Confessions of a Rock Hound

That would not be such a terrible thing to be…a “Rock Hound”.  I never thought of myself as such, but lately when I think about the kinds of things that have interested  me on past journeys and my upcoming agate search to Lake Superior….yeah maybe I am into rocks just a bit.  Looking at this photo of all different types of polished rocks, I remember traveling to many places that offer to fill up a little bag (for a price, of course) with your choice of the rocks displayed there.  (Just think of all the places at Wisconsin Dells that have something like that…!) It’s a very touristy thing, yes… but it was something that my young sons could not resist.  Or perhaps it was me that had the most fun “helping” them with their rock selections.  (Ooo David….Look at this one!!)  In any case, you have to admit, it is fun to have free reign of picking out any shape and color that you want. If you going to have a souvenir, what a great, memorable one.

Bryce Canyon "HooDoo" rock formations-Utah
Bryce Canyon “Hoo Doos” rock formations–Utah

Also, it’s not just the shiny pretty ones, all the amazing sedimentary rock faces in canyons and valleys around this country cause me pause to admire their unique formations and to reflect on how they got there in the first place.  These types of rock formations are always intriguing and usually make for some awesome photos to remember your trip. Yet, small rocks you can take with you as a memento. However, it does depend on where you are. ALERT: You can not take rocks or other parts of nature home with you from a National Park.  Just thought I would put that out there as a reminder and I totally respect the reasons for that. If everyone did that when visiting our beautiful Parks, it would be problematic.  Yet, depending on what state you live in, many of the state and county parks don’t mind. My upcoming trip to the North shore of Lake Superior, in Minnesota, actually encourages and highlights which beaches are great places to find agates. I’m looking forward to it, and if I end up empty handed after beach-combing, there are several rock shops in the area where I can purchase agates and agate jewelry made from locally found rocks.  Still, I would rather have the joy of discovering it myself.

Years ago, when my son’s were in Scouts, I remember a trip to the Michigan Dunes that of course included beach-combing on the shores of Lake Michigan. I had a pair of shorts that I filled the pockets with an array of interesting stones.  I remember the Scout Master laughing at my bulging pockets and wondered what was I going to do with all those rocks? To this day, I have them with a candle as part of an arrangement. Nature and household decor come together in such a great way and I still remember the story behind those rocks. They are not stuck in a shoe box somewhere.

On another venture out west, I was on a quest for Black Hills Gold. Anyone who has traveled through South Dakota had probably seen many places for sourcing Black Hills Gold. When fashioned into jewelry, the Black Hills Gold is easily spotted by the unique red and green leaf patterns. I have a lovely ring and necklace from there, although I didn’t mine it myself…other than traversing up and down the stores in Rapid City to find the best deal. The interesting thing I learned about gold mining is that on the quest for seeking gold,  a common “bi-product” that is mined is Hematite. Luckily Hematite can be polished to a beautiful black sheen and also fashioned into jewelry.  By itself, or paired with another stone, it creates some really striking jewelry, at an unusually economical price. So fun to have a little souvenir of a trip without breaking the bank.

In Alaska the state gemstone is Jade and readily available in several locations for purchase in many formats including jewelry, carvings and just raw rock samples. When paired with Hematite it is a great combination. Pictured here is one of my favorite sets from a store in Anchorage.  Many places market hematite as the “Black Diamond”, which I imagine sounds more exotic than hematite.

So on your next journey, remember to take a look at the rocks beneath your feet…you just might discover something amazing.

Yet the most precious rock I ever obtained was given to me some 30 plus years ago on my engagement ring.  I may be a sucker for pretty rocks, but I am also a sucker for romance.

Julie E. Smith

One thought on “Confessions of a Rock Hound

  1. christy smith March 8, 2021 / 11:24 pm

    Fun to read, Julie. Happy agate hunting!


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