A School Bus Wearing Skis
From a distance, the large red aluminum contraption parked on the frozen shore of Lake Superior here looks like a small houseboat perched on skis. Up closer, as schoolchildren pile in with their backpacks and iPods, it becomes clear that the mystery vehicle, with two large fans on the back, is something else entirely.
For residents of this remote village on an ice-locked island off the tip of mainland Wisconsin, the gliding boatmobile, known here as a windsled, is a kind of school bus.
The children of La Pointe, on Madeline Island (full-time population 250, triple that in the summer), actually windsled to class several weeks out of every year.
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.