1) 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. Johns River Alliance. What's the goal of that organization? SJRA is a non-profit coalition of the 12 counties along the St. Johns River. We focus on finding funds for river restoration and promoting ecotourism. We just got the river designated as a state paddling trail (or 'blueway'). We sponsor the St. Johns River license plate to increase the visibility of the river and gain funding for community grants. Towards that goal, people can show their love of the St. Johns River by purchasing a vehicle license plate. One lucky person who purchases or renews an SJR tag in November will win signed books by Florida authors Bill Belleville and Cynthia Barnett plus a framed river photograph by Will Dickey. Also, SJRA will rebate the $25 for new SJR tags purchased by December 31. Visit stjohnsriveralliance.com for details or email me at [email protected]
6) How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where? I've done three Paddle Florida trips so far: the Wekiva/St. Johns River Ramble, the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, and the Suwannee River Paddling Festival. I plan to do the Wekiva/St. Johns again in December.
7) What keeps you coming back? Besides the awesome nature seen from my kayak, the delicious food, and the interesting entertainment, I love getting to know fellow kayakers from around the state.
8) Can you describe a particular Paddle Florida trip highlight? I was slightly anxious about the whitewater shoals on the Suwannee River trip. I was definitely outside my comfort zone! Thankfully, several experienced paddlers guided us newbies. It was actually fun to get through them safely.
9) What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip? Just do it! Don't worry that it's too long or you don't know anyone or you're unsure about the weather or whatever concerns you. There's a first time for everyone and it'll be worth it!