1) 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 on a Paddle Florida trip? I know Walt and Sally Jetter (regular Paddle Florida volunteers) and I had heard them talk of past trips. When I heard about this year's Keys Challenge, I knew I wanted to participate as paddling from Key Largo to Key West has always been on my 'bucket list.'
5) What did you enjoy most about the Paddle Florida trip you went on? I had 15 friends from Michigan who came down to paddle with me on the Keys trip, so that made it special. In Michigan, you can 'walk on water in the winter, so they were eager to escape the cold and snow and come to the Sunshine State for a few weeks of paddling. Paddle Florida was a great way to meet new people from other parts of the country. And with the work of meals, campsites, route planning, and hauling gear all done for you, it made the trip easy for participants. I would love to do another Paddle Florida trip to explore another area of the state.
6) What advice do you have for anyone considering a Paddle Florida trip? Paddle Florida makes it easy to go on an expedition and discover the 'REAL' Florida! The fact that everything is taken care of for you and you just need to paddle makes it do-able for many ability levels. Using a tandem kayak may be a good idea for those not used to paddling longer distances.