You guys mind if I took February off? Doesn’t matter anyway, there was no down time. It pretty much shook out like this: I spent the last month writing a government website. Yep, an entire website. That’s a bitch of a task. Especially when the phrasing, important elements and overall tone of the piece kept changing direction. Even the client changed once. As in, “Oh yeah, that contact you have here, he’s gone. We think we’re going to go in this direction with the website.”
Luckily (I say that begrudgingly) the drop-dead date never changed so at
some point things were settled one and we had to move beyond the writing and rewriting stages. I’m sure at some point, someone muttered, “Good enough for government work.”
Oh yeah I also worked a couple weekends in there to develop some new concepts that lost out to a fucking fishing lure.
Needless to say I have been neglecting the blog, the boards and the babes. Sorry ladies. But enough about all that.
This past weekend I rolled to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for a short shredsesh with college dudes. Rolling up was long and my phone was in the process of crapping out on me, which made the drive even longer. I was just doing podcast after podcast, The great thing is that I did get to listen to Marc Maron interview Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. Two legendary shows. Be sure to check them out.
The snow was improving the further I drove from Madison, but it wasn’t THAT much better. Then again I always forget how far north I have to drive. I mean I made it to Manitowish Water. That’s where all the Chicago gangsters went to get as far north as they could possibly go. Also Johnny Depp was killed here. But I had at least another hour of driving. When I hit Hurley and rolled down the world famous Silver Street I was also hit by “Holy fuck there is a lot of snow here.”
We’re talking roadside snow higher than the top of the Tacomer and parking lot snowbanks large enough to be considerable ski hills outside of Milwaukee. Fuck it, after a decade of getting shafted the Upper Penninsula and seemed to be back in business.
A decade ago this area of the country was averaging 250 inches of snow a year. It just started snowing and never really stopped until April or May. But the past decade saw a shift as season after season seemed to deliver less snow. In fact the total snowfall for 2011-2012 was so low, about 110 inches, that they had already topped that and it had really only been snow for six weeks. Enough of that, 150inches is more than enough to play around in.
I rolled into the accommodations at 3am dropped my gear and tried to grab some sleep. Back up at 8am to shove some cereal in my face and get out and ride. Did you catch the part where I mentioned I was up there with friends from college? That would explain why we were finally riding Powderhorn by 11am. I got involved in a game of SNOW with Colby and had Goose as a judge. I’m pretty sure Goose was watching other people ride as somehow I came out of the first round up 2-1. Yes we were playing a game that is scored with letter and I was given a numeric score.
That night we were joined by Jason G, whose sister sent cookies with him because she’s in love with Trevor. Or something like that. Whatever. They were delicious cookies. We went for dinner, had a waitress who got absolutely nothing about our order correct, and eventually has to stop by Silver Street. We made it in and out of a couple places without Goose falling in love so we called it a night and headed back to the lean-to for the night.
Saturday we were riding Blackjack because it is was right outside our door it. And this is where the trip gets significantly better. The dudes who’ve recently purchased Blackjack have been on the radar for a few years. The bought a couple of other dilapidated and shuttered ski areas around the state and are making them fun again. They still have some ground to make up but they are headed in the right direction.
I’m hearing this over and over from people, That Wisconsin is a lifetime behind Minnesota in snowboarding culture. It doesn’t need to be that way. I think a lot of it begins at the resorts and continues in the shops. Blackjack has taken a step in the right direction with park features that are fun and challenging and wickedly creative. And it showed they had dudes hammering their lower park all day. Just lapping the crap out of that tow-rope.
Contrast that with Indianhead. Their park was on a relatively flat run, eliminating the possibilities of pushing out a 5-6 feature run. The equipment was old and weathered. I looked at one box and had fears of tetanus transmission, even from the wood parts. And the two features in the best shape, two C-boxes, were shoved into a snowbank for ride-on status. The trouble is they were on the downside of the ride on, so the entire thing was approached blind.
Equipment like that is difficult to get loose on. If you’re completely new to the game it’s probably intimidating and confusing. Take some time consider how a park should be built and you’ll keep the kids coming back. If the kids want to come back, their parents will too.
So come on, Big Snow Country, get it together. They snow and customers are back right now. Get ‘em hooked and keep them coming.