Wednesday, January 9, 2008

pleasant places off the beaten path

A recent comment on a blog entry brings up the notion of just how many neat places there are that are off the beaten path. This kind of fits the theme of our "pleasant places" newsletter column. It also fits my own style, now that the comment from Thomas in Oklahoma has made me think about it.

So in the interest of being a trend follower and putting up a Top Ten list on a website and because I really like these places and they are all a GOOD LONG WAYS off of the beaten path, here is my Top Ten List of "Pleasant Places Off the Beaten Path". Most of them are water-centric too. Sorry about the run-on sentence back there....
Top Ten Places Off the Beaten Path

10. The Jersey Lily, Ingomar, MT. - This one barely made the list, it's one of my Dad's favorites. Hwy.12 wide spot, pot belly wood stove in the middle of the store.

9. Roslyn, WA. - About a half-hour off of I-90 on the dry east side of Snoqualmie Pass. aka Cicely, Alaska. A mid-90's television show I liked, Northern Exposure, was filmed here. Full of Ponderosa pines. Great spot. Getting close to north Cascades.

8. Duluth, MN. - My hometown, right at the tip of Lake Superior. In college, the lakeshore was a dump, full of college bars. Not that way anymore.

7. (tie) National Bison Range, Moiese, MT. - A neat spot to view some wildlife. Near Ravalli. About 30 minutes northwest of Missoula.

7. Leavenworth, WA. - Touristy, but I love the part of the Cascades especially Tumwater Canyon that this town is nestled in. Wenatchee River is right in town too.

6. (tie) "up North", northern Wisconsin - I usually stop in central WI, but this part of the state is great too.

6. Winthrop, WA. - In the heart of the north Cascades. Remote, quiet, deer grazing in the village baseball field kind of place. Fabulous spot. Takes some effort to get to though.

5. Ely, Mn. - Major put-in for BWCA canoeing trips. Very remote. Watch out for moose on the roads. Almost met my maker here after narrowly missing a monsterishly large moose while driving my Ford Fiesta through a -40 degree night on the way to this town.

4. Missoula, MT. - Graduated from college here. Fabulous spot. Remote. Bitterroot River and valley is very nice.

3. Lake Wazeecha, Wisconsin Rapids, WI. - hard to beat a sweet spot like this, only a couple hours away from home

2. Stanley, ID. - For me the most remote spot on the list. Special. I think Idaho is the best kept secret in the country because of places like this.

1. Salmon, ID. - My favorite spot - Spent a ton of time in this little unknown hard to get to mountain town. Great spot. Great memories. Go there.

Some of these places are somewhat struggling because they are TOO far off the beaten path. Wisconsin Rapids (near Lake Wazeecha), for example, is about a half-hour off of I-39. Everyone from Chicago blasts by the exit (Hwy. 73) for this area, on their way "'up North" to Minocqua and Eagle River. I think this area of "inner WI." has EVERYTHING going for it that Minocqua et al has. Except for the fact that no one takes the exit to discover it.....

I hope people that read this will post some comments on their favorite remote spots!

Canoecopia booth

Quietwater Films will have a booth this year at Canoecopia. Canoecopia is the largest paddlesports expo/convention/tradeshow in the country.Canoecopia 2007 It happens in Madison, WI. this year from March 7-9 at the Alliant Energy center. I walked the aisles last year along with my wife and kids. Big fun just being part of the energy that comes along with a crowd of tens of thousands of happy people looking around at outdoor gear.

This year will hopefully be even more fun as an exhibitor. Last year we had nothing to sell or even to show really. This year we'll have three products - a solo canoe DVD, a rec kayak DVD, and a tandem canoe DVD.

One of the things that makes Canoecopia interesting is the great bunch of speakers who give talks on a wide range of paddlesports-related topics. The talks are free with your admission. The hardest part is finding a space to sit in some of the speaking rooms. Many of the talks are jam packed. The swimming pool of the adjacent hotel also gets used as a demo area, so there are demonstrations given live on the water too!

As a spectator last year, I really enjoyed it. The whole Exhibition center is filled up with boats and equipment and people. It's a fun time. Vendors come from across the country. People attend from all over the US and Canada as well.