Straits of Mackinac
2021 Trip Report

Day nine: St. Ignace, Oswald's
Bear Ranch & the road to Iowa

Days 1 & 2   Day 3   Day 4   Day 5   Day 6
Day 7   Day 8    Day 9   Day 10

Previous Page                                     Next Page

I was up early the next morning and went down to the nearby shore after taking photos of the Mighty Mac from the west side, I drove east to Lakeside Cemetery and walked into Straits State Park to take photos from the two scenic lookouts in the park and on over to the Mackinac Bridge Authority buildings, to take photos where permitted from the east side. It is rare that I see photos from this vantage point.

Mackinac Bridge toll booths
The Mighty Mac through the toll booths

The Mackinac Bridge from the Mackinac Bridge Authority plaza

It didn't take long to re-pack and we were soon on the road, making an obligatory stop at the Cut River Bridge. The 641' World War 2 era bridge carries US-2 far above the 10' wide Cut River at the bottom of the gorge. I have been visiting the bridge since the 1950s.

Cut RIver Bridge - Naubinway, Michigan
Cut River Bridge

Our major stop of the day was at Oswald's Bear Ranch near Newberry, about 80 minutes away. They provide a home for rescued bears from across the US and currently have 41 animals on the 240 acre complex. They are open to the public and (as we heard a little girl say), "This is more fun than a zoo!" 

Oswald's was built in the early 1990s and opened to the public in 1997. It sounded like a tourist trap and someplace where animals might not be well treated, but I have been seeing recommendations and decided to give them a try. I'm really glad I did. The animals have a lot of room, look healthy and their behavior looks healthy. Oswald's is providing a real service. My favorite things were two cubs who were play fighting with each other, 12-18 month old female bears who begged for apples and the huge older female bears. Not that am an expert on bear size, but a couple of them looked to be 400-500 pounds. Oswald's once had "Tyson Bear" who was certified at 880 pounds and weighed around 1,000 before hibernation, He died July 2nd, 2000.

We had a nice chat with Dean Oswald who owns the ranch and was sitting at a table watching all that went on.

Young female bears


Family pictures with a cub for $10

Dean Oswald - Oswald's Bear Ranch
Dean Oswald

I hadn't eaten in Newberry, Michigan since 1983 and asked another Oswald's employee about places to eat in town. After warning me about the downtown speed trap, he recommended Timber Charlies Family Restaurant and Zellar's Village Inn. Timber Charlie's was the first one we came to and looked good. We timed it well. Tables were still available, but there was a long line shortly after we were seated. 

We each had Fish Platters, which had a lot of deep fried fish. Each one had a large, half whitefish and three large perch, plus French fries and surprisingly good coleslaw. Each platter had enough meat for two people. These were probably in about the middle of the fish dinners I had during the trip, but still good and a good value for $22. We put a lot of the meal in our cooler to enjoy at home.

Timber Charlie's Food and Spirits - Newberry, Michigan
Timber Charlies Family Restaurant

whitefish and perch at Timber Charlies Family Restaurant
Fish Platter

We headed southwest through the Upper Peninsula and drove straight through until we crossed into Wisconsin at Marinette. We made our usual stop at Seguin's House of Cheese and Gifts, just south of town, where we loaded up on Wisconsin wines and cheeses. I usually get Laack's 4 year old super sharp cheddar spread, but the price was as good on the 5 year old cheddar spread and I filled the rest of the cooler with 24 ounce tubs.

Seguin's House of Cheese wine selection - Marinette
Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula wines

Cheddar Cheeses at Seguin's House of Cheese
Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese up to 14 years old

We had supper in Oshkosh, Wisconsin at the Hangar Bar & Grill near the EAA Aviation Museum. They offer fried fish, but I have been less happy with the fish in Wisconsin when I get into the middle of the state and we went with the Ribeye sandwich and smothered chicken (chicken breast, pepperjack cheese, sautéed mushrooms and onions). Linda doesn't like mushrooms and I got to add her mushrooms to my steak sandwich.

angar Bar & Grill - Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Smothered chicken and ribeye sandwich

We spent the night at Best Western Plus Dubuque Hotel & Conference Center.  More about it tomorrow.

.Days 1 & 2     Day 3    Day 4    Day 5    Day 6
Day 7    Day 8    Day 9    Day 10
Previous Page                                                                 Next Page

Keith's other trips       Mighty Mac Home

copyright 2021 by Keith Stokes