A retired geologist in Port Alberni discovered a rock of a different kind while out walking in late April.
Asger Bentzen, who has a Bachelor of Science with a major in Geology, was walking with friend Liz Huff on a garden path near his home at Tsawaayuus Rainbow Gardens when he stooped to pick up a rock that caught his eye.
Bentzen earned his degree at the University of B.C. in 1969 and has been cited in more than one scientific paper for his work in geostatistical studies. Even though he “was doing more computer work” than rock work for a large part of his career, he said, he still recognized the value in this particular rock. Beige in colour, it had a compass rose painted on the front and a message: “Hello. Please take me with you.”
The back of the rock contained a handwritten story of the rock’s origins. “I want to see new places and meet new people. Please post pictures of me during my travels and tell where I am.” It listed a Facebook page.
“I just thought it was so neat,” Huff said. “Asger noticed there was writing on the back. We did a little bit of looking into it and we found there was a Facebook page from Port Angeles Rocks.”
Painting rocks and leaving them for others to enjoy is not a new phenomenon: there are artists in the Alberni Valley that have done something similar, and at one time there was a “Port Alberni Rocks” Facebook page where people could post where they found rocks. A similar group was operating during the pandemic in the Comox Valley.
After Huff posted Bentzen’s photo with the rock on the Port Angeles Rocks Facebook page, the rock’s owner posted a message: “Thank you for posting my adventure rock. I hope it brought joy to your friend. May the adventures continue.”
Pauline Gepner lives in Port Angeles, Wash., and painted the rock a few years ago. “Originally I would have left the rock in Victoria in 2017 or 2018, not sure where it’s been these last few years,” she told the AV News.
“I think I may have left it near the visitor centre at Victoria Harbour.”
The Port Angeles Rocks group “has some fantastic artists,” Gepner noted. “Our purpose is to bring joy to those who find the rocks. They can keep them or pass them on.”
Rocks such as the one Bentzen found are numbered and the Port Angeles Rocks Facebook address is painted on the backside along with a message encouraging finders to post photos of the rock on the page so makers can follow their rocks’ travels. Bentzens’ rock has a faded “Victoria, B.C.” on the back, and “ALS-Penticton” written in between other words on the front.
Gepner had a previous rock travel to Australia and make its way to Scotland. Earlier in April she left one at SeaTac Airport in Seattle, Wash. “The finder posted photos of it in Arizona and New Mexico,” she said.
“It’s fun to see how far it might travel.”
Huff and Bentzen plan to place the rock somewhere around Port Alberni where a traveller might find it and take it further on its journey.