My wife asked me to draw “Let it Snow” on the chalkboard in our kitchen so I went to work. Enjoy! Maybe that’s why this winter has been a bit milder than usual. I’m amazed that here in Michigan, the news is filled with the threat of snow as if it’s out of the ordinary. It doesn’t take too much snow for schools to call a “snow day” and now schools close because of extreme cold to make sure kids are safe as they wait for their buses.
Winter on Mackinac Island is different. Snow is welcomed with open arms by the people who live on the island year round and they know that there really is no “snow day” when the Mackinac Island School is closed for snow and cold. If that were the case, it would be closed all winter. With the magic that Mackinac brings, a Mackinac winter is like living in a beautiful snow globe.
I spoke to a mom who lives on Mackinac about what it’s like getting her kids ready for school in winter. She told me that school days for her start off like any other families living on the mainland with school starting at 8:20 am. But once they leave their homes, things immediately change to the islander’s way of life. She says; “We’re never quite sure what the weather will be from one minute to the next so we all have our closets ready for every weather condition. Instead of getting on a bus or starting our car, we start our snowmobiles, put on our snowmobile helmets and brave the cold.“
Islanders don’t complain about having to put on all of their winter gear, even when it’s – 18 degrees with wind chill because the colder it is and more snow they have, the happier they are! That’s what we call Pure Mackinac! This year on the island like most, the first snow rarely sticks, so one day they could be riding snowmobiles, the next day, walking a mile or more to school and the next day riding their bikes in the cold, or freezing rain. I enjoy bike riding in the winter and get bundled up each time, but I choose when I ride and how long. On Mackinac, winter biking is a way of life.
Think about what you do and how you drop everything when your child is sick at school and you get the call from their school. On Mackinac Island, when a child is sick at school and needs to come home, they either have to ride their bikes home, or are transported home on snowmobiles by themselves or a parent who comes to pick them up even if their child has the flu and fever of 102 degrees. Some of the most fun parts of a Mackinac winter, is when kids can sled down a once busy street with no tourists to worry about and some of the most fun for everyone is cross-country skiing on the many miles inland or around the island. Here’s a great shot of Brian Bailey, GM of the Chippewa Hotel and his family enjoying the trails.
Many trails on the inner island on the East side are groomed especially for skiing which makes the conditions perfect, some of the trails are illuminated at night and it’s like a winter wonderland, Mackinac style. Most islanders have their own skis or if you’re planning on a winter visit to Mackinac, you can rent skis and snowshoes at the Village Inn.
The Mackinac Island school has skis that have been purchased by the Mackinac Island Recreation Department (MIRD) and the school makes it a regular activity to take the kids out for outdoor exercise so they can also learn how to properly navigate the snow safely in winter.
There’s also an ice rink located at Fort Mackinac that everyone enjoys. This year, ice has formed but boats can still navigate the waters but islanders wait with eager anticipation for the ice to get rock solid and form what is called, the Ice Bridge – when Mackinac Island is connected to the mainland by thick ice. I saw the Ice Bridge movie and recorded it on PBS a few years ago and last year, my wife bought me a DVD of it. Every time I watch it, I’m brought back in time once again to my home away from home. While it’s winter now, it’s not too early to reserve your rooms for the 2017 season which starts on Friday, May 5th 2017. It’ll be here before you know it. Give us a call at 800-241-3341 to make your reservations.
Talk to you in March,
George Piliouras for the Chippewa Hotel
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