1) Where are you from? Your profession? I am a Kansas boy. As a joke I have "made in Kansas" on the side of my Sea Pearl, which is made in Norway. I am the Director of a very nice retirement community in Gastonia, NC, close to Charlotte. The community has a nice pool, which has allowed me to become decent roller and to teach others. I have probably taught at least 20 people how to roll. Here is a link to my bowling ball roll: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEtGi4RLaJA
2) When and how did you become interested in paddling? I have been paddling on and off since I was a Boy Scout, but seriously and, as my wife would say, obsessively for the past eight years. I was a runner and a bike rider until I was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2004. I had a large inoperable tumor on my right lung. I was enrolled in a clinical trial and had chemo and radiation that shrunk the tumor so that it was small enough to be removed along with my right lung. Running and cycling were no longer fun activities for me due to my compromised breathing. Someone suggested kayaking. I tried it and enjoyed it from the first time on the water. I now paddle once a week and I am usually in the pool on a weekly basis. I also work at the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, in their flatwater program. It is there that I became associated with athletes training for the Olympics and have become a national slalom judge to help with the races.
3) Where is your favorite place to paddle? I love to paddle in Florida. The range of scenery is amazing, from the big coastal cities to the remote areas like we paddled along the Ochlockonee and everything in between. I just love to paddle and my favorite place is anywhere I am on the water.
4) Describe that fascinating paddle of yours and why you like it. I paddle with Greenland and Aleutian style paddles. These are paddles that were traditionally used in the Arctic by the Inuit for thousands of years. My paddles are 87 to 90 inches long and about three inches wide. The traditional paddles evolved over time into paddles that excel in windy, rough, icy conditions. They are excellent for bracing, rolling, and long distance paddling. The paddles are sized for each person. When you get the right sized paddle, it is almost magical how well it works. Most people use paddles too large for them. This is like riding a bike in the wrong gear. You can move the bike, but it takes more effort than necessary. With a traditional paddle, you are maximizing power for effort. You are paddling in the right gear.
5) How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where? I have gone on three trips to the Suwannee, the Ochlockonee, and the Wekiva/St. Johns rivers.
6) What keeps you coming back? It's about the easiest paddling trip to go on from a logistics standpoint. Paddle Florida makes all the camp reservations, pays the fees, plans the meals, hauls the gear, and provides nightly entertainment. All one has to do is paddle. The trips are scheduled at the right time of year for the weather. The people who go on the trips are all like-minded individuals. I have made some good friends, including Bill and Jan.
7) Can you describe a particular Paddle Florida trip 'highlight?' You may think this is funny if you live in Florida, but seeing my first alligator in the wild was pretty special. Of course, it is always a highlight to see the white flag for the lunch break and the camp at the end of the day.
8) What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip? Spend some time in the seat of your kayak before coming. Make sure it works for you and will not become uncomfortable after a couple hours of paddling. Bring a light folding chair and a good sleeping pad. Keep what you bring on the light side. Only bring what you need. Even though Paddle Florida hauls your gear from campsite to campsite, you still to load and unload it back on the truck.