1) Where are you from? Birmingham, Alabama.
2) When and how did you become interested in paddling? I learned about Paddle Florida from an article in the Birmingham News before the inaugural March 2008 Suwannee River trip. At the time I was an avid sculler, having never paddled before. Uncertain I would take to camping or paddling, I bought a cheap tent and even cheaper sleeping bag and rented a kayak for the trip. Not only did I take to paddling, I loved it (and unlike sculling, you can see where you're headed). Being away from work taught me I could survive without the stress and, three months later, I retired as head of the personnel department of the Fairfield Works of United States Steel Corporation with 39 years of service.
3) How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where? By my t-shirt count, I have 11 trips with Paddle Florida: seven on the Suwannee River, one on the Peace River, two on the Ochlockonee River, and the 10-day Key Largo to Key West trip. My favorite trip, though a tough drive for us Birminghamsters, was the Keys trip for the beautiful turquoise waters and abundant aquatic life you see.
4) What keeps you coming back? Initially, it was the great organization by the Paddle Florida staff that kept me coming back. But now I think it is more about the people (both staff and paddlers) than it is about the paddle that motivates me.
5) What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip? For those who may be apprehensive about a long trip, my only advice is: don't be. Doing a trip with Paddle Florida will be all it takes to want to do another. My only other advice would be to invest in a better sleeping bag and tent from the start.