Mackinac Island Winter Update 3/17/2013

A happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of you, and I hope the luck o’ the Irish has been with you and yours.  Ted and I are celebrating our 24th anniversary today, so St. Paddy’s Day  is always pretty special for us!

The winter photo business is dwindling down now.  As the snow begins to melt (yes, there is still plenty of it), islanders will begin to turn all their talents towards getting ready for the 2013 summer season.

A few photos . . . .

A little blue water was showing on March 14.  (Photo: Robert McGreevy)

A little blue water was showing on March 14. (Photo: Robert McGreevy)

Sun dog on March 15. (Photo: Greg Main)

I had never even heard of a “sun dog”, yet there were two photographs of them from Island photographers this week.  A sun dog is an “atmospheric phenomenon that creates bright spots of light in the sky, often on a luminous ring or halo on either side of the sun.”  This sun dog photograph was taken on March 15. (Photo: Greg Main)

Same day - different photographer.  (Photo: Robert McGreevy)

Same day – different photographer. You have to look a little more closely for this one, but that halo is definitely there.  (Photo: Robert McGreevy)

From Robert McGreevy: "Forest Gump said, ' . . . and then in the desert, when the sun comes up, I couldn't tell where Heaven stopped and the Earth began'".

From Robert McGreevy: “Forest Gump said, ‘ . . . and then in the desert, when the sun comes up, I couldn’t tell where Heaven stopped and the Earth began'”.  Definitely not the desert, but the same image certainly applies.

Greg Main has been posting some awesome vintage photographs on Facebook lately.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Silver Birches - in its heyday.

Silver Birches – in its heyday.

The Lakeview Hotel in 1938.

The Lakeview Hotel in 1938.

Ft. Holmes - until the late 1960's.

Ft. Holmes – until the late 1960’s.

The big news on the Island this past week has been that fuel is in short supply.  At the beginning of last week, fuel rationing began.  Island Hardware  put out this notice: As of March 13th all fuel customers will be allowed 2 gallons per day and only 6 gallons per week.  This is an attempt to stretch the fuel supply until the freight boats start.  Sleds only. No CANS. 

Mackinac New & Views posted the following on Friday:  As you may be aware, the fuel dock is really low on gas and fuel. Gasoline could run out as early as Monday (the 18th). Rationing is in effect. Jason St. Onge and Mayor Margaret Doud worked the phones most of the day Thursday,  and it appears the Coast Guard will do what they can do towards breaking out an Arnold Boat between today and tomorrow to haul some fuel. This is going to take some tremendous coordination between Arnold, Island Hardware, and the U.S.C.G. The ice pack in Moran Bay is quite thick and jagged, and nothing is certain. The man in charge of Ice-Cutting Division for the USCG was very helpful when Mayor Doud spoke with him throughout the day. Again, nothing is certain.  Hopefully, with the Coast Guard’s help –  and some wind – a path can be cleared on Saturday to allow Arnold to help out this situation.

Then today this: The USCG Cutter is now working towards Moran Bay (St. Ignace) to free up MV Huron. This work will continue tomorrow  as well, when a planned attempt to make a fuel replenishing trip will be engaged. This is not a certainty, of course. The head of ice operations on the upper Great Lakes, Mark Gill, has been absolutely instrumental in this endeavor, and Mayor Doud and I (Jason St. Onge) both thank him for his cooperation. Also, thanks to Bob Brown, General Manager of Arnold Transit for working his company’s end of things. Veronica D. from Arnold has been a great help working the phones from her vacation in NYC. We are hopeful tomorrow’s operation proves successful, but there is serious ice in the bay on that side.

I contacted Jason St. Onge this afternoon and he said:  “Whatever individuals have currently in their snowmobiles or stored up is what is left. The emergency vehicles have fuel (they run on diesel), and they have reserves as well. The only real issue is getting first responders to the trucks. When and if that situation arises, we have contingency plans already worked up. “

On an island where there are no motorized vehicles (except for emergency vehicles), it would seem that a lack of fuel wouldn’t be such a big deal.  But in the winter, when Islanders depend so heavily on snowmobiles for transportation, and when weather conditions make foot travel dangerous and bicycle travel impossible, fuel for the snowmobiles is crucial.  Hopefully, by this time tomorrow, the Coast Guard will have cleared a path for the Huron, and fuel will arrive on the Island.

I’ll leave you tonight with this video – some beautiful Ireland scenery, music, and an Irish blessing for you all:


22 thoughts on “Mackinac Island Winter Update 3/17/2013

  1. Happy Anniversary Ted and Brenda! Never heard of the “sun dog”. Very interesting information. Have a great St. Paddy’s Day.

  2. Loved the picture of Silver Birches. The house in the right lower corner is the one we rented to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Hard to believe next Feb. we will celebrate our 2nd 25 years.
    Love hearing the news from the Island. Thanks for sharing with us.
    Happy Anniversary to you and Ted. May you have many more.

  3. Brenda,

    I have heard of sun dogs and have seen them when I was a teenager living in Cheboygan. They are beautiful. I’ve seen sun pillars here in southern Michigan, but never sundogs. Not cold enough, I guess, but that’s alright.

    The Forest Gump quote triggered a memory for me. Way back in the mid 1950s I had a second job at what was then the movie theater on Mackinac Island. One evening I looked up from making popcorn and out over the water toward where the Bridge was being built. Both the water, which was as smooth as glass, and the sky were the exact same color of lavender and I could not tell where the sky stopped and the water began. Certainly not something one sees every day, even from magical Mackinac Island.

    It’s only my opinion, but, from pictures I’ve seen, I think the Lakeview Hotel looked better in 1938 than it does now. That’s just the way I remember Fort Holmes. Has it been changed in later years? I don’t remember the Silver Birches. Thank you for posting the pictures from Greg Main, and thanks to him too.

    I sure hope the fuel situation can be remedied. It would be a terrible thing to run out of fuel. That reminds me to ask, Do you know how the homes, hotels and restaurants on the Island are heated in cold weather?

    I sure hope you’re enjoying your warm temperatures. It was sunny, but with a breeze it was very cold here today. I had to put gas in the car after church and just about froze. I don’t think I’ve been colder this winter. However, I could breathe without my heart hurting. To me, that was a real blessing.

    • Hi Lowell! I see Irene has answered your question about Ft. Holmes. As for heat in the winter, I’m guessing most folks have electrical heating systems – that’s what we have at the condo. We have several friends on the island who have fireplaces, and I’m sure there are many others who heat with wood – or at least use it to supplement other heating systems.

      Sent from my iPhone

  4. Lovely sun dog photos! (especially fond of the Trinity steeple one!!)

    Yes, Lowell, the blockhouse was vandalized and burned in ’68, so they tore it down and the two bunkers outside the stockade. There were a lot of young people’s shenanigans going on there and it was a liability. And the Carriage Tour people dropped it from their route.

    Are you on FaceBook, Lowell? The Mackinac Island News and Views is a great FB group – locals and former locals and neighbors. Almost as good as Brenda’s blog! (but not as organized or focused!) And it changes every day!

  5. Hi, my name is David Burkhart of Lakewood, Ohio. Thank you for Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog. It awakens the idealism and hope and joy of when I was a younger man. It is good that such a place still exists. Thanks also for the Irish Blessing in today’s post.

    Sent from my iPad

  6. Happy Anniversary to you and Ted! Hope you had a grand celebration. Don’t you love an anniversary with an easy date to remember?

    I too have never heard of a, sun dog. Now that I know what it is, I realize I’ve seen gazillions of.them. Thanks for that info.

    Hope everyone gets their fuel and will be ready to move toward spring. I know I am!

  7. Happy Anniversary! Hope you and Ted had a lovely day. I also hope that the fuel situation is rectified soon-I don’t think it would be much fun to walk all over the island with the temps as cold as they’ve been this past week.

  8. Does the fuel supply shortage usually happen every year, or is this unusual. Loved the photos and hopefully this winter will end soon. So happy to find a blog about Mackinac Island, our families favorite vacation spot.

  9. I didn’t realize that the snow dogs were a northern / cold weather phenomena (is that how to spell that? it looks odd…..). The night time ring around the moon that we see often in the winter is pretty impressive as well; and it’s a real treat if the camera manages to catch the sight.
    I would also like to wish you a belated Happy Anniversary. A very fortuitous date to be wed. Luck and rainbows shall follow you always!

  10. Thank you so much Bree for such a wonderful blog, it is great to see the Island in all it’s glory in the winter time.My husband Allan told me about your site and I will look forward to seeing a lot more of the most wonderful Island.It was a dream of mine to go to Mackinac one day after seeing the film Somewhere in time ( my most favourite film) I can gladly say that I have visited the Island several times over the years,and hope to do it again someday.My best wishes to you and your family,

    Lynne (from across the pond)

  11. Thank you again for another great blog post!! We will be on the Island in May for Celebrate Your Marriage. Can’t wait!
    Be blessed

  12. Thanks so much for the winter updates! I love them.

    My first trip up to Mackinaw City will be April 5-7 (my birthday is April 5). My guess is the ferry’s will not be running by then so, I will have to enjoy the Island from afar.

    Hope you had a great anniversary!

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