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Hunting for history

I’m writing you today from about five hours away from my home base. I guess you could call it a vacation, but it’s a mini one at best.

One of the sheets of fossils at the Rockport Quarry. Photo by Kim Hoyum with her precious iPhone.

It’s my daughter’s spring break from school this week. We were pretty much just sitting around, but it was evident by the bored look on her face and slow shuffling around the house that she was slowly going insane from the lack of anything interesting. She’s not like me in the way that I can occupy myself for days on end with books, drawing, writing, games and movies. In truth, she has the attention span of most gnats.

I decided to treat her to this quick little trip out of town to boost her mood and make sure she has something slightly memorable to talk about when she goes back to face her classmates next week. So, Kim and I discussed it and we decided to take her on an adventure: Fossil hunting.

My daughter has wanted to be a paleontologist pretty much as far back as she could ever talk about having a future career. In these later years, archeology (thanks, Indiana Jones!) and other career paths have popped up now and again, but she always goes back to digging up old bones.

I wasn’t sure how she would feel about this trip, to be honest with you. I’ve missed severely over the past year or so when it comes to trying to peg something she likes. I guess that’s what happens when they grow up on you. Thankfully, she’s been thrilled.

We drove down to the Lower Peninsula and turned left. That pretty much took us to Rogers City and Alpena. In Rogers City, there are some piles of dirt behind the baseball fields that come from the local quarry. In there, you can find bits and pieces of fossilized coral and shells. We did pretty well, despite the spring weather having made it pretty muddy in the piles.

From there we headed to Alpena, where we checked into our hotel and then went and grabbed a bite to eat (JJ’s pizza is outstanding here) and then headed to a ditch that works as a storm drain. There were a few in there, though the water pouring through slowed us down a bit. Then, we headed to the Rockport Quarry, which is now defunct, and hit the mother lode.

My kiddo had a blast. To be honest, all three of us did. It was a good time, a lot of fun and we found a couple hundred fossils. In the quarry, for those interested, you could end up easily with thousands upon thousands of pieces. If you want to haul something super heavy back to your car (about a half mile hike) you could even take back a whole sheet of them. Most of it is shells and coral, but there are even some spots that are obvious water ripples showing what a shallow bed of water that area had once been.

Today we’re going to head over to the west side of the state and look along a few beaches to see if we can’t find some Petoskey Stones. For those who don’t know, they’re actually fossils, too.

When all is said and done, I think my daughter has a great little vacation to remember and talk about. In fact, so do Kim and I.

I think everyone can agree that this is a ton better than my original idea, which was to dress up in a donut suit and see if we couldn’t coax some bears out of hiding…

  1. Carla
    April 8, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Do you actually own a donut suit?

    • seggleston
      April 9, 2010 at 9:20 am

      Not a donut suit, no. I intended, rather, to craft one by buying dozens of donuts and pinning them to my clothes. Jelly donuts, I figure, would work best. Raspberry.

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