My main rockhounding spot is on the shores of Lake Michigan. I think it could be the best place on earth in terms of variety. You never know what you are going to find. If you follow my blog at all, you’d see that I collect a lot of petoskey stones, slag glass, and MI septarians. But I’ll always find something else that will catch my eye and throw them in the bucket. Here are some of those finds from this year. They are in my “to-do” bin for making small spheres.
We took a day and a half side trip from our visit with my folks in Dunedin, Florida and drove roughly two hours south to the Venice, Florida area to try our hand at shark tooth hunting. We came ill equipped with some plastic sand sifters but a lovely woman from South Carolina saw our lackluster shark tooth hunting performance and took pity on us bestowing her proper metal shark tooth sifter upon us as she was leaving. I took her email address and told her I would send her some jewelry stones. Beachcombers, be it shellers or rockhounds always seem to be the nicest folks you could hope to meet. Well, my kids had a blast and in a course of about three hours over two days we found probably close to 100 shark teeth. The boys divided them up amongst themselves, will put them in some container and they’ll probably sit in their closets never to be seen again…but the weather was a sunny 80 degrees and everyone enjoyed their time on the beach. My middle son made a couple friends on the second day. A nice family of five from Illinois. Those pathetic shark tooth hunters only came with their bare hands sifting through the sand in a futile attempt to locate a tooth. My son not only gave each kid one of his shark teeth to start them off, he gave them the metal sifter that had been given to us the day before. A great pay it forward moment…
I flew my family down to Dunedin, Florida to stay with my folks. They are retired and live in a condo on the causeway to Honeymoon Island State Park, in Dunedin Florida. It is located on the Gulf Coast west of Tampa. I had been there before and I would wake up early every morning and go shelling on the north beach. Its great exercise and probably about a 4 mile hike to the northern most point and back. This year, I had read somewhere about Honeymoon Island being a great place for agatized coral. I had not heard about this before and was anxious to try my hand at finding some. My oldest son is 10 years old and loves rock hounding just about as much as me or more. Plus he has a great eye. We were there for a full 7 days and hit the beach every morning all but one day. We would bring a five gallon bucket and a hammer. I must admit my son found the best pieces of agatized coral. I am certainly no expert on this type of stone, but we sure found a lot of it. For those who may wish to visit this beautiful island and give the rockhounding a shot, we hit the northern most parking lot/beach and worked our way south from the bathroom building. We experienced much success. I believe you will agree we found a fair amount of agatized coral. I shipped back roughly 100 pounds of it (Cost me less than $50!). In addition to the obvious coral pieces there is an abundance of black agate or I heard it may be a form of chert. I have no experience with this but it looks like it will make fantastic spheres/jewelry. I heard some people do knapping with it. I found one large polka dotted rock (maybe an 8-10 pounder) I believe to be agatized coral. The hammer we brought to the beach came in handy and we dropped some whoop-ass on quite a few rocks finding partial and full geodes in the process. If someone can tell me more about these specimens I would love to hear from you. I haven’t found too much information online so far.
Well we have had some pretty unusually warm weather here in Michigan this winter. A couple weeks ago, the weather jumped close to 50 degrees and sunny. I had heard about a park on Lake Michigan in South Haven that was a good place to look for Michigan septarians. Septarians are made of an argillaceous (clay-rich# carbonate, predominantly. The outside gets “case-hardened” by chemical desiccation while the inside dries out, which forms the distinctive cracks. The cracks then fill in with carbonate or silica rich groundwater which allows crystals to precipitate out of solution and fill the cracks). I jumped at the chance to get outside and had an incredibly beautiful day there. The only drawback was the forecast for 7-15 foot waves! Well, when I got there it was windy, the waves were big, but nothing like predicted. I wore my knee high boots but still managed to catch a rogue wave splashing me from the crotch down and into my boots. I stayed a good hour and a half before leaving. My pant leg was still soaked as I left and made my way to the Saugatuck Brewery for three pints and a perch sandwich. It looked like I had pissed my pants when I walked in…but no one said anything (I imagine they may have a few leave like that once in awhile, but rarely come in like that!). My thirst quenched, I headed home. I will be back in the spring I imagine….or maybe sooner (damn, that beer was good!).
I did manage to find quite a few septarians, along with some beautiful unknown rocks and quite a bit of large slag. I also found my first Michigan Hematite. Enjoy the pix!