Wednesday, May 19, 2010

30 years of “CANOEconomics”

One of our earliest big-kid acquisitions when my wife and I were still in college, was an inflatable and back-packable canoe. Now that may seem like a totally irresponsible thing to buy while we were still significantly short of cash, space, and common sense. The truth is, the idea was probably goofy and did not make economic sense. However we have never regretted the purchase, and amazingly still own and use that boat today.

Now this is not a testimonial into being rash or throwing caution to the wind. No, we thought about this purchase carefully as it was a fairly expensive given our limited recreation budget at the time. No doubt, we knew that this ‘fun’ purchase would cost income and opportunity (the foundation of basic economics) and therefore necessitate a reduction in our demand of other recreational pursuits. However we surmised, we lived close enough to the ocean and led an active enough lifestyle so that a portable canoe might increase, not limit, our recreational opportunities at a lower overall cost.

As convoluted as it all sounds, it worked out. No longer did we have to rent a small fishing dinghy to fish in the bay or tour the marinas. We could set-up that inflatable canoe in less than 15 minutes and put-in any time of day or night. There is something absolutely eerily exciting about silently gliding a marina, a foot above the water in a thin layer of moonlit fog. You only speak in hushed tones and pretend you are an international covert operative up to no good. That same little vessel has paddled on so many insignificant rivers with so many stories, my life is immeasurably richer for the meager initial investment.

We took this canoe into pitch black wet caves on the island of Kauai and deep up the Waimea river beyond where the tour boats chug with paying passengers. Locals and tourists alike would wave us on with encouragement. We’ve paddled the coast along Oahu and tried to catch waves along side seasoned surfers. We never were the envy of any of them but we also never sank so we were prideful all the same. We’ve cruised the quiet back waterways of Lake Powell and the ocean of fresh water known as Lake Tahoe. That 11 foot inflatable canoe will celebrate its 30th birthday soon and other than a patch or two, it is ready for another 30 more years of memories. I’d say with all things considered, in “canoeconomics” - we got our money’s worth!

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