Where are you from? Your professions? We live in Jim Thorpe, PA. Paul is the founder and president of Pocono Whitewater Rafting. Cleo owns PW photos, which does the promotional and souvenir photos for the rafters, as well as various other projects.
When and how did you become interested in paddling? Paul got interested in paddling as a teenager doing canoe trips around New Jersey. Cleo became interested in paddling after meeting Paul on a ski lift in the Poconos.
is your favorite place to paddle? The Colorado River
through the Grand Canyon. Paul has done expeditions there nine times, and Cleo
eight. We have paddled on all seven continents, and the Grand Canyon is the
most consistently spectacular.
What’s the most
interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? That would
have to be the time on the Omo River in Ethiopia when we were attacked by a
hippopotamus. It was a hot day and the water was low. Three of us were taking
turns rowing a 14-foot raft. The raft seemed like it ran up on a rock in the
middle of the river, but suddenly the rock rose in the water, and we realized
we'd rowed over the top of a hippo that was coming up for a breath
The hippo turned its head over its shoulder and took one giant bite, which went through the top of the outside tube, and the floor of the raft, narrowly missing our legs. Luckily the hippo didn't like the taste of the raft, and didn't hang around. We were able to get the raft over to a campsite and had enough raft patch material with us to repair the damage and continue our 30-day trip.
many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where? We've done two Paddle
Florida trips: the Great Calusa Blueway in February and the Suwannee River
Wilderness Trail in October of 2016.
describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight? Our most memorable moment from a Paddle
Florida trip would be towards the end of the Suwannee. I'd had several conversations
with Floridian paddlers who told me the terrain wasn't right for gators, and as
long as you stayed out of the water at dusk it was safe to swim. I was paddling
in the front of our canoe, the water was exceptionally clear, and I was
watching for turtles or fish, or whatever might be in the water. I wasn't
seeing much, until suddenly, without making a sound, a gator that was bigger
than our canoe crossed the river directly under us. Thank God the river was
deep enough for both of us!
What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip? We would tell anyone considering a Paddle Florida trip to go! You'll see a side of Florida that the majority of the world doesn't see, and you'll have a chance to hang out with some interesting people and hear some great stories.