Next time they have a rare snow day, think of the students of La Pointe, on Madeline Island on Lake Superior, the coldest of the Great Lakes...
During those times, the Bayfield School District turns to its windsled, locally designed, built and operated to glide over thin ice.
“I thought it was kind of strange at first,” said Emma Dalzell, 14, who recently moved to La Pointe from Madison, Wis., where she did not have to cross an icy bay to get to school. Now the commute has become routine.
Put aside all those romantic notions about surfing to school. Though the trip offers a breathtaking panorama in a winter-wonderland sort of way, with this part of Lake Superior taking on the look of the grandest, most pristine ice rink the imagination can conjure, the windsled is purely utilitarian.
The 9,000-pound vehicle, propelled by its twin fans and steered by a driver much the way a regular bus would be, is heated and has padded benches with room for about 20 students. Beyond that, there are no luxuries. Loud and bumping along at 18 miles an hour, it hardly qualifies as a thrill ride.
The island's population is small. Cold weather (they often go days with a wind chill below zero) and snow and ice don't get snow days, here. It's also expensive to run--the school has to pay for it since it isn't an "official school bus route." Ha!
QUESTION: What was the hardest time you ever had getting to school?