Finally got a system updated to the latest and using Photos. While I am surprised at how useful some of the edit tools are, it's no photoshop and I use photoshop. From older threads I saw people theorize that in a update Apple would add back in the "edit in... " dropdown which allows you to choose the app not just Photo tools. However, here it is two years later, and nope.
I found this thread which suggests for the low price of 99¢ I can get an app extension to add this functionality back in:
but then the actual app link says that High Sierra supports this feature again in 10.13 so the extension is no longer in the app store.
I see High Sierra was supposed to be released 9/25, but don't see it offered in my app store for updates.
Found the link, will report back (I guess I answered my own questions writing this thread, but will leave it up in case it's helpful to others!)