1) Where are you from? Your profession?
We both grew up in North Florida, in the Tallahassee area. Woody worked as an air traffic controller in California after serving in the Air Force in Vietnam, then became a computer specialist at a private firm, and finished his career as an analyst for the State of Florida, retiring last year. Kathy will be retiring from her position as an analyst for state government later this year. We are both certified green guides and enjoying providing kayak tours on the St. Marks River. And we both intend to spend more time kayaking, traveling, and camping in 2015.
2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?
Kathy's younger brother built a Folbot kayak from a kit when they were teenagers in the 60’s. Basically a wood frame covered with waxed canvas with (very hard) wooden seats. She used it in local ponds and lakes and later canoed the Wacissa, Wakulla, and other local rivers with friends while attending FSU. Woody was a member of the Tallahassee Canoe Club in the late 80's. He became hooked on kayaks because they handled so much easier than canoes and were perfect for navigating local rivers and fishing.
3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?
The St. Marks River in Wakulla County, which feeds into the Gulf of Mexico. It has been a special place for both of us for many years, but especially since we were lucky enough to build our home on its banks 10 years ago.
4) What’s the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to you on a paddling trip?
Our most unusual paddling experience was being confronted by a large "Florida cracker" bull up in the St. Marks River basin, near the spring. The bull was quietly enjoying the local vegetation, neck deep in the river, when Woody unknowingly got too close. As the bull raised its head up above the hyacinth, the large set of horns and loud snort let him know it was time to head in another direction! These cattle have been in and around the St. Marks since the late 1800's, and we have observed them in the shallow water many times. However, this was our first "up too close" experience with one in deeper (4') water. The cattle have since been fenced off from the river.
5) How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?
Kathy went on the Ochlockonee River Dam to the Bay trip in 2012 and we both did the recent Wekiva/St. Johns Ramble.
6) What did you enjoy most about the Paddle Florida experience?
Perfect mix of adventure and support. Interesting people to meet and paddle with, yet you could choose to do your own thing knowing you would still get to socialize later if you wanted to, have some good grub, hear some music around the campfire, or listen to an interesting speaker.
7) Can you describe a particular Paddle Florida trip highlight?
Rock Springs Run was spectacular! The water and vegetation were beautiful, and the close-up encounters with the limpkins were priceless and made for good photo ops.
8) What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?
Don't hesitate, just do it!