Virginia City, Nevada – A most magical afternoon

This is the wild west, cowboy country.

Several years ago, sheer luck led me to the mountains of Nevada on a gorgeous, clear afternoon. Serendipity and a rental car brought me to Virginia City, its fabulous cowboy cemetery, and the most magical hour I’ve ever spent wandering among tombstones. There was a full solar eclipse.

Solar eclipse projected on tomstone

Have you ever seen a solar eclipse? You can only look at them through special lenses or watch their shadows through a pinhole projector. In the cemetery that day, nature’s pinhole projectors, the leaves on the trees above the graves, cast these eclipse shadows.

Eclipse shadows

Even before I realized that this rare cosmic event was happening, the Virginia City cemetery took my breath away. Spring in the mountains was just so gorgeous!

Flowering bush

Best tombstone tourist experience ever!

Virginia City, Nevada


It’s All About the View

Dungeness, Washington

I’m back. Life and travel kept me from posting for a while. The good news is I brought pictures!

Walnut Glen, Booneville, Missouri

Have you ever noticed how many cemeteries have names like: Fairview, Grandview,  and Lakeview? Or how about the ones that feature their landscaping like: Walnut Glen, Tall Oaks, Floral Hills?

Floral Hills, Kansas City, Missouri

Are there professional cemetary landscape architects? Must be. Their handiwork is obvious sometimes. At the very least, in most cemeteries somebody planned out the roads.

Mount Olivet, Kearney, Missouri

The cemetery above commands the view from the highest hill in town. It probably used to be gorgeous. Though I wouldn’t call it that anymore, it’s still interesting…vital…colorful?

Happy Homestead, South Lake Tahoe, California

As gorgeous as some of the more manicured cemeteries are, I love the good old-fashioned graveyards best. The ones with narrow, winding roads, or paths, or nothing at all.

Fairview, Kearney, Missouri

Mount Vernon, Atchison, Kansas

Those graveyards tend to have a lot of benches. I always make a point to take a seat. It felt uncomfortable at first, but a bench is an invitation, right? It’s kind of rude to ignore it.

Walnut Glen, Booneville, Missouri

Do you think that people take such care to make cemeteries beautiful for the living or the dead?

Virginia City, Nevada

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.