1) Where are you from? Your profession? I was born in Buffalo, NY. My family moved to Jacksonville, FL in the mid-70's and I have lived in Gainesville since coming to college. I am an engineer in the telecom industry designing software for set top boxes, although my education is more in the area of robotics ad semiconductor physics.
2) When and how did you become interested in paddling? From Fort Erie, Canada to Jacksonville, Florida, I have grown up around water, mostly sailing and sailboarding but also quite a bit of canoeing. My introduction to whitewater came in early high school by running NC's Nantahala River in open canoes! Lots of fun, but the main workout was constantly dumping water out of the canoe even if the run was successful. The few decked kayaks in those days looked like a great step up, providing a lesser quantity of 50 degree water in our laps.
3) Where is your favorite place to paddle? Probably a tie between coastal Maine and the San Juan Islands in Washington state during summer. For the rest of the year I will take Florida, with possibly the Chipola River being one of my favorites.
4) What's the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? Just for the "once in a lifetime" moment: seeing Hale-Bopp comet with its double tail perfectly stretched out over the Santa Fe River during a full moon paddle.
5) Tell us a little but about your cleanup efforts with Current Problems. How can others get involved? Current Problems originally concentrated on Gainesville's creeks and lakes and the Santa Fe and Ichetucknee Rivers. Four years ago, we tackled the Suwannee River and have coordinated the removal of over 70,000 pounds of trash through our annual Great Suwannee River Cleanup (GSRC) each fall. This year, we broadened the cleanup to the Suwannee and its tributaries (northern Withlacoochee and Santa Fe) and hundreds of volunteers have helped out. Members of the National Association for Cave Diving recently assisted with a dive cleanup on the Santa Fe and learned how they could organize a similar effort on the Apalachicola and its tributaries, so word of our GSRC is spreading! We are always looking for individual volunteers and groups to adopt river sections each fall. Check out our website for more details.
6) How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where? Most of them! Nearly all the Suwannee River trips, if just for a day or two to lead a cleanup.
7) What keeps you coming back? The tiki bars. Not necessarily going to the tiki bars, but hearing stories about them from fellow paddlers who are new to our unique southern culture.
8) Can you describe a particular Paddle Florida trip highlight? I had quite a bit of fun creating two now-regular Paddle Florida activities: the Ochlockonee oyster roast and the Ellaville night hike/ghost tour on the Suwannee.
9) What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip? Paddle Florida has something for everyone. If you are new to multi-day paddling, the support provided for meals, gear shuttling, and campsite logistics will make your trip enjoyable. If you are an experienced multi-day paddler, some trips allow you access to areas that would be hard and/or expensive to plan a trip to on your own. For all levels of paddlers, the evening entertainment and campfire camaraderie make the trips memorable for everyone!