Connie Hollis ~ October 2015
(09/29/2015) Where are you from? Your profession? I was born and raised in the Atlanta area. In 1966 as soon as I turned 20, I began applying to Delta Airlines to be a stewardess. Most young women were looking for a husband. At the time, we had to sign a contract that we would quit at 35 or when we married. I knew I wanted a career. Fortunately, laws eventually changed and I began my career. When and how did you become interested in paddling? I now live on Jackson Lake in Georgia. I got my first kayak as a birthday present in 2000. It was a 10-foot Hobie with paddles, pedals, and a sail. I still love it! Shortly after getting mine, my husband bought his fishing Hobie. I was looking for a kayaking vacation online in 2008 and stumbled upon Paddle Florida’s inaugural trip down the Suwannee River. I signed us up, and we’ve been hooked ever since. Where is your favorite place to paddle? Ebenezer Creek near Savannah, Georgia is probably my favorite place to paddle…it’s like paddling on the set of The Lord of the Rings. I have fallen in love with swamps, but also enjoy the ocean. How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where? I have been on many Paddle Florida trips: the Peace River, the Suwannee many times, and the Keys Challenge. I have also begun doing paddle trips with other organizations and a group of people we met in Georgia. What keeps you coming back? I love the quiet, coming around a river bend to birds, gators, and monkeys. Paddling fills all those empty places inside and I return to regular life refreshed. Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight? On the Keys trip last year, who knew I could paddle almost 80 miles? A huge sea turtle came up to my boat and raised its head out of the water. I will never forget it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a camera in hand. (Although I have discovered that I miss a lot trying to take pictures…and see almost everything without one.) I saw sharks, starfish, barracuda, and sting rays in the ocean. I loved the day it rained and there were swells. It was like riding a roller coaster. My husband Tommy said I was laughing out loud. What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip? I would tell people looking at the Paddle Florida trips to come just one time. Bill Richards thinks of everything. I follow his packing list and I’m set. He feeds me (way more than I need), hauls my camping gear, entertains me in the evening around the campfire, and arranges a place for me to lay my head at night. All I have to do is paddle. I’ve met lots of people of all different ages and walks of life. Some of them return again and again like me. I have made friends for life on Paddle Florida trips.