA until I retired some 15 years ago.  During that time, I worked out of a number of offices from Boston to Phoenix, as well as an assignment in Khartoum, Sudan.  I took advantage of many of the outdoor activities in these locations, such as cycling, hiking, etc., but did not paddle until returning to Florida.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  Upon retiring to Florida, my wife and I thought we should take advantage of all the water around us.  We purchased a canoe and plied many of the rivers in Central Florida.  I was hooked!  When my wife decided to hang up her paddle and PFD, we sold the canoe and I got my first kayak.  I pretty much haven't looked back since.3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?...

Mary & Kenny Donaldson ~ April 2014

June 30, 2014

​Mary & Kenny Donaldson1) Where are you from?  Your profession?  Kenny and I are both native Atlantans.  We currently reside in Marietta, Georgia.  I am retired now, but previously spent 30+ years in the mortgage banking profession.  Kenny, my husband of 45 years, is an architect.  My current "hobby job" is leading adventure trips.  If anyone would like information on these trips, send me an email at: marydonalsdon@earthlink.net.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  Kenny and I began paddling when we were in our early 20's.  I was attending Georgia State University and became interested in their "Touch the Earth" program, which encompassed a variety of outdoor sports.  They had a tremendous whitewater canoe program, which included the Etowah River, the upper Chattahoochee River, the Nantahala River, and section 3 of the Chattooga River.  We soon became instructors for the canoe program and moved onto their kayak program.  Kenny taught kayak rolling in the GSU...

Julie de Moissac & Bill Rees ~ March 2014

June 30, 2014

​Julie de Moissac & Bill Rees1) Where are you from?  Your profession?  We are from Outlook, Saskatchewan, in Canada (straight north of Montana).  Bill is a lawyer, Julie is a veterinarian.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  Like most Canadians, we were both likely conceived in a canoe.  Different parents, of course.3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  We love heading up to Northern Saskatchewan to the Churchill River and its tributaries and lakes.  Nothing can compare to an appetite satisfied by freshly caught walleye or a tent pitched on near billion-year-old bedrock, with a loon serenade at dusk.   4) What's the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  Other than ceding our campsite to an insistent black bear, resulting in a moonlight paddle to safety, we were fortunate to have met two other crazy paddlers (other than Marj and Charley, who accompanied us on the recent Keys trip) at a portage in the middle of nowhere.5) How...

Hans Eggers ~ February 2014

June 30, 2014

​Hans Eggers1) Where are you from?  Your profession?  I am a happy paddler from Ontario, Canada, where currently my home is in Port Colborne, which is at the Lake Erie entrance to the Welland Canal, part of the St. Lawrence Seaway.  That puts me only a half hour from Buffalo, NY, where I cross the Niagra River via the Peace Bridge as I snowbird my way to my favorite home, Florida.  I roost from the end of October to mid-April on the Gulf Coast, about 45 minutes north of Tampa, in New Port Richey.  I started my working life as a teacher, then moved on to aviation, becoming a flying instructor.  These were the best working years of my life.  With the birth of my daughter, a more stable career and source of income seemed called for, so I got on with Transport Canada, now NavCanada, equivalent to the FAA, in Air Traffic Services as a Flight Service Specialist.  FSS provides flight safety information by radio or during pre-flight, by phone or in person to pilots, including weather...

ReRe Anderson ~ January 2014

June 30, 2014

​ReRe Anderson1) Where are you from? Your profession?  I am from Wilbur by the Sea, FL, a quaint little seaside community in Volusia County nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway.  I am a full-time real estate broker who has been successfully selling the benefits of enjoying the Florida waterfront lifestyle.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I became obsessed with stand-up paddleboarding from the moment I hopped on top of a board! That was about two and a half years ago at Disappearing Island in Ponce Inlet, FL.  A local SUP company had put out a few demo boards at a sky diving event I was attending on the island.  It was love at first paddle!  My SUP pup Kiwi and I have been paddling ever since.3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  That's easy: EVERYWHERE in Florida!  In addition to the 2013 Paddle Florida Wekiva/St. Johns River Ramble, I have paddled my SUP along the shores of Florida's coastal waterways, springs, rivers, and...

Scott Jantz ~ December 2013

June 30, 2014

​Scott Jantz1) Where are you from?  Your profession?  I was born in Buffalo, NY.  My family moved to Jacksonville, FL in the mid-70's and I have lived in Gainesville since coming to college.  I am an engineer in the telecom industry designing software for set top boxes, although my education is more in the area of robotics ad semiconductor physics.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  From Fort Erie, Canada to Jacksonville, Florida, I have grown up around water, mostly sailing and sailboarding but also quite a bit of canoeing.  My introduction to whitewater came in early high school by running NC's Nantahala River in open canoes!  Lots of fun, but the main workout was constantly dumping water out of the canoe even if the run was successful.  The few decked kayaks in those days looked like a great step up, providing a lesser quantity of 50 degree water in our laps.3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  Probably a tie between coastal Maine and the San Juan...

Andrea Conover ~ November 2013

June 30, 2014

​Andrea Conover1) Where are you from?  Your profession?  I am originally from Pennsylvania, lived in the Washington DC area for a while, and moved to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida in 2002.  I was a computer sales rep and now I am in marketing.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I've liked the idea of kayaking for 10 years, but didn't get my first kayak until a few years ago.  Now I'm hooked!3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  No one particular place is my favorite; I'm still exploring our beautiful state.  I prefer small rivers and creeks where wilderness surrounds me.4) What's the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  Last winter I kayaked across King's Bay and then snorkeled with manatees in Three Sisters Springs (in Crystal River).  My leg was hurting from a fall (wooden stairs and high-heeled boots are dangerous), but I still loved the trip.  It turns out my leg was broken!5) Tell us a little about your work with the St....

Al Force ~ October 2013

June 30, 2014

​Al Force1) Where are you from?  Your profession? I was born on a tugboat in Elliot Bay (Seattle), Washington.  I changed professions like most men change their underwear.  I've spent most of my working life at sea or under it.  Probably my most interesting job was as a commercial submarine pilot.  (Yes, there really is such a thing and no, I was not in the Navy submarine service.)  My big claim to fame is being the first person to earn a captain's license for power, sail, and submarines.  I returned after living outside the US for 30 years and became an IT guy until I retired. 2) When and how did you become interested in paddling? When we moved to Florida, it just seemed like such a perfect place for it. I rented kayaks a few times before buying my first and soon got completely out of control with it.3) Where is your favorite place to paddle? In Florida, how can you choose among so many great places?  My wife Betsy's favorite is the Weeki Wachi and Smokey thinks the river camps...

Doug Alderson ~ September 2013

June 30, 2014

​Doug Alderson1) Where are you from? Your profession? I was born in a Chicago suburb and grew up there until I was eleven.  In the early 1960's, we had to drive for hours to find a waterway that wasn't polluted.  I developed a full body rash from one lake.  That's why my family fell in love with Florida's springs, rivers and coast when we moved to Tallahassee in 1968.  Florida's waterways certainly have their problems today, but not quite like the Chicago area in the 1960's.  I still live in the Tallahassee area.I work for the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails.  I was the paddling trails coordinator for almost eight years, but I have recently been promoted to assistant chief.  I've also been writing for publication since I was eighteen years old.2) Tell us a little about some of your books related to paddling in Florida. I've written ten books and three of them directly relate to paddling.  The first is about paddling Florida's wild Big Bend Coast--Waters Less Traveled.  The...

Delany Dean ~ August 2013

June 30, 2014

​Delany Dean1) Where are you from?  Your profession? I grew up in a military family.  During my pre-teen years we lived in Florida and during my teen years we lived in Arkansas.  We had a short few years in Louisiana as well.  After college, I went to law school in the Midwest (Missouri) and ended up practicing my professions (law, and later forensic psychology and teaching) up there.  I had good careers and good friends up there, but I always wanted to return to the South and was happy to do so when I retired three years ago.  (Editor's Note: Delany is also a talented photographer.  Check out her beautiful photos, many capturing Florida's waterways and wildlife, at: http://delany.zenfolio.com/2) When and how did you become interested in paddling? Up until a couple years ago, I had never been in a kayak.  I had done a lot of other kinds of boating (including a little canoeing), but never much enjoyed the canoe experience and assumed that kayaking would be pretty similar.  But...

Tres Smith ~ July 2013

June 30, 2014

Tres Smith1) Where are you from?  Your profession? I was born in Kansas City and lived all over the US due to my dad's job as a civil engineer.  I have lived in Tampa and Ruskin, Florida for 32 years.  I am a registered nurse with a certification in rehabilitation nursing and I presently do catastrophic medical care coordination in workman's compensation cases in Florida.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling? I was a small child when my dad and his best friend would take me and, later, my younger brothers on overnight canoe trips with the Ozark Wilderness Waterways Club.  The club did river cleanups too.  I remember we went over once and my dad's friend grabbed me.  It was quite exciting and wet!  I remember at 5 or 6 I received a 100-mile patch from the club.  I think I was hooked on paddling from then on.  I began canoeing as a child.  I began to kayak when I bought the used tandem that I have now in 1993 and have also gotten a solo kayak.  These kayaks are my...

Fred Borg ~ June 2013

June 30, 2014

​Fred Borg1) Where are you from?  Your Profession? I was born and raised in rural Connecticut, and now live in Panama City, Florida.  Almost all of my adult life has been spent as a drug abuse counselor, working in both outpatient and inpatient facilities and teaching counseling for six years. 2) When and how did you become interested in paddling? Summer camp at age 11 was my introduction to paddling and I've loved it ever since.  I have a solo canoe and a sea kayak, and both get a lot of use.3) Where is your favorite place to paddle? Here in Panama City, I often paddle in St. Andrews Bay.  There is a nice place to put the kayak in the water and I paddle along the undeveloped shoreline of Tyndall Air Force Base out toward Redfish Point.  There are a couple of bayous along the route and miles of soft sandy beaches to stop and rest.  I often see dolphins, ospreys, and eagles when I paddle there.4) What's the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? ...

Bonny Putney ~ May 2013

June 30, 2014

Bonny Putney1) Where are you from?  Your profession?  I am from the Chicago area originally, but have lived in Georgia for 30 years.  It's all about the weather.  I now live on Lake Lanier in Burford, Georgia. I just left Chattahoochee Riverkeeper after working there for five years...so I can paddle more!  I serve on the boards of Georgia River Network, Rivers Alive, and Lake Lanier Association.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I dabbled in paddling until the first Paddle Georgia event in 2005.  I was totally hooked after that!3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  I live very close to the Chattahoochee River and especially love the headwaters, which offer a little bit of everything:  white water, flat water, and beautiful scenery.  In Florida, I love Juniper Springs Run...amazing!4) Tell us about your river cleanup efforts in Georgia.  I have spent the past 15 years working to keep trash out of our waterways. Last year, Rivers Alive--which umbrellas all...

Chuck Bennick ~ April 2013

June 30, 2014

​Chuck Bennick1) Where are you from?  Birmingham, Alabama.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I learned about Paddle Florida from an article in the Birmingham News before the inaugural March 2008 Suwannee River trip. At the time I was an avid sculler, having never paddled before.  Uncertain I would take to camping or paddling, I bought a cheap tent and even cheaper sleeping bag and rented a kayak for the trip.  Not only did I take to paddling, I loved it (and unlike sculling, you can see where you're headed).  Being away from work taught me I could survive without the stress and, three months later, I retired as head of the personnel department of the Fairfield Works of United States Steel Corporation with 39 years of service.3) How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  By my t-shirt count, I have 11 trips with Paddle Florida:  seven on the Suwannee River, one on the Peace River, two on the Ochlockonee River, and the 10-day Key Largo to Key...

Don Yackel ~ March 2013

June 30, 2014

​Don Yackel1) Where are you from?  Your profession (or former one, if retired)?  I was born and raised in Syracuse, NY.  I lived and worked in Rochester, NY for 28 years and the Albany/Troy area for 17 years.  I've been in Sebastian, FL now for three years. I worked as a public school educator for 42 years, including positions as elementary school teacher and principal, science and technology magnet school instructional coordinator, supervisor of PK-12 mathematics, and college professor at Nazareth College Graduate School of Education.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  My wife Lisa and I took a three-day wilderness trip off the coast of Maine in 1994. Neither one of us had ever been in a kayak before, but we were immediately hooked.  Our story can be found under the trip reports on YackmanArchive.com.3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  That's a hard question. These are some of my favorites: Forked Lake in the Adirondack Mountains, the Sangenay Fjord...

Ellie Chepaitis ~ February 2013

June 30, 2014

​Ellie Chepaitis1) Where are you from?  Your profession (or former one, if retired)?  I live on Grassy Key and spend time at a summer retreat on a bluff in Maine and a family home facing Long Island Sound in Connecticut. I worked as a professor of information systems, a newspaper columnist, and an inventor of a patented alternative to Braille.  I traveled in 32 countries, lived abroad through three Fulbright fellowships, and learned that I get homesick for the coast when I am inland.  Since retirement, I have written a mystery: Murder with Kayaks: Sport, Malice, and Mayhem in the Florida Keys (that I may self-publish since my editor just informed me that she lost the manuscript that she's had since last summer), and a children's book:  Pete the Puffer Fish: A Love Story in the Florida Keys.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  Born in Rhode Island, I've rowed, sailed, and canoed since I was a child, and kayaked in Long Island Sound, in Downeast Maine, and...

Tom Hauer ~ January 2013

June 30, 2014

​Tom Hauer1) Where are you from?  Your profession?  I am a Kansas boy. As a joke I have "made in Kansas" on the side of my Sea Pearl, which is made in Norway. I am the Director of a very nice retirement community in Gastonia, NC, close to Charlotte. The community has a nice pool, which has allowed me to become decent roller and to teach others. I have probably taught at least 20 people how to roll. Here is a link to my bowling ball roll: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEtGi4RLaJA2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I have been paddling on and off since I was a Boy Scout, but seriously and, as my wife would say, obsessively for the past eight years.  I was a runner and a bike rider until I was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2004.  I had a large inoperable tumor on my right lung.  I was enrolled in a clinical trial and had chemo and radiation that shrunk the tumor so that it was small enough to be removed along with my right lung.  Running and cycling were no...

Kelle Lane ~ December 2012

June 30, 2014

​Kelle Lane1) Where are you from?  Your profession?   I am from Jacksonville, Florida.  Originally an Ohio native, I moved to Jacksonville in 1989.  I work as an RN in the home health field.2) How did you become interested in paddling?  I bought a book two years ago on places to paddle in Florida.  I love to experience nature and, for me, paddling is the ultimate in natural serenity.  My first experience was Amelia Island last summer and I immediately fell in love with kayaking.3) Do you have a favorite place to paddle?  I have only been to a handful of places and still have a lot of exploring to do.  So far my favorite place is Amelia Island because it is very beautiful and you see so much wildlife.  The Suwannee River is cool too because you get to see all the springs along the way.4) Our recent Suwannee River Wilderness Trail trip was your first with Paddle Florida. What did you most/least enjoy?  What did you learn?  What I liked most about the trip was the camaraderie with...

Scott Keyes ~ November 2012

June 30, 2014

​Scott Keyes1) Where are you from?  Your profession (or former one, if retired)?  I was born in Connecticut and moved to southwest Florida--Naples--in the mid 1950's.  After graduating from the University of Florida, I joined the US Air Force.  Starting in 1976, I spent 40 years as a commercial airline pilot for several airlines.  In 2007, I hit the mandatory retirement age of 60 and have been goofing off ever since.2) When did you become interested in paddling?  I have been very fortunate to always have access to water.  Early in Naples, during its pre-development era, my water sports were fishing and water skiing.  During the past 20 years, I've done a lot of kayaking in the local area and longer kayak camping trips.3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  I enjoy the local Naples area.  We can kayak the Gulf for fishing and beaches.  We also do a lot of "tunnel tours."  The miles of mangrove tunnels offer great kayaking and wildlife viewing. 4) What's the most interesting...

Bill Richards ~ October 2012

June 30, 2014

​Bill RichardsWith our 2012-13 season kicking off this month, we thought folks might enjoy learning more about our fearless leader--Bill Richards.1) Where are you from and what did you do professionally before Paddle Florida?  I grew up in a Boston suburb, enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of 18 for boot camp in Orlando, and haven't left the Sunshine State for very long since 1974.  After trying my luck as a baseball umpire, I finished an Associate's degree in Daytona Beach in 1982, a Bachelor's degree in 1985, and a Master's at the University of Florida in 1987.  My main work experience was in putting on various athletic competitions with the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, until Governor Jeb Bush eliminated that program in 1999.  Since that time, I have worked as a management and political consultant for several organizations and candidates.  I got the idea for Paddle Florida in 2007 and we became a non-profit organization in 2011.2) When and how did you...

Mim Duncan ~ September 2012

June 30, 2014

​Mim Duncan1) Where are you from?  Your profession (or former one, if retired)?  I grew up in Pennsylvania and, because of the gloomy weather, didn't go outdoors until I was 25 and moved to Colorado.  And I haven't been indoors since!  I am now retired.  Most of my career was in education in Denver - elementary school teacher, school-home-community liaison, and middle school counselor.  In the mid 90's, I followed my husband to Page, Arizona for his promotion and worked as a mental health therapist in a community agency, mostly supporting Navajo families.  I finished my professional career back in Denver serving as part of the crisis intervention team for the Columbine shootings.  The next chapter was as a watercolor artist in Denver and Florida.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  After my husband died in a plane crash, I needed a change and moved to Sebastian, Florida.  I traded skiing, backpacking, and amateur car racing for kayaking, road biking, and hiking...

Jan Corcoran ~ August 2012

June 30, 2014

​Jan Corcoran1) Where are you from?  I had a fine time growing up in Gainesville, Florida...followed by 30 years of armed forces connected moves, stateside and overseas...then back "home," and now in St. Augustine.2) When and how did you first become interested in paddling?  I've lost track of the "when," but the clincher was a Fargo-to-Suwannee trip on the Suwannee River led by Walt and Sally Jetter.3) Describe one of your favorite places to paddle.  What makes it special?  Any place that gets me outside!  There are so many.  The (north) Withlacoochee River is a favorite.  Pellicer Creek when the lilies are blooming as far as the eye can see.4) Describe what you do for Paddle Florida.  (Editor's Note: Jan got bashful on this question, so Executive Director Bill Richards was called upon for an answer.)Jan is the co-founder of Paddle Florida.  She deserves much of the credit for any of the success we've been able to achieve.  She has promoted each event.  She has gone on every...

Jon Sairs ~ July 2012

June 30, 2014

​Jon Sairs1) Where are you from?  Your profession (or former one, if retired)?  I am from Vermont and have been self-employed in residential remodeling and building for 15 years and spent the last 12 years working in the craft shows circuit.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  My parents were paddling a cedar canvas Thompson canoe on Lake Michigan when I was a newborn!  In the early 60's, my dad built an 18' sailing canoe in our backyard in San Diego.  We didn't have any toys with keys.  When we moved to Vermont in 1969 we joined the Green Mountain Club, an active hiking and boating group.  At 13 years old, I saved up for my first boat--a 60's Folbot Super.  The club led multi-day trips to the Rangely Lake region of Maine as well as the Temagami region of Ontario.  We camped as often as we could given Vermont's short summers.  I restored cedar canvas canoes for about five years in the 80's during winters when construction was slow.3) Tell us about your SAILING...

Guerry Bradley ~ June 2012

June 30, 2014

​Guerry Bradley1) Where are you from?  Your profession?  I've lived in various parts of Florida for my whole life, and I am a firefighter with the City of St. Augustine.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  When I moved to St. Augustine, I realized that I was surrounded by water in the form of creeks, inlets, etc.  I have always enjoyed canoeing, but as soon a I stepped into a kayak I knew it was the hobby for me.3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  My favorite place to paddle is Juniper Springs Run.  It's like a maze with all the branches and tree trunks blocking the way sometimes, but that's what makes it fun.4) How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  I have been on five trips total.  I went on the Suwannee River trip three times and the Keys trip twice.5) What keeps you coming back?  The thing I love most about Paddle Florida trips is the fact that I can get away for a week doing something I really enjoy, without having to do all...

Ron Schultz ~ May 2012

June 30, 2014

​Ron Schultz1) Where are you from? Your profession? (…or former one, if retired?)  I was born in Buffalo, NY and grew up in a small village (Cassadaga, NY) 50 miles south of Buffalo in hill country. I am a retired geography professor, having spent 35 years as a faculty member at Florida Atlantic University. I am still doing some consulting for Florida cities primarily in the formation or revision of commission election districts.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I grew up next to a series of small lakes (Cassadaga Lakes) and learned to swim and boat at a young age. I was active in scouts and at 14 went on an eight-day canoe trip in Algonquin Provincial Park with my Explorer troop. My high school buddies and I also ventured out on overnighters in canoes and rowboats down local rivers, including the Allegheny. Our parents must have assumed we were indestructible or expendable as they were willing to drop us off and pick us up along rivers we knew little...

Paul Westberry ~ April 2012

June 30, 2014

​Paul Westberry1) Where are you from?  I am a native Floridian who has lived all over the state, with the most years (17) spent in Gainesville. I began teaching at Terwilliger Elementary in 1968. After earning my Master's degree, I moved to Wyoming for 17 years with 10 spent as principal. I later returned to Florida and retired in Naples after a 37-year career. Armed with Master Naturalist and American Canoe Association certifications, I have been immersed in environmental volunteerism and "work" as a kayak tour guide in the mangrove estuaries of Southwest Florida.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  About 30 years ago, I took my first trip in an OLD vinyl-clad, wood-framed Folbot in a three-day drift down the Green River in Wyoming. That clinched it for me. Backpacking in the Wind River Range and camping/paddling the waters of the West became great sources of joy for me. After I returned to Florida, I bought a couple of used kayaks and began learning the...

Patty Pape ~ March 2012

June 30, 2014

​Patty Pape1) Where are you from?   I live in Michigan in the summer and spend winters as a 'snowbird' in Titusville, Florida.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I have paddled since I was very young...I grew up on a lake. I started sea kayaking about 17 years ago. I really enjoy taking all my camping gear with me and heading out into the wilds of Lake Superior, Georgian Bay, and Lake Powell, among other places.3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  Florida is definitely my favorite place to paddle because of the abundance and variety of wildlife that you see while paddling. From gators and crocodiles to river otters, dolphins, manatees, wild pigs and monkeys, and hundreds of species of birds...you just don't see that variety of wildlife in other parts of the country. Florida also offers a wide range of paddling opportunities from saltwater to freshwater, lakes, rivers, streams, spring runs, even swamps and mangrove tunnels.4) What made you decide to go...

Emily Sperling & Paul Archacki ~ February 2012

June 30, 2014

​Emily Sperling & Paul ArchackiIn honor of the upcoming Valentine's Day holiday, we're profiling a paddling couple this month. Questions below were answered by Emily, with input from Paul.1) Where are you from?  Paul is from Florida's right coast and I am from its left coast, which may explain our differing political viewpoints. Paul grew up in Lantana, and we now both reside in my hometown of Sarasota.2) When and how did you become interested in kayaking?  We really enjoyed a brief kayak tour we took with co-workers off Boca Grande. Then we learned that we had friends and family members with kayaks readily available for borrowing, and that sealed the deal.3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  Choosing a favorite is difficult as we haven't yet found a spot we didn't like and have so many places we want to try. But for ease of access, interesting animal viewing (including the human variety), and ability to easily flip into clear, warm saltwater for a swim, we'd have to say...

Catherine Ray ~ January 2012

June 30, 2014

​Catherine RaySeventy-nine-year-old Catherine Ray will be tackling her fifth Paddle Florida trip this coming spring on the Ochlockonee River. Catherine gives us a brief glimpse into her very active life...1) Where are you from?  I live in a continuing care retirement community in Richmond, Virginia.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  My first water tours were paddling the Alligash waterway in Maine (twice) and the St. Johns River (the only river that flows north in the eastern U.S.) with Elderhostel a few years ago.3) What made you decide to go on a Paddle Florida trip?  I heard about Paddle Florida while on Bike Florida, which I have enjoyed 8 or 9 times. I tried it and loved it. I have participated in two Suwannee River trips, one Withlacoochee/Suwannee trip, and the inaugural Ochlockonee trip which I am signed up to go on again this coming March.4) What have you enjoyed most about the PF trips you've been on?  Paddle Florida is very well organized, has...

Cindy Fetch & Peggy Perry ~ December 2011

June 30, 2014

Cindy Fetch and Peggy Perry​A 44-year old friendship is tested (and perseveres!) over a week of paddling on the Suwannee River. Two 2011 Suwannee trip graduates share their adventures in paddling.1) Name and hometown: Cindy Fetch, Athens, GA2) When and how did you become interested in paddling? I’ve always loved activities involving water and started paddling in 1995. I bought a whitewater kayak and started out on the lake behind our house. My daughter was dating a guy who was a competitive whitewater paddler. He tried to teach me how to roll, but I never got it down unfortunately. I sold the boat and bought a Keowee kayak, which allows me to paddle 1-3's and not have to worry about rolling.3) Where is your favorite place to paddle? The Chestatee River near Dahlonega, GA. Clear water, pebbly bottom, bluffs lined with rhododendrons, and only an hour from our home.4) What made you decide to go on a Paddle Florida trip? My husband and I have gone on several paddling trips with the...