1) 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 in my attempt to find exercise sufficiently strenuous to work the muscles and mellow the mind.
3) Where is your favorite place to paddle? My favorite place to paddle has to be the Sebastian River. I can launch a mere block from my house and paddle 20 miles without running out of river. I can extend from there and play on the Indian River. I run out of daylight before I run out of possibilities. Other favorites are the clear waters of the spring fed rivers. The rivers in Florida continue to amaze me. I moved here because of the beaches; I stay because of the rivers.
4) How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where? I have gone on a number of wonderful trips with Paddle Florida, although not as many as Scott Keyes. I've done the Suwannee three times, the Ochlockonee twice, and the ocean paddles in the Keys twice.
5) What keeps you coming back? I keep signing up for Paddle Florida trips because they truly are wonderful experiences for me. The long distances are the best part; I loved the 123-mile trips on the Suwannee. Being with a group of like-minded people is another great aspect. I feel privileged to be able to hang out with certain people I've connected with over the years and who have challenged me to grow as a paddler. And I know we're looking out for each other on the water. I greatly appreciate that Paddle Florida hauls my gear around and makes my meals...for a fee, of course.
6) Can you describe a particular trip highlight? There have been many highlights...the early morning mist rising on the Suwannee, about 80 kayaks floating in front of a Disney cruise ship off Key West last January (knowing that we were the ones having the most fun) and realizing that my arms didn't fall off during the 120-mile ocean paddle. However, the greatest highlight for me was probably coming to the finish line on my first trip, 123 miles on the Suwannee, and realizing what an accomplishment that was for me. Remember that I didn't go outdoors until I was 25 and I grew up in a family that avoids the water.
7) What's the most number of oysters you've eaten in one sitting? How could I count? I was so busy eating! But I know that I did not consume as many as Jill Lingard. She definitely is the champion! (Editor's note: Don't know about that. Mim is a fierce competitor! The Panhandle surely experienced an oyster shortage after last March's Ochlockonee trip.)
8) What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip? I say "sign up!" The leaders of the group are experienced, welcoming, and well organized. A lot of people feel apprehensive on their first trip and then realize how well they're being supported. Because of these trips, I have grown from being a wimpy paddler doing 5-mile local trips with friends to now regularly wanting to do 15-20 mile days in more difficult conditions.