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.

Jim Morrison is Alive! (Ok, He’s Dead, But His Face Is On My Rock!)

I found this unakite stone up north in Michigan. I threw it in my rock tumbler and after the initial tumble I pulled it out along with the others and this is what I found on the surface! Now I’m no Doors fan, and I certainly would have preferred to see Jesus, but there is no doubt that Jim Morrison’s face magically appeared on my rock! Take a look and tell me what you think! Sadly, I no longer have the rock and gave it to my good friend’s wife, who is a huge Jim Morrison fan. I’m hoping for Cliff Burton next batch….

Giant Petoskey Fossil Sphere

I found this giant rock a month or so back in Lake Michigan near South Haven, MI. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was at first as it had a very greenish hue. The rock was too big for my saw but I cut it anyway and was pleasantly surprised to see a fair amount of Petoskey stone embedded in the otherwise fossil laden matrix. After a very rough cut, I ground it down a bit on my grinding wheel then threw it into the sphere machine. I’m glad it was a soft rock or this thing would have taken forever as out of round as it first was. Once I started this one, I had to see it through til the end. Total time just under 4 hours. Not bad. And boy is it a beauty!. It is about 3.85 inches in diameter. Check it out! I also made a few Jasper pendants.

Petoskey Stone Spheres

I have been extremely busy and haven’t had much time for sphering lately, but I did manage to grind out a trifecta of Petoskey stone spheres last week. The three rough stones were given to me by a new friend and fellow rockhound. He specializes in making stone cabinet knobs which are quite stunning using native Michigan Petoskey and Septarian stones. If he had a website, I would link to it, but alas, he does not. He gave me three Petoskey stones, I sphered them and he got first pick. They ranged in size from 1.65 inch to about 2.4 inches in diameter. I kept the remaining two (the smaller ones). They can be found for sale on my Etsy page by clicking here.

Petoskey Stone Spheres

The Most Beautiful Lake Michigan Stone Ever Found!

It was an incredible hot March day of 83 degrees today. I took my daughter to Van Buren State Park on Lake Michigan today to walk up and down the beach. The landscape had changed a bit since last fall and a lot of new rocks had washed up on shore in new spots. Much closer to the main entrance this year. I did not have to go far to find the first Petoskey of the season. We stayed about an hour or so and the last rock I found was by wading in about two feet of water. I thought it was one of the many bricks in the water at first until I picked it up. It was the bright orange color that caught my eye. I have never seen anything remotely looking like this rock before. I think it is amazing and would really like to know what it is. The orange color of the crystals are stunning. It doesn’t appear to be an agate material at all more of a quartz I would guess. Please drop a comment or send me an email if you know what it is! I believe it to be the most beautiful Lake Michigan Stone ever found! (by me at least… :) )

***UPDATE***
3-28-12: The sphere of this stone is done. Check out the new pics here: http://spheremaker.com/whoa/

Slag Glass Spheres, Pendants and More Spheres!

I took the week off of work and felt the urge to hit the shop and hammer out some new spheres. I still have plenty of my Muskegon Slag glass and a couple other pieces I had purchased. One cool orange one and another clear old school coke bottle colored cullet glass I believe its called. It took the better part of the day (about 10 hours!) and maybe 8 hours the next day, manning my two three headed machines and grinding out the pendants but I think most turned out pretty good. The clear glass ones had some scratches on them I couldn’t seem to get rid of for some reason. Maybe I will try again. My back, hands and feet get sore as hell if I put too much time in. I try to keep it no more than five hour stretches at a time. Hope you enjoy the photos. I’ll probably end up putting a few of the pendants up on Etsy. My wife has already laid claim to a few of them!

If anyone knows where I can get more colored slag like the orange and red pieces shown, drop me an email from the contact link! Cool stuff!