Canoecopia 2023

Ever since I started paddling a couple years back I’ve wanted to attend Canoecopia in Madison, Wisconsin. The pandemic had other plans, but thankfully in 2023 it’s back on track. Originally I planned to attend both weekend days but ended up only going Sunday due to unforseen delays. I didn’t get to see as many presentations as I wanted but it was certainly a great wevent and worth the trip. Thanks to Rutabaga Paddlesports for putting this on. Starting at the front of the Alliant Energy Center there are many small tables/booths with info from various outdoor organizations – don’t skip this part!

The main floor is packed with vendors, outfitters/guides, and other organizations. All the big players are here and lots of smaller locals as well. If you can’t find it, you aren’t looking hard enough.

Highlighting a couple that caught my eye: Chesapeake Light Craft booth was live building a wooden kayak. I find this fascinating and maybe someday in retirement I’ll take on a project like this, but for now I’m content just to marvel at the craftsmanship of others.

For years I’ve gone back & forth over building an offroad teardrop for a bit more comfort on longer trips. For now I’m sticking to a more miniamlist configuration, but these trailers from Vistabule were impressive. One problem they solved was dropping out the floor to create an upright seated configuration but still maintaining outer dimensions. I could easily see doing work on a laptop from the table and being very comfortable, then collapsing it down to a bed rather quickly. Brilliant design and excellent fabrication quality.

Toyota is one of the show’s major sponsors and they were on full display in the hall, most being at the Yakima booth. Mostly took these for my fellow Toyota fanboys but the current lineup are some good looking machines.

Only had time to attend one seminar and I chose “Ten Steps to Amazing Photography” by Marty Koch. It was geared more at beginners but I still took away a few new tricks.

Level Six is another main sponsor and they had a bunch of gear on display. I somewhat wish they wouldn’t have, because for the final day of the show they had great deals…which forced me to jump on tthis Odin dry suit which was $200 off. Had zero intentions of getting one this soon but glad I did because they never go on sale. I need to get out and paddle more now!

And last but not least I unexpectedly found this dry rope in a climbing sports booth from Wildside Action Sports out of Baraboo. I’ve been looking for a rope like this to reach some of the waterfalls I need to visit, and this one being only 40 meters long is kind of an oddball (most are 60-70m long). 40m is plenty long for some spots I have in mind and stays very lightweight for the longer treks. Had a nice long talk with them, will have to stop into their shop next time I’m up there.

Bonus Hipster Food BS: Vintage Brewing Co.

Saturday I was able to meet up with my sister Emma and had dinner at Vintage Brewing Co. We tried to meet here in the past but for no good reason they weren’t serving that night. It was good to finally get inside and check it out.

On suggestion I had the “Home Grown” burger which came with sliced apples. Sounded a bit odd but it was a surprisingly delicious combination. Can’t remember what the twisty fries are called but those were tasty as well. Turbo fries? Ahh, whats in a name anyways. The important part is I got to spend time with family and it was really good catching up after not really seeing most people over the past couple years.

Bonus #2 Hipster Food BS: Ian’s Pizza By The Slice

Sunday after the convention I was famished. I couldn’t really decide what sounded good, so I drove a bit out of the way to get an old favorite from college days: Ian’s Pizza By The Slice on Frances Street. Truth be told I would go to this other place called Slice of NY more often because it was greasy, delicious, and perfect post-drinking food. Ian’s was more the daytime “I’m pretending to be responsible” and “this is way less greasy and bad for me than the other place” type joint.

I honestly have no idea what flavors these slices were but both hit the spot. One was BBQ chicken but had some other stuff too, the other I can’t even explain…garlic fry pizza with feta and accidental couple bites of Mac n Cheese? Frankenstein pizzas, don’t even care they were good. 20 years later and it still doesn’t disappoint!

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