Where are you from? Your profession? I currently live in West Chester, Ohio. I was born in England and we came over to Newfoundland, Canada when I was five. From there, we moved to Montreal when I was 9 until I graduated from McGill University in Montreal. I have been a teacher my whole life! I used to play school with my younger sister and then I tutored a first-grader in reading my senior year in high school. I graduated with a degree in physical education, taught PE for three years, and then switched to Montessori classroom teaching. After 30 years, I retired on June 1st of last year.
When and how did you become interested in paddling? I first tried kayaking at local Sierra Club weekend classes and fell in love with it. I had been looking for a sport that wouldn’t be hard on my knees, which were a mess from distance running. The class ended with a trip up a creek that was isolated and beautiful and only accessible by kayak. I knew I had found my sport!
Where is your favorite place to paddle? I’ve paddled to glaciers in Alaska, with Orcas in British Columbia, and this year I experienced the Florida springs on Paddle Florida trips, but I think my favorite place is Tybee Island off Georgia’s coast. I love being in the warm salt water exploring the marshes and trying to surf in the waves (not always successfully!).
What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? I think seeing wildlife makes a trip exciting. In Florida, I got to paddle with manatees who came up to the boat and rolled over for a belly scratch. I paddled close to a pod of orcas in British Columbia and had to face a black bear in Alaska! Oh and the gigantic alligators on the Ocklawaha! (Kidding—they were just young’uns. J)
How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where? My first trip was on the inaugural Ochlawaha Odyssey last December, and then I just participated in the Suwannee River Paddling Festival a few weekends ago.
Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight? The food is great, the riverfront views from my tent are awesome, and the musical entertainment is fun—especially Bing Futch, my favorite. I would also like to thank the volunteers who help us unload and launch our kayaks. I have travelled solo and it’s been great having help getting a sea kayak into the water (especially on the sand dune launch on the Suwannee!).
What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip? First, take paddling lessons before the trip so you are comfortable and experienced for varying conditions. Know how to set up your tent and don’t expect an air mattress to make it through the night! If you can, bring your own kayaking gear. And expect to have a great time!