Thursday, June 9, 2022

When in Michigan, You Must Search for Petoskey Stones


But first, doughnuts!

The kids and I walked to Mackinaw Bakery from our hotel, on the way playing the very important game of Whose Beautiful Beach House Would Each of Us Settle For/Let's Criticize Million-Dollar Real Estate While We Pretend Like Our Own Actual House Isn't Literal Garbage. Syd's favorite house is apparently worth 1.3 million dollars, while Will's is upwards of $750,000. I can't seem to shake my trash taste, however, because the house I want is only worth $300,000. It had a nice view, though, and I can always pop over to Syd's mansion whenever I feel like an evening of luxury!

Following Google Map's walking directions instead of driving directions must have thrown us off a little, because somehow, loudly chatting away to each other like huge tourists, we all managed to walk into... the back door of the bakery, I guess? We just walked straight into... a room, clearly a restaurant with tables and chairs and people sitting at those tables and chairs and chatting quietly not like huge tourists, but there was no signage, no hostess or waitstaff, no kitchen or counter. Just people. In a room.

I stopped and tried to get my bearings, the kids bumped into my back and peered around me but had no insights to offer, and we essentially just stood there, blinking in confusion and mild distress until somebody took pity on us and called out that the bakery was around the corner. And indeed, there was a doorway at the back of the room, and it did turn out to lead into a lovely, large bakery, with picture windows showing the parking area outside (oops!), and a million delightful doughnuts and breakfast sandwiches and coffee drinks to choose from.

Hallelujah for the apple fritters, the likes of which I have not seen since I lived in Texas 26 years ago! 

Considering the fact that we all dithered over the doughnut selection, and placed an inconveniently large order that included doughnuts and breakfast sandwiches and drinks both hot and cold, and I spilled some of my iced latte on the floor trying to get the straw in, and Will ordered a peach and mango smoothie and the guy at the counter said they were out of peaches so she ordered a mango smoothie but they were out of mangos, too, I'm pretty sure we were posthumously given the Worst Customers of the Day award, but eventually we emerged unscathed through the front doors, walked back to the hotel, and enjoyed one more breakfast with a beautiful view of the Straits of Mackinac.

Through our hotel window, I mean. Ain't nobody eating breakfast outside with a swarm of midges.

 After breakfast, we packed up and hit the M-119 for the scenic drive along the coast and through the Tunnel of Trees to Petoskey.

The kids were unimpressed by the Tunnel of Trees, but trying to impress a teenager is a sucker's game at the best of times.

Syd was also extremely unimpressed by Petoskey, but to be fair, Petoskey held some of her least-favorite things, including a sky full of sun, a beach full of rocks, absolutely no wi-fi, but lots and lots and LOTS of spiders.

Welcome to Spider Beach: Part Two!

Will and I, on the other hand, were in absolute hog heaven at Sunset Park. We immediately settled in and commenced our search for Petoskey stones.

I felt like I'd done plenty of research on how and where to find Petoskey stones. I know that when they're dry, they resemble limestone (which the kids and I are WELL familiar with!). I know that when they're wet, you can see the corral pattern. 

What I did not know, though, was how easily I'd confuse them with Charlevoix stones. The first few Charlevoix stones I found, I could sort of tell that they weren't quite what I was looking for. The more Charlevoix stones we found, though, the more I convinced myself that surely these must be what I wanted, because they were what we kept finding!

Good thing Charlevoix stones are also really cool, because we ended up with dozens of them--

--and, as far as I can tell before we tumble them all, no Petoskey stones. I am SO BUMMED!

But here's the landscape that we were working with:

So challenging! I wet a ton of stones, and spent a lot of time wading, as well, but never found anything other than horn corrals, brachiopods, and Charlevoix stones:

What I'd really have liked would have been to visit several different sites. I've been told that hiking away down the beach helps, too, as the area gets less picked over the further you go from more heavily trafficked areas. Will would have been totally down for spending the entire day rockhounding with me, but Syd had already spent most of her time at Spider Beach: Part Two curled up under her hoodie on the rocks, desperately trying to tune out her urge to murder me in my sleep by listening to her music, only getting up every now and then to shake off the spiders and settle herself again even more miserably. I almost managed to convince myself that she could just wait in the car while Will and I kept rockhounding, but I really do want her to still talk to me when she's all grown up, so sadly, we admitted defeat in our Petoskey stone hunt and drove on to Traverse City.

I didn't really want to stay in Traverse City, but it was the only place within driving distance of Sleeping Bear Dunes that I could find us a place to sleep that was only 200% of my budget for accomodations on that leg of the trip. Ahem. I also don't really ever want to go BACK to Traverse City, if for no other reason than that the traffic was terrible, but somehow the kids and I managed to fight every red light and confusing turn lane and left turn into cross traffic and unannounced street closing to get back and forth to the grocery store (where score, they stocked Traverse City Whiskey Co. American Cherry, so that's Matt's souvenir all sorted!), so that later we could do this:

Our very wee cottage was just steps from the beach, and included all the tools that we needed to cook hot dogs over the fire. 

Roasted hot dogs tasted SO GOOD after three days of peanut butter and jelly!

Extendable roasting sticks is such a smart idea, and I want a set of my own!

I sampled some of Matt's whiskey, Will drank some of the juice I bought us because I was starting to worry about scurvy, and we read the sun down on our beach:

I'm SO glad we had our beach cookout, even though we were all tired, because the next day I walked out with my coffee and book and peanut butter toast, planning a leisurely little brekkie by the water before gearing up for Sleeping Bear... and the beach was absolutely covered with dead alewives.

And that's why we ate frozen pizza for dinner that night and microwaved hot dogs for the next day's breakfast!

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