Many times in life, we take simple things for granted and don’t give them much thought.
Did you ever stop to think how you get your house supplies, groceries and your mail?
The answer is simple. You get in your car, drive to stores, pick up what you need, and postal carriers
deliver your mail and packages right to your home. On Mackinac Island, all of our supplies and mail
are brought in daily by boats coming from the mainland. But there’s a period of time as winter
arrives, when the boats have very limited schedules, ice begins to form and our water ways
start to shut down.
Before the ice solidifies and becomes solid, there’s an in-between time where there’s limited access
by boat and what’s commonly known as the ice bridge, hasn’t solidified just yet. Until the ice bridge forms,
we’re in a transitional state once again, and transportation that we normally take for granted, takes
on a new course, determined by nature.
Shipping supplies usually takes longer when the boats don’t run as frequently or they have
to take a longer route around the island before they dock to avoid getting stuck in the ice.
Our Mackinac airport can get backed up quickly with items that need to leave or arrive to the island.
That means a package can sit for hours or days, depending on the next run so being patient runs in
our veins. From the airport, packages, supplies and mail are loaded on a large cart or sleigh and
pulled by a snowmobile to their final destination.
Larger items that don’t fit on a plane are usually delivered to the dock in St. Ignace and are picked
up by boat when they are running. The planes have limited weight capacity and can’t fit large supply
items so at The Chippewa, and our sister hotel The Lilac Tree, we wait for boats to be able to make
it over, and we also wait with eager anticipation for a strong ice bridge so our large supplies will
make it over from the mainland.
Also, there are still construction people that work on the island during the winter months so
when the boats stop running, housing is provided for workers during the weekdays, then they
go to the airport to fly home on weekends to be with their families. Winter on Mackinac
is a beautiful time of year and it also has its challenges when it comes to transportation
to and from the island. That’s something we don’t take for granted. Next stop,
we’ll be talking about the ice bridge, so until next time……..
George Piliouras for The Lilac Voice