Monday, January 5, 2009

Ask and You Shall Receive

I didn't realize just how curious people were about island life until my last post. So, over the next few weeks I'll do my best to demystify it, but first let me answer a few questions.

1. Have you lived on the island your entire life?

No. I was born and raised in suburban Detroit. I first came to the island as a Governor's Honor Guard with my Girl Scout troop in eighth grade. I spent a week on the island every summer standing duty, raising and lowering flags, and doing service projects - just like Gerald Ford (he came when he was an Eagle Scout.) Then I worked at the island's fort to help pay my way through college. After I graduated, I moved on to the island permanently and began teaching. That was 16 years ago. It doesn't seem like it has been that long...

photo by Flickr's Mackinac Island

2. How do you get mail and ups?

Mail and UPS come over on the ferry boat as long as it runs. When the boats quit for the winter (usually in early January) the mail comes over via the plane. The plane brings everything over to the island until the boats start up again in the spring (usually in mid-April.) UPS is delivered via horse-drawn dray, but we have to go to the Post Office to pick up the mail.


3. Do you take the little plane during the winter to go shopping?

Yes. Paul can carry five passengers in the plane, but often he removes some of the back seats so he can carry more freight.

4. How often to you head back to the mainland? Is is really expensive, or not so bad??

During most winters I leave the island once a month to get groceries. This winter I will be going off every other weekend so I can visit with my 88 year-old grandmother who lives about an hour south of here. I'll fly off as weather permits until the ice freezes. Then I'll drive across the straits on my snowmobile. When I go across I take a lot of stuff with me: tubs and coolers to pack groceries in and soda cans to return. (Michigan has a bottle return law.) The tubs are labeled with my name so I can just leave them at the airport and the dray knows where to deliver them.


This year, a round trip plane ticket is $50.00. Kids are a half fare - unless they sit on your lap, then they're free. We've never paid to take the dog across and she's twice as big as my son. She usually sits on the floor of the plane between my husband's legs.

5. Do they have heat in those wee planes??

Yes, but we're only in the plane for about five minutes so it really doesn't matter. The flight only takes us four miles, so it is really quick. (My mom says if you blink, you'll miss it. )There are heated terminals on each side so we can wait for the plane where it is warm.

6. CAN YOU FLY???

I've asked Paul several times if he'll let me fly the plane, but for some reason he always says no. I wonder why... Oh yeah, guess I need a license.

7. How do you manage?

We stock up! My basement and closets are well stocked for the winter. I try to keep two or three extras of just about everything: toiletries, cleaning supplies, paper products, diapers, and food. We keep lots of non-perishables food items on hand and freeze what we can in our basement freezer. With two little ones, keeping fresh fruits, veggies, and milk is my biggest challenge.

We can buy things at one of the two stores on the island, but they are quite pricey. I bought a gallon of milk last week for $4.25 - compared to $2.39 at Wal-Mart. I do shop a bit at the island stores, partially because I appreciate the fact they stay open all winter when they really don't have to.

photo by Flickr's jasonthenino

As I get time in the next few weeks I will try to write more about island life. If you're curious about anything or have questions, let me know and I'll do my best. I know what you're thinking - you don't think you could do it. But you could - especially if you knew how amazing it was to live here. Stick around and you will...

15 comments:

Jade said...

Sounds like a wonderful way to live. I would love to hear more!

Christy said...

Thanks for sharing Liz! I'm looking forward to future posts about island life.

Sam said...

Wow! Snowmobile across the straits! Wow!

It looks like a beautiful, wonderful, fascinating place to live, and I'm looking forward to finding out more :-)

Thanks :-)

peaceliving said...

Thanks for sharing, Liz. It sounds so exotic to all of us "mainland" folks! (at least to me.) I love the photos of the ferry breaking the ice.
Linn

Manoute said...

That's fascinating! Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to hear more...

Amy Jo said...

thanks for doing this! I love knowing "how" you live up there!

stitching under oaks said...

I'm so glad you're sharing all of these tid bits with us mainland folks. I find this all so interesting. Keep yourself warm this winter as you go cruising across the frozen tundra!

The WoodLand School said...

Thank you *so much* for sharing these details ... I never imagined such a lifestyle before : )

I look forward to reading more on your blog!

Whosies said...

liz- that is just plain fun!! i was wondering if you would be interested in doing another pattern test for me? come on over and let me know. thanks!!

susan said...

wow! does someone go with you when you cross the staight on your snow machine? Victoria got to spend the day with friends who machined her all over the place. when we got there her cheeks where all pink and a grin from ear to ear. i heard she kept telling steve....faster, faster, go faster. i am going to miss my bunnyduck so much i cannot not even face it yet. we leave early friday moring and will spend the night in a hotel in kanosha and then hit chicago saturday...whaaaaah.....

nicolette said...

Happy New Year!!

Wow, love to read about your island. I may have missed it... what’s the name of the Isle? You live near Michigan? Lake Michigan.
I love to learn about peoples places at the other end of the world!

cinnamongirl93 said...

Thank you for your wonderful post. I was so curious about your life on the Island.
I live in a rural area. Every store is a drive. I know all about stocking up. I'm sure you are the queen of putting things by!
Do you have a car on the mainland to go to the store and visit your relatives?
I'll be waiting for your next post.
P.S. Love the pictures. I really like the one with the horses delivering UPS. Cool!!!!!

cinnamongirl93 said...

I had to come back and let you know that I just read all about your Island living. I really enjoyed watching your home being built. I had no idea how complicated things could get with the restrictions you have. I was amazed by it all. Thank you!

mommiemarzie said...

Your island life is very interesting! Please tell us more!!!

muralimanohar said...

Dude, you are making me SO jealous. I would LOVE to live in a place like that. Dh would die, though, I think.