NAME: Deb O’Keefe
OCCUPATION: Speech pathologist/traveling kayaker
BIO: 34 years old - and damn proud of it. Grew up all around New York state. Currently on a major road trip.
FAVORITE BOATS: Fluid Flirt (South African kayak), two P.S. Composite squirt boats: Maestreo and Spy. AIRE Force XL Strider Edition.
CREDENTIALS: Member US Freestyle Kayak Team since March 2002. Reigning World Champion in Squirt 2003 Graz, Austria. 1st Place Preworlds/International Freestyle Champ in Penrith, Australia. Founder, North American Squirt Boat Association (www.northamericansquirt.com).
FAVORITE RIVERS: Too many to mention - but notables: Upper Gauley in West Virginia, Cheat Canyon in West Virginia, Upper Yough in Maryland, Black River in New York - and of course the Kennebec in Maine.
MAINE ROAD TRIP: Visiting Maine for five days to get in shape for striding - to get in as much river mileage in strider as possible. My plan was to do as many laps on the Kennebec (I did four on Thursday) as possible and to hang out with friends on the Rapid while sampling local beer products.
STRIDING?: Striding is standing up and paddling an inflatable kayak. It was started by Jeff Snyder in West Virginia. You use a very long paddle and your feet are wedged into the boat. And yes, I have five clean runs on the Kennebec.
BEST RAPID ON THE KENNEBEC FOR STRIDING: Big Mamma. You just crank up the wave and Yippaaaw!!! Ride the wave like you’re snowboarding through a mogul field.
FAVORITE SAYING: Have fun or go home. Every day on the river is a gift so enjoy it and make it your moment.
ADVICE: Don’t be afraid to try something different on the river.
FUTURE: Continue on northeast road trip in Pennsylvania, Canada, West Virginia, Maryland. October to March, plane trip around the world (self-sponsored) to United Kingdom, France, South Africa, New Zealand and the west coast of the USA. Defend world champion title in Penrith, Australia, January, 2005. Return to Maine for more kayaking, hiking and new adventures - and have as much fun on the river as I can.
THANKS: Thanks to all the friendly people I met on this road trip in Maine: Nick at No Umbrella, camping at Boston Billy’s (at G.W.’s site) and all the friendly people running shuttle on the Kennebec and Rapid Rivers. I enjoyed the Maine road trip, see you guys next time.
Photos courtesy of Deb O'Keefe
Email nick [at] noumbrella [dot] com with your questions, comments and concerns.
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