In the third grade I drew a crayon picture of an eskimo in a kayak. My mother kept it. Prophetic.
Grew up in Washington, DC. As a teenager floated the Potomac in rented canoes (Sycamore Island) and a Klepper Aerius. Worked at Angler's Inn during high school, college. Saw my first whitewater kayak in the '72 Hurricane Agnes paddling solo on flooded Rock Creek as it raged through the National Zoo where I worked (who was that boater?). Did my first whitewater paddling in a rented aluminum Grumman - horse-collar lifejacket, no flotation, lunch in a paper bag. Wrecked the canoe so bad we had to buy it.
Bought one of the first plastic kayaks (RiverRunner) from Springriver in the mid 70's, hung out at the Maryland Chute and Rocky Island. Taught myself to roll from a book, made my wetsuit and gear from Walbridge kits. Met Hoyt Reel and Bob Alexander who took me on my first river adventures. They thought it was OK to do the Upper Gauley as your third river (yikes!).
Moved to Chicago for professional school, thought I'd have to give up whitewater, found the CWA and lots of boaters. Learned to build fiberglass boats using John Kobak's molds, switched to C-1 for a while and tried slalom racing (one amateur Wausau race, one C-1 entered (me), blue ribbon, perfect start and end of slalom career).
Married, moved to Indy, met Hoosier Canoe Club and K-1'd my way gradually to Russell Fork level and content to stay there. Love the new playboats, paddle 50 - 60 days a year mostly with people half my age, outlast most of them on the river even if I can't do all the tricks, though I can stern squirt well enough to piss off the locals...
Did I mention that paddling is my LIFE?