Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Hike

Went on my daily hike, this time from the Log Slide to Au Sable Lighthouse and back. Although it was 32 degrees out this morning, by the time we left at 10:30 it had warmed up to 40. Is it spring yet?

The scaffolding is down from the keeper's house and everything looks quite spiffed up. I am impressed with the work that is being down to restore the lighthouse compound. It was also interesting that a new national park electric car was parked in the garage, and plugged in. The car must be for the employees who live there in the summer and operate the gift shop, and also run the tour. The rest of us have to walk either 2 miles from the Log Slide, or 1.5 miles from Hurricane River.

I spent 15 hours over the last couple of days sorting through nearly 20 buckets of rocks that I bought at a garage sale. Approximately 85% is not salable and will go in my rock garden, but there were a few treasures. The best specimen is a 6 x 3 x 5 inch end of a dinosaur bone. There was also a lot of Montana moss agate, Mexican crazy lace agate, petrified wood, 3 arrow heads, and a red/orange/yellow moss agate -- probably from Mexico. Some of the newspapers wrapped around the more delicate specimens were from 1972. No wonder the rocks were filthy!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Hike

Friends John and Kim and I hiked the Chapel Loop yesterday. Usually when I hike the "triangle," located in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore west of Grand Marais, I've walked counterclockwise first to Chapel Falls. Instead, we hiked to Mosquito Beach first. I enjoyed going the clockwise direction on this 9 mile hike since we ended on the flatter section through the woods. Plus, as a reward for a good day of hiking, we were greeted with the spectacular Chapel Falls, which I didn't get a picture of since the falls were quite shaded. For a Monday hike, even with the holiday weekend, I was surprised how many people we saw on the trail. We probably passed 50 people in all. But it was sunny and in the 60s, and while hiking, the bugs were not a problem. Along the bluff, even when you stopped to take in the view or rest, the bugs were also not a problem. However, if you halted while in the woods, the pesky little black flies found you. All in all, it was a terrific day and a great holiday weekend. Now back to work......

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

Actually, here is a post from the first part of Memorial Day weekend. While Kim and Candace helped me out at the museum, I spent part of Saturday and Sunday with my son, Kevin, and his wife, Jericho. We visited with Jericho's relatives in Baraga. Since Kevin and Jericho moved to Vermont, I haven't seen them for quite a few months. We spent time kayaking, hiking, and visiting. I enjoy all of Jericho's relatives very much. I would like to especially thank those who fed us over the two days, including the meals we had at her grandmother's house, as well as lunch today at her family's hunting camp. Below are a few of the photos I took during my visit to the base of the Keeweenaw Peninsula. Tomorrow I'm hiking the Chapel Loop with friends in the national park. Should be a good day to take a long hike: I will post more pictures tomorrow night.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Long Sunday Hike

My friend, Kim, and I went on a 10 mile hike from the intersection of the Masse Homestead Trail and H58W (half way to the log slide from Sable Lake), past the log slide to Au Sable Point, and back. We also took a few other short hikes down the beach in places where we had access. It was in the 50s, sunny, a little breezy in spots, but beautiful. What a change from yesterday. In the photo of Au Sable Lighthouse, notice the work being done on the building. This is the second year of a massive overhaul to restore the Au Sable Lighthouse keeper's complex to the condition it was in 1910, when it was still an active station.

While we were at Au Sable Point, we talked with one of the park employees. He asked us if we had seen a large metal box during our hike. We had not, but we ran into him again after he checked it out. He told us where it was. It appears that somehow an upright freezer was brought into the very isolated part of the beach by icebergs.

When we were walking back east on the trail, Kim noticed the actual site of the Masse homestead. We were surprised to find part of the original house.

We also found a piece off an old shipwreck.

Below are pictures of Kim, as well as the beautiful boulders and waves in one of the sections of beach near the rustic campground on Au Sable Point.

Finally, my first video clip.

Lake Superior Weather

For those of you who have visited the Upper Peninsula, you know how changeable the weather is. This past two days proved it. On both days I had appointments for the rockhounding/agate class with field trip option. Friday was sunny and in the low 70s with light and variable winds. Saturday was in the mid 30s with off-and-on snow and winds gusting to well over 50 mph. The class yesterday was a very hardy 4H group from Newberry. Since the wind was from the west, it was almost impossible to walk into the wind. The sandblasting was more than you can take. It not only hurt any exposed skin, but I was afraid that the sand would etch my new glasses. It was an adventure.

I was afraid to take my camera into the sand storm, so the wintry day pictures I took at the museum, where the wind was wicked but there was no blowing sand. The photo I took Friday was at a beach east of town.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Spring hiking

Spring is definately the best time to be outdoors in Grand Marais. We have had some warm days. There are no bugs and very few tourists. When hiking west of town, it is like having the national park all to your self. I've included a few pictures from my dune hikes below.

It has been busy this week (as usual) working at the museum. With all the product I made over the winter combined with the items I purchased at the Tucson Show, there simply is not enough room in the gift shop. Therefore, I decided to replace some of the tables with shelves that I built out of left over wood from other projects. Not only will the shelves hold more product, but they also will make it easier for customers to see the items that are available for sale. The three completed shelves make such a difference that I may build a couple of more.

I also decided to revamp the mineral portion of the museum. I haven't made all of the final decisions, but I have decided to take down the display of the museum founder's numbered rocks. When that display was assembled, I assumed that we would find the original journal describing the agates in Asel's house in Ontonogon. However, that journal was never found so the worthwhileness of the display has never been fully realized. Instead, I'll remove Axel's numbered rocks and organize them on one side of the display to describe the characteristics of Lake Superior agates. On the other side, I'll create a display that describes the rocks available on the local beaches.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Trip to Minnesota

When I drove north, I stopped in Grand Rapids. My friend, Jill, caravaned with me and we headed to Grand Marais. After one quick evening at home, during which time I loaded up my car with product for the show, we headed for Aitkin, MN. We set up for the Cuyuna Gem and Mineral Club show, which took place this past weekend. I forgot to take pictures of some of the huge Lake Superior agates that were available for sale. However, I did purchase some incredible specimens. I am selling everything except for the Coyamito sagenite agate. It is too unusual for me to sell it. Pictured below are a few of the specimens including: Coyomito Pseudomorph Agate, Coyamito Pseudomorph Sagenite Agate, Crowley Ridge Arkansas Agate, and a Lake Superior tube agate.

I also made contact at the show with another mineral photographer, Tom Shearer. I loaned him some of my wowser rocks and he came back the next day with a CD containing the images, as well as a couple of 13x19 prints. He has developed a technique for photographing rocks that is incredible. Pictured below are some of his shots of my agates including: Axel's shadow agate, another Lake Superior shadow agate, a hydrothermal agate, a Lake Superior candy striper, and a Grand Marais carnelian agate. If anyone is interested in having photos taken of their favorite agates or other minerals, please send me an email to and I'll set something up with one of the photographers with whom I am working.

On Monday, Jill and I agate hunted in Carlton County. Before heading to our favorite gravel pit, we visited with the owner, Doug. He is one of the only gravel pit owners that allows agate picking, but may be forced to change his policy. Many people are abusing the privilege and leaving garbage in his pit. Some of the families are also allowing their kids to "sled" down the piles of sand. Others refuse to stay away from his equipment. I urge everyone to respect the privilege of agate hunting in Doug's gravel pit. Please leave your kids at home, stay away from the equipment and the cone-shaped gravel piles under the conveyer, and pick up your trash.

On our way to the gravel pit, my left rear tire shredded. Thanks to the urging of friends, I have a AAA card, which I used to get towed to a tire dealer. I didn't realize that the tires for the Suburban cost $200! But after an hour, we were on our way.

That night, I spoke at the Cuyuna Gem and Mineral Club meeting. They also allowed me to set up and sell product. It was a great evening. I really enjoyed talking agate genesis with other knowledgeable rock hounds.

The next morning, we met club members Kat and Ken to agate pick in a farm field owned by friends. I wasn't there 5 minutes when I found this 7.1 ounce agate. It has a rough husk so I'll probably face polish the end. Also pictured is an eye agate found by Kat thzt she calls her Owl agate. I urge everyone who wants to hunt the farm fields to seek permission from the land owner. There are only certain times in the planting and harvesting cycle that you can walk the fields without damaging the crops. Pictured below is what can happen to agate pickers who tresspass.

On the drive home yesterday, the new tire was punctured when I drove through a construction zone west of Marquette. Because the tire was severely damaged and not repairable, I was again towed to a tire dealer and again had to buy another tire. Oh well, at least I was able to control the car both times.

I am glad to be home and haven't even unpacked my car yet. I'll probably do that tomorrow and start putting the museum back together. I am planning on making some changes to the mineral section of the museum. I'll also be making some changes to the gift shop.