It started out with a girl, a dream of owning a paddleboard and a whim: “I’m going paddle 10 states in my first year of paddling.”
Well, I bought a paddleboard (a 12′ 6″ Jimmy Lewis Albatross) and then another (better for travel, a 12’6″ Hala Nass), got to 10 and realized I didn’t want to stop…It took a decade (thanks, it part to a pandemic delay), but I did it. I paddled in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, DC. It was an amazing way to see the country, explore the waterways and spread my love of SUP (not to mention collect great stickers for my board). I finished with friends and family and a solstice party in Alaska in 2022, and it was everything I could have hoped for. See the map below for snapshots of where and why I’ve been.
(For more info, listen to my interview on the SUP Radio Show.)
|01 Florida |
I first paddled with YOLO Board Jeff Archer as part of an article for Entrepreneur magazine. We met at Coastal Paddle Co. and I paddled two boards. The experience rocked my world. Neither Jeff nor I knew what kind of obsession was about to be unleashed.
Later in the same year I paddled in a race here.
Gulf Breeze Florida, United States of America
|02 Tennessee |
It was while paddling on Old Hickory Lake with Tim Inskeep, who first became my coach and later my friend, where I had the idea of padding in 10 states, which then became 50-plus. Tim and I spent hours and hours (and hours) on the water here. This one was at sunrise.
Photo credit: Tim Inskeep
Old Hickory Tennessee, United States of America
|03 Alabama |
My first solo paddle! This was one of the spots where I used to like to kayak, thanks to my friend Captain Chris Nelson, so I knew where I was going. Dolphins swam under my board, which blew my mind. I have paddled here many, many, many times since. I love how it starts out as one ecoclimate and ends up as another in Wolf Bay, or even in the Gulf of Mexico. This is one of my favorite places on Earth.
According to Native-Land.ca, this is Mvskoke land.
Foley Alabama, United States of America
|04 Virginia |
2011. And 2012
This is a long story. The rules for this quest are that I have to count the state from where I launch. No launching in Illinois, paddling over to Michigan and calling it two states.
In July 2011 I visited my amazing cousins, Charlotte and Jennifer, in DC and talked them into paddling No. 4 with me. We did a sunrise paddle on the Potomac River, with the sun reflecting off the monuments. It was epic, but before I owned a GoPro, so you'll just have to trust me. We launched from Columbia Island Marina in Arlington for this paddle, so I counted it as Virginia. But I never felt good about it, because it really was a Washington, DC paddle.
So, when I went to the Blue Ridge Parkway (see No. 17) I made my friends make a detour (including a visit to Mt. Rogers Outfitters for some ideas of where to go). Jeremy Lehmann and I repaddled Virginia while DG Strong sat on the banks of South Holston Lake and contemplated my mental illness.
Arlington Virginia, United States of America
|05 Idaho |
I grew up in Boise and spent time at Lucky Peak as a teen. This solo paddle was fantastic, because it was powerful to see the place from a different perspective, both the physical perspective of being on a board, but also the perspective of being a grownup at one of your childhood hangouts.
South Lucky Peak Dam Road Idaho, United States of America
|06 Illinois |
My friends Judy Sutton Taylor and Stephanie Krol joined me on Lake Michigan (thanks, Groupon, for their rentals!). We launched from behind the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where I spent almost every waking moment of 1993. It was great to be there as a different person on this different adventure. Also, seeing the skyline from that vantage point was fantastic.
Evanston Illinois, United States of America
|07 Georgia |
I am a good paddler, but a terrible singer. This did not stop me from singing, "Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee" for this entire paddle. It is kind of surprising my sister still speaks to me, much less paddles with me.
In 2013 my friend Jacky invited me to meet her at the Ritz Carlton's Reynolds Plantation on Lake Ocoee, where we band had a gig. We paddled wearing the fancy plush robes from the hotel, because: photo op.
Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America
|08 Arkansas |
People fresh water SCUBA dive here at Mountain Harbor Resort. Yes, in Arkansas. I had no idea. I loved the quartz lined cliffs and the clear, deep water. I think this was the first wet suit paddle, which was not necessary. I loved this part of Arkansas.
Lake Ouachita West Arkansas, United States of America
|09 Mississippi |
I met my friend Captain Chris Nelson in Alabama, but he grew up in Mississippi, so he was quick to take me to the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve when I needed another state. It was breathtaking, with oyster shoals and marshes and Native American history and expansive views. There was also evidence of alligators, which terrified me, but I tried to keep my mouth shut about that.
According to Native-Land.ca, this is Chahta Yakni land.
Moss Point Mississippi, United States of America
|10 California |
Thanks to my friends at YOLO Board, I got to meet Brody Welte of PaddleFit when I was in San Diego. I thought Brody was just going to help me meet my first goal: 10 states in the first year. Brody helped me see that Nashville Paddle Co. could be a reality. A year later I was PaddleFit Level 2 certified.
San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge, California, United States of America
Bonus international paddles: Israel, Mexico, United Kingdom