Friday, March 18, 2016

Canoecopia - 2

The other side of the expo draws as many people as the trade show does.  Rutabaga amasses a long list of speakers that offer programs each day from when the doors open until everyone staggers tiredly out the doors at the end of the day.  The speakers include those that have completed impressive expeditions and are there to show their films and slides while answering questions about what the experience was really like and how it was accomplished.  Other speakers explain how to pick a boat, outfit it, catch a fish, pack, plan menus and cook a meal, introduce your kids or dog to paddling, get fit and stay that way, experience birds and wildlife and photograph them, navigate, explore new areas, become a happy camper, and everything you need to know from beginner to expert.

If Kevin Callan is on the schedule, he's a must see.  He's not only a
fountain of information and inspiration, but he's as entertaining as any
Vegas show.  I was sitting by the projector when he needed to come back
for some adjustments, and as soon as he saw me swing around with the camera,
he flashed his iconic thumbs-up.  If you ever see a guy that's always upbeat
and fun to be around, you've probably just bumped into "The Happy Camper"

If you should plan to go next year and order the show guide and colored wristbands, which serve as your entry tickets, early enough, both arrive in the mail.  If you wait until the last minute, the 84-page guide can be printed off the Canoecopia web page pdf.  Parking at the Alliant Energy Center is $7.00 a day unless you purchase the 3-day parking pass.  That doesn’t save much money, a dollar-and-a-half, but it saves a lot of time each day sitting in line to get through the gates.  Lodging abounds in the area, but the longer you wait to make your travel plans, the further you will be commuting each day to and from the exhibition.

No, I wasn't on this trip with Kevin and Andy, his equally upbeat
camping partner.  I just shot this picture of the screen during Kevin's
presentation.  These two met by accident, but make the perfect duo
by all appearances.  Photo credit: Kevin Callan

Was it worth the 1,700 mile road trip?  Yes.  Everyone should make the trip at least once even if you think of it as a pilgrimage.  For us, the 3-day show was a 6-day round trip, but it was a great experience.  The show is in the middle of the heart of paddling country for both Americans and Canadians.  Those that live close are fortunate, but I did see one person whining that they didn’t know if they’d make the trip since it was four hours away.  Wow!

Credit: Wikipedia
On several occasions while watching a Callan video, Jean and I have
talked about how much Andy looks like Red Skelton.  (If you're young
enough you don't know who Red Skelton was, you missed out on a lot. 
You should talk to your parents about that.)  His appearance, expressions,
mannerisms, and great sense of humor would have you thinking he's 
Skelton's reincarnation or his son.  So, we had to chuckle when we saw
Callan labeling him as Andy, alias, Red Skelton.

For a final word that may be of interest, Jean wanted to know how a paddling outfitter came to be named after an obscure turnip.  Here’s the story.  “Back in 1974, the original owner of Rutabaga and his friends would play Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention’s album, 'Absolutely Free,' on repeat.  There is one song called “Call Any Vegetable,” and at one point in the song there is a repeated chant of “Rutabaga.”  The neighbors used to call them the Rutabaga kids, and that’s what they named their business.  We hold with the legacy today, but we don’t play too much Frank Zappa over the stereo anymore.”  To plan your trip, see

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