Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Daniel Caron Captures Meaningful Photos and Explores Kindness

Daniel Caron Captures Meaningful Photos and Explores Kindness

There is always something interesting going on outside in nature.”

Daniel photographer

Daniel enjoys being close to nature in his journey through life.

Daniel Caron’s favorite place for photography is in nature because it’s always available and changes almost every moment. When people ask where he takes his pictures, they are surprised that often Daniel replies, “In my backyard.”

Daniel Falling Transition

Falling Transition

   Not only does Daniel take great pictures, but he also adds meaning to them. Take the simple autumn leaf as it fell to the ground in his backyard with colors ranging from green to red to yellow. To Daniel, this leaf signified transition.

   Nature teaches a lesson to many people who are in transition just like the leaf. The green is a time of growth, while red signifies that robust time of life. Yellow mellows out for their golden years.

Daniel Late Blooming Rose

A late-blooming rose covered with dew

   Obviously, this photographer observes and sees things in nature and people that others don’t see. When he does senior portraits, they capture an extra special side of each individual.

Daniel watching the sunset

Watching the Sunset

   Two people have been a tremendous influence in his life. His dad gave Daniel his love of nature through National Geographic specials the family watched together. His wife taught him more about kindness and caring than anyone else.

Daniel Ancient Art by Fremonts

Ancient Art by Fremonts in Utah at Dinosaur National Monument

   Often he gives talks on photography at various libraries and community functions. At a recent lecture at Crossroads Library, Daniel impressed those in attendance with his skill and photographs. He was willing to give instructions and ideas to improve others’ photos as well.

Daniel Bee

A bee sips sweet nectar

   This award-winning photographer didn’t promote any certain camera for pictures and even acknowledged that the handy cell phone produced some nice pictures. Not only is Daniel a great photographer, but also a great teacher of ways to enhance your photography skills. Be sure to bring your camera or cell phone to his lectures for some hands-on experience.

Daniel painted bunting

Colorful Painted Bunting

   When talking to Daniel about his pictures, it was surprising to discover there was much more than photography on his mind. Previously, he had worked in administration at a West Virginia college where he provided wellness and substance abuse education. He also has been an adjunct faculty member at three West Virginia colleges.

   But then 9/11 happened!

Daniel at Conference

Daniel prepares for annual APCA conference where he found outstanding connections.

   When he saw the caring messages shared that day, he decided to leave the field of education and spread the word about improving people’s daily interactions. Since that time he has worked with thousands of people across the United States, Canada and several foreign countries. He makes it clear that he is not a motivational speaker as he focuses on skill development to help people get along with each other.

   Most people don’t want to be butting heads with traffic, family, and society, but people don’t know what to do about it. That’s what Daniel is trying to teach in his engagements. We all need that kindness and love connection.

Daniel winter purple finch

Purple Finch in Winter

   His talks are made in many different places such as senior centers, correctional facilities, service men and women, colleges and universities. The farthest he has traveled was to South Africa where he worked with children at a school for the deaf showing them that someone cares.

   One of his recent speeches was entitled “How to Play with Difficult People”. It’s all about building a better life and living the way we really want to be. “Few things build community faster than showing people how everyone is connected.”

Daniel with Smokey the Bear at Wayne National Forest

Daniel met Smokey Bear while helping at Wayne National Forest.

   When asked for the first tip to better living, the answer was surprising. “Pay attention to your breathing.” When we are upset our breathing changes. By taking a deep breath and letting go with a sigh, you can feel the body relax.

   Daniel takes his work seriously. “If you knew that kindness and connection benefited everyone, why would you behave any other way?”

DanielNorth American male Cardinal in snow

Northern Cardinal in Snowstorm

   Returning to the original topic of photography, Daniel gave this advice, “Quick and easy doesn’t always work. A photographer takes his time. There are no shortcuts.” Daniel recalls sitting in his backyard early in the morning just waiting for the sun to come up and hit the frost on the trees. The photographs he captures makes the waiting all worthwhile.

Daniel Flower

Life in Full Bloom

   His dream would be to have an assignment from National Geographic as this wanderlust would enjoy visiting every zoo in the world. While he already swam with dolphins, wolves and bears, he’d love to see the penguins and seals in Antarctica before they are gone. There is so much going on in the world that Daniel said, “I don’t want to miss the adventure.”

Daniel Nature Waterfalls

Sounds of Nature

   But Daniel is content wherever he is. He commented that when he grew up in Massachusetts, he would never have believed that someday he would live in Ohio with his wife, two rescue horses, six chickens, four roosters and six cats. His love of nature certainly is evident in everything he does.

   Daniel’s advice for everyone is simply, “Be kind.”

To reach Daniel Caron to engage him for a talk about photography or kindness, call him at 740-314-9198 or email him using: daniel@danielsprograms.com .

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Summer Fun at Salt Fork State Park

Salt Fork Picnic by boat ramp

Salt Fork Lake is a great place for a picnic along the water’s edge.

When summer rolls around, everyone has thoughts of outdoor activities. Whether you want to spend the day or a week, Salt Fork State Park, the largest state park in Ohio, holds a wide variety of activities that are sure to please the entire family.

Salt Fork Picnic Shelters

     Many people in the area over the age of fifty will remember when this was farmland with Salt Fork Creek and many small streams running through it. In 1967, the earthen dam was completed and filling of the lake began.

Salt Fork Bicycling

Bicycling is popular at the lake on trails or even on the roads as speed limit keeps traffic moving slowly.

     There are many choices for staying at the 3,000-acre lake for a few days. You can camp, rent a cabin, or stay at the beautiful Salt Fork Lodge. No matter what your choice, you will be surrounded by rolling hills and views of the lake.

Salt Fork Cabin

Cabins along the lake make for a relaxing get-away.

     The campground sites all have electrical hook-ups with a heated shower house close by. A few sites even have water and sewer hook-up as well. However, if you would prefer a cabin along the lake, all are completely furnished with a screened-in porch, and even have kitchen utensils.

Salt Fork Lodge

Salt Fork Lodge provides a great place for meetings or to spend the weekend.

     Some prefer the comfort and convenience of the exquisite, stone Salt Fork Lodge, which is perfect for meetings or vacations. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools provide entertainment no matter the weather. Outside you’ll find a fantastic playground for the youngsters as well as tennis, volleyball, basketball and shuffleboard courts.

Special activities are scheduled throughout the summer months to keep youngsters busy with nature lessons, face painting, crafts, archery and guided hikes. There’s no reason to be bored here!

Salt Fork Golf Course

Golfers enjoy the beautiful 18th hole in the rolling hills of Salt Fork Golf Course.

     Just a half mile down the road from the Lodge is the entrance to their 18 hole championship golf course, which is a challenge in these southeastern Ohio hills. A golf cart is highly recommended! Deer frequent the course and have little fear of golfers playing their game. Rates are very reasonable.

Salt Fork Beach

Their expansive beach has a concession stand, putt-putt golf and Nature Center.

     No lake would be complete without a beach. Here the 2500 foot beach is one of the longest inland beaches in Ohio. When you want to take a break from swimming or playing in the water, take time to head to the concession stand, play miniature golf, or visit their Nature Center in the main bathhouse building.

Salt Fork Sugartree Marina 2

Sugartree Marina is one of two marinas where boats can be left for the season.

     Two marinas, Salt Fork and Sugartree, provide a place to dock your boat for the season. If you prefer to bring your boat with you, there are ten easy access boat ramps. At Sugartree Marina, you can rent kayaks, canoes, wave runners or pontoons. There are so many ways to enjoy a day on the lake.

Salt Fork Fishing

Fishing can be a wonderful time for families to relax together.

     Fishing is a popular item at Salt Fork Lake. It’s a place you see families with their children as they teach them to enjoy being out in nature. Sitting on the bank or going out on a boat both give fishing enjoyment. Fresh fish over a campfire always become a great memory and a tasty meal.


Salt Fork Hosak's Cave

Walk carefully when exploring Hosak’s Cave. Bigfoot has been spotted here.

     Many people enjoy hiking one of their fourteen hiking trails from easy to moderate. One popular trail leads to Hosak’s Cave complete with waterfalls and wildflowers. Bigfoot is said to have been spotted in this area.

Salt Fork Horse Trailer

Many bring their horses to the park to ride the peaceful trails.

     Others actually bring their horses to the park and camp for the weekend so they can ride twenty miles of horse trails. It’s a quiet place to ride through the woods on well-marked trails. Many ride bicycles and motorcycles through the paved roads of the park. It’s quite safe with a maximum speed limit of 35 mph in most places.

Salt Fork Kennedy Stone House - Root Cellar

Explore the historic Kennedy Stone House and root cellar while at the State Park.

     Another longer trail leads to Kennedy Stone House built in 1837. Stones used were quarried from the hills nearby and crafted in a manner that has stood the test of time. Original cost of the home at that time was $600. Recently, a road has been constructed to the house so you can hike, drive, or even arrive by boat.

My Inspiration Point

This overlook near the dam is my Inspiration Point, where many stories are written.

     The view from the dam in Morning Glory Area provides a great place to relax also. This is my Inspiration Point as often stories nearly write themselves while watching the waves hit the shore and seeing the boats bounce over the water.

Salt Fork Sand Castles

Building sand castles at the beach entertains youngsters between swims.

     Salt Fork State Park provides a great place for family vacations as there are so many varied activities to keep all ages busy and happy. If you are lucky enough to live in the area, enjoy a day at the beach or a ride on the lake anytime. Pack a picnic and use one of their many shelters or picnic tables, or spread your blanket on the ground.

     It’s also the perfect place to relax and do absolutely nothing. Visit Salt Fork State Park to enjoy being surrounded by the beauties of nature.

Salt Fork State Park is located about five miles north of Cambridge off US-22. The main entrance is on the left-hand side. Wooden signs throughout will guide you to the place you want to explore.

The Many Artistic Abilities of Michael Warren

Michael Warren

This carving of a Native American from South Dakota came to Michael in a dream.

See the visions! Live your dreams!

Those words are an inspiration to artist, Michael Warren, who is talented in several different areas of art. Most of all, he is known for his outstanding woodcarvings, which feature the nature he enjoys so much. That’s why he calls his business, “Lost in the Woods Art Gallery”, which is located in Cambridge.

Michael Warren deerhunter

Deer hunting lets him be out in nature and perhaps be lucky enough to get meat for dinner.

Michael has been an avid hunter and fisherman since his youth. Right now he’s anxious for deer season so he can use his favorite bow and get some deer steaks and jerky. Wildlife seems to work its way into most of his life and art work.

Michael Warren sketches

Michael’s sketches also center around the wildlife he enjoys so much.

His first grade teacher at Lincoln School noticed his advanced creativity at the age of six, since he could look at something and recreate it even at that young age. Having a great art teacher in high school like Mr. Al Joseph continued his development. That led to studies at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Michael’s thankful for all those who inspired him throughout the years.

Michael Warren SF Festival

His booth at the Salt Fork Festival attracted much attention from the sound of the chain saw.

For the past two years, his work has been featured at the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival, where he has won honors in People’s Choice both years. The first year he had a large carving of a turkey, while this year, a fish won honors.

Michael Warren Fish

A carved fish, when completed, won the People’s Choice honors at the festival.

His carvings tell a story. The fish, for example, has his mouth open as he leaps from the water to catch a dragonfly going by. Unfortunately, the fish didn’t catch the dragonfly, but did catch a ribbon at the festival. The artist actually saw this bass in action at a farm pond in New Concord.

Michael sees something in every log, then puts a little part of himself into the carving. Staying focused with each cut becomes important. Then the sanding and detail work are a must. Much thought and prayer go into his detailed designs.

Michael Warren Caricature

He draws people, as he sees them, in his caricatures.

Carving is only one of his talents. A special attraction to children and the young at heart are his caricatures. Children enjoy watching him while he creates a picture of them…as he sees them. This gypsy is even going to have a caricature done.

At the Soak ‘Em Festival in Caldwell, Michael noticed a three year old boy dressed in cowboy hat and boots watching him draw. When Michael asked him if he would like a picture drawn, the little cowboy said he had no money. That didn’t stop Michael as he made that young lad smile with a cute caricature. Later in the day, the little cowboy ran up to Michael and put a quarter on his knee. They both smiled.

Michael Warren etching

His glass etchings also carry the wildlife theme.

Pencil drawings and glass etchings are also something that Michael does well. Again his love of nature shines forth in them.

Michael Warren mural

This mural by Michael covers a 127 foot wall at Deerassic Park with animal mounts in front.

A large mural measuring 127′ X 54′ can be found at Deerassic Park.When Michael painted this mural he hid scripture throughout. Look carefully the next time you’re out that way and see what you can find. Hint: There’s something in the pond.

Michael Warren Turkey

He has carved several turkeys, a popular item.

Michael is a very quiet soul and like many strong men, doesn’t like to be thought of as having any weakness. However, Michael was born with a heart disease and now has frequent bouts with congestive heart problems. But, he keeps going just a bit slower perhaps than he did a few years ago. No one would ever realize this because of his amazing smile and kind soul.

Often when he is creating, he likes to listen to gospel music. The song “Enough” is one of his favorites.”All I have in You is more than enough.”

Michael Warren feather

Hand-painted turkey feathers take time and patience.

His work is amazing and very detailed. Michael feels that’s because he usually gets a vision of something he should create. It’s a special gift that God has given him and he wants to use it to give people a little joy in their lives. A goal in his mind for the future is to carve a life size replica of Jesus on the cross.

The people the artist has met along the way have been a special blessing to him. Michael feels these three things are the best way to start your day, “Pray. Never give up. Let no one take your joy or love away from the journey God has instilled in your heart.”

Michael Warren at work

This artist stays busy creating new carvings of wildlife and various other objects.

If you would like to learn more about his work, contact Michael at michaelartest1000@gmail.com . Michael thanks God for being with him through all the good and rough times and proudly accepts the title of one of ‘His Artists’.

 


Summer Fun Awaits at Oglebay’s Good Zoo

This red-railed hawk travels as a Good Zoo representative from Raptor Protection.

This red-tailed hawk travels as a Good Zoo representative from their Raptor Protection program.

The Red Panda is a zoo favorite.

The Red Panda is a zoo favorite.

Children and animals have a special bonding so it becomes only natural that children enjoy visiting the zoo. Oglebay’s Good Zoo, a small zoo in Wheeling, West Virginia, gives children opportunity to get some up close and personal contact with many of their animals.The zoo was named in memory of Philip Mayer Good, a seven year old boy who left this world too soon.

 

In 1977, Philip’s parents, Barbara and Larry Good, who managed the family business of L.S. Good in Wheeling, sponsored getting the 30 acres established as a place that all children could enjoy. Thousands of contributions poured in from the community, while school children collected jars of pennies to help the cause.

Originally, the animals at the zoo came from North America, but over the years endangered species have been added to the viewing area. That expanded list now includes: the Red Panda, Grevy’s Zebra, African Wild Dogs, and Tamarin Monkeys.

Today the Good Zoo houses over five hundred animals. A walk down the shaded sidewalk fills a child’s heart and step with wonder. What animal will they see around the next bend?

C.P. Huntington Train Ride

C.P. Huntington Train Ride

While the animals are the most important part of the Good Zoo, a ride on the C.P. Huntington Train takes visitors on a mile and a half ride through the edge of the zoo where many animals can be spotted. Everyone enjoys a ride on the open air train while the toot-toot of the whistle brings cheers from those on board.

Walk with the kangaroos.

Walk with the kangaroos.

Two of the newer exhibits are The Outback and Lorikeet Landing. The Outback contains Kangaroo Creek Mining Company, where you can pan for gemstones and fossils. A “G’Day Mates” sign welcomes you to an enclosed area with a sidewalk, permitting guests to walk within a couple feet of the kangaroos. The aviary section at Lorikeet Landing allows feeding the beautiful Rainbow Lorikeets while walking in their midst.

Take a break at the playground.

Take a break at the playground.

Let the children run off some of their extra energy at the outstanding playground. Here they can climb up ladders into forts, or crawl through tunnels until they’re ready to walk on to the next animal adventure.

Donkeys play with powder and box at the Red Barn.

Donkeys like toys too. Here they play with a box and roll in the powder at the Red Barn.

The Red Barn has always been a favorite spot where friendly domesticated animals reside. Here you might see donkeys, goats, and llamas. Some you can get close enough to pet.

On the grounds, a Veterinary Hospital provides care for all the animals plus those in Raptor Rehabilitation. This program cares for injured animals found in the area. Owls and vultures had broken wings that needed repaired, while a red-tailed hawk became a permanent resident after the loss of one eye.

Find hands on learning at the Discovery Center.

Find hands-on learning at the Discovery Center.

But there’s more inside! The Good Zoo lists conservation and education as their key features. A hands-on Discovery Center lets students observe small animals such as dart frogs, turtles and tamarin monkeys. The Benedum Theater & Planetarium shares a wide variety of programs about nature and the universe.

Engineers ready the O-gauge trains for the summer season.

Operators ready the O-gauge trains for the summer season.

A special section that entertains children and dads is their train display started in 1981. Here you will find West Virginia’s largest public O-gauge model train exhibit with 900′ of track. Detailed buildings located on mountainous terrain combine with Lionel trains to create exciting viewing from every angle.

All through the year, the Good Year has activities which delight youngsters and parents alike. These include fun experiences at an Easter egg hunt, “Boo at the Zoo”, and  “The Good Zoo Lights Up for You” during the Christmas season.

Sounds like the fun continues all year long at the Good Zoo.

Oglebay’s Good Zoo is located just off I-70 near Wheeling, West Virginia. Take Exit 2A and follow Bethany Pike, then make a left on WV-88 North. Signs along the way help greatly with directions.

Life on The Farm at Walnut Creek

View at The Farm at Walnut Creek

View of The Farm at Walnut Creek

Colorful Macaw watches over activities.

Colorful Macaw watches over activities.

Did you ever want something to eat out of the palm of your hand? Visit The Farm at Walnut Creek where many animals rush for the feed in your extended palm..

This beautiful Amish farm, set in the rolling hills of Holmes County, makes a great place to spend the day. Everything here moves at a much slower pace – even farm work. This is definitely a working farm where you can see various chores being done, depending on the season of the year: plowing, thrashing, canning or quilting to name a few.

Tour inside an authentic, non-electric, Amish farmhouse where you might be lucky enough to get a freshly baked cookie. Check out several barns, observe a blacksmith at work in his shop, and admire their beautiful flower gardens. A covered bridge creates a perfect setting for relaxation at a small pond surrounded by plants and flowers.

Luke and mother, Libery in the Giraffe Pen.

Luke and mother, Libery, in the Giraffe Pen.

But children and the young at heart come mainly to feed the farm’s 500 animals from six different continents. While everyone expects to see sheep, goats and cattle, a surprised look crosses their face when a Dromedary camel, giraffe or Grevy zebra appears.

Two options exist for viewing the animals: by car or on a horse-drawn wagon pulled by beautiful Percheron draft horses. Try both for the best experience. By car, feeding seems a little safer since you can gently put up the car window if they try to stick their head inside the car…and they definitely will! Speed limit for cars is 5 mph to protect animals and passengers.

Grevy Zebra and pony

Grevy Zebra and colt

The most fun of the day occurs on the hour-long wagon ride where each person is given a filled feed bucket for the animals. At least three horse-drawn wagons headed out each hour…and this visit happened on a Monday. The driver tells stories about the animals, as the horses trot slowly down the lane.

Stops to watch the zebras and giraffes top the tour. Everyone has to be careful of the zebras as they might bite, so pour their food onto the ground. Mother zebra keeps a close eye on her two-week old colt. The picture of this zebra pair was taken through my windshield on the car tour. They wouldn’t get off the road!

Even though the giraffes are inside a high fence, they easily reach over to eat out of your hand. Here a special treat was mother giraffe, Liberty, and her five-day old calf, Luke.

Big Bad John is always hungry.

Big Bad John is always hungry.

The Farm at Walnut Creek is truly where the deer and the antelope play, along with many other domestic and exotic animals. Feeding Big Bad John, a horned steer, requires caution, due to his long tongue reaching out for feed and his horns swinging from side to side. Everyone from child to adult enjoys feeding the animals and wishes the ride could last a little longer.

Noah's Ark Playground

Noah’s Ark Playground

At the end of this great family outing, spread out a picnic near the lake. A Noah’s Ark playground seems the perfect play area for a day filled with animals. Take the plank up to the top of the ark, then come down one of several slides. Nearby is a sandy volleyball court.

The Farm at Walnut Creek provides fun activities all year long. During the Fall Festival, you might try their famous pumpkin slingshot, or watch the Percherons press sorghum cane stalks into molasses. If you are lucky to have your winter trip fall on a day when the lanes are covered with a couple inches of snow, then you’ll be able to have a horse-drawn sleigh ride. The excitement continues all year long!

The road to The Farm at Walnut Creek is a pleasant drive. Take I-77 to Exit 93, which will be SR 39. Turn left on SR 39 and go approximately 14 miles to a left turn on Co Hwy. 114. Signs are posted so watch carefully.

Chiricahua Desert Museum Educational Oasis in the Desert

New Mexico Desert Museum

New Mexico Desert Museum

In the middle of nowhere, or at least it seems, you will find an unexpected gem – a desert museum operated by people who enjoy being away from the crowds.  Here in the small town of  Rodeo, New Mexico, The Chiricahua Desert Museum found a home. The idea began as recently as 2006 and opened for visitors in 2009 when my first visit occurred. The Chiricahua Desert Museum has made major improvements since that time and during this recent visit has added many educational programs as well.

Tile Gila Monster at Museum Entrance

Tile Gila Monster at Museum Entrance

The museum sits in the middle of the desert between the Chiricahua Mountains and the Peloncilos. Here in the southwestern corner of New Mexico, the border of Arizona is only across the road. Desert plants, rocks and sand create a beautiful entrance way to the museum as you walk over a large tile design of a gila monster, a heavy, slow-moving, venomous lizard.  Mountains make a beautiful backdrop, especially as you enter the Botanical Garden.

Desert Botanical Garden

Desert Botanical Garden

This corner of their large Botanical Garden is a place to relax and learn about the plants of the desert. Besides the plants, there are beautiful statues as well as a small pond. Here you might see a box turtle or lizard… if it isn’t too hot.

Dancing on a Dwarf Statue

Dancing on a Dwarf Statue

The museum itself contains many items found in the desert and beyond.  There is a large collection of arrowheads and pieces of pottery found in the area.  If enough pieces were found, they have been reassembled into beautiful vases and bowls. A collection of liquor bottles all contained the names of reptiles, such as: Blue Tongue Premium Lager, Granny’s Turtle Juice, Python Ale, or Mojave Red Premium Lager. A large bronze statue, Dancing on a Dwarf, was a centerpiece of the main museum. Wildlife artist, Tell Hicks, displays many of his paintings at the museum and his prints are favorites of those who visit. Often Tell sets up his easel at the museum so visitors can watch him create another amazing desert scene.

An interesting new addition is the state-of-the-art Reptile Exhibit.  Here you will find over 60 rare species enclosed in glass cases, but well and alive! Rattlesnakes and rock lizards are popular features as well as rat snakes and mud turtles. Personally, it was a relief that they were enclosed in glass!

Before leaving, check out the excellent gift shop with an outstanding selection of books and upscale souvenirs.  Beautiful turquoise and Indian style jewelry is on display and for sale at fairly reasonable prices. You can also find many good books and great artwork. This is not your ordinary gift shop, but quite superior with unusual treasures to view or purchase.

New Mexico 067Afterwards, lunch at the Rodeo Cafe was a real treat before heading to the Chiricahua Mountains through the small town of Portal, where neo-tropical birds hang out – a bird watcher’s paradise. The dirt road into the Chiricahuas and the Coronado National Monument was a spectacular, yet slow, two hour drive.  Billy the Kid was said to have a ranch here during his outlaw days.  What a great place to hide a herd of rustled cattle!

The Chiricahua Desert Museum is located in Rodeo, New Mexico in the Southwest corner of the state very near the border of Arizona.  From I-10, take Exit 5 South on NM 80. After about 30 miles of beautiful desert scenery, you will arrive in Rodeo. The Chiricahua Desert Museum sits on the left side of the road just a couple miles east of Portal, Arizona.

Oswald’s Black Bear Ranch Michigan Home for Rescued Cubs

Black Bear RanchOn a trip through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, commonly called the UP, a sign for a Black Bear Ranch appeared along the road. Bears are a symbol of courage and bravery, having appeared in many Native American legends. All my life this gypsy has been attracted to bears and their habitat, so this was a bonus find along the way.

Oswald’s Black Bear Ranch is the largest strictly bear ranch in the United States. Located on the back roads near Newberry, Michigan, it has become one of the top ten family attractions in the area.  Owned by Dean and Jewel Oswald, this family affair began as a rescue operation for black bear cubs. Dean brought them to his ranch, fed them, and gave them loving care. Once word spread of his love for bears, people from all around the world would call to say they had found a small bear cub, but were no longer able to care for it. Then Dean would bring it to its new home.

Tyson BearThe main attraction in the early days of Oswald’s Black Bear Ranch was Tyson, the largest black bear in the United States and possibly the world. Although the name black bear suggests the color black for all those bears, their colors range from cinnamon to dark chocolate to jet black. Tyson weighed in at 880 pounds, but the Oswalds believe he reached 1000 pounds, before taking his last breath in 2000.

Those curious about bears are free to walk throughout the property – outside the fences of course. It’s an enjoyable stroll to encircle one of their four enclosed areas and view the bears as they lumber along. This experience is more personal than a visit to a zoo, since visitors usually get closer to a real bear than they have ever been before. Today they have added a trolley for older or handicapped visitors, who aren’t able to make the long walk, but would still enjoy seeing the bears in their wilderness habitat.

Baby Bears Play AreaTwo little bear cubs enjoyed playing with an old swinging tire in their cage. They amused themselves for quite some time pushing it from side to side and sometimes getting on it for a ride. The cubs seemed quite pleased with themselves while swinging. Nearby was a big pool of water where they bathed and splashed each other, exactly like two children might do.  Cute is the word that best described their antics. Each year a contest is held in the local area to name the newest bear cubs.

Bear Waiting for SnackAnother favorite activity involves feeding the bears. The larger bears might be fed apples, while the younger ones prefer Fruit Loops.  Eagerly awaiting their snacks, bears bravely approach the fence. These small cubs, all under the age of four months, received many gentle rubs and even hugs, as it was permissible to pet them during a previous visit. However, last year the government stepped in and now prohibits touching the bears or taking pictures with them. Some still feel Dean Oswald lets visitors a little too close for comfort, but the children and young at heart certainly enjoy being allowed this close contact.

Black Bear HibernationThe older bears lived in a large fenced in area with a half mile perimeter to roam. The high fence protected visitors but still gave the bears freedom more closely resembling the wilderness where bears usually live. At the back of the fenced in area were cement block houses for winter hibernation. With straw covered, wooden floors inside, bears had a comfortable environment for their winter sleep.

Today there are 27 bears at Oswald’s Black Bear Ranch. Of course, there is also a souvenir shop for those who want to take home a memory. My treasure was a warm flannel nightgown with Oswald Ranch written among the black bears. It feels like getting a warm, soft hug from a bear!

Oswald Black Bear Ranch is located just 20 minutes south of Tahquamenon Falls, or from Newberry go 4 miles north on M-123 towards Tahquamenon Falls. Turn left at 4 Mile Corner (Deer Park Rd., Muskallonge Lake, H-37 H-407). Then it’s 4 1/2 more miles to see the former home of Tyson Bear .

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