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News / Life / Clark County Life

‘Roxy the rock snake’ brings joy in Washougal

Woman started ‘silly’ project after losing son last year

By Doug Flanagan, Camas-Washougal Post-Record
Published: September 16, 2023, 6:01am
3 Photos
Washougal's rock snake consisted of 14 rocks on July 20. Four days later, it had more than doubled in length.
Washougal's rock snake consisted of 14 rocks on July 20. Four days later, it had more than doubled in length. (Photos by Doug Flanagan/Camas-Washougal Post-Record) Photo Gallery

Katrina Voshall struggled with depression and grief for months after her son died in 2022.

Recently, though, the Washougal resident has decided to channel her emotions into something positive in an effort to rediscover her joy.

“Through my healing journey, and through counseling and support groups, I’ve learned that grief and joy are opposite ends of the spectrum, but they can actually coexist together,” she said. “So I’ve decided to do little things to create joy in my life — and for other people, too.”

To that end, Voshall is inviting people to add their own hand-painted rocks to her “rock snake” in an effort to see how long the colorful serpent can ultimately stretch.

“It’s definitely bringing joy,” Voshall said. “That’s the main point of this, (as well as to give people a chance to) enjoy everybody’s artwork. I just wanted to spark joy. That’s it. I just needed a little joy in my life, and this is a way to do it.”

The snake, named Roxy, lies in a sidewalk planter bed on A Street in Washougal.

“There’s little clues on how to find her,” Voshall said. “The exact location hasn’t been revealed. I just say ‘A Street.’ Some people say in between Steamboat Landing and Washougal Waterfront Park. People have to hunt for her a little bit, go on a little adventure. I know this is a recreational walk for a lot of people and that a lot of people walk past here.”

Voshall said she got the idea from Facebook and decided to act on it after a recent visit to the Washougal River.

“I was down there floating around, and I looked down and there was this perfect little snake head-(shaped rock), and I was like, ‘I can make that rock snake (with this),’” she said. “I picked it up and brought it home.”

Voshall decorated the rock with metallic paint and glitter, attached a pair of googly eyes and a fabric “tongue,” and dropped it into the planter bed, along with three additional smaller rocks, on July 14. She then posted a small sign with the words “Roxy the rock snake — add a painted rock to see how long I can get!” next to the rock.

“I had no clue if it would even take off at all,” she said.

But later that night, Voshall noticed that somebody had added a rock to Roxy’s “body.” Two more stones appeared the next day.

As of Tuesday, Roxy was over 200 rocks long and has her own Facebook page.

“I love it,” Voshall said. “Every time I walk up to it and see a new rock, it brings a spark of joy into my life. I’m so happy. All the attention that it’s getting on Facebook is fun — there’s not one negative comment. Even if (people) don’t have time to get out here and put a rock down, I could still see the smiles in the comments. In our society, everyone seems so divided and angry, so it’s nice to see something happy and silly.”

Voshall hopes that Roxy can ultimately stretch to “the end of the walkway.”

“That would be really cool,” she said. “Even if she did go all the way to the end, we could start extending her (back the other) way if we really wanted to, or push her head forward. I guess I was thinking of it as like a community art project. It’s getting so much attention on Facebook, so I think people are painting their rocks and getting ideas. Hopefully, people are planning on dropping more. That’s what I’m hoping for.”