Rock Hunting and Beer Drinking In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

I got back last week from a little trip up north with my brother. My brother is a marathon runner and fitness buff. We brought his two kayaks and his two mountain bikes (apparently my Huffy did not make the grade for this trip!). Our goal: To get to the Copper Harbor in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Now my brother is not much of a rockhound, but we can agree on one thing: beer. He brought with him a micro-brews of Michigan pamphlet and we used that as our guide.

We visited Elk Rapids (lower peninsula Michigan) the first day, as my brother is interested in buying a cottage on Elk Lake. We kayaked the lake for a number of miles, then hit a small bar/grill just west of there on our next stop, Big Twin Lake. We used to vacation there as kids and haven’t been there since. Big Twin Lake is a gorgeous spring fed lake with incredible clear water. We kayaked the entire lake (only 3 miles) and gawked at the beautiful cottages there. By then, it was getting late and we drove across the Mackinaw Bridge and got a hotel in St. Ignace. Of course, we had a few beers at a local pub. I tried some Keweenaw Brewing Pub Black Widow on tab…awesome.

We made it to Houghton the next day and stopped at Dayooper’s Rock Shop along the way where the nice lady there identified my infamous orange sphere as basalt and agate (a nice rare one at that). In Houghton, we ate (and drank) at the Library Brew Pub. Terrible name, but awesome brew and food! We tried to hit the Keweenaw Brew Pub but missed last call! It was a Sunday and all was dead.

On the way to Copper Harbor the next day, we stopped at an incredible rock shop called, Prospector’s Paradise. The place was huge and loaded with everything you can imagine. Highly recommended stop if you’re ever up that way. The kind owner there drew a map for me to find some mine dump piles as well as some beach areas on Lake Superior to look for agates. We hit a couple mine dumps and found plenty of cool looking rocks. I brought home a couple five gallon buckets full and about half had copper in them. Now, I have no experience in identifying the good ones, but I imagine if you knew specifically what you were looking for you could find some great finds. We didn’t stay too long as I didn’t want to bore my brother too long and we had beer drinking to do, but I could have stayed there all day!

In Copper Harbor we mountain biked and kayaked the harbor. Lake Superior was incredibly calm and clear. We had no luck looking for agates on the beach and didn’t try long, unfortunately. We did make it in to the local brew pub called, The Brickside. Once again, great beer. I limit my micro-brew intake to two pints (per visit/two visit limit per day), however my brother does not… We had a great time and the hotel we stayed at was a mere stumbling distance from the brewery. My brother tried to urinate in the drapes later that night…it was awesome.

Our final stop was Escanaba. We ate/drank at Hereford and Hops Brewery. I think that may have been the first meal I had on the trip that didn’t have any white fish in it (if you’ve ever been to the U.P. you might understand…white fish/pasties/jerky are not hard too find)! I did stop at the beach on Lake Michigan near the mouth of the river. The entire beach was covered with slag. Of course I loaded up on it. It was mostly green/grey/black. I did find a couple small pieces of brilliant blue and imagine there are more of those to find if you look hard enough. I’ll be making a few spheres from this stuff.

Along the entire way, I also made several beautiful sound recordings (waterfalls, creeks, rivers, lakes, fans, air conditioners) to add to the next update of my iphone app “AtmoSpheres“. If you haven’t checked that out yet and have an IOS device, I’d love for you to give it a try!

Overall it was an awesome trip. Great weather, beer, food, and the scenery was incredible. Check some of the pictures!

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

I like the slogan, but something’s not quite right! I don’t think they’re referencing rock spheres here.

My iPhone App Is Now Available!

I’m happy to say after months and months of development, my iphone app, “AtmoSpheres” is now available in the app store!  Please take a minute to check it out if you have an iphone/ipod touch/or ipad.  It can be found in the app store here:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/atmospheres/id522852282?ls=1&mt=8

If you download it and like it, be sure to leave a positive review!  I’d really appreciate that!I’m on a trip up in northern Michigan on the Keewenaw Peninsula.  It’s beautiful up here and I’m hoping to find a few nice rocks.  I’m also recording a ton of great sounds for the next AtmoSpheres update.

Here’s my press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Playgrind Publishing Company Releases AtmoSpheres for iPhone/iPod Touch

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – September 9, 2012 – Playgrind Publishing Company announced today that their first app title, AtmoSpheres is now available exclusively for iPhone and iPod Touch.  AtmoSpheres is a multi-track full stereo sleep-aid, relaxation, and meditation tool.  It allows you to blend up to four tracks of sound to create your own customized mix using a unique sphere-based mixer.

In AtmoSpheres, the user can mix up to four sounds and save them as a preset for later recall.  All live sounds were recorded using up to five microphones enabling stunning simulated 3-D sound.  The sphere-based mixer provides one control for volume, stereo panning, pause, play, and delete.  It also includes a timer feature with audio fade out.  “It’s beautifully simple and sounds phenomenal”, said Jim Meeker, sole proprietor of Playgrind Publishing Company.

“I’m very happy with Atmospheres; I wanted to combine my love of audio recording with my hobby of stone sphere making.  As silly as that may sound, this is the result” said Meeker.  “I worked extremely hard on delivering superior sound quality and seamless looping with an innovative mixer that really takes advantage of the IOS gesture based platform.”

AtmoSpheres is now available for $1.99 in the U.S. and is priced accordingly in other regions.  AtmoSpheres is available world-wide from Apple’s App Store for iPhone and iPod Touch, or by visiting:  www.atmospheresapp.com

Please visit www.atmospheresapp.com for more AtmoSpheres information, including videos and screenshots of the application, and www.playgrind.com for more company information.

Playgrind Publishing Company, an independent music publisher based out of Grand Rapids, MI, was formed by Jim Meeker for the purpose of promoting his musical works.

If you would like further information on AtmoSpheres or Playgrind Publishing Company, or you would like to schedule an interview, please contact:
Jim Meeker, Owner, Playgrind Publishing Company
Phone:  (616) 834-5117
email:  jim(at)playgrind.com

Does It Make Me A Braggart When I Proclaim “I have the shiniest balls on the internet!”?

In addition to stone, I really love the look of glass. Its amazing material and can look incredibly beautiful as a sphere. I collect as much of it as I can get and recently purchased over 100 pounds of recycled glass (cullet, slag) chunks (mostly blue and green colored ones but some purple and reds as well) at a great price. As beautiful as it is, it can be difficult to work. I should probably wear gloves when working with it because I always end up slicing a finger tip or something. I had actually made it through the entire process with no injuries on this one…until clean up. Then, I sliced the tip of my finger on a chunk of scrap. No guitar playing for a week or so. But it was worth it. I love how this sphere turned out. The hardest part after cutting it for me is the final polish to remove scratches. I use my custom made leather cups with cerium oxide polish. After running it wet, I let it dry out some and heat up a bit to seal up any scratches. So theres my secret. And here are the pics:

My next stickers: “Shiniest Balls Online”

Do I Make Art or Restore It?

Is spheremaking is an art, a craft, a mind numbing test of my patience? I like to think, God made the art, and I am just restoring it. Here are a few pics of my latest restorations: