Ellie Chepaitis ~ February 2013

Posted at 1:47 am on 06/30/2014
‚ÄčEllie Chepaitis

1) 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 throughout the Florida Keys.  Why did it take so long for kayaks to come into vogue?  A mystery!

3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  I prefer the variety, easy access, and glorious phenomena of the Florida Keys.

4) How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  I paddled the Wekiva/St. Johns trip last spring, the Suwannee River expedition last fall, and this winter the route from Long Key to Bahia Honda in the Keys.  The last line in the Paddle Florida newsletter description said, "You know you want to."  It was impossible to resist!

5) What keeps you coming back?  I'm hooked.  It's sheer bliss, a privilege to paddle all day through spectacular areas and have reliable and conscientious leaders take care of camp sites, catered meals, shuttles, entertainment, and expert presentations.  I love to be with people who are good at what they do, and have made many friends.  What is life for, if not this?

6) Can you describe a particular Paddle Florida trip highlight?  There was that last morning on the Suwannee--the mist lifted, the water sparkled, and with a perfect breeze aft, I sailed with a golf umbrella for miles and miles past amazing natural springs.  Everyone should have one day in their life like that, with companions who tolerate such eccentricities.

7) What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  Remember gloves, a camp chair, a secure hat, and good reading.  Use a large duffle bag with wheels.  Consider silence when paddling--it frees the senses. 

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