AlgoraCopia 2014


I want to live alone in the desert / I want to be like Georgia O’Keefe
I want to live on the Upper East Side / And never go down in the street
– zevon

And another way to look at it is this; Many of us kayakers and canoeists hate, or at the very least disdain the human mob that is modern society. We paddle, to escape. It doesn’t matter if it’s the open water or down the river, paddling takes us AWAY!  Which, when you think of it, says something else about the massive Canoecopia event held last week in Madison, Wisconsin. Even though it may make our hair curl to spend 10 minutes in trapped in the crowded din of humanity, we’ll somehow manage to spend 3 full days at Canoecopia.

Canoecopia is BIG! And in a sense, it is whatever you expect to get out it.  It’s a gear show, It’s a symposium, it’s entertainment, it’s shopping, it’s a family reunion, it’s business, it’s a party, it’s hard-core.   For me, it was pretty much all of these things. . .

It was a $5.75 latte and a $3.50 coke.  No kidding…

I loved the lady with the spinning wheel who saw my camera and gave me a full length presentation even though it was busy and I didn’t ask.

I saw clients who I work with on their various web endeavors.  I’m always happy to see them, but rarely talk to them.. they’re way to busy earning money.. some of which may help pay me!

I saw many, many kayaking friends and compatriots. It’s always a joy to see everyone and catch up.  Often when I see old friends doing their thing from a distance, I really feel how time is passing..

Darren Bush was everywhere.. and always smiling.. (AND always taking pictures!)

I noticed a lack of old-school British kayaks.. No Nigel Dennis boats, no Valley, no Atlantic.. P&H was the last hold out. I certainly don’t understand all the business that goes on behind the scenes and I’m not recommending British boats over others, but still, the biggest paddling event in the Great Lakes region should have the classics, the legendary kayaks. It’s like a car show without Cameros…

I caught the folks at Paddling.net taking selfies… Every year they crack me up.. It looks like a fun place to work!

I thought there were many more nature oriented groups out in the lobby this year from parks to the Ice Age Trail Alliance, to the Leopold Center.  Nice to see.

Which reminds me about the guy doing his one-man Aldo Leopold show…  I couldn’t help but wonder what Mr. Leopold would actually think about how he is viewed and presented today?  Maybe he’d like it, maybe he’d be self-conscious and embarrassed.

The sales reps all seemed extra helpful and extra excited this year.  Did you notice that?  Great job guys!

Was it cool to have QajaqUSA at Canoecopia this year? Yes. It was cool.

I wondered about that guy with the turtle’s foot around his neck. He told a story about his dog biting him in bum while he was trying to put a log into his wood stove.  I wondered if he was really as “homespun” as he seemed or was it a role he was playing?  Either way, it was a fun, warm, old school presentation that had the crowd locked in.  (I still think he had an iPhone in his back pocket!)

And to that guy I wrote an article for who didn’t pay for it in the end… I saw your booth, I was going to say, “hi”.. but really? … No, really!?

I was thinking the kids in the on site daycare needed more paddling related toys to play with… start ’em young ya know…

I wondered what it would take to get a Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 Pro in black with red trim?

Yoga on a paddle board?

I love watching the folks at the cash registers wave their little flags.  I should have stolen one.. It would have made it much easier to get people to look at the camera while I was taking photos… Suddenly out of the corner of your eye you see a little flag…. SNAP! “GOT CHA!”


AND that dude, Ryan from the Keweenaw Adventure Company was like, cool. Really cool.  We even had the same lens on our camera.. In fact the award for coolest dude at Canoecopia 2014 had to be a tie between Ryan and Steve Scherrer.  Steve had his “dude” goin’ on this year as well.. Oh, and to be fair Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin was kinda dudein’ it up herself.  I’m thinking her husband Alec was extra bummin’ when he had to put the blindfold on!  (Sorry kids, we don’t do innuendo around here!)

Yeah, Canoecopia is something akin to a crazy walk through the markets of Maraquesh, only with more paddles. Fantastic!  But I’m sure many of us are happy at the end to just find a quiet room and sit.  There in your quiet spot, the memories come back in jumbled snapshots.. You smile to yourself, have a sip of your favorite beverage and think about the gear you want, the things you’ve learned and anticipate you’re first paddling adventure of the new year.  And just for a moment, you realize that there are only 360 more days until Canoecopia arrives again..

and you can’t wait!

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2 Responses

  1. Doug

    Thanks for the article an onsite. While I’ve always been tempted to attend this event as I would enjoy seeing old friends. It sounds as though I would have been disappointed, (outside of seeing friends). While I like Steve and the Confluence road show and am thankful that P&H still are represented, I would have been bummed by the lack of representation of long boat builders. 12 hours of driving and nothing from Valley, North Shore, Tiderace, Epic, Current Designs, Impex, Stirling, Rebel or Tahe, etc. It has gotten to the place where it is increasingly hard to shop for a high end kayak. Case in point, try to find a North Shore Ocean to sit in and check fit. Heaven forbid you may need to paddle one to part with 4K. This lack of retailer participation brought on by weak marketing presence and floor planing of composite boats will only hasten the decline of sea kayaking. I’m starting to feel like we must wait for all the newby SUPers to get tired and sit down…. I always enjoy your writing. Thanks for the insight. Doug

  2. Hi Doug! Current Designs & Wilderness Systems were there, but in your point is a good one.. It’s getting harder and harder to find & test paddle high end sea kayaks. I really want to test paddle a North Shore kayak myself but I can’t find one within driving range.

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