Michigan Bear Territory


The Scottville area has seen its fair share of bears over the years but not in comparison with what one can find in the Michigan Upper Peninsula. Strongs, a tiny town on Highway M-28 about 30 miles west of Sault Ste. Marie, was recently designated the Black Bear Capital of Michigan by the Michigan Legislature. You can find evidence of this fact in my picture to your left.

Irene Lawless, queen of bear hunters at Strongs, says she and her husband, Pat, logged nearly 70 bear kills by hunters last fall. They came to Strongs from as far as Louisiana.

Irene and Pat have operated a motel, bar and gas station at Strongs for about 30 years. They feature an annual bear dinner to which the public is invited in late October.

“It all comes down to how well the bear is dressed and prepared. Now that is not referring to a social outing that the bear himself might want to attend but how they themselves are prepared. If that is done right, we Upper Peninsula folks can show you how to make a very tasty meal,” Irene said.

As to how bears prepare their own meals, well, I don’t think I care to be around for that event if you know what I mean?

Strongs has always had more than its share of bears. As a kid, I recall all the nights we went to the local dump in cars parked there to turn on the lights when the bears came in from the dark to feed on the garbage. It was like attending a drive-in theater. After two bears left there one night, I recall my dad asking: “Do you want to stay for the second showing? My dad and his sense of humor!

Nowadays all those bears come to town in the spring to find home garbage when the berries are not yet ripe. At Paradise, about 25 miles from Strongs, we are terrorized by the bears each spring as they go house to house knocking down bird feeders for tasty sunflower seeds. While much of the public has a big fear of the bears, the truth is that a black bear attack is extremely rare, unless you get between a sow and her cubs. She then gets very protective.

In Paradise there was an incident where a tourist began taking pictures of a bear raiding a McDonald’s garbage bin when the bear turned and attacked the person taking the pictures. Onlookers, instead of helping that fellow began taking pictures of the mauling if you can believe that!

The best advice regarding bears overall would be to observe them from a distance, such as from your local zoo. They can be unpredictable so be very careful. The guy at the McDonald’ probably now wishes he had been somewhere else. Maybe even Burger King where he could have had it his own way which would have been not to have been mauled in the first place.

Yes, caution is the byword regarding bears so learn the full meaning of that word before you venture out into the forests of Michigan.

The Northern Lights In Site This Weekend


If you live in this wide encompassing area, you will be able to observe the majestic northern lights this weekend. It will be some show and free. Just go outside and pray for a clear night. Big city lights may also block the lights from view. Prepare to be amazed! 

TAHQUAMENON FALLS


Darlene and I passed by this location in the UP but did not have time to Stop as I was running late for an emergency dental appointment. I had a nagging toothache but stopped long enough to get this picture. Dave Norris once told me when he was here as a kid he met Mickey Mantles grandmother. This waterfall is located in Paradise, Michigan.

Yooper’s & Trolls


What you are looking at is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The upper peninsula has about one third of the total land of Michigan and is rich in the mining and lumber business as well you can imagine. In the summer it is a tourists dream. They like to call themselves Yooper’s while downstaters they call trolls because they are under the Mackinac Bridge. For a long time they have felt abandoned by the Michigan legislature and have even tried to form their own state. How about the name Superior? The last time they tried this was in the 1980s but it is always on their mind. They would be then Superior to Michigan. On a religious note the Upper Peninsula has Paradise while the lower peninsula has Hell. The Yoopers would have Paradise and the trolls Hell. Sounds somewhat prophetic to me.

My Dream Cabin


I would love to live here. Just look at that perfect house. It’s ten miles to your nearest neighbor. Lucky would love it out here. Darlene wouldn’t. Way too far out of town but I keep this picture in my den. It’s got a great kitchen and fantastic living room with a large fireplace. It’s in the UP in bear country.

Lake Superior at Marquette


Our Odyssey with two members of the Mishawaka Boys Club ended here at the black rocks. The boys only waded because the water was too cold for them. They spent some time with Mike exploring the immediate area while I made dinner. Lucky stayed with me to guard me and because the food was there,

While they were gone I wandered down-to the lake and waded for a few minutes. The guys ran up to me and pretended to want to push me in.

On the way home, we came across two bears crossing the road which absolutely thrilled Nathan and Sammy.

Wilderness Nights


We are somewhere in the UP for a couple of days. Darlene just made some delicious campfire sloppy joes that were great. Lucky got his portion and is now walking around the camp to make sure everything is secure. I love the darkness here. We have two boys with us from the Mishawaka Boys Club on this trip. Sammy and Nathan are doing the dishes before we take a short hike. We will be out here five days in all. Coffee always tastes better over an open fire. Before bed tonight I will have a few ghost stories for the kids. Life is good.