GTPulse: Traverse City Couple Turn Downtown TC Into A Scavenger Hunt

Traverse City oozes charm, as Michiganders know. Over the summer I was happily blaring It’s Magic by Doris Day downtown out of my car window and an elderly couple began dancing at the corner of East Front Street and Union to it. I find myself falling in love with little things and scenes like that here all the time. Traverse City couple Bria Squires and Stephen Massaway remind me of the sweet couple I saw dancing in the sunshine. Blissful, in love and making Traverse City feel like magic.

Bria and Stephen hide rocks in various spots downtown Traverse City every Sunday. The project, called briatc_rocks began two months ago. Bria is a personal trainer at Planet Fitness and someone hid a rock at work one day. She liked the idea of hiding rocks and the fun that it brought for other people to find them. Stephen enjoyed looking for interesting looking rocks so the two came up with a weekly ritual of finding, painting and hiding rocks in downtown Traverse City.

The activity suited a lifestyle change the couple were embarking on as well. Bria and Stephen are bodybuilders and found briatc_rocks to be a great alternative to going out to bars or out to eat.

Bria won all four categories in her first bodybuilding competition last year and she and Stephen are competing in their first professional bodybuilding competition this month.

“It’s a nice activity for us to do at night instead of going out to drink or out to eat all the time. It’s just us, it’s personalized and we both get a lot of joy out of painting to begin with. It’s something that we can do and share,” Stephen said.

The process begins with Bria and Stephen finding rocks to use. They typically go to Northport to find rocks and look for rocks that will be interesting to paint on.

“We get inspiration from the rocks that we find” Stephen said. 

Although the couple have only been hiding rocks for two months, they already have a few dedicated rock hunters. The Facebook and Instagram pages bria_tcrocks are where the couple keep their followers up to date on what rocks they’re working on and where they announce when the rocks have been hidden.

“We always hide them on Front Street, Union, or Clinch Park,” Bria said.

Painting the rocks is a nightly activity for Bria and Stephen throughout the week. They get anywhere from 15 to 40 rocks painted that they will take out to hide on Sunday.

Each rock is painted with a different design and Bria and Stephen particularly enjoy painting nature scenes from Northern Michigan.

“We really like nature,” Bria said. “So, dragonflies and butterflies are something that I really enjoy. We’re currently doing themed stuff right now since it’s October!”

“We watch a lot of Bob Ross,” Stephen said with a laugh.

Also included on the back of the rock is the hashtag #bria_tcrocks. The couple puts a hashtag on each rock in hopes that the finder will post a photo with their new rock.

“Anytime someone finds one, we ask them ‘hey if you find it, put the hashtag on Facebook or Instagram so we can see where they are and track them.’ We have a duo, a grandparent and a grandkid, that find rocks every Sunday,” Bria said smiling.

Some of their rocks have made it to Grand Rapids, Detroit, New York and Chicago.

The couple doesn’t hide the rocks to where they’ll be extremely difficult to find, and the rocks always end up found.

“We saw a couple take one off of the piano downtown last Sunday. We hid it, walked away and they kind of looked at us funny and then we saw them walk over to the piano and they found the rock,” Stephen said.

The couple will even put magnets on some rocks that they will hide by sticking them on light posts and benches, and give the finder an option to put the rock on their fridge.

People have encouraged Bria and Stephen to sell the beautifully hand-painted rocks, but the couple isn’t interested.

“It destroys the point,” Stephen said. “It ruins the fun!”

Fun is exactly what Bria and Stephen have created with bria_tcrocks. If you find yourself downtown Traverse City on a Sunday, look where you’re sitting and you may just find a bria_tcrock to call your own.


Categories: GTPulse