I think most of my best paddling trip memories are from moments that happened outside of the canoe or kayak. Those lunch or snack breaks on sandbars, or cooling off with a quick swim. Maybe we headed into the woods in search of a spring. We enjoy our north Florida rivers because they’re wild and mostly uncluttered of human structures. We call them scenic, and it’s fun to enter that scenery and explore. So when we were picking a section of the Chipola River to paddle, Doug Alderson and I turned our minds to where we’d break from kayaking.
Unlike the Apalachicola or Suwannee, there aren’t numerous sand bars to stop and picnic. Instead, we had a cave and a side trip up a spring run to break up our trip. The cave excursion alone makes it unlike most any paddling trip on a Florida river; a truly memorable river adventure.
Rob Diaz de Villegas is a senior producer for television at WFSU Public Media, covering outdoors and ecology. After years of producing the music program OutLoud, Rob found himself in a salt marsh with a camera, and found a new professional calling as well. That project, the National Science Foundation funded "In the Grass, On the Reef," spawned the award-winning WFSU Ecology Blog. Now in its tenth year, the Ecology Blog recently wrapped its most ambitious endeavor, the EcoCitizen Project.
Rob is married with two young sons, who make a pretty fantastic adventure squad.