I'm not ever going to go back to the scope that started it all; HEAVENS NO!! My very first telescope was a $89.99 Jason 60/800. I called him "Blacky" for years because it was an all black tube on an all black wood tripod with red lettering. This silly little refractor showed me Jupiter, Mars, the Moon (countless times), and even hikers on Mount Rainier from 40 miles away for the first time.
Funny because here I am responding to you (LOL, we are strong, long-known astro-buddies!) in my near middle age. I'll be 35 and I've played with a good 250 telescopes and probably three times as many eyepieces...And a good 140 mounts. The best views ever were with the heaviest, most expensive, nearly the rarest, and largest ever. BUT they are mostly gone now and gone for good. Astronomy is AT LEAST 60% of my life. The rest (not including strong human bonds [we are talking about possessions here]) is a mix between insect and arachnid study and handling, art, writing, making show cars out of imports, hiking, and above all EATING fine food and hunting down reserve Merlot with high points.
When speaking of telescopes (and here I must admit fine Japanese refractors in particular!), I bond longest with apertures in the 3 to 5-inch range. I have a monster 18-inch dob. It is clear outside. Will I go use the monster Galaxy Optics dob and get lost in Stephan's Quintet? No! I will go outside with my good, old (but very bristol!) C5 and use 35 year old orthos from Vixen. Maybe the C5 is too big. Ok. I'll go use my C90. Oh, the planets are out! Okay, I'll pull out the Tak FC-N assembly.
But Andy, you have that huge telescope! It'll smash these puners to stardust! I DON'T CARE!
The little scopes are so much fun to use because they are so easy to use, carry, move, and dinker with.
One thing I am guilty of is going true Japanese on all my vintage setups. What do you mean by that? It means my refractor HAS TO HAVE a guide scope and a finder for the guide scope...And a finder for the main scope! Oh, now we need a balance weight because the smaller scope is using the Ultima 42. So I've made a 4-inch apochromat weigh 100-pounds. Same goes with the silly orange Celestron Cs. They have to have the whistle or the bell won't look right. Even if it is just me using it...must be my compulsiveness.
But whatever, in the end of it all, it is the smaller, simpler instruments that will forever captivate my strongest interests.
Other tiny scopes that absolutely win my heart and ARE NOT an arm in price are the little Cometron 60s on the cast aluminum mini piers, the sexy and must-be-respected C4.5, WE CANNOT forget the Vixen Firstscope C80, Bausch and Lomb 3.1 schmidt, and to top it off, Meade ETX-105 and 2045.
Someday I will hunt down the Coulter CT-100 and I do miss my Sears 76.
And Billy, my good friend, I did revert many years ago back to my second ever refractor. When I was 17, I worked for 10 months to afford a showroom Jason 313 Discoverer. Well, I sold him in 2000 at TMSP (along with other collections) in order to obtain a Compustar 8. In 2008, I was reacquainted with another Jason 313 after years of searching for a prime example. My wife got it for me on my birthday. It still sits in the secondary office on full display. And there are times when only it gets to go outside and receive my complete attention under the stars.