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      Rock hunting in the U.P.

      Rock collecting is something many of us have probably done in our lifetimes.

      But according to some local rockhounds, rock collecting in the U.P. is truly something special.

      "We are lucky to be in the U.P. because we can find almost every kind of rock and mineral here. Many people come from all over the world and they come from all over the United States to collect rocks and minerals here," said Joyce Smith, Curator at the Cliff's Rock Museum.

      Most Upper Peninsula residents know the U.P. Is rich in iron ore and copper.

      But it's also abundant in quartz, banded agates, pyrite, and many more.

      "The iron ores are interesting because everybody thinks iron ore is just one mineral, and it's not. There's many different kinds and then there's many different shapes and forms of it also," said Smith.

      A question Smith says she gets quite often is, what is the difference between a mineral and a rock?

      A mineral is a specific chemical composition.

      And a rock is many minerals as one.

      "For instance, granite, which we find around here is made up of feldspar, mica, and quartz. And those three are minerals. But when you put them together, through a metamorphic state, it's called a rock," said Smith.

      At the Red Barn Shop in Au Train, you can pretty much find any rock you're looking for.

      Karen Boaz says she's been collecting rocks and minerals for years, and has never found a rock she didn't like.

      Boaz says the best way to rock hunt is with a bucket on the beach.

      But if you're looking for something show-worthy, she says to get acquainted with rock clubs or legal collectors.

      "Although rocks can be found everywhere, once you're talking specifically that you're looking for specimen quality, or that it's hard enough that you're going to be able to cut and polish, then you find that you've really got to make some connections," said Boaz.

      Both Smith and Boaz say the best way to find a unique rock, is to just pick up something that catches your eye.

      Then, take it home and spritz some water on it.

      You can tell if it's something really special by the way it looks when wet, because the water will bring out the coloring, allowing you to figure out what its composition is.

      For more information on rock hunting, or to attend a rock collection class,click here.