|The Treasure Chest|
This got me to thinking about island life in general. As it turned out, the lady that runs the treasure chest (and provides the cooler of cold water for those who have managed to trudge up the hill to the treasure chest) happened to be there as we arrived. We had a conversation that was interesting, to say the least.
The conversation started out about the school - a wonderful open-plan building constructed in 1983 - the third schoolhouse I think (its the building on the left, with the red roof). It is heated with a wood furnace, and looking in the windows showed a lot of creativity and love in there. But, sadly, it is closed. Tho the last time we visited Stuart Island there were 6 school kids, today there is only one school-aged child in residence on the island. Not enough to justify keeping the school open. Our conversation then turned to, how to get more young folks with children to settle on the island.
This is not an easy task, because island life requires a level of self-sufficiency not seen for a long time elsewhere in the USA. Such as:
- There are no public utilities on the island. That means that there is no electricity - each homeowner must make their own - solar, wind, or gas generator.
- There is no public water system. Each homeowner must drill a well and pump their water from it (see electricity, above).
- There is no ferry service to the island. If you live there, you're going to have a boat.
- There is no store on the island. For the necessities of everyday life, you must get in your boat and travel to either Roche Harbor (5 miles of open water) or Friday Harbor (14 miles). And you must do this, not just on idyllic summer days when it is warm and the sun is hot on your shoulders, but in the winter too.
- The nearest hospital is in Friday Harbor (see boat, above)
- There is no telephone service unless your house happens to be in one of the few places where cell service can be obtained.
- There is no internet (except see above)
- There is no gas station. Or propane delivery. Or fuel oil delivery. If you want or need these things, see boat, above.
- There is no cable.
- There is no TV, except for poor (now digital, with pixelation) sporadic reception.
- Everything, and I mean EVERYthing must come to the island by boat. You want that well drilled? Or lumber for house construction? Or concrete? Then you'll have to hire one of those expensive LSTs to haul things to the island.
- You want a car? Why would you want a car?
Yup, that's one lane, gravel.
Then what's keeping you from it?