Black Bears, a Treat for Vets’ Families, and some Splendid Wine Dinners!

Mike Onthank from the Fire Department snapped this photo of our weekend visitor

Mike Onthank of the fire department got this photo of our weekend visitor


Well, it’s been a wild weekend in Traverse City so far. And I mean WILD!

Everybody’s talking about the black bear that wandered into town on Sunday and led local emergency workers on a backyard tour of the Central Neighborhood, all the way from the Front Street fire station to a house on 12th Street, before he (or she) was finally tranquilized and taken into custody. And this comes on the heels of an announcement from the rangers at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore advising campers and hikers to be on the lookout for an increasingly visible population of bears in that neck of the woods.

It’s a good sign in some ways, an indication that our green spaces really are getting greener, but if we want to live in closer contact with our nonhuman neighbors I’m guessing we’ll need to learn a few new rules of conduct. Don’t feed the bears, folks – and don’t treat them like big dogs. They’re wild animals.

On a much more civilized note, the folks at Traverse City’s AmericInn are doing something really fine to celebrate Independence Day this year: they’ve decided to honor American veterans by awarding a free vacation from July 4-8 (during the National Cherry Festival) to two families. The entire package is worth $500 for each family – a nice break in these economic times.

“This is our way of giving back to our heroes and their families who have made a commitment to our communities and to our country,” says AmericInn general manager Nick Trahair.

The hotel will accept recommendations for deserving families until June 25. All you have to do to make a recommendation is email them at: They can be reached at 231-938-0288 or their website at

A tasty bib lettuce salad opens the Wine Dinner festivities at Chateau Chantal
A tasty bib lettuce salad opens the Wine Dinner festivities at Chateau Chantal

Another lovely custom that’s starting up again is the Chateau Chantal Winery B&B’s summer offering of special “Wine Dinners” every Wednesday and Saturday evening from June 15 to Labor Day. Several of us had the opportunity last week to serve as “guinea pigs” for one of these exquisite six-course meals — prepared by Chef Perry Harmon, owner of Way North Foods (which, by the way, makes some splendid local biscotti). The evening started with a 6 p.m. tour of the Chateau’s new winemaking and tasting-room facilities, and we were at the table by 6:30.

It was mind-blowing. Best whitefish I’ve ever had – and that was just one course! And I got a chance to sample some of the soon-to-be-fabled 2010 vintage. I gotta tell you folks, the 2010  Traverse City wines may well go down in the history books. I’m not a big Pinot Grigio fan as a rule, but this one blew me away!

You can check out the dinner menu for yourself on their website, but the dinner is a fantastic deal at  $55 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are required at least a day in advance and can be made by calling 1-800-969-4009 or booking online.

About mikelovestc

These days, I’m the media relations guy for the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau, but before that I spent 25 years as a reporter and columnist at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, a job that frequently took me out into the most remote backroads, forests, beaches and islands of the beautiful Grand Traverse Region. My strategy was pretty simple — just drive, paddle, ski or walk until you’re certain you’re lost, and then find somebody to talk to. It was a great job! I never intended to live in Traverse City. I grew up in Grand Rapids, spent four years in the Coast Guard in places like Miami Beach, Monterey and San Francisco, and when I finally graduated from college I took a summer job at the Miami Herald. To my surprise, I discovered I didn’t like the tropics nearly as much as I thought I would — and when the Record-Eagle offered me a job I took it, figuring I’d put in a year or two and head off to someplace like Seattle or Portland. What I discovered very quickly is that this place gets to you in a variety of unexpected ways. The beaches here are as lovely as anyplace else I’ve ever been, the weather is mild all year round — warm enough for swimming in September and cold enough for skiing in December — and just about the time you’re getting tired of one season you get another one every bit as pleasant. The people are laid-back and friendly, the music and arts scene is awesome, and the place still hasn’t gotten so sophisticated that a guy like me feels out of place.
This entry was posted in Food & Drink, lodging, nature, Sleeping Bear, spring and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Black Bears, a Treat for Vets’ Families, and some Splendid Wine Dinners!

  1. MOLLY SHUGART says:

    Mike, that bear ended up in OUR YARD on 12th St. , first around and around the yard, then in our little POND for a cool-down, then up a small maple tree between the houses, then into my husband’s plastic flower pots, then dragged out the front yard on a tarp.

    Thank God nobody got hurt, the beagle next door didn’t get attacked when the bear came into his yard first, that our cats were inside and the neighbor’s kids were out for a walk down another street.

    Please, after the threat that misguided bear put us all through, don’t assume that we FEED THEM! I feed birds and have mixed emotions about squirrels. Nobody knows why that bear came to town and got caught. From the look on his face as he sat in our pond, I don’t think food had anything to do with it!

    • mikelovestc says:

      Sorry, Molly! I wouldn’t want anyone to assume that you or your family fed this bear. But you can bet that somebody did., intentionally or unintentionally. Animals have a natural and very appropriate fear of humans, but when people feed them (filled with warm, fuzzy Bambi ideas, no doubt) animals come to see us as two-legged vending machines instead of potential enemies to be avoided. It’s the same thing with people feeding the ducks and swans and geese on the beach. It’s a really, really bad idea — they pollute the water with their droppings, and that’s why we sometimes have to shut down the beaches.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s