I de-forked my orange C8 (onto an AVX) years ago. Yeah it was great! More solid, go-to, easier to balance with cameras, heavy eyepieces, great for imaging, etc. No way was I going back to a wedge and a fork!
But, fast forward. I've found it sort of boring. I don't image anymore, and there is no joy in finding a target. I hate standing around waiting for it to grind on to the next target. The eyepiece is all over the place, forcing me to practically sit on the ground sometimes, crane my neck and constantly rotate the diagonal. Sometimes (like tonight) it just acts up and every go-to is off by half a degree. Resets, re-alignments, nothing seems to solve it. You suddenly feel at the mercy of a stupid computer who has it wrong. Tonight every alignment star it picked was below the horizon! ****? Triple checked location, date, time, year, and DST. I had to manually pick all alignment stars. Slewing slowly with the hand controller to get every target into the FOV because gotos are still off after a 4 star alignment really sucks. Forget panning around the sky looking for something, it's painful. I enter RA and DEC to find my variable and it's a degree off. It's dropped me into a small field I can't match up with my charts, and slewing with the hand controller is awkward. I wish I could just PUSH the scope around quickly to match my charts to the FOV but nope. Sometimes it drops me right on the variable other times it makes the entire process more difficult than just star hopping.
After years of this I finally found myself longing for the simplicity of the original fork. Push it around freely. Use setting circles to find targets. Yeah I'll miss the stability of the GEM but I won't miss the headache and setup time (30 minutes). Purchased a replacement fork and a wedge. Will set up a permanent pier in the yard. Primary interest is AAVSO variable observing so plopping it down on a pre-aligned wedge and getting to work, pushing from variable to variable sounds fantastic and productive. Nothing but the faint buzz of the synchro motors. No 4 star alignment process, noisy slews, bad alignments, batteries, tripod, counterweights, hand controllers, cables, or data entry. Just bolt it down and turn it on. The large RA setting circle will get me close enough.
Just wondered how many of you have gone full circle like this. Feels sort of liberating.
I guess you should count me in your club. - with caveats
I have experienced viewing over the years with a similar self perspective as you describe. However, perhaps as a sign of my mental illness, I didn't re-configure my scopes often, rather added to the stable with similar variations as means of that "Growth".
As so many here would likely sympathize, my youthful experience looking at the night sky through an unstable instrument was dismal. I could never get decent enough views of the Moon, let alone other objects like Mars or Jupiter. Somehow, I didn't give up. By Kohoutek, I'd determined that this was going to be frustrating until I got better equipment.
Fast forward to the 80's when it got serious.
Remembering that previous horror, and having some change in my pocket (didn't really need a new car- did I?) my concept was a remotely operated telescope who's primary use was imaging. I'd expected both electronic and film cameras to play a part, one for the hunt, the other for the kill.
This notion of use, didn't last. It took only a couple attempts to realize the burden of setup and dependency on eyepiece viewing. By the 1990's "computerized GOTO" scopes were arriving. By the time I pulled the trigger two scopes were purchased virtually simultaneously, however one would take a while to manufacture.
12" LX200 was a practice scope for the 16" on order. I alternated between equatorial wedge and ALT-AZ mode with derotator for about a year. I got used to eyepiece use and thanks to someone choosing a 40mm TeleVue for me, found I enjoyed the "process" as much as the viewing.
I was commuting from Ohio to LA in those days. I dragged that 12" across the country and back many times. To Motels, Hotels, camp grounds, and Meteor Crater it went. It was at the very limit of single-handed setup, without special equipment or vehicle. (which the 16" requires BTW)
The cameras, while used, were not preferred. Electronic cameras were not up to my expectations. Not by a long shot. Pixels were too big, frame transfer too slow, barely sufficient resolution for a decent field. Keeping up meant annual re-spending about 25% of my total investment, in perpetuity - only to be re-disappointed. Throttled back on imaging. Film was ok, as long as developing followed soon enough afterwards that I could remember the session. Notes helped, but alone were not enough.
But because first-person viewing was always there, it was always used. Both for it's own sake and as prelude to photographic sessions.
In pursuit of reduced complexity viewing, I realized that with a mechanically aligned tripod and wedge it wasn't really necessary to perform a full realignment, just point to a known object and "Sync" to it. This realization saves hours per night. Leaving the mount setup helped immeasurably, and I couldn't imagine accomplishing this without a computerized mount - at least not then.
Moreover, if I could have an "observatory", even just a roll-off shed would save even that setup time and effort.
By this time, it was obvious that I didn't need the wedge at all. Use the scope in ALT-AZ and rely on the computer. Fortunate for me, the LX200s do this pretty well. Without the "spring-loaded" effect of a tilted base and forks, and with the CG on the center of bearings and such, there is almost no vibration that doesn't come from the ground itself.
Even as recently as this fall, I used the 16" in ALT-AZ quite satisfactorily.
To satisfy my other urges, the 12" is used on a wedge, as are all of my C8's (3) except one Hyperstar equipped, which is on a NexStar mount. (just a fun project I couldn't resist)
Today, I regularly use a computerized goto scope next to it's old mechanical clock-drive brethren. (All are forked, I do not own a GEM) Having a "reference standard" helps me know what I'm looking at, and to verify. (since my sanity is obviously in question )
There are still my back-packables (C90 x2 soon to be x3) and an older ETX (which turned out much better than it could ever have been expected to be) but these are not in the class to be considered in your club. I mention them for their value as pacifiers.
So perhaps there's room in your club for one who decidedly enjoys the full gamut? I wouldn't give up any of these options. (as obviously I didn't previously) There's a way to satiate whatever urge might arise, except perhaps aperture. (-never quite enough)
I hope my illness has not infected you (or any onlookers) but if it has, you have my sincere apology.