When and how did you become interested in paddling? I began canoeing in the Girl Scouts, and my first trip was as a camp counselor on the Shenandoah River. My kayaking began about 12 years ago with Venture Scouts. My first kayak trip was a three days along intracoastal Georgia, with enthusiastic teens. After that I was hooked, and now I've just bought my sixth kayak. It's longer, leaner and faster!
Where is your favorite place to paddle? I love narrow winding streams, untouched by civilization. Though often hard to find, they are beautiful, serene, and nature's tranquilizers. I am looking forward to paddling in the Okeefenokee Swamp again this year. If you haven't been in its back waters, it's worth the effort.
What's the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? I love flora and fauna, and seeing new sights. Seeing manatees in Florida is exciting, but here's another one. Heading out in the early dawn mist in the Okeefenokee, I paddled over a small sleeping gator around four feet long! Neither of us saw each other and no harm done. (Yes, they prefer NOT to interact with humans, as long as you DON'T feed them!)
Which Paddle Florida trips have you gone on? I began simply with the beautiful three-day Wekiva/St. Johns River Ramble. I've enjoyed the warm springs along the Withlacoochee, the rustic beauty along the Ochlockonee, and last fall I enjoyed Silver Springs on the Ocklawaha Odyssey. Hard to pick a favorite!
Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight? Other than paddling pristine Florida rivers and adventuring through wilderness areas, I truly enjoy the people I've met and new friends made on Paddle Florida trips. It's a joy not to have to bring food, and transport gear, and to be treated to excellent evenings of entertainment! I like it all, even paddling in the rain. (Well not so much the wind!)
What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip? Pack for comfort and changeable weather. It's better to have waterproof gloves and windproof jackets and not wear them, then to be cold or wet! Also ALWAYS pack your sleeping back in a dry bag, because if you can't sleep, you won't want to paddle the next day. When in doubt about what to pack, ask someone who has gone before. I love the new fabrics that wick moisture and dry rapidly, and also keep you warm when it's chilly outside. Like the Scouts say: "be prepared,” and “go with the flow.”
"Life is like a river, always changing and going somewhere." ~ Mary Boothe