Monday, March 16, 2009

Canoecopia 2009

"The World's Largest Paddling Exposition" is how it was billed and I am pretty sure that is because it is really the ONLY "paddling exposition". It is a way to see stuff that makes you look forward to the joys of the coming seasons. A paddle shop in Madison, WI, called Rutabaga, organizes the event. Isn't it cool that there is a store devoted JUST to paddling on the water in non-motorized vehicles such as canoes and kayaks?
If you come to Canoecopia, you will leave the place tired, smarter about what sorts of boats and accessories are out there, a little lighter in the wallet, but a LOT lighter in spirit. You feel just a little more certain that the ugly piles of snow WILL melt away and the brown grass and trees WILL turn green and the ice WILL leave the surface of the big water. A little more certain that soon, you WILL be able to paddle again!

There were canoes and kayaks, newer plastics and composites and traditional wood. There were boats and paddles. There were life jackets and bailing devices and other safety gear. There was clothing and footwear. There were packs and bags. There were outfitters and guide services and tourism promoters to give you ideas on beautiful places to paddle. There were kids gearing up and adults telling stories. There were handcrafters and the newest pop-up sails and solar power panels.
And there were paddles. I have a special weakness for wooden paddles and the best paddle vendors were there to make me covet new gear. I became especially fond of a kayak paddle by Whiskeyjack that has curved blades of a light and a dark toned wood. I would use it to paddle a boat with Bell's glossy black finish. They have a single person 'hybrid' boat named the "Bucktail" that is open like a canoe, but you sit on the bottom and paddle it like a kayak, so it offers an extremely stable glide through the water, with maneuverability to get just the right camera angle.
I want boats. I want paddles. I want the time and the weather and water to use them in!

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