Anacortes is known for its small town charms, fantastic hiking trails, amazing sunsets and family-friendly festivals.
Now rocks can be added to the list. But, these aren’t just any rocks. They are hand-painted rock creations meant to inspire creativity, kindness, and the exploration of nature.
Anna Dianna Wood started Fidalgo Island Rocks last June, and the growing group now has over 2,600 members.
“When I started the group I needed a distraction from the negativity in the news and wanted to spread kindness,” said Wood. “I had no idea that Fidalgo Island Rocks was going to blossom as it did. Now, I get messages every day about how it’s touched people’s lives, and that is why I keep doing it.”
What do these rock charmers do? They paint rocks, hide rocks and find rocks. Then repeat. Some rocks are hidden in plain sight, while others are nestled into nooks and crannies of the great outdoors.
You’ll find rocks with intricate drawings, many of which are natural landscapes as well as wildlife, designs, characters like Winnie the Pooh and Hello Kitty, and motivational phrases like “show compassion,” “dream,” and “be your own kind of beautiful.”
Some rock hunters keep the treasures they find, and all are encouraged to rehide and rotate out the rocks they keep. “The group is not about getting things. It’s all about sharing and spreading happiness,” said Wood. After finding a few rocks myself, a rainbow cloud at Cranberry Lake and a “Smile” rock at Seafarers’ Memorial Park, I can certainly say they brightened my day.
In honor of their one-year anniversary, Fidalgo Island Rocks day is celebrating with a rock hunt on June 10, 2017, which coincides with “National Get Outdoors Day.”
“We have some great parks on Fidalgo Island, and we want to encourage people to get out and explore,” said Wood. “All major areas – Bowman Bay, Rosario Head, Washington Park – will be covered.” Downtown businesses will also be participating.
Other June events include Artwalk on June 2 and the Relay for Life on June 24. For the fundraising event, painted rocks will hold luminaries in place, and each rock will honor someone who has lost their life, survived or is currently fighting a battle with cancer. For more details about upcoming events check out their Facebook community or group page.
If you want to create and hide your own rocks, join the Fidalgo Island Rocks group where they promote rock hunting days, announce milestone rocks as well as tips and workshops for painting your own rocks and painted rock challenges.
Their last event, Easter Rock Fidalgo, had a huge turnout. Everyone was encouraged to paint five rocks, and only keep five. But many painted up to 20 rocks, and during the day over 200 photos were posted.
Downtown businesses also joined the fun like Michele DeCarlo, owner of Lil’ Tugs Children’s Boutique, who baked cookies for rock hunters, hid rocks in her store and hid rocks with discounts in historic downtown.
At Escape Anacortes, Brandi Givens said, “We love that people are getting out and exercising. It’s a great way to encourage healthy bodies and minds.” They also hid rocks with their logo and gave a discount to their escape room.
Johnny Picasso’s regularly hides painted rocks around his art café and coffeehouse and is a meeting spot for rock exchanges and part of rock hunting events. The other day, when I stopped in for a box of handmade chocolates, I found a googly-eyed creation hidden amongst the ceramics.
Fidalgo Island Rocks isn’t exclusive, so if you find a painted rock along the trails or downtown, rehide it. Or, if you are like me, snap a photo and then set it back where you found it for someone else to discover.
Rocks are hidden throughout the year, so on your next Anacortes adventure be on the lookout. Who knows, you might find a hand-painted gem.
by Lara Dunning