Monday, January 30, 2012

Road Trip!

     Why would a somewhat reasonable guy rent a car, load up his 14 year old son, drive 6 hours to Michigan in the dead of winter and take their lives in his hands speeding along I-69? To see some sports hero, a famous actor, a once in a lifetime concert, one of our country's leaders??? Nope, none of the above...

     Now I'm not exactly what you'd describe as spontaneous...Quite the opposite, especially if cash is in the mix. It takes me forever to make a decision on anything involving money. Some people have even accused me of being a tight wad! The nerve...So, what was it that caused me to break open my wallet, blow the cob webs off at the spur of the moment and drive to the great white North? The Traditional Bowhunters Expo, of course!  What? You've never heard of the Traditional Bowhunters Expo! Don't feel bad, neither had I until this year and I fancy myself as a traditional bowhunter.
And the Tee Shirt to prove it!

     Imagine the hunting "world" as a basketball. There's big game hunting, waterfowl hunting, small game, upland birds, dangerous game, houndsman, blackpowder, compound bows, etc...Then there's a teeny, tiny little spot on the ball about the size of a marble and that's traditional bowhunting. It's definitely a niche group of people. To give you an idea what traditional bowhunting is about, picture most of the popular hunting television shows today... traditional bowhunting is the exact opposite and the Expo caters to this small group.

     Drew and I rolled into the Kalamazoo Expo Saturday morning and I was the proverbial kid in a candy store! Several thousand square feet of everything traditional archery! If you couldn't find it here, you didn't need it! We were struck with the smell of leather and the din of of the crowd as we made our way into the building. Unbelievable artwork masquerading as longbows and recurves made by some of the finest bowyers in the country. Beautiful arrows crafted from cedar, hickory and sitka spruce. Hand made knives, leather work of all sorts...A combination of flannel, plaid, wool and camouflage. Stormy kromers and Ivy caps... The constant "whump" of arrows striking targets as prospective buyers tried out the bows. Everywhere I looked, bows and arrows. Conversations about archery, hunting, campfires...not the woods, but a close runner up. I even saw some skinny jeans and gauged ears, but everyone here was connected by old style bows and the unique challenges they bring to hunting. I felt comfortable here, relaxed and we fit like a glove. New friends, people recognized, faces put to names and introductions made...I could've stayed for hours longer and soaked it in, but there is a limit to a 14 year old's attention span, so it was time to gather our goodies and make our way to the parking lot. Besides, snow was falling and more was in the forecast so it was time to head South.

    Cruise control set, radio on... Every now and then I'd glance at the boy sitting in the seat next to me and in between Angry Birds and munching on McDonald's cheeseburgers and slurping down root beer, he'd chime in with a word or two about what he'd seen or what he heard or what he bought and it dawned on me why I did had nothing to do with the Expo, hunting, bows, arrows or money. It was about time and me trying to hold on to as much of it as possible before he slips away from me...