Monday, October 5, 2015

Lake Michigan Road Trip // Oswald's Bear Ranch

It was totally by chance that I found out about Oswald's Bear Ranch - I had popped into my local hardware store to quickly buy something for the van, and whilst examining my options I heard a commercial on the radio saying something about "baby bears," and "Upper Michigan," (They had me at "baby bears.") Right away I entered the name into my maps app on my phone and saw that this so called Bear Ranch wasn't going to be that far away from where I was travelling. So that was it. It became part of our plans.

After a hellish night in the van, we were excited to get on the road again. We drove for about an hour, stopping along the way at a pretty lake for photos, and then made it to Oswald's. I can't even begin to describe how awesome this place was. Very redneck, but very awesome. 

There were several large "habitats" for the bears (between a half mile and a quarter mile perimeter each), and we were able to walk around each one. The habitats were surrounded by two layers of tall chain link fence, which unfortunately made taking great close up photos impossible. However, many of the bears wait near the fence for visitors to throw them apples, so I was, like, three feet away from a bear at one point! It was incredible to be able to see such beautiful animals that close! I never really thought twice about bears as far as animals go, but seeing them up close and watching their antics has taken me to a Dwight Schrute level of bear fanatic. You guys, they are so damn cute. 

The ranch did have elevated towers where we could have an unobstructed view of the bears, so that made it easier to take some photos. Sadly, on the day we visited none of the bears felt like hanging out around near the towers, so there aren't very many good photos, but I'll share the best ones!

We tossed apple pieces over the fence and the bears would lumber over to them and chomp away. One of the bears walked over to one, abruptly sat down right on his bear butt, took the apple in his paws, and ate it. If there ever was a time to say I CAN'T EVEN, this was it. I literally started crying, that's how cute it was. The habitat with the male bears was probably my favorite, because they seemed to have the most personality. My faaavorite bear was a big black bear. He sat on his butt (ok, I thought only animated cartoon bears did this, but they really do sit up on their rears like that!) and watched us. He had a cream colored heart on his chest. It was the most adorable thing ever. (You can see this bear here on the Bear Ranch Gallery, I wish I could have gotten a better photo myself!)

Ok, one more thing. You had the option of paying a little more if you wanted to get your photo taken with a bear cub. So, duh, I had my picture taken with a bear cub. (The pictures the employee took aren't the best, but that's what you get when someone else handles your camera. I picked out the best one and added it to the post, because, again, I pet a baby bear and it was amazing.) His name was Brooks, and he was eating Fruit Loops. I held his paw and got to pet him, IT WAS THE BEST THING EVER. Seriously, I pet a baby bear, and it's the first thing I tell people when they ask about my trip. I can't even really get over it.

I am just itching to go back to this place. They're closed for the season now, but will be opening up in May. I already have plans to go back and pet the new cubs in the spring. Can't wait!
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2 comments

Amanda Lee said...

COOL! It's always so much fun petting wild and exotic animals!

Marlen said...

THE BEARS!!! How you managed to keep yourself from smooshing your face into his cuddly fur is beyond me.

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