Changes in Season

There are always a lot of moving parts happening in March, whether we notice it or not. Changes in weather, additions to staff, stores quietly getting ready for the season, snowmobiles being stored away, snowmobiles braving the lack of snow on roads… the first time I left the island this month was in the first week. I left for only two days, and went by boat.

At that time, the boat was running, and we were traveling the regular route to St. Ignace. Great! By the time I was ready to drive back up north, ice had floated back into the dock at St. Ignace and the boat couldn’t break free. So, back by plane I went…

In the picture above you can see how clear the water is around the island. It was a beautiful day for a plane ride, and it turned out to be a pretty nice day for a walk back down to my house, as well.

As the week progressed, more and more snow started to melt on the roads. It made snowmobile travel much more difficult downtown, but there was still enough for people to get by driving. As someone who lives close to downtown, I walk most everywhere, so it hasn’t affected me too much this year. The city does a great job of keeping our sidewalks clear and safe.

One dicey spot where the melted snow likes to create a little lake.
Melting, but still driveable
A beautiful view of the water and ice off the docks

The last time I was off the island was last week, headed to Petoskey to bring my mom back with me. No issues with breaking through the ice in the lake this time, but there was also another issue… by that Friday, schools had officially decided to close down for the next 3 weeks. By time I had gotten back to the island Monday, it had finally settled in with me that I wouldn’t have anything to do for awhile. My mom and I also missed out on getting any toilet paper or cleaning wipes. More than just seasons on the island was changing.

The ice had moved again on our boat ride back, too compacted to go the normal route, so we traveled around the North side of the island where you can see Arch Rock. It’s a longer trip, but the view is still great. I think I was more fascinated by the buttery smooth waves, followed by larges patches of ice.

Right now, the roads are pretty clear. We’ve had quite a few sunny days, and it’s still the same, quiet Mackinac Island that I’m accustomed to this time of year. I just don’t go out very much. Or, at all. Except to get groceries at Doud’s.

Our two restaurants are now closed to the public, but they do offer take out, as well as offer delivery service to our older residents. Doud’s is open as well, and has offered delivery service to all residents. And we are all sticking to social distancing requirements as much as any other place in Michigan.

As far as activities to keep myself busy during this social distancing phase, I’ve been cleaning at home a lot, practicing ukulele and guitar a lot more, taking more photos, bird watching, drawing a little, and spending way too much time on my phone. I’m lucky, however, to have a camera lens that zooms close enough to clearer see birds high up… I’m hoping to catch an owl or eagle one of these days in my back yard again, or possibly on my next walk on the boardwalk.

Until next time, I’ll be hunkered down at home. I hope everyone out there is staying safe, and wishing everyone a little comfort from my home to yours.

Heather


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A Mackinac Winter

Out of all the wintery days that we’ve had in this new year, none have seemed more like winter than last Friday. Just a brushing of light snowfall, so constant and unwavering that it gently coats the tree branches and winter foliage just enough to cause a whiteout all around you. When it snows, air is trapped between the snowflakes, attenuating vibration, and absorbing sound. That’s why it seems so much more quiet when it snows. 

I always think of this when I’m walking to work in a light snowfall; just a calm moment before the everyday noise and jumbling of work begins is what I consider an ideal way to start the day. Better than a hot cup of coffee. And then on other days, when work is over, that is, a little noise is a welcome addition to the day. That’s when the revving of snowmobiles around town seem more exciting than normal. 

I haven’t had the opportunity to find myself on a snowmobile ride in recent years, but when you’ve got an adventurous driver, you know you’re in for a good drive. Most drivers are friendly as well… I will often times find myself walking up the big hill past the Grand Hotel and someone will stop to offer me a ride. Now that the island’s roads are full of snow (compared to the first week of the New Year when the snow had disappeared), snowmobiles are much more frequent around town. There’s also plenty of opportunities to travel by fat tire bike, cross country skis, or snowshoes, but at the end of the day, I will always be in favor of a walk. Anyway, if anyone reading out there happens to be located in a place with snow right now, and you have the good fortune of walking (or driving) on snow-covered trails, I highly recommend it. It’s a delightful way to start out the new year.

-Heather

Spring Surprises 2018

So… how about this weather!?

Although this weekend was full of braving a boat ride across Lake Huron and staying out of the horrible weather as much as possible, last weekend was full of island hiking, and I decided to explore around Sugar Loaf and see everything else along the way:

The lighthouse passage as seen from the top of Fort Hill

 

The Mackinac Bridge at sunset

More lake ice at sunset

There are a few Mackinac Island landmarks that are fairly close to each other, so whenever I visit one, I try to visit all three… Fort Holmes, Sugar Loaf, and Arch Rock. Being a resident who lives downtown however, I don’t always realize how much more snow is in the middle of the island. I walked up Fort Hill, strolled behind Fort Mackinac, and proceeded to hike along one of the trails towards Sugar Loaf, when I quickly realized that none of these trails had been touched and were covered in a good half foot of  thick snow. But I had made it up that far so, why not keep going?

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Here you can see my lone footsteps in the snow, and a tree that had fallen into a very interesting spot!

At every intersection I tried to calculate how much further I had to go and kept telling myself that I was so close. Also, knowing that arriving at Sugar Loaf would be so worth it, I kept trudging along until finally, I was there!

It’s a pretty big rock! I know lots of people try to climb it, even though you aren’t supposed to… my older half sister once climbed it back in the 70s and she somehow got stuck! She had to get pulled out by the local firemen. Anyway, there’s a small path that you can walk around it, but I decided to rest my feet and just take pictures from the road.

I then realized that I chose to visit the landmark between Arch Rock and Fort Holmes… and not wanting to go one way just to backtrack the other way and trudge in more snow than I needed to, I decided that I would skip Arch Rock this time around and head towards Fort Holmes. So, I made my way up to Lookout Point (which I had to do very carefully up the snowy, slightly slippery stairs!) and took one final look at Sugar Loaf:

The road to Fort Holmes had a clear path and I was able to walk fairly normally the rest of the way! It also happened to be a beautiful, sunny day to take a clear pic:

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And one more picture to share… yesterday as I made a short trip to St. Ignace and back, there were two freight boats parked just outside the island, waiting out the crazy winds we’ve been having. Unfortunately I didn’t have a nice camera on me so this one I took with my phone, but I still think it’s worth the share! Considering that the winds picked up even more today, I’m guessing they’re still sitting out there… or if they moved, they didn’t get very far!

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I hope everyone is having better weather than we are, and here’s hoping that Spring actually decides to show up soon!

~ Heather