Saturday, July 12, 2008

Treasure Hunt

Our first stop on our trip to northern Michigan last week was the C & M Rock Shop, just outside Honor, MI, and not far from the Sleeping Bear Dunes lake shore. A couple years ago on our trip to the dunes I found Lake Michigan Rock Picker's Guide at a book store, and since my son was always picking up rocks on the beach, I bought the book for him. Turns out he is not so much a budding geologist as he is keenly interested in finding projectiles. The book sat unread in his bookcase for the past two years.

My daughter, however, has become quite fascinated with rocks, and fortunately I remembered Lake Michigan Rock Picker's Guide. I hunted for it in my son's room, picked it off his shelf, and gave it to my daughter. She and I both thumbed through it before she packed it in her rock collecting bag. Turns out one of the authors is the owner of the C & M Rock Shop, so we put his store on our list of places to visit this trip.

The store was exactly what I expected: a no-frills building along the main highway, filled with rocks and minerals and crystals, and other interesting things:
The dinosaur manure was not for sale. We found other things to buy, though, and the owner/author was on hand to autograph the book for my daughter.

It is interesting and educational to see all those different rocks, minerals, and fossils from all over the world in one place and displayed together, but it is far more rewarding to go on your own rock hunt on the beach.

These were awesome finds.

They don't look like much dry, do they? They are Petoskey Stones, a favorite for amateur rock hunters on northern Michigan beaches. Petoskey stones are fossilized pieces of a coral reef from a shallow sea that once covered northern Michigan. They are difficult to find, I think mainly because everyone knows what they are and takes them when they see them (which is perfectly permissible). We had very good luck finding them this trip, probably because we were there earlier in the season, so fewer rock hunters were there before us. Also, this year we were much more intent on rock hunting than we've ever been before. Last year my daughter wasn't into rocks yet.
When Petoskey stones get wet, they look like this:
The honeycomb design really comes out. There's nothing like looking down at the pebbles on a shallow lake bed and seeing one of these glimmer back up at you. It's quite unmistakable that you're looking at a Petoskey stone! It's harder to find them when they're dry, because the lines are so faint.
Polished Petoskey stones are a common souvenir in shops in northern Michigan. My daughter bought one at C & M.
It's also common to see them carved into paperweights, refrigerator magnets, and jewelry.
I found most of the Petoskey stones on this trip, which had my daughter feeling kind of frustrated. She really wanted to find one for herself. She did eventually find one of the smaller ones, on dry land no less, so that was a cool feat for her. She also was excited about her other fossil finds.
I honestly don't know much about rocks, but with my daughter's interest, I'm slowly learning a little bit.

I mainly collect heart-shaped rocks. We found a lot of those this time, too.

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