Ed McLaughlin ~ March 2018

Posted at 7:55 am on 02/28/2018

Where are you from? Your profession?  I live in Pennsylvania. Born and raised in Philly, but now live in the coal region, about eight miles from the Yuengling Brewery. I'm a retired school administrator. I directed special education programs and school services for several school districts.


When and how did you become interested in paddling?  Growing up, my family went to the Jersey shore every summer and I always loved the water. When I moved out and started "adulting," I did a little paddling in a big old Coleman canoe with the family, but really never got out too much. I live near the Schuylkill River and they have a "Sojourn" every year which is a week-long paddling/camping trip that I had wanted to go on for years. When I finally retired, I signed up. It was my first trip, I was out of shape, and had the absolutely worst kayak for that kind of trip. I thought I would die. Even as sore and exhausted as I was, I knew I was hooked. In the 10 years since, I've taken 25-30 trips all over Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Actually it was on one of these trips that some fellow sojourners told me about Paddle Florida. Since my daughter lives in Tampa I figured I could do a "twofer.”


Where is your favorite place to paddle?  That's a tough call.  I love the Delaware River because of the wildlife in the north, rapids in the middle, and the historic and interesting flat water at the lower end.  But since my first trip in Florida....


What's the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? Another tough call.  I have to go with the springs. Up here, a spring is where you fill your water bottle while hiking. I was blown away when I paddled into the springs on my first trip on the Suwannee. 


Which Paddle Florida trips have you gone on?  The Suwannee, Ocklawaha, and Withlacoochee, but they won't be my last.


Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight?  I already talked about the springs, but another highlight were the monkeys on the Ocklawaha.  Another thing that stands out was the thunderstorm on the last day on the Ocklawaha.  The howling tailwind blowing us through two-foot waves, in the rain, and over barely submerged pilings was a real blast.  I know not everyone enjoyed the experience, but again I had a blast.


What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  This is an easy one:  GO. A Paddle Florida trip is the easiest and safest way to get on the water and experience Florida, and its people, at its best.  If you live in Florida and haven't seen it from the water, you haven't really seen it.  When you do, it might just change your life.

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