Thursday, February 18, 2010

Downhill Skiing

Me at Wild Mountain in Taylor Falls, MN, 1988.

For years, my Father and I, along with my Fathers cousin (who was similar in age to my father) and his son (who is similar in age to myself) would get together and go skiing. Good times.
I cannot remember at what age I first took ski lessons, but I'm going to estimate the prime-time ski frame being from the early/mid eighties to about 1992.

I was never entirely confident in my skiing ability, and never mastered parallel turns. Oh and all you hot-doggers and snowboarders out there can kiss my ass.

The following is a list of all the ski hills I've been to.
History and interesting random Youtube videos included where available.

While living in Milwaukee;
Little Switzerland (Slinger, WI) 1941-Present
Where I learned how to ski.
Front side.

Went on "Big Deal" run first time January 18, 1987
Back side.

Sunburst (Kewaskum, WI) 1961-1971 as Wunderburg, 1971-Present as Sunburst
Went first time January 31, 1987
The land that is now Sunburst Ski Area was originally a hill farmed by the Becker family. In 1961 two Milwaukee area families, the Casey's and the Christiansen's, who had been looking for a ski able hill near Milwaukee for their families bought the land from the Becker's. Together the two families cleared the hill for a main run and a beginner's run, installed two lifts, a 1,200 foot T-bar imported from Germany and a rope tow and "Wunderburg" was born. Soon the two families found out just how much work a ski hill actually was and in 1971 sold it to a group of investors from Milwaukee including Mr. Bob Niss who owned the Blizzard traveling ski club. This group renamed the area "Sunburst". They built a ticket office, rental building and added another rope tow and chairlift. Sunburst was a popular place for ski groups under the direction of the owner/manager, Herb Smith.
In 1984 Jim and Kim Engel bought the area and over the past twenty-five years have remodeled every building on the property including the chalet and ticket office. They also built a new rental building, increased the number of rental skis and added snowboards. In addition they built two maintenance buildings and purchased four state of the art grooming machines.
On the hill they have added two more chairlifts, two rope tows and lights on every run. An expert hill and three terrain parks were added to add fun and excitement for experts. In 1997 they added a snow tubing operation. They built a tubing chalet and developed a tubing hill with 20 lanes;12 straight chutes and 8 luge chutes.
Snowmaking is the name of the business in Wisconsin. Sunburst has 100% coverage for its snowmaking system with underground pipes and wiring to make it state of the art. Sunburst has been one of the first area in Wisconsin to open every one of the last 12 years. The earliest opening date was November 3, 2006 and the latest closing was March 21, 1998.

While living in Minneapolis;
Afton Alps (Hastings, MN) 1963-Present
Afton Alps was cool because it was like 3 ski mountains in one, with a separate chalet at the bottom of each.
*I'm not entirely sure if the following occurred at Afton Alps or Wild Mountain. If it was infact Afton Alps (which I believe it was), the scenario is as follows;
One time I came speeding out of Christina's Trail where it merges into Heidi's Playground (both at the far right of the trail map) and there was this idiot off to the side standing sideways talking to somebody. He then unexpectedly pushed himself backwards directly into my path (without looking mind you). I ran into him full speed and it knocked me onto my back and off my ski's, knocking the wind out of me, my binding's now busted sending my ski's down the hill without me. Turns out the guy was a ski ski instructor/ski patrol, and angrily told me that he could have revoked my lift ticket (but didn't). I still think it's his fault for backing up without looking.
That pretty much dampened my enthusiasm towards skiing for a while. Make no mistake about it, whether you're trying to avoid inanimate stationary objects (like trees, ice patches, moguls, ditches etc.) or animate objects which are in motion (like other skiers), skiing can be dangerous!

Badlands (Hudson, WI) 1970-Present
Badlands Recreation was opened in 1970 by Peggy and Bernard Kinney and their 11 children. The idea for Badlands sprang from the desire to offer affordable winter fun the whole family could enjoy. Sno-tubing had already been around for a few years and after seeing how much fun it was, the Kinney's knew it was just what they were looking for. After visiting other tubing areas and working with the state of Wisconsin what emerged was Badlands.
The land just east of Hudson is known as the Hudson prairie, a bit further east the terrain changes into a hilly area known as "the badlands." Our original tubing chalet was the farm house where Bernard's father was born in 1888. Changes to Badlands have been made over the years as sno-tubing has become more popular. Two of the children now manage the operation and have added a snowboard park, snow making and improved grooming ability, a new chalet and even changed the name to Badlands Sno-Park. Badlands continues to evolve, but still strives to offer winter fun the whole family can enjoy! In fact, you may see some of the 4th generation of Kinney kids out on the slopes, or having a cup of hot chocolate in the chalet.

Buck Hill (Burnsville, MN) 1961-Present
Ten thousand years ago, the last ice age receded from the northern half of the North American continent. The Minnesota River helped drain the glacier and just south of the river, a terminal moraine was formed which the local Indians later named Buck Hill.
In 1954 Charles Stone Jr. and his future wife Nancy Campbell obtained a lease from the landowner Grace Whittier of Northfield, Minnesota. Miss Whittier’s father had brought the land for the price of the unpaid back taxes. Many people had skied on the undeveloped hill in the past, including two Minnesota Governors. In the 1930’s Fred Pabst, founder of Bromley Ski Area in Vermont, started a ski area on this site, but the drought years with a lack of snow caused him to abandon the plan.
During the years from 1954 until 1961, Buck Hill was only open a few weekends due to very meager snowfalls. In 1961 the Stones added snowmaking and a T-Bar. This put a whole new perspective on the business and the area was able to operate for at least four months in the winter. In the following years, more lifts and trails were added, as well as a new chalet and rental shop, and the Sports Bucket Restaurant was added in 1978. In 2006, Buck Hill installed a new Quad chairlift at the south end of the ski area, and brought in over 100,000 yards of fill to raise the elevation of the top of the new chairlift.
Today, Buck Hill offers 15 different runs to skiers and snowboarders of all abilities, as well as snow tubing. Buck has 11 lifts including 2 Quads and a Triple chairlift. Buck also has one of the best snowmaking systems in the Midwest, enabling the area to operate even when Old Man Winter doesn’t cooperate.
Buck Hill is still operated with the family in mind, offering a full range of skiing programs for the young and the young-at-heart. Buck’s reputation as a quality ski area is known across the country. Our ski racing program is also nationally acclaimed. Ski magazines calls Buck the “Legendary Capitol of American ski racing.” In 2006, Erich Sailer, long-time coach of the Buck Hill Ski Racing Team, was inducted into the US National Ski Hall of Fame.

Hyland Ski (Bloomington, MN) 1964-Present
The Park District acquired what was then called Mt. Normandale Ski Area in 1959 as part of Hyland Lake Park Reserve and began operating the ski area in 1964. We have a file in our records that includes a document written by Gorden Bowen in 1964 in which he described himself as constructing the ski area. Mr. Bowen stated that the ski area was constructed in 1952.

Powder Ridge (Kimball, MN) 1958-Present
*I'm not positive that I've been to Powder Ridge.

Spirit Mountain (Duluth, MN) 1973-Present

Trollhaugen (Dresser, WI) 1950-Present

Welch Village (Welch, MN) 1965-Present

Wild Mountain (Taylors Falls, MN) 19?? - 1972 as Val Croix, 1972-Present as Wild Mountain
Wild Mountain was purchased by Dennis & Cam Raedeke in 1972. Prior to that it was a small ski area named Val Croix.

While living in Madison area;
Cascade (Portage, WI) 1962-Present
My last time skiing (in early 2000), and first time skiing all by my lonesome.

Childhood Toys Part 6 [What's Old Is New]

Some toys from the 1980's (and late 70's in the case of Alien) have been reimagined and released with the adult collector in mind. Now I am not an adult toy collector, but a few of these figures are very well done and tempting.
The only toy I purchased as an adult, and I just couldn't help myself, was a Star Wars Lightsaber when Star Wars toys became popularized again on account of the prequels.

Alien 18" Action Figure by Neca
A great replacement of sorts for Kenner's 1979 18" Alien figure.

Transformers Classics
First came the Toys'R'Us Reissue of Soundwave then came the Hasbro 25th Anniversary Reissue of Soundwave (pictured below) which includes Soundwave and all his cassettes!

Masters Of The Universe Classics from Matty Collector
These figures are not mass-produced and seem to go quickly. That has unfortunately given Ebay and Amazon bloodsuckers free reign to charge what they wish.

A company called Art Asylum secured the rights to Madballs and are re-releasing some of them.
Crack Head has been rebranded as the more politically correct Bash Brain to be more in-line with the times. How lame is that. They look inferior when compared to their original counterparts in my opinion.

The New Garbage Pail Kids
In 2003, Topps reintroduced Garbage Pail Kids with all-new cards, dubbed the All New Series (ANS). As of 2008, Topps has released seven "All New Series" sets

Garbage Pail Kids Flashback

"Topps will be releasing a "flashback" set on February 24, 2010, featuring characters from the original 1985-87 Garbage Pail Kids series (8 each from OS 1 to 9) and only two from OS 10 plus 6 unpublished characters along with the Where Are They Now subset which 10 classic GPK characters are drawn as they would appear today. Each card has an a/b twin for a total of 160 base set cards. Packs will contain randomly inserted chase cards including lenticular Loco Motion, hand-drawn Artist Sketches, authentic Printing Plates, and four levels of Parallels."

Transformers Classics/Wikipedia Entry
By Hasbro 2006-2007

The Transformers Classics line consited of all-new molds designed to resemble updated versions of several Generation 1 Transformers.

Star Wars Transformers/TF
By Hasbro 2006-2009
Star Wars & Transformers? Awesome! It's like a childhood wet dream come true!
What? Luke Skywalker can TRANSFORM into the X-Wing Fighter!?! (Head explodes)

Childhood Toys Part 5 [Pac-Mania, The Wild Side, Addendum]


Me and my 1981 Tomytronic Pac-Man. My first official video-game. I played the daylights out of it! {Photo from Christmas 1983}
It began turning off on me while I was playing so one day, a friend and I opened the thing up to see if we could figure out what the problem was. All that needed to be done was solder a wire back onto it's connector, and my Mom tossed it out!

Pac-Man Board Game (Milton-Bradley 1982)
X-Entertainment Article

I also used to have a bunch of Pac-Man trading cards, A Pac-Man Lunchbox, and I still have a small Pac-Man Wind-Up Toy.

My pair of western themed cap guns (model #272)

Ok, so the next one isn't really a toy per say. Switchblade Combs!

Hell yeah I had one!
About a year or two ago I ordered a couple off of Switchblade Combs just for the heck of it.

Inspired by Rocky, here I am with a pair of boxing gloves and the Super Punch Bag under the tree, which was made to fit into any doorway. If you didn't tighten the arms enough or punched too hard, the whole thing would come flying off. I punched my brother and friends with the boxing gloves for years to come.

{Photo Christmas 1981}

Ahhh the days of realistic looking toy guns, faux switch blades, and candy cigarettes.

Pack of candy cig's and firework in hand, cuz that's just how I rolled, baby.
{Photo Summer Vacation, Eagle River 1984}

80's Kid
Feeling Retro
In The 70's
In The 80's
Nostalgia Central
Plaid Stallions
This Old Toy
Toy Archive
Toy Info
VH1 I Love Toys/Wikipedia Entry
Vintage Toys Blog
Virtual Toy Chest
Specific Focus
Board Game Geek
Bug Eyed Monster
Dukes Of Hazzard Products
Gallery Of Monster Toys
Garbage Pail Kids Online
Hollywood Diecast
Hot Wheels Collectors
Matchbox Monster Trucks
Nathan's Muscle Page
Nichols Cap Guns
Original Big Wheel
Pac Man Museum
Retro Pedal Cars Big Wheel History
Schaper Five Winders
Switch Blade Combs
Star Wars Collectors
Weird Sci-Fi
Wild Toys

Childhood Toys Part 4 [Toy Cars]

- 1973 -
Then of course there's one of the most popular boys toys of the 1970s, The Evil Knievel Stunt Cycle. Weird Scifi Entry/Feeling Retro Entry
I feel quite familiar with this toy, although I'm not 100% positive that I owned one myself.

- 197? -
Marx Cobra Big Wheel

I used to love my Big Wheels. I would ride that thing until my butt was sore, although with hard plastic seats, that didn't take very long. I made use of it until the plastic tires were shredded.
I cannot find the commercial on YouTube, but apparently it's contained within the Sold Separately: Classic Kids Commercials DVD.

- 1979 -
Hot Wheels City (Mattel, 1979)
City De Ville (Sto-and-Go) or the Service Center set. Both sets were very similar and were both released in 1979. Hot Wheels City has a car elevator while the Service Center does not. These tracks could fold together to form a briefcase of sorts, making them easily transportable.
I feel quite familiar with this toy, although I'm not sure if I owned one myself.

Hot Wheels Service Center

- 1981 -
Dukes Of Hazzard Electric Slot Racing Set (Ideal, 1981)
Ahhh the Dukes of Hazzard figure-8 race track with stunt-jump intersection. I remember settin' this thing up on a card table in the basement and just goin' at it.

Although on second thought, I think I may have had the Automan version of The Dukes figure 8 set.

I also had Tyco's Daredevil 500 race track.

Other cool toy cars from the 1980's?
X-Entertainment Article on Toy Cars of the 1980's
Stomper's & Set's (Schaper 1981-1986)
Stomper 4x4 Site/Route 21 Site

Hot Wheels Crack-Ups (introduced in 1983 I believe)

Schaper's Five Winders (year introduced unknown)
Matchbox Monster Trucks (introduced in the mid-eighties)
Power Blaster pull-string motorcycle (year and co. unknown)
Tonka's Quick Silver wind-up dragster (1982)

The many Matchbox/HotWheels/Ertl novelty cars modeled after popular Television and Film, including the General Lee (Ertl)

the A-Team Van (Ertl 1983)

Spider-Man (Hot Wheels 1975)

the Batmobile, the Firebird Trans-am "Bandit" (Smokey & The Bandit), and KITT from Knight Rider.

Childhood Toys Part 3 [Action Figures]

- 1982 -
Tron (TOMY)
I may have had a TRON cycle.

I also remember having a glow in the dark TRON frisbee (or flying disc if you prefer), alhtough it could've just been a generic dime store glow in the dark frisbee.

- 1984 -
It's difficult for me to remember all the Transformers I used to own, although I know I was partial to the jets and smaller cars. All that remains is a lunch bag full of broken parts.
But the coolest Transformer was of course Soundwave (Hasbro 1984)

Soundwave transformed into a boombox with a cassette deck that could be opened to reveal a miniature tape that transformed into a "condor".
Transformers G1 Commercials

I even saw Transformers: The Movie when it was released in theaters in 1986.

Voltron (Matchbox, 1984)

I think I had the main "Deluxe Lion" character (pictured on the upper right), though I'm not positive. Voltron was a cool cartoon and concept. A bunch of characters coming together to form one big super-powerful one.

WWF 8' Figures (LJN, 1984-1989)
Wrestling characters that could take the abuse! My friend had the wrestling ring for serious rumbles. X-Entertainment Article 1, Article 2

Then one cannot go without mentioning LJN's WWF Thumb Wrestlers!
X-Entertainment WWF Thumb Wrestlers Article

They even made erasers out of them with Rock'n'Wrestling Erasers

- 1985 -
MADBALLS! AmToy (1985/1986)
Madballs Central/Wikipedia Entry/X-Entertainment Madballs Article
There were plenty of imitators, but Madballs were the originals and the best.
I was partial to Slobulous and Crack Head.

I actually still have my M.U.S.C.L.E. Men (Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere) [1985-1988] I-Mockery Entry/Nathan's Muscle Page

I also still have the wonderfully disgusting Garbage Pail Kids [by Topps 1985-1987].

Out of all toy lines, I was the most feverish about He-Man and the Masters Of The Universe [by Mattel 1982-1988]. I created some of my own He-Men on paper, had two of the fan magazines, and even saw the live-action movie starring Dolph Lundgren when it was released in theaters in 1987. Even looking back on them today, I still think they are incredibly creative and remain unmatched.
It was around the age of 11 or 12, or 1986/1987, that I switched from He-Man (and toys altogether) over to Nintendo, and never looked back. I went from "I Have The Power" to "Nintendo Power". Sorry He-Man.

Childhood Toys Part 2 [Star Wars]

Of all the things I've had and lost...
Star Wars Toy Commercial 1977

Apart from all the action figures I once had, here are some larger Star Wars products I once owned.
Star Wars (Han Solo) Laser Pistol (1977)

Star Wars Action Figure Collector's Case (1979)

Star Wars Creature Cantina Action Playset (1979)

Star Wars Tauntaun (1982, open belly version)

The Hoth Wampa (1982) is the only one out of the bunch that I still have in my possession (loose).

The Rancor (1984)

Star Wars Landspeeder (1978)
I loved the Landspeeder!

X-Wing Fighter (1978)

Twin-Pod Cloud Car (1980)

Speeder Bike (1983)
I think I had the Speeder Bike, though I'm not positive.