It's going away

Joined
Jun 12, 2014
Messages
3,353
Location
NW Iowa
It's always sad to see a hobby go. I've had a number of them throughout my life and have come to recognize the pattern. I get interested in something, get very involved with it (sometimes for months and other times for years) and then slowly become disinterested.

I'm afraid that's happening with me and canoeing. Four years ago I was still paddling multiple times/week and building canoes with no signs of stopping. Then I suddenly got an offer to sell my house and shop and took them up on it. Which meant I lost my nice canoe shop and gained a remodel project which took up all my time. I also ended up buying a sawmill at that time which, among the house remodel and building a new shop, began to occupy much of my time. My back got injured and I couldn't do much of anything for over a year until I'd had fusion surgery. The rhythm I'd been in for years was broken.

Fast forward four years and I've only been paddling a handful of times despite having a nice slough right out my front door (I can literally carry down my driveway and launch). It seems there's always something else I'd rather be doing. Working on the house, building something in the shop, sawing lumber, planting trees on the new land that went along with the sawmill. The thought of actually going canoeing comes as an afterthought at the end of a beautiful day when I had some free time. “Oh yeah, I could have gone canoeing today. Oh well, next time.”

It seems sad but it isn't as bad as all that. What would be sad would be if I wanted to go canoeing more than anything but could never find the time to do it. Something always comes along to replace the hobby I've left behind and while I hate to see something go and usually try to hold on too long I can't complain because I'm happy doing the new thing.

And the old hobbies all leave something behind, come back around now and again. Feeling a baseball in my hand brings back a flood of memories and I still find a lot of enjoyment in hitting rocks with a broken piece of wood. Now that I have a couple young boys in my life it's fun to show them how to throw and catch a ball.

I'm still around water quite often on my walks and I never get tired of watching for fish. When I see a boil as a fish is spooked I find myself trying to piece together what species it likely was, what it was doing there, and how to catch it. And I do make exceptions for fishing now and again when I can get the boys out. It feels good to (almost) always be able to put them on some fish.

The only phone I carry anymore is a camera phone but I can still recognize and compose a good picture and fool the automatic settings good enough to gain some control.

Birds are of course never far away and even though I no longer count them or check them off lists my eye can't help but see the flick of unexpected color from a migrating golden crowned kinglet or my ears miss a snatch of sound that tells me a wood thrush is singing way back in the woods. Last night a bird flew across the road in front of me. It didn't look odd but just not quite like the common great blue heron or the less common american bittern. I stopped the car to follow its flight for a better look. It was a black crowned night heron. I hadn't seen, or even thought, of one in years. It brought a smile to my face as an old hobby came back to say hello. The hobby that had been replaced by canoeing, which is now fading away.

This doesn't mean I'm selling the canoes or hanging up the paddles just yet. I still hope to get out in the canoe now and again. I've got a few young boys to teach the way of the paddle and would still like to do a couple more far northern trips and build a couple more boats too. But I can tell the drive to do those things isn't there any more so we'll see if they actually happen.

Alan
 
Joined
Dec 9, 2014
Messages
1,168
Location
Penacook, NH on a back road
I think I could have written some of this Alan! Since I broke my back and struggled with the hopeful come back I came to realize that the trips I use to do weren't going to happen despite a surgery to fix some of the problems. I still get out for minor trips but the days of long trips are most likely gone. I still like working on boats but the desire to get out there and make miles are not in the mix anymore. Took a long time to get this figured out in the gray matter and maybe things will change, I hope so but getting that old energy to just slap a boat in the water and take off for a few weeks....

dougd
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2015
Messages
729
Location
Mid coast, Maine
You are not alone. I thought I’d have my shop up and running and rebuilding that Ruston Indian Girl canoe among others but the barn is inhospitable in the winter and way to many projects that ‘need’ to get done on the house. I think I only got out on the water a couple times last summer a couple hours each. No matter canoes are still some of the most beautiful vessels afloat.
Jim
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Joined
Oct 24, 2012
Messages
2,080
Location
Connecticut
Normal. Common. Expected.

Interest in just about everything waxes and wanes. Comes and goes. Priorities change. Vigor, strength and energy change. I've gone years without canoeing and then come back to it. Or kayaks. Or outriggers. Whitewater is gone forever, except for easy stuff.

I did no canoeing for a long time before and during Covid, but when I went and talked in person to some fellow canoeists last month, trying out or just looking at their canoes or selling them some gear, that personal contact reignited my interest in going for some short paddles. So I did several times last month. For me, I think it has something to do with having personal contact and conversation with fellow canoeists. Getting outside myself and my routine, niche circumstance.

I don't think your interest in canoeing will leave forever or diminish to nothingness.

But we all hope you don't give up your hobby of posting on canoe forums.
 
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
Messages
226
Location
Brewster, New York
I can fully understand and sympathize with what is being posted here. For me, the desire to paddle and canoe camp is very strong. For the most part, right now, while still working, the time is limited. Hopefully that will change if my plan to retire next year comes to fruition. However, medical problems are starting to come up that are not thus far insurmountable, but are certainly complicating paddling/camping now. I am hoping to get them addressed as much as possible now, while I am still working, so that hopefully when retirement arrives, I have both the time and the physical ability to take those trips for at least a few more years.
 
Joined
Jun 22, 2017
Messages
807
Well Alan if you're spending your time on new things that you find more enjoyable than canoeing that sounds like a good thing. Sawing lumber in your new sawmill sounds like quality time.
 
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
169
Location
Woodland Park, CO
Seasons.

We have seasons in our lives. Some longer than others. In my teens through my 20s I was fearless - almost foolhardy at times. Fought full contact Escrima, was a paratrooper, would ride 600 miles on my motorcycle in a night to go see my girl. In my late 20s I went into law enforcement running and gunning on 2 drug task force assignments. Somewhere along there I became more thoughtful, but still full throttle. In my 40s I started to supervise the young guns and plan more than operate. I sold my motorcycles as I saw friends getting hit by inattentive car drivers. Seasons.

in my mid 50s I shattered my heel on the job and 4 surgeries later was told I’d never go back to work or walk long distances. God had other plans. I returned to work, and after a year on light duty went full duty and finished at my max age. Still hurts like hell. On a good day I can follow my pointer 7 miles over the hills with my gun. On a bad day it’s a 2 mile loop and a soak in the hot tub. I’m working on longer distances. So the canoe is good for me now, I get stiff in the foot, but no pounding on it to go miles.

Eventually, I’ll have other seasons. Maybe I’ll have to stop following the bird dogs and sit in a dove or duck blind because I can’t get around well. I’ve got a 28 gauge stashed for that eventuality. Maybe a light carbon canoe because I can’t lift the heavy ones anymore. We’ll see. But I’ve worn this body out DOing things. And I plan on continuing that way and do what I can as long as I can. Until the next season..
 
Joined
Mar 13, 2021
Messages
16
Location
Lake Champlain
Wonderful insight as we all get on in years. I can understand all of the comments and relate to the OP. I am trying to get back to the simpler things in life - paddling and fishing are part of it. As I approach mid - 60's and see many of my friends and classmates pass on - I am trying to take the time to enjoy the important things in life. As they say: "When you die, nobody cares what is in your inbox".

While still working full time, and enjoying it, I have worked on my home and camp relentlessly improving and upgrading for 40 years. I hope to slow down on that, and spend more time exploring flat water. I admit it's difficult to pull back from a lifetime of always working on career or home projects, but I am lucky to have my health (although need to lose 30#'s) so while I have the ability I need to learn to relax....I'm working on it.

Thanks to all for the comments above and best wishes to everyone as we move into the "golden years". I guess it doesn't matter what we choose to do with our remaining time - as long as we feel good about it.

Cheers to good health and happiness.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
3,472
I hear ya Alan...after almost 30 years of leading high school kids on extended trips, and an equal amount of time doing my own trips, my interest has started to diminish. I am intending to do a real trip in June for a week, and then probably another week of route maintenance in August, but the excitement is not what it used to be. I spend a lot of time now behind the scenes, working on canoe route preservation with the MNR, and trying to help the town promote canoe routes in the area.

However, my newest passion is all about motors. Skidoo's, freighter canoes and hopefully some day an atv. After years of ridiculing and actually hating motorized travel in the bush, I have now fully embraced it. There's nothing that gets me more excited now than planning a camping trip with my wife, either by skidoo, or in the big freighter, it's more fun than a barrel of monkeys.
 
G

Guest

Guest
I hear y’all.

Ten years ago, and for the 30 years before, I day paddled at least once a month, every month, often organizing club trips, and went on four/five multiday trips a year.

Things change. I burned out on leading/organizing group trips, and came to prefer paddling solo, or at most with a select few trusted companions, whose skills and personalities I know, trust and appreciate. Thanks be that I still have a few of them.

Lost interest in base camping at some State Park and paddling the there-local waters. The idea of car camping cheek-by-jowl with folks in view and earshot on every side of a drive-up campsite has become a nope, even if the local waters are intriguing. I will if I have to, but I’d rather not.

Even got blasé about daytrips close to home. All river trips, so I need to put a shuttle together, and have been down everything local hundreds of times, at every level, season and weather. There is not much in the way of local lakes (there no natural lakes in Maryland), which would at least have no-shuttle solo appeal.

Like DanOver I beat up my body in my teens, 20’s and 30’s. Age and infirmity have become an issue; my knees are shot, my right wrist long ago mangled, blown L2/L3, arthritis, etc.

I’m glad I did the long, hard multi-week trips when I did, but think those are largely in my past. If I manage to get out day paddling occasionally, and get in an easy camper or two, I can live with that.

I’d like to think that if I lived somewhere with paddle-able waterfront I’d go out far more often. Cart the boat down to the water’s edge, paddle off into the breeze, sail back, maybe bird watch, fish or photograph along the way.
 
Getting old is not for sissies!:( Used to be able to portage my old 85# Grumman 2+ miles with only one break (gotta pee). By my mid 60's it was a chore to get it off the rack on the side of the garage and onto the truck. Since open heart surgery 2 1/2 yrs ago, it now belongs to my eldest son. Sadly, no more back country trips that require more than one portage over 300 yds. Now almost 74, I'm still able to do river trips of 3 - 10 days (class 2 max) with a 40# canoe. My wife now requires me to be accompanied by one of my sons or close friend under 60. The only advantage is she is more agreeable to my getting a new ultralight solo.
 
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
1,091
Location
central NYS - 10 miles from the Baseball Hall of F
I've just read all the previous posts and think I can relate to everyone in one way or another. At 68 I still have a huge appetite for outdoor adventures but things change; knee replacement, a stent, 13 years in A-fib, etc. At this point my objective continues to be doing what I enjoy. Stay active and stay alive. I've got four grandsons coming along and would like to spend more time with them, my wife, two daughters and son-in-law to want to check out now. Even if interests change, that's OK. Just stay interested in something and life will continue to move forward. If we don't, it will all be over before we even know it's happened. Can't see that happening to this wonderful group of folks.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time....be well.

snapper
 
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Messages
336
Location
Maryland
Twenty years ago, I bought some gear from an older gent who decided he was done canoeing. He was selling all his gear. I was astonished. I mean, he was still walking and appeared fit enough to paddle. He had a lot of boats and gear, so he had obviously been more than a once-in-a-while paddler. I asked him what happened to make him turn away from paddling. He just said he was done with it.

Now, I'm understanding a little better, but still think cold-turkey quitting was extreme. But, like Alan, I don't have the same drive to get out and paddle as I once did.

It used to be that if I could get on the water with two hours of daylight I'd scramble and get my gear loaded and go get that two hours. It takes me about an hour either end to load, drive and launch, about another hour at the end of it, so two hours on the river made it worth it. I was recently deciding it was too late to paddle and thinking about my old rule of thumb. Two hours on the water isn't worth it anymore. What changed? I just don't want it like I used to. So, I understand things come to and end and suppose that is happening to me, and by the sound of the posts in this thread, to a lot of us. I just hope it happens slowly.

Thanks, Alan, for the thought provoking thread, and all the other threads you have shared with us over the years. I enjoyed following your exploits.
 
Joined
Aug 7, 2019
Messages
241
Location
Williston, Vermont
Alan, your thoughts resonate with many, including myself. I think changing interests and hobbies over time is normal and healthy. Personally, I'm happiest when I have a new challenge to try and wrap my mind around. Sometimes it's delving deeper into something, and other times trying something new and different.
 
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
Messages
1,832
Location
Schenectady, NY
Alan,
I'd like to see some pics and hear some details about your sawmill, sounds really interesting.
As far as the ebb and flow of hobbies, we all experience that, some to a lesser degree, some more so. What matters is that you've enjoyed your time, and given countless others inspiration and guidance to help their journeys. Whether you get back into paddling as deeply as before matters not, you have your experience and memories.
For me, I know I'll never wrestle again, never step back into a boxing ring, never step onto a soccer pitch...but I still keep an eye on those activities, I have my experiences and my memories, and for those endeavors, that's all I need.
Other activities rise and fall for me, cycling, motorcycle riding, sailing, paddling, camping, hiking, boat building, all have their time. Skiing too, but differently than when I was younger and more restless.
The point is, none of us has anything to prove to anyone else, and our own worst critics and judges are ourselves.

Relax and enjoy the ride, wherever it takes you...
 
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Messages
2,291
Location
Warren, Manitoba
Awww, no more epic Alan trips into the wild Canadian north.

I haven't been on a canoe trip since 2017 due to having a panic attack on day two of a trip in 2016 and as much as I miss it, thinking about sleeping on the ground, fighting mosquito's on my middle of the night pee trip, setting up and tearing down and miles of portaging don't appeal as much as renting a cabin and boat and going fishing for two weeks each year.

I am considering selling my kevlar Swift simply because I have my solo stripper which is what I paddle these days. Life moves on, it was fun to discover new places and the fishing was amazing but things change and I will be 60 this year. As much as I would love to do another Marshall Lake trip up in Rob's area primarily for the fishing, it may have to wait until retirement and then it may just be a float trip down the Kap.

Karin
 
Joined
Aug 29, 2020
Messages
197
Alan, thanks for sharing your thoughts about where you are in your paddling journey. I can relate.

I recall the inspiration of reading Alan's epic trips on this forum years ago. Man, you did it right, building the perfect boat, taking along a great dog companion, etc. You took it to the highest level, a level most of us never reach. Evidently, you got out of it what you needed at the time. So, be proud, and enjoy the memories and accomplishments.

Sometimes when a person gets really good at something, it does not seem challenging anymore. What your doing just does not seem that hard or even worthwhile. It is sometimes easier to go at something with gusto when you are a beginner. Maybe the hardest part of being an expert is sticking with it and breaking through the barriers at the very top.

Anyhoo, sounds like you are still living right with the sawmill and all. The great thing about getting really good at any endeavor, you can always pick it back up when you have the time, energy, inclination, etc.
 
Joined
Oct 5, 2012
Messages
197
Location
Genesee Valley, Western NY
Like Jack Crabb, I have had many periods in my life, they typically last about 7 years before waning. Each new period draws something from the previous. The goal is to make it through all of them intact and improved, its what makes us human beings. I'm waiting on my Mrs. Pendrake/Lulu sponge bath period, and the day when all I do is spin yarns on all of my various periods.
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2014
Messages
1,550
I still have the drive for a lot of things but not the ability any more. Worse still, my partners in crime are not able to go with me. We are still chipping away at boats, I even had to turn down an offer of doing overflow work for a local builder as I cant do regular hours and have waaaaaaay too many projects of my own to finish.
I still paddle sometimes. I like to walk in the fall but have not had time lately. I discovered RVing and that has taken over some time slots. I have two campers that karin and I are repairing currently. Just like we are repairing old FG canoes for friends or I am always fixing cars for people. I have wanted to do some bird hunting for the last several years but that has eluded me so far.

I rarely enter into new pursuits at my age but do tend to revive some old ones. Maybe take my niece for an RV base camp and do a short overnighter paddle trip to hunt for grouse this fall?? I am liking the sound of that already.
 
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