09 December 2016

Classic Toys: The Adventure People

Another entry for classic toys. This one is another Fisher Price production.

The Adventure People were a line of action figures and play sets produced by FP from the mid-70s until mid-80s. These 3 inch figures were around prior to the Kenner Star Wars line and had no built in marketing ploy to advance the line further. But that did not deter the kids who got these for birthdays or Christmas combining them into the Star Wars universe like myself. The Adventure People were pioneers in the small action figure market. 
The Adventure People were cool and durable toys. Just look at that commercial. FP wanted kids,boys and GIRLS, to really play with these figures. Quite a few sets produced centered around outdoor recreation- a camping set with jeep and canoe, a van with a dirt bike, a safari set with truck and tent, a kayak set, scuba divers. Midway through their run, there were more sets and figures geared toward space or sci-fi. 
My small assemblage I acquired as a child. Most were 2nd hand. I only received the Rescue Truck and the Northwoods TrailBlazer sets as gifts. I lost most of the additional accessories over time although I think I have all of the Trailblazer items except maybe the motor for the un-pictured canoe. I remember getting the rare TV Action Team at a garage sale with quite a few other pieces from other sets. Even for a Star Wars fan the TV truck was cool. I got it with most of the accessories too- camera, tower, cables, microphone. Alas, now most of those items are lost.
My collection of FP Adventure People

TV Action Team
I was surprised to discover that the earlier sets (pre-1979) had names for the figures. So the TV crew pictured above- Carol is the lady, Kirk is the technician, and Jeff is the man with the tie. A few of the space items that came later also have names like Clawtron the robot from 1982

Northwoods Trailblazer set
Above in the Northwoods set, the figures are named Hawk (white shirt) and Brad (brown shirt on left.)
I would not hesitate to let my kids play with these toys as they are Fisher Price durable and have a somewhat timeless vibe. I can say that because I am not a collector- more of an enthusiast when it comes to these things. Even I would play with them. They also seem to be a bit more diversified than action figures of the same period- more women and minorities represented in the line and even a few children (from Safari set.)
These toys are hard to come by outside of E-Bay. They were mass produced so there are a lot of them out there. Someplace. Maybe.

05 December 2016

Training Elsewhere: Northern Lines Railway

Northern Lines Railway is a little short line out of St. Cloud. While I was at the Granite City Train Show last year at the Armory, I noticed these GP7s parked in the yard out back. I was unaware of who these belonged until now. The paint schemes on 1411 and 1602 are definitely Burlington Northern and possibly the former owner of those engines. The 400 seems like a familiar paint maybe Indiana Harbor Belt or Bessemer Lake Erie. However I have found nothing exactly resembling it. This is all the power which the short line uses over its 25 miles of trackage between St. Cloud and Collegeville to the west and Rockville to the south.
There are a few videos out there of the 1511 and 400 in action.


02 December 2016

Fargo Training: Great Northern Yard

Fargo is a rail town. A rail town with a former commercially navigable river.
Fargo came upon the scene when the Northern Pacific sought out a place to cross that river while forging a northern transcontinental rail link.
I have said elsewhere in the blog that Fargo was served by 3 railroads- Northern Pacific, Great Northern, and Milwaukee Road. It lessened to 2 in 1970 with the merger that created the Burlington Northern. And then just 1 in the 1980s when Milwaukee Road finally gave up the ghost and the abandoned the branch line that went right by my house and workplace. Northern Pacific's and Great Northern's main lines cut through downtown on their way west. The GN's mainline veered northwest as it exited the edge of downtown. They main yard was placed out there a little south and west of NDSU. It is still in use by BNSF, although not quite as busy.
Below are some photos taken from the 12th Avenue bridge back in May as I was returning from a stint volunteering for Fargo Marathon. The bridge provides an excellent view of the yard.
I am going to guess the hoppers below are for maintenance of way work. It is pretty rare these days to see a hopper which is not part of a unit train in Fargo.
Hopper Hang Out
There was a large lash up of diesel power which is either long term storage or potentially en route to other owners. No engine maintenance facilities in Fargo. There is one up in Grand Forks. These engines have been sitting there for quite some time.

Long Line of Power
Finally a indication that there may have been some sort of maintenance in Fargo long ago. To me it appears to be a the footings for a roundhouse. More than likely for steam. I do not recall that there are many buildings around the yard. There are a few small sheds or equipment buildings on the south side.
Building Footprint
Here is a link to a map of the Fargo yard with entrances and exits as it was in 1970. The footprint above indeed is from an engine house.

01 June 2016

Fargo Marathon 2016: A gubernatorial race for ND

North Dakota will be electing a new governor in November and some politicking was going on at the Fargo Marathon this May. It is not all that common for candidates to use an event to elevate their exposure to the electorate. Or just to have a good time. Right now there is a race concerning who will be the Republican candidate.  Both big candidates in this race, Doug Burgum and Wayne Stenehjem, had a presence at the marathon. Presumptive Democratic candidate, Marv Nelson, has been quiet. But he has no challengers inside his party.  
The Burgum for Governor organization took the big step to host an aid station on the marathon route. I think it was the one pictured below with the super hero spectators.
The Burgum Aid Station
Burgum is a big name around Fargo although he has been behind the scenes for while after leaving Microsoft and making the foray into real estate development. So jumping out of the boardroom to the streets, Burgum made the additional effort to run in 2 events:  5K and 10K. However, it appears candidate Burgum strolled through both based on his results. You can see his photos in the previous link.

I speculate candidate Stenehjem was elsewhere during the marathon. His election organization did have a somewhat un-official aid station a few blocks from the Burgum one. He could have been there handing out water or a sport beverage- but I did not see him. Stenehjem has been in the public eye for a while since he is the Attorney General and has been in public service since the 90s.

Stenehjem pop up aid station

30 May 2016

Our debt remains unpayable this Memorial Day

Trillions of dollars of debt there but there is still a whole load owed to those who served our nation during the many conflicts of the last century. Harry Truman's sentiments sum it up:

Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices. 

The quote is inscribed at the World War II Memorial in D.C.

Harry tells it like it is

26 May 2016

Fargo Marathon 2016: The beards are back in town

I do not think I had posted bearded Fargo Marathon participants since before Duck Dynasty arrived on the scene. This year I saw much evidence of the that style of beard which Willie, Jase, Phil, and Si have upon their faces.
But for starters, it appears Hagrid of Harry Potter fame was an entrant in the half marathon.

This marathoner is putting it all on the line at mile 21. This beard resembles Jase's beard. Just put a stocking hat on this guy and some shades and you got Jason Robertson running a marathon- which he will probably never do.

Hanging in

This is probably the best kept beard of the bunch. It almost looks like it was just attached to his face this morning. Not sure how to categorize it. Maybe a little Grizzly Adams a la Dan Haggerty.

Party on Griz

Our final runner knows how to wear the beard in style while running. The headband, the sunglasses, the track top- this all screams "don't mess with me, I'll run circles around you...in the desert." It also has that classic 70s jogging vibe. It is as if Prefontaine still lives.

Olympic style

24 May 2016

Fargo Marathon celebrity sightings

So no Will Ferrell. And no Elvis. I think there has not been an Elvis running Fargo in half a decade.
But let me indulge my celebrity radar.
First let me get the first one off: Dick Beardsley, legendary long distance runner ( and fisherman). There he is in an orange long sleeve telling a participant to take the race by the horns. I met him once in Detroit Lakes. He was at a pasta dinner for his namesake race with Alberto Salazar.
Is that Matt Maher?
Looking closely at the image again I also notice another celebrity of sorts which I totally missed in the foreground- worship artist Matt Maher.
On the course I was surprised to see Jim Gaffigan took time from his busy schedule and decided to run. Perhaps he was doing it to jab Ferrell. I must have missed the hash tag #runfargogaffigan.
Jim Gaffigan takes it easy on the course
And finally, this year I did not miss the Fargo Marathon Maniac. This guy like runs a marathon every week.
Actually he is a classmate of mine who decided to take up running a number of years ago and got hooked on doing marathons and half marathons. He'll be running Grandma's in June.
And as a post-script, an unverified appearance of the Almighty One, King of Kings and Lord of Lords at the Fargo Dome on the morning of the race in the Bison Room.
I believe scripture says that "when 2 or more gather in my name that I am there." That is my paraphrase of Matthew 18:20. Who knows, maybe Matt Maher was there leading worship.

Other stuff along the marathon route

Watching a steady stream of runners push on through to the end of the race can be a bit monotonous. What is good is that at the heart of the Fargo Marathon route is a great big neighborhood party going on. This year those neighborhoods along 9th, 8th, and 7th St S were abuzz with activity. It is a fantastic atmosphere. 
Even the dead were grateful for the good weather for watching runners.

Then there was this interesting item on the boulevard. Appears to be some representation of Dr. Who's TARDIS sending encouragement to runners.
Of course there is lots of music. I think I saw maybe 5 bands within a the mile I strolled. Another thing I should have marked as missing this year was the list of bands and music on the route. The regular reggae band on 9th near the 21st mile seemed to be missing too. However, Elvis was still on 9th south of 13th with about 4 speakers cranked.

Band at the Temple. Not Klez.
Unusual bikes seem to crop up a lot. This one reminds me of the Surly Big Dummy, but appear to have some kind of electric assist in the crank.