Thursday, March 24, 2011


Northport Pier, Door County, Wisconsin -

The best part about Wednesday's snowstorm was the sunrise that came afterward, as we drove north at dawn to meet the ferry at Northport, and later, as we crossed the Door waters.

When we headed south to Sturgeon Bay on Tuesday, the sky had been gray and heavily overcast, then by early afternoon, light sleet began and the NE winds picked up speed.  (By this time, it was a white-out in Green Bay, we were told.)

I attended a workshop Tuesday afternoon along with three other co-workers from the Ferry Line.  Later, we walked across the street to dinner from our motel through slush.  That evening, as cars pulled in from the highway for the night, islanders were among them, and there was speculation if they might get home the next day.  (My answer?  "I don't know!")  

Familiar faces circulated through the lobby of Sturgeon Bay's Maritime Inn like snowflakes under a street light.

By morning, a wide blue band that represented heavy snowfall on the TV Precision Weather Forecast ran west-to-east, South Dakota through Green Bay, Wisconsin, and on toward Detroit.  It was clear there would be little chance for a ferry home Wednesday.   40 MPH winds were whipping the snow, and that was the ultimate factor for not running the ferry that day.

We greeted a dozen or so island neighbors at breakfast and a few more as the day wore on.  City streets were plowed by noon, sort of, but the main highways up and down the peninsula weren't good, although a few did try driving north anyway, on the chance that winds would drop and the ferry might run.   But, it never happened, not on Wednesday.

So, through our cell phones we planned for an early departure from the motel to catch the extra-early ferry that was specially scheduled to absorb the backlog of traffic, mail and freight.  We met a couple more islanders we hadn't known about as we exited the Maritime Inn to our snow-covered car.   After a quick stop at McDonald's (windows were frozen shut so we went to the counter instead of the drive-thru), we were on our way to catch the extra-early ferry.

As we passed through Gills Rock and wound through the woods toward Northport and the ferry, the  sunrise was worth the drive.   Orange light over white snow and light ice.   A small raft of black ducks huddled in the crook of the breakwall.  With wind down to a mere draft, the half-full ferry backed away and took the short-route home, around Plum Island's north side, with not even enough sea to toss spray on deck.

By 8 o'clock, our familiar snow shovel was in hand, as we tackled a drift wrapping around the back door to our home.  Then, we unpacked from two nights with a snowstorm on the mainland.

  - Dick Purinton

Underway, Captain Erik Foss was one of ARNI J Richter's
several crew, who also got his quota of shoveling
for the day when decks were cleared. 

1 comment:

trot2island said...

Glad you're home safe and sound. Not sure why, but these sort of "Island drama" stories make me miss it more than ever. And, you do such a great job telling it.