A Tombstone Tourist Does Seattle

Lake View Cemetery, Seattle, Washington.

My vacation itinerary always includes a cemetery or two…or three. Sure, I love checking out the art scene in a new city, historical sites, shopping and eating. I’m a foodie too, definitely. But you see an entirely different side of a place when you visit its graves, don’t you think?

Lake View Cemetery, Seattle, Washington

On my recent trip to Seattle, I did my usual vacation prep and Mapquested cemeteries in the area. There are about six, but with the coffee and the chocolate and the glass museums and the history and… did I mention the chocolate? I only had time for Lake View. What a jewel!

I wondered who left the flower, descendant or art lover.

These gnarly, twisted trees were everywhere.

Lake View was established back in 1872 and sits up on Capital Hill northeast of downtown Seattle. One of those cool, old neighborhoods that just oozes character has grown up around it so it’s a bit of a twisty trek to get there. But worth it! The monuments are a great mix of styles, old and new, East and West.

This one says, “The more people I meet, the more I love my cat.”

I love the name and the calligraphy.

A murder of crows  claims the cemetery grounds and every monument in them. The birds are smart and wary and hard to get a decent picture of, but their raucous chatter never stopped.

Keeping watch over her domain.

He knew his grave would end up being a perch for crows anyway.

So, for a short visit to Seattle, I’d put Lake View, the EMP Museum (AWESOME), the Chihuly glass museum and all the European sipping chocolate you can sample on my list of must-do’s. Anybody have any other suggestions for a Seattle trip? I definitely want to go back.  I know that Jimi Hendrix is buried in Greenwood Memorial nearby. Anybody been there?

Grave Site Fences

I’ve wondered, and maybe you have too, why people put little fences around graves.

I understand fences around the cemetery itself. You’ve got to define the property somehow. But what’s up with the little grave-yards?

I’ve never seen them in the Northeast or Midwestern United States, but they’re common when you travel south and west.

The closest things I’ve come across in the Midwest are these symbolic front steps leading into a family plot.

  I’ve seen gorgeous iron work, beautifully laid stone, concrete, wood, brick, and even humble piles of rocks. Is the point to keep something out or keep something in?

Or is it just a need to fully claim the space?

Sometimes the fence is more substantial than the grave marker.

Virginia City, Nevada

Do you live somewhere where it’s traditional to fence in the family plot? I assume the practice was brought over from Europe or maybe up from Central America. Any ideas?

 

Genoa, Nevada

I stumbled across Genoa, Nevada by accident.

The tiny town’s on state hwy 206 about an hour east of South Lake Tahoe and was the first settlement in the Nevada Territory back in 1850. It’s beautiful cemetery’s got to be one of the best collections of unique, handmade grave markers I’ve ever seen, all in one place.

Members of the grounds crew stopped me, not once, but three times to ask politely if they could help me find anyone in particular. My picture-taking frenzy made them think maybe I was a reporter.

They have one famous denizen, Snowshoe ThompsonA hero who skied through many seasons  of harsh Sierra Nevada snow storms to deliver mail and supplies.

I loved all the ordinary cowboys and pioneers whose families thought enough of them to paint, sculpt, carve and decorate their graves then keep them tended, some for decades.

I gushed praise to the head caretaker when he stopped to ask if he could help me find someone. He was modest about how beautifully the cemetery was tended. He said he’d lived in Genoa his whole life. His ancestors were buried there. He’d met his wife when he was in the service. She was from North Carolina and swore she’d never spend her life in the Carson valley of Nevada. Thirty years later, there they were, and happy too.

If anybody knows of other cemeteries with this kind of folk craftsmanship in the stones, please make a comment. I’d love to see more! I’m sure others would too.

Solar Eclipse in a Graveyard!

I just had the most awesome cemetery afternoon ever!

I went to Virginia City, Nevada to check out a gorgeous old graveyard.

Had no idea there was about to be an annular solar eclipse until an excited group of folks with welders’ masks and funky glasses showed up and clued me in.

They loaned me their glasses so I wouldn’t burn out my retinas – think old style 3D glasses from the 50’s.

OMG! The view was so cool.

Eclipse Annular

I paid back their kindness by showing them eclipse shadows on a couple of tombstones.  These shadows are nature’s way of letting us see an eclipse safely.  You could do the same thing with a pin hole projector.

The needles of a juniper tree provided the pin holes for me. I think any leafy tree would do.

The Sierra Nevada mountains… land of pioneers, gold mines and cowboys.