July 15 – 21, 2016 Newberry, Michigan

This little town of Newberry, MI is the perfect location to visit all the wonderful sites while in the area. The weather had been beautiful, low humidity, 78-80 degrees, light winds, we were loving the cool temps and then we wake up to the sound of rain, thunder and lightening!! It sure didn’t stop us tho…off we went with our umbrellas.

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Since we missed out on our trip to Alaska this summer, I felt we missed seeing bears….so I happened to read a brochure that right down the street was…Oswalds Bear Ranch. It’s not the same as seeing them in the wild, still it was fun watching them play and chase each other. In fact, they stayed very close to the fence waiting for someone to throw apple pieces that you may purchase.

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Dean Oswald and his family have been raising rescued black bears, since 1984 and has opened his 160 acre ranch to the bears and the pubic. Once a bear has been rescued they will live the rest of their lives at the Ranch, the average lifespan for a bear is 25 to 30 years.

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The ranch has four natural habitats, with trees, fresh running, water which is used for drinking and swimming. There are sleeping areas or dens that have been made but most of the bears prefer to dig their own.

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The habitats have 10’ outer fence with a shorter interior fence which is equipped with a mild electric shock system which allows the bears freedom to roam. Two habitats with 1/2 and 1/3 mile perimeter and 2 smaller habitats with 1/4 mile perimeter. There are wooden platforms at all habitats to enable visitors to view the bears without the fence in the way.

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There are 31 black bears located at the habitat now with half males and half females, they are kept in separate habitats. The yearlings have their own habitat as well as the babies. The babies are kept in the Oswald home during the winter and moved into the habitat when the weather warms up. They feed the cubs canned milk, rice cereal, yogurt and eggs, the cubs feed about every 4 hours.

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When we arrived at the KOA we were told we could ride our side x side buggy on any road as long as the number of the road did not start with an M!!

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First thing we did was head to the forestry service to see if they had off road maps of the area and buy the road permit of $30.00 (we ended up not getting the permit). There are many dirt roads in the UP that we could ride the side x side buggy, that was exciting to hear.

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We decided to head out on a few of the dirt roads in the truck, the area was beautiful, we found a few out of the way, quiet lakes, lots of trees, ferns and wildflowers, small campsites. We almost got stuck in the mud out in the middle of nowhere as we were trying to get closer to a small lake. We did decide not to take the buggy out since we could take the truck on all the back roads.

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The coast of Michigan on Lake Superior is absolutely beautiful, it is the largest freshwater lake in the world and holds 10% of the world’s surface fresh water. There are 31,700 sq miles of surface area to this lake, it expands from Michigan into Ontario, Canada. The Circle Route with a 1,300 mile road goes around the lake thru Michigan and up into Ontario, Canada.

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We headed up to Grand Marais by way of the shoreline and were pleasantly surprised at how much history and beauty there was along the way. There were walking and hiking trails, Grand Sable Dunes, Sable Falls, Log Slide Overlook, Au Sable Lighthouse. We didn’t want to miss a thing and stopped at all the turnouts to check it out.

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The Grand Sable Dunes are 5 sq miles atop of the 300’ banks. There was a Log Slide which was used for lumber that was sent down a 300’ wooden chute to the lake below, some say that there was so much friction that the chute would catch fire. The logs were hauled to the chute by teams of horses, then the logs are slid down a dry chute into Lake Superior, where the logs are then moved on to large rafts. The rafts were towed by boat to the Grand Marais sawmills.

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Grand Marais is French for “big marsh” which is puzzling as there are no marshes there. The Chippewa Indians fished along the shoreline for many years before the settlers in the 1860s. Grand Marais boomed as a lumber town between 1885 and 1910. By 1911 the boom was over, the population dropped from 3,000 down to 200.

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A cool burl found on our hike

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Sable Falls

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The Pickle Barrel House is located in Grand Marais, it was designed as a vacation cottage for the creator of the cartoon story, The Teenie Weenie.

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The main barrel contained a living area of the first floor, bedroom on the second, the kitchen was in a smaller, in the single story connected to the big barrel. I have to admit I had no clue this was a museum, I thought we  would be able to buy pickles!! It was closed when we stopped but had a sign outside explaining all about the history.

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Pickle Barrel Garden

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As we were driving around the town we came to the Maritime Museum, it was closed due to renovations. We walked out to the beach and tried to walk to the end of the seawall,but the waves were coming up and splashing, the water was way to cold for us, so we ended up turning around.

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Looking back towards town

This ended our tour to Grand Marais but come on back to see thru our eyes our catamaran trip to Pictured Rocks. AWESOME