To the Island

Bill's Blog

Flooded road on Bois Blanc Island

I planned this week of vacation so as to minimize my exposure to the COVID-19 virus. I looked around the internet to see where there was a minimum of virus cases and where we could find “safe” lodging and activities. Sunday night, we stayed at The Shack in Newaygo Co. It’s a BIG place (100 acres) and some of the groups that come during the summer canceled because of the virus. In our entire wing of the resort, there were only two couples and we never saw the other one.

Next, we went to Traverse City to see daughter #3. Their spare bedroom was not available. They often host foreign students from Interlochen who choose not to go home over a short break. This year they were hosting Yihan from China. Well, with COVID, her ten-day stay with my daughter has turned into +four months, as pretty much everything at Interlochen has been canceled. She plays the big double bass and will be flying to start classes at the conservatory in Boston in the fall.

So, we stayed at the Old Mission Inn. The first night, there were only 2 couples there. They had us in two separate rooms for breakfast in the am. The second night, I believe there were 3 couples there. Again, we were in a separate room for breakfast. Daughter #3 and I went on a 3.1 mile hike and along the way met only one young man who passed us on a mountain bike.

So…three days left…where to go next….

We ended up on Bois Blanc Island – which is just southeast of Mackinac Island in Lake Huron. It’s a relatively big island (35.3 square miles), but has a year-round population of only about 80. The population swells to around 1,500 in a typical mid-summer. Well, this isn’t quite a typical summer, because of the Coronavirus.

While there is an airstrip on the island (“one runway, 75 feet wide, may be unplowed or not plowed full width in winter, deer and birds can be a hazard on runway, 85-foot trees 1,900 ft. from runway”), access to the island is from a ferry from Cheboygan. The ferry operates daily in summer but “Any trips in December through April are at the sole discretion of the ship’s captain.” Residents stock up on food for 5-6 months the ferry is not operating. So, pretty much no one was coming or going here through April. Also, keep in mind that April and May were both colder than average. They had snow flurries on 3 days in the first half of May. Many people weren’t in a hurry to return to the island.

When COVID-18 became a big issue in early March, Bois Blanc Island issued this statement, urging people not to come to the island. Mackinac Island and Beaver Island made similar statements. Here in mid-July, the island has started down the road to recovery. However, as of today, the island’s only seasonal restaurant and the island tavern are both closed. Both expect to open soon.

We are staying at a Bed and Breakfast. We’re the only ones here. The owner is sick and he and his wife are in Cheboygan. An island resident checked us in…but we’ve got the place to ourselves. We have access to a kitchen and we brought food to make from the mainland. There is no breakfast here now…just bed…no maid service for the 3 days we are here. I promised to make the bed, but I won’t attempt to do any fancy folding of the toilet paper.

We plan on driving around the island, doing some hiking (much of the island is forest) and enjoying some reading at a beach (starting with a re-read of Treasure Island – “arrr”-restingly appropriate for an island vacation).

Flooded road on Bois Blanc Island

Roads here on the island are pretty much gravel or two-track. On the way over to the island on the ferry, we had a pretty good thunderstorm – heavy rain – two fairly close cloud-water lightning bolts. We stayed in our car during the trip over. On the ferry, there were half a dozen cars and a boat – not full this trip. The rain left some significant puddles on the road to the inn. No where did we see water flowing over the road, just collecting.

Deer on Bois Blanc Island

Driving just a couple of miles in a light rain on the south side of the island around the dinner hour, we saw deer four times in groups of one to four. They were on the tame side. This one was wary of us…but we were pretty close when my wife snapped this pic. There were also groups of wild ducks and geese and many different kinds of birds.

Docks at Cheboygan

Water levels remain high on the Great Lakes and that includes along the river in Cheboygan, where we saw some docks that were right at the waters edge or evening a little underwater.

Watch WOOD TV 8 Thursday Evening for Two Special Programs

Storm Team 8 is doing a 1/2-hour special on the Rising Waters of the Great Lakes and a lake-level forecast Thursday at 8 pm on WOOD TV8.

On the Ferry, leaving Cheboygan

Here’s a pic. of me on the ferry leaving Cheboygan – with the drawbridge still up from our departure. Most everyone is wearing masks and social distancing up here. It was a humid day and my glasses would fog up. Typical old man’s floppy hat here. The hat reminds me of Wilson Wilson on Home Improvement.

Picture of a rain shaft on the other side of the East Arm of Traverse Bay

One last pic. You’re looking across the East Arm of Traverse Bay at a rain shaft. That was mainly light rain and was probably about 8-10 miles away (looking east).

ALSO: Gigantic wedge tornado south of Springfield IL Wed. PM.

More tomorrow…thanks for reading my (travelogue) blog.

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