1) Where are you from? Your profession? (…or former one, if retired?) I was born in Buffalo, NY and grew up in a small village (Cassadaga, NY) 50 miles south of Buffalo in hill country. I am a retired geography professor, having spent 35 years as a faculty member at Florida Atlantic University. I am still doing some consulting for Florida cities primarily in the formation or revision of commission election districts.
2) When and how did you become interested in paddling? I grew up next to a series of small lakes (Cassadaga Lakes) and learned to swim and boat at a young age. I was active in scouts and at 14 went on an eight-day canoe trip in Algonquin Provincial Park with my Explorer troop. My high school buddies and I also ventured out on overnighters in canoes and rowboats down local rivers, including the Allegheny. Our parents must have assumed we were indestructible or expendable as they were willing to drop us off and pick us up along rivers we knew little about! When I attended grad school in Seattle at the University of Washington, I met other geography students who were outdoor enthusiasts and thus Pacific Northwest rivers, lakes, and mountains became places I ran to whenever time allowed. I have backpacked, hiked, and paddled those places every year since 1966.
3) Where is your favorite place to paddle? I have many favorites. In Florida, I love the spring runs. I also really enjoy the Santa Fe, Ocklawaha, and Suwannee Rivers. Out west, I use an inflatable kayak on modest whitewater and have done some long boating (sea kayaking) on the Columbia and some estuaries/tidal rivers.
4) How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where? Five so far: the first Suwannee trip, the first Wekiva/St. Johns trip (record cold!), the first Ochlockonee River trip, the 2012 Peace River trip, and I just completed the Rock Springs Run/Wekiva/St. Johns trip.
5) What keeps you coming back? Going with the flow. I love paddling my own craft. Also, Paddle Florida has a great staff. I enjoy talking and camping with Bill and Jan and all the other PF staff and paddling enthusiasts. Who could ask for more?
6) Can you describe a particular trip 'highlight?' There are many, many wonderful moments on these trips. One that comes to mind is the morning mists on that first Suwannee trip. Pushing off early into the morning mist was just grand. Of course getting up that first morning on the Wekiva when temperatures dipped to the low 20’s is also not to be forgotten!
7) What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip? Go with the flow! The trips are just grand. You can socialize while you paddle or you can go solo and listen to the river... a bit of each is my approach. I have made friends that I continue to talk to and see and others that I 'catch-up with' when they reappear on another trip. The Paddle Florida experience is wonderful way to see and experience parts of Florida hidden from terrestrial travelers.