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Middle-Aged Men Powering Through Midlife Crisis


Last Wednesday I returned from a 6-day canoe/portage trip in the interior of the 7,653 square kilometre Algonquin Park. Like most years, my trip to Algonquin Park contrasts that of other summer travel destinations.

Last year I camped at Algonquin Park shortly after taking a vacation in California. Living with only the bare necessities at Algonquin Park contrasted the radical consumerism, wealth, and appearance of wealth that dominates the Los Angeles lifestyle.

This year it was the excessive lifestyles of summer cottage dwellers that was at the forefront of my thoughts. On my 11-day kayak trip a few weeks ago, I witnessed countless “2-seater” speed boats racing along the water with their twin 400+ horsepower engines.

Nothing screams midlife crisis more than an 800 horsepower motor boat. I think I can understand the need for middle aged men to splurge on something while going through one of these crises, but seriously – couldn’t you just move to Thailand or bicycle across Canada? Do you really need to race around by yourself in an 800HP speed boat?

Spending a lot of time on “motor boats prohibited” lakes in Algonquin Park made me appreciate a side of nature that is removed by the thoughtless men who disrupt the peaceful tranquility of nature while discharging an inordinate amount of pollution and carbon into the air.

It’s common for me to question whether I truly need something when I consider a purchase. I couldn’t imagine trying to justify purchasing one of these boats – even if I had more money than I knew what to do with.

My dream is that some day everyone will ask themselves the same questions I ask when making a purchase of any size. Do I really need this? Is there an alternate option that is less harmful to the environment? Do I really need to out-do my neighbour?

These are the kinds of questions that will help our society change our wasteful way of living.

Each year I spend 6 days in the wilderness; and each year my appreciation for nature grows.

Henry David Thoreau once said, “In wildness is the preservation of the world”.

Following are my 15 favourite photos from this year’s Algonquin canoe trip. Let these photos serve as a reminder of the earth’s beauty in the absence of motorized vehicles:
















All photos by James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country – Algonquin Park 2009

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