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Yellowstone, WY: Rockstar Fish and Hungover Rivers

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I worked as a youth counselor at a church camp once. Over the couple summers, there is one conversation that hasn’t left me. My boss – only a few years older than me, still hardly able to drive to work legally at the time – asked me one of those questions that you never forget your answer to.

“Best rock and roll band of all time?”

“The Rolling Stones”

He didn’t like my answer. His reply was nothing short of theatrical, showy, and monotone to the beat – classic Beatles. He was a Beatles guy; I wasn’t then and I’m still not now.

I don’t know what he’s doing these days as our summer job stint ended about twelve years ago to the day. People grow up; things change. But I’d venture a guess that there are certain elements of people’s personalities that don’t – things that reflect permanent personality traits, things like your stance on the Beatles versus the Stones.

Windows down and blasting forty-minutes of Beggar’s Banquet on repeat, I pulled into Yellowstone National Park with my cat, my camera, and a twelve-pack of Snake River brew for a day with Mick, Keith, and the brown trout of Yellowstone River.

You just can’t do that with the Beatles.

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Osceola, WI: A Thirteen Hour Detour for a New Paddle

Mark Vlaskamp | Canoe Vibes | BEnding Branches Canoe Paddles

She was always there for me.

She had patience during our humble beginnings learning a J-Stroke with Dad in the brown Houston bayous. Those weren’t quick lessons; I was a stubborn learner. She had toughness getting recklessly slammed into the gunnel of a loaded down Penobscot 17.4 for eight-days and just short of one hundred miles. I never heard a peep sitting for hours catching fish off the coast of Carolina as I jammed her off of the unforgiving oyster beds to push myself closer to the action – only to leave her alone on the porch all night after.

I’m a terrible person. She would never make me sleep on the porch.

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Pittsburgh, PA: Unconventional Catch in the Steel City

Canoe Vibes | Kayaking PNC Park | Mark Vlaskamp

I have a friend from Baltimore and a friend from Cleveland. One pushes for the Ravens, Natty Boh on Federal Hill, and Old Bay crab seasoning while the other pulls for LeBron, Great Lakes Brewing Co., and the Best Damn Band in the Land. When it comes to sports, beer, and everything else under the sun in once-industrial, poor air quality, rust belt cities, the two can only agree on one thing: Pittsburgh is the worst.

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Madawaska Valley, ON: Being A Beginner Again

Mark Vlaskamp | Canoe Vibes | Algonquin Canoe Trip

Algonquin laughs at people who rush it, people like me.

What I lacked in time, I made up for with an open schedule, an over-abundance of trail mix, and a powered down cell phone – distraction free to escape non-road-trip-friendly international data charges. For me, it wasn’t about covering all the ground between the Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River, paddling the 2,400 lakes, or mastering all 7,653 square kilometers (metric, eh?) of Algonquin Provincial Park’s canoe routes. My detour through Canada was all about confirming Algonquin’s reality and doing the best that I could – a wandering foreigner trying to keep his head above water. It’s a canoeist’s paradise but the Instagram location tag that I’ve appreciated from afar for years has held only a slightly more stable place in my reality than Narnia, Neverland, and Santa’s North Pole.

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Video Trailer Release: 100 Miles through the Adirondacks

Yak Fish TV | Canoe Vibes | Mark Vlaskamp | Adirondack Canoe Expedition

They weren’t buddies when we started, but they are now. Professional kayak angler Robert Field, kayak fishing YouTuber Rex DeGuzman, and Kayak Angler Magazine‘s web editor Ben Duscheney, and I spent eight days paddling, fishing, and portaging 100-miles through the Adirondacks. Expeditions like this don’t just make good friends. Trips like these also create cool videos. Here is another short video trailer for the upcoming Fall 2016 full video series release.

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