From Lighthouses to Bears!
Jul 14, 2010
After leaving Whitefish Point last night, we chose a rustic cabin in Paradise, instead of a motel room. Definitely old and musty, it lacked the usual amenities (like a hair dryer), but we enjoyed sitting on the glider outside, watching evening fall over Lake Superior.
Though the town of Paradise is barely a blip on radar, they do have 4 motels, 2 places to eat, a small grocery, and a gas station. (Gasoline, thankfully, hasn't cost an arm and a leg this summer.) We'd been looking forward to breakfast, after noting that the restaurant's name included "bakery." But not exactly the best breakfast! The pancake on my plate was more like a silver dollar patted with flour and lightly fried. However, I did enjoy the atmosphere -- obviously a place where locals meet for coffee, discussing blueberry-picking and the latest catch from Lake Superior.
Afterward, we followed M123 to CR500. Fortunately, we'd been warned by the couple at the restaurant that 500 was gravel! The Jeep had no trouble, but I'm not sure how well a regular car would do. I know we would not take my Explorer on it. Much of the first 11 miles is "washboard" driving, meaning waves are horizontal and close together, giving a washboard effect. The last 7 miles are narrow, winding and pure dirt ... mud if it rains! But once you get past those back roads and dense woodlands, Crisp Point Lighthouse awaits!
Jim & I highly recommend Crisp Point to any who love lighthouses! This is the first and ONLY lighthouse that has given us free reign to roam and climb on our own! Volunteers from the Historical Society camp on a tiny pad of concrete near the station, in case visitors have questions, but they kindly allow free access. This, if nothing else, is worth the bumpy ride!!
The lighthouse itself is every bit as regal and majestic as the one in Whitefish -- more so! The only thing lacking is the two-story lightkeeper's dwelling that once stood near the lighthouse. It was demolished, along with all other buildings, in 1965 by the Coast Guard to protect against vandalism.
I must say, I am amazed and impressed by the thousands who volunteer time and money to staff and rebuild lighthouses! Since antiquated lighthouses are no longer a necessity, having been replaced by GPS devices and radar, their existence is threatened all across America. Only when an individual becomes deeply convicted, believing history must be preserved, are groups formed that actively work to re-build and staff these exhibits.
Cost to see Crisp Point Lighthouse? Zero. Zippo! But donations are deeply appreciated!
On a clear, sunny day like today, picture possibilities were limitless! We stood on the Captain's Walk, taking turns being photographed or doing the shooting. Jim found a folded American flag leaning against the wall where the lighthouse lantern used to do its work. He wanted every picture to include the flag, unfurled and flying free.
What a fun morning! But the helpful volunteer (who'd already been camped there 3 days) was packing to leave, so we left, too, heading back out the way we'd come. The volunteer's replacement was coming right behind him, so we're pretty sure we saw his trailer coming in as we went out.
Before reaching M28 in Newberry, we noticed a large billboard advertising "Oswald's Bear Ranch." I'd seen it the other day and questioned whether we'd want to see bears enclosed. How much fun could that be?? But when I mentioned it to Jim today, he thought it sounded worth $15 (per car) to see it.
Are we ever glad we made that quick decision!! Turned out to be the highlight of the entire trip!
Though adult males and females are enclosed and guarded by 15' fences, they are by no means in a zoo-like environment! They roam about in a virtual forest of trees, swimming pools, water falls, and den. Males and females each have their own side of the compound (their own habitat), and cubs have their own area. The cubs are adorable! I could have watched them for hours!
We walked around taking pictures through the fence for a long time, but I ended up deleting them when we discovered something better. Elevated boardwalks offered a clean shot every time! I was thrilled when one of the huge males (they're all Black Bears) stood on his hind legs and leaned against a tree limb, as if posing for a commercial. Oh my gosh, it was hilarious!
Most of the time, though, I stood on the boardwalk over the cubs habitat, near the waterfalls. I'm only sorry that the cubs wouldn't go near the falls while I was there. But I got a couple of shots when they sat in or near the pool of water.
After I'd been there awhile, hoping for them to do something really cute, a man and woman with a bag of apples came up beside me on the platform. Shots popped after that! The cubs sat up and begged, reached for the apple with their paws, ran for water after snorting each snack, and were just generally a ton more fun than before the apples! As a matter of fact, I took so many pictures that I whipped out my Minolta and took a couple of 1 minute videos!
When we were ready to leave (not really ready, but couldn't stay forever), we passed by the zoo-like enclosure where the two smallest cubs were. These 2 little guys were born in January; the fiesty one was all over the place, trying to climb out; the other one pretended to sleep the whole time!
This particular enclosure was where visitors could get their picture taken with the cubs, using their own camera, for $5. At first, I declined when Jim asked if I wanted a picture, thinking it was mostly for kids, but the more I watched, the more I wanted to get next to that little bear!
I'm so glad I did! The bear trainer was great and did a wonderful job taking pictures. He must have snapped at least a dozen!
So, for a grand total of $20 today, we had a ball, as you can see!