The Leland Blues

Leelanau Peninsula and M-22
Leelanau Peninsula and M-22

Today EJ and I went adventuring.

We wanted to go rockhounding at least one more time. We always look for Petoskey stones, but we also wanted to see if we could find some Leland Blues, which are found near Leland. And, of course, we always collect interesting rocks. We have always collected rocks but don’t know much about identifying them. We’d like to learn…and also start polishing the rocks we find.

We headed up M-22 toward the town of Leland. M-22 is considered one of the most beautiful drives in Michigan, especially in the autumn when the colors are at their peak. Even though the trees are just beginning to get a little color, the drive is still very beautiful with many awesome views of Grand Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan.

We had almost reached the town when we stopped at a local grocery store so I could use their restroom. When we went into the store, the cashier asked if he could help us, and EJ said we were looking for snacks and a restroom–but we noticed a sign that said they didn’t have a public restroom. The cashier (I wonder if he was a manager) said that normally he is very strict about not letting anyone use their restroom–the last time he let someone use it, his phone was stolen–but he would let me use it. He guided me through the back room, which led past offices and through the kitchen/food preparation area to the bathroom. I was really amazed that he let me back there. People are so nice up here. After I used the restroom, we bought picnic foods: whitefish pate, crackers, apple cider, and a couple other things.


Once we reached Leland, we stopped in at Fishtown, which is the town’s historical district and features rustic shanties and docks reminiscent of life and commercial fishing one hundred years ago. There were a lot of cute little shops there. We walked through it but then continued on our way–because our main goal was to go rockhounding.

Grand Traverse Lighthouse
Grand Traverse Lighthouse

We never did find a good place to go rockhounding in Leland. I’m sure there is a good place, but we just didn’t find it. So we decided to drive up to Grand Traverse Lighthouse, which is in Leelanau State Park at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula. We had visited this lighthouse in the winter but this time the lighthouse was open so we could go through it. The living quarters were awesome–I could so totally have been a lighthouse keeper! And we climbed up and up and up on smaller and smaller stairs until we reach the very top of the lighthouse. The last segment of steps were so steep that we had to come down backwards–like coming down a ladder. On our way down, I missed the last step and almost fell…but didn’t.

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After we toured the lighthouse, we walked down to the beach to look for rocks. We found several interesting rocks, but no Petoskey stones or Leland Blues. Another couple was also rockhounding and they asked us what we were looking for and what we had found. I showed them my treasures and they told us that a really good place to look for rocks was at Betsy Pt., which was only about an hour down the road. Since we’ve wanted to visit the lighthouse there, we decided that that would be our next stop.

Pt. Betsy Lighthouse
Pt. Betsy Lighthouse

We ate our picnic in the Suburban and then we continued down M-22 along the coast of Lake Michigan. We finally reached Pt. Betsy. We walked up to the lighthouse but decided not to tour it because EJ’s knees were hurting from climbing the Grand Traverse Lighthouse.

We walked down to the beach. We had an awesome view of the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes in the distance. (We could see it clearly, but it didn’t really show up well in the pictures.) We walked along the beach for two hours, first in one direction and then the other. The day was beautiful and it was very peaceful. We decided we would return here again to look for rocks. Although we have seen pictures of Leland Blues, we realized that we were sure exactly what they looked like among all the other rocks on the beach.

There were maybe a dozen other people on the beach, all of them looking for rocks like us. We encountered a couple who asked what we were looking for and what we had found. That seems to be the questions asked when meeting fellow rock hounds. I showed them a couple of rocks that I think are honeycomb coral fossils (?). The woman said she had found a couple of Leland Blues and she tried to find them in her rock back to show us what they look like, but she wasn’t able to find them among all the other rocks she had collected. Oh well.

I also filled a disposable cup with sand from the beach to send to my friend in Texas. I’m trying to get her sand from different locations in Northern Michigan.

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We had a really great day together.


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