Sin City Cemeteries: An Analog Annal

The following photos were taken this week using a Polaroid 600 camera and expired film. Locations include Woodlawn Cemetery, Palm Downtown Mortuary and Cemetery, and Palm Eastern Mortuary and Cemetery.

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On The Road to Find Out: A Love Letter to Harold and Maude

(Spoilers ahead. Duh.)

I was sixteen at the time and working at the local library. I must have spotted the Harold and Maude paperback while reshelving books and noticed “Paramount Pictures Presents” and “Songs by Cat Stevens” on the back cover. (I listened to a lot of Cat Stevens as a depressed, small town teenager. He seemed to have had it all figured out.)

My Cat fascination led me to locate the VHS copy of this particular Paramount Picture in our library’s AV department. I remember noticing it hadn’t been checked out in months. This was not 1994’s version of a smash library hit like Return of the Jedi or Fifty Shades of Grey; this was a bizarro 1971 cult film featuring mock suicides and age play that had mysteriously made its way into the catacombs of a library located in a quiet, one-stoplighted village in western New York. Were forest gnomes to blame? Or the high school janitor with the missing hard palate? We may never know.

Eventually the unpopular paperback made it to the library's discard pile, then into my hot little hands.

Eventually the equally unpopular paperback made it into the library’s discard pile, then into my hot little hands.

The day I met Harold and Maude was a day that changed my life. I had been spending my free time writing poetry about hating myself and being stuck inside the brain of an OCD sufferer who ofttimes wished she wouldn’t wake up, only to open my eyes each morning to begin the hellish cycle of Pure O all over again. Bud Cort’s Harold Chasen was stuck in a holding pattern of his own, hungry for hope, freedom and a new direction in life, but in his isolation he didn’t realize these things were possible — and without Maude to show him the way, he most definitely wouldn’t have known which steps to take. I could relate to this 20 year old kid dressed in Vietnam-era bell bottoms more than I could relate to pretty much all of the people I knew in real life. He was also cute and sweet and funny.

Ruth Gordon’s Maude was like Death of the Endless (from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman graphic novels) if Death traded in her black buckle boots and tank for your grandma’s tweedy winter coat and wool tights, then aged six human decades. Maude is old and wise. She teaches Harold about the ways of the world and how one person has the power to make it a better place, but when she does this she’s really teaching us. Aside from her horrendous driving skills, I hope to be as Maude-like as possible when I’m her age. You want to see someone who truly has no fucks to give? That person is Dame Marjorie Chardin, but you can call her Maude.

I figure I’ve probably viewed Harold and Maude approximately one hundred times since 1994. It is, without a doubt, my favorite movie of all time. That being said, I became worried a few months back, having not watched my favorite movie for a few years and wanting to but fearing that the darker events involving death by suicide that had recently occurred in my own life would change my perspective on the film in a bad way. What if I now felt it trivialized suicide? Or mocked it? Or used it to get a cheap laugh? What if I felt the deep meanings I took away from the film in the past wouldn’t hold up to a viewing today? What if the world had become so fucking painful that my precious celluloid life raft would leave me to drown in my own disillusionment? There was only one way to find out.

Had I known that director Hal Ashby’s father had suicided when Hal was 12, maybe I wouldn’t have worried. Because I shouldn’t have. If anything, Harold and Maude is even more beautiful, profound and perfect now. Now I notice things I hadn’t noticed during a hundred previous viewings: stuff on the shelves in Maude’s train car; the expression on Glaucus’ face; the observation that everything Maude says to Harold in the greenhouse about “living things” applies to him. Now it consistently brings me to tears…as it should. It’s a phenomenal movie.

I drove up to the Bay Area a few weeks ago and made it my mission to visit as many Harold and Maude filming locations as possible. What follows is a rag tag compilation of photos taken with my DSLR and my phone (depending on what I had with me at the time), as well as a YouTube video! Some images have been edited, some are raw, and some require lengthy descriptions. At any rate, I hope you enjoy this project that’s been twenty years in the making. ❤

At Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, CA. This is where Harold sees Maude for the first time. He's attending a service held in the vicinity of the Hanlon gravestone while Maude is hanging out by a (now missing) tree behind the Donovan gravestone. The red arrow shows you where Maude was chillin'.

At Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, CA. This is where Harold sees Maude for the first time. He’s attending a service held in the vicinity of the Hanlon gravestone while Maude is hanging out by a (now missing) tree behind the Donovan gravestone. The red arrow shows you where Maude was chillin’.

The Hanlon grave at Holy Cross

The Hanlon grave at Holy Cross.

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Another view of the area where Harold was standing by the coffin.

Another view of the area where Harold was standing by the casket.

Another view of the filming site at Holy Cross

Another view of the filming site at Holy Cross. Maude was positioned behind this front row of gravestones. And no tree!

A close up of the top of the Donovan stone. You can actually see the yellowed etching for a split second in the movie.

A close up of the top of the Donovan stone. You can actually see the yellowed etching for a split second in the movie.

Also at Holy Cross Cemetery. For over an hour I tried to locate the exact row where Harold and Maude encounter each other again at another graveside service. Much like the missing tree, I think some changes have been made to the grave markers here over the last 45 years, so I have no idea if I captured the exact spot. Just know that I tried!

Also at Holy Cross Cemetery. For over an hour I tried to locate the exact row where Harold and Maude encounter each other again at another graveside service. Much like the missing tree, I think some changes have been made to the grave markers here over the last 45 years, so I have no idea if I captured the exact spot. Just know that I tried!

Maybe here?

Maybe here?

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This should look familiar! The shadowy area to the left is the spot where Maude pulls up to pick Harold up after the service, and the priest questions her about painting the saint after she drove off in his VW.

This should look familiar! The shadowy area to the left is the spot where Maude pulls up to pick Harold up after the service, then the priest questions her about painting the saint after she drove off in his VW.

That musty mausoleum smell was wafting across the cemetery, beckoning...

That musty mausoleum scent was wafting across the cemetery, beckoning…

Inside the mausoleum.

Inside the mausoleum.

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Work in progress. (Underneath? Curing concrete.)

Work in progress. (Underneath? Curing concrete.)

The whys and what fors.

The whys and what fors.

Ravens in flight at Holy Cross Cemetery.

Ravens in flight at Holy Cross Cemetery.

Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, CA

Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, CA.

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The trees are definitely bigger than they were in the 1970s.

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The Sutro Baths Ruins in San Francisco, CA. This is where Uncle Victor and Harold encounter Maude protesting for peace.

The Sutro Baths Ruins in San Francisco, CA. This is where Uncle Victor and Harold encounter Maude protesting for peace.

These are the stairs (now crumbling and probably not safe to walk on) that Harold chases Maude down after she grabs his shrunken head.

These are the stairs (now crumbling and probably not safe to walk on) that Harold chases Maude down after she grabs his shrunken head.

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Mori Point in Pacifica, CA where the final scene was filmed.

Mori Point in Pacifica, CA where the final scene was filmed. The goal? Follow the trail up to the top of that tall thing.

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Clowning around on the trail to Mori Point.

Clowning around on the trail to Mori Point.

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Ocean, you make me feel insignificant and I like it.

Stumbling up to the top of Mori Point (in flip flops -- not recommended), I was rewarded with bird parts.

Stumbling up to the top of Mori Point (in flip flops — not recommended), I was rewarded with bird parts.

The grass is worn away in tire track formation. I think this is it.

The grass is worn away in tire track formation. I think this is it.

AHHHHH!

AHHHHH!

“You see, Harold, I feel that much of the world’s sorrow comes from people who are *this*, yet allow themselves be treated as *that*.” — Flowers at Mori Point.

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Interlope At Antelope

While driving up to the Bay Area a few weeks back I made a brief, unplanned pit stop at a cemetery on the side of the road in picturesque Coleville, CA .

Antelope Valley Cemetery has a lot in common with many desert cemeteries, and I was struck by the haunting figures guarding some of the graves. Here are some quick unedited snaps of my new friends. Enjoy!

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Lizard!

Lizard!

Chasing Clowns and Burial Grounds

Are you ready for photos from the Tonopah Clown Motel?

Welcome to Part II of my photographic journey from Vegas to Vallejo, CA!

First, let's warm up with some photos of some ruins and abandoned buildings from the ghost town of Rhyolite, NV that I visited on my way to Tonopah.

First, let’s warm up with some photos of some ruins and abandoned buildings from the ghost town of Rhyolite, NV that I visited on my way to Tonopah.

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Clown Motel!

Clown Motel!

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The rooms are pretty normal (aside from a couple of framed sad clowns hanging over the headboards). Let's take a little tour of the magic that awaits in the motel's lobby, shall we?

The rooms are pretty normal (aside from a couple of framed sad clowns hanging over the headboards). Let’s take a little tour of the magic that awaits in the motel’s lobby, shall we?

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The lobby features a selection of old treasures available for purchase, as well as Clown Motel mugs, tees and postcards.

The lobby features a selection of old treasures available for purchase, as well as Clown Motel mugs, tees and postcards.

Then there's the old Tonopah Cemetery conveniently located right next door to the Clown Motel!

Then there’s the old Tonopah Cemetery conveniently located right next door to the Clown Motel!

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Did you know there's ANOTHER cemetery just down the street from the Clown Motel? It's the new Tonopah Cemetery!

Did you know there’s ANOTHER cemetery just down the street from the Clown Motel? It’s the *new* Tonopah Cemetery!

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Crazy Tonopah-related urbex near Benton, CA.

Destruction and Tonopah-related graffiti over the border near Benton, CA.

Are you cravin’ more creepin’? The journey to Vallejo continues…stay tuned!

On The Road To Tonopah

I’m writing this from the guest bedroom belonging to my ladyfriends in Vallejo, CA. It has been more than three years since I last made my way up to the Bay Area for a visit and I was way overdue. (My ladies just opened a cafe here, so if you’re ever in the ‘hood do yourself a favor and enjoy some quiche and coffee at LEAF on Marin St. in Vallejo.)

I drove up here, opting to take a meandering route north of Vegas and west/northwest of Tonopah, stopping at several ghost towns along the way. I even spent one night at the infamous Tonopah Clown Motel (those photos deserve their own post…stay tuned!).

Here are some unedited photos of some old cemeteries and abandoned places located between Las Vegas and Yosemite National Park. I hope you enjoy Part I of this who-knows-how-many-parts trip to Vallejo!

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Armagosa Desert Memorial Cemetery, NV

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Lizard in Armagosa

Lizard!

Abandoned Armagosa

Abandoned Armagosa

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Desert Hills Cemetery, Beatty, NV

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Bullfrog-Rhyolite Cemetery, Rhyolite, NV

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Just outside of the cemetery fence in Rhyolite...

Just outside of the cemetery fence in Rhyolite…

A single(?) grave pet cemetery!

A single(?) grave pet cemetery!

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Goldfield Cemetery, Nevada

Goldfield Cemetery, NV

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Silver Peak Cemetery, NV

Silver Peak Cemetery, NV

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Perfect 10: Exploring Central Nevada’s Cemeteries

The other day Glenda and I drove up to Cathedral Gorge State Park for an overnight camping trip. Our adventuring included Glenda giving me a delightful massage in a tent, snoozing in said tent with her two puppies, and freeing Glenda’s truck from a rut in a dirt road somewhere between Pioche and Sunnyside, Nevada. These sisters were doin’ it for themselves!

Our travels also led us to what amounted to ten different cemeteries. Some were on the agenda and others were unexpected treats. Here are a whole lot of (mostly) cemetery photos straight from the ol’ Canon Rebel T2i. Enjoy!

Cemetery #1, Alamo Cemetery

Cemetery #1, Alamo Cemetery

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I'm not sure if these random wooden cross-shaped grave markers just down the road from Alamo Cemetery are related to the main cemetery, and I have no idea who's buried here, but there were a few of them scattered throughout this area.

I’m not sure if these random wooden cross-shaped grave markers just down the road from Alamo Cemetery are related to the main cemetery, and I have no idea who’s buried here, but there were a few of them scattered throughout this area.

Cemetery #2, Richardville Cemetery

Cemetery #2, Richardville Cemetery, Alamo

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Cemetery #3, Caliente City Cemetery

Cemetery #3, Caliente City Cemetery

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Cemetery #4, Conway Memorial Park Veterans Cemetery, Caliente

Cemetery #4, Conaway Memorial Veterans Cemetery, Caliente

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Cemetery #5, Caliente IOOF (Odd Fellows) Cemetery

Cemetery #5, Caliente IOOF (Odd Fellows) Cemetery

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Cemetery #6, Bullionville Cemetery, Pioche

Cemetery #6, Bullionville Cemetery, Pioche

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Cemetery #7, Pioche IOOF Masonic Cemetery

Cemetery #7, Pioche IOOF and Masonic Cemetery

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Cemetery #8, Pioche Public Cemetery

Cemetery #8, Pioche Public Cemetery

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Cemetery #9, Boot Hill Cemetery, Pioche

Cemetery #9, Boot Hill Cemetery, Pioche

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Cemetery #10, St. Laurence Catholic Cemetery, Pioche

Cemetery #10, St. Laurence Catholic Cemetery, Pioche

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I'd be remiss in my duties if I didn't post a few random shots from the trip, including a handful from Cathedral Gorge.

I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t post a few random shots from the trip, including a handful from Cathedral Gorge.

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Pioche definitely boasts some strange tourist trappings.

Pioche definitely boasts some strange tourist trappings.

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Gem Theater, Pioche, NV

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Until next time…

Rochester Cemetery Adventures: An Analog Annal

Rochester, NY, March 2015.

Despite the rain, snow and cold, I was bound and determined to be at a cemetery when I tried out my new stash of Impossible black and white (generation 2.0) film while visiting my family in New York last week. These photos were taken with my plastic body Polaroid 600 over the course of three days (all chilly, all overcast).

Here are all eight shots from the pack, fuck-ups and all…

Mt. Hope Cemetery

God is in The Rain, Mt. Hope Cemetery

Angels We Have Heard on High Contrast, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Angels We Have Heard on High Contrast, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Oh Baby!, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Oh Baby!, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Mt. Hope Cemetery

Melasma, Mt. Hope Cemetery

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Take These Broken Wings, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Dark Lady, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Riverside Riotgrrl, Riverside Cemetery

Riverside Riotgrrl, Riverside Cemetery

Seriously, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

The Breast of Times, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Auntie Visits Graveyards: A Southern Utah Jaunt

My nieces are really good at dancing; I am not. What I am good at is driving up to St. George, Utah when the girls make their way to dance competitions located two hours from Vegas.

This is exactly what I did on Saturday, March 21, 2015. Given a long break between routines, I jumped into my car and toured four (primarily ghost town) cemeteries located within sixty minutes of St. George.

First stop? The Catholic Pioneer Cemetery in the ghost town of Silver Reef, Utah…

The Catholic Pioneer Cemetery in the ghost town of Silver Reef, Utah.

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Unknown Pleasures

Unknown Pleasures

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Lizards, Birds and Beetles

Lots of lizards, birds and beetles!

Then, just down the dirt road and within sight, the Protestant Pioneer Cemetery…

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The third graveyard scarecrow I saw that day.

The third graveyard scarecrow I saw that day.

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On my way to Grafton I drove through Toquerville and made a quick stop at the Toquerville Cemetery. It was completely unplanned and daylight was waning, but I wanted to leave with something poignant…

darlingsloresAnd then off to the ghost town of Grafton, Utah…

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"Killed By Indians"

“Killed By Indians” — File under things you don’t see every day. 

Speaking of "Indians"...

Speaking of “Indians”…

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A peek behind this pristine marker reveals a crumbled piece of history. I suspect that George’s original gravestone remains on the ground behind his new one.

Dimming the lights on Grafton Cemetery.

Dimming the lights on Grafton. 

The Family That Creeps It Together, Keeps It Together

Last week I indulged in five days of shenanigans in Rochester, NY. Why the hell would I endure the frozen tundra of the Empire State in March, you ask?

1. The biggest reason? Family time. I was born and raised in the area, and my parents still live in the house we moved into when I was a baby. My sister and her husband live in Rochester as well, and the fact that my brother (from San Diego) was there at the same time was a major bonus.

2. Sometimes you need to break up your routine a little bit, to “sharpen the saw” as they say. To devote a few days to recreation and doing things you normally wouldn’t do. I think they call this a “vacation”.

3. Creepin’. Going to the brand new, gigantic mausoleum at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery was actually my dad’s idea. The man has been known to take some pretty creepy photos of Rochester’s cemeteries over the last several decades, and I think it pleases him to see his eldest child following in his (nosy, mischievous) footsteps.

4. Great friends, good eats, and quirky, off-the-beaten-path shopping.

Now, for a whirlwind tour of two of Rochester’s most intriguing cemeteries, plus some family history to boot…

Mt. Hope Cemetery

It was raining when I stopped by Mt. Hope Cemetery on Thursday morning, so I didn’t get too many shots this time around. No biggie — I go there every time I visit Rochester.

Mt. Hope Cemetery

Brrrr, cold! – at Mt. Hope Cemetery

Through the broken back window of a small mausoleum in Mt. Hope.

Through the broken back window of a small mausoleum in Mt. Hope.

The following photos are from our adventures at Holy Sepulchre. A Catholic cemetery, Holy Sepulchre is broken up into two sections located across the street from each other. The section where my grandparents are buried is newer, and Catholic iconography appears on these markers and monuments to a noticeable — dare I say oppressive? — degree. The older section across the street is impressively Victorian in its styling, complete with breathtaking statuary and ornate family monuments sprinkled with moss and lichen. Despite the freezing temperatures, I was in heaven.

Inside the Christ Our Light Mausoleum. Brand new, we estimated between 100 and 200 spots were occupied or had been spoken for. How long will it take to fill this place up?

Inside the Christ Our Light Mausoleum. Brand new and a massive three stories, we estimated between 100 and 200 spots were occupied or had been spoken for. How long will it take to fill this place up?

Inside a niche, awaiting ashes.

Inside a niche, awaiting ashes.

The mausoleum's chapel.

The mausoleum’s chapel.

I avoid posting selfies on hObsessions, but I found this one fitting. Empty glass-front niches, waiting for cremains.

I avoid posting selfies on hObsessions, but I found this one fitting. Empty glass-front niches, waiting for cremains.

At the newer, super Catholic side of Holy Sepulchre. This is their version of what I call a "pretty lady".

At the newer, super Catholic side of Holy Sepulchre. This is their version of what I call a “pretty lady”.

Then we searched for our paternal and maternal grandparents…

Grandpa

Grandpa

Grandma

Grandma

Grandpa's casket was here for forty years by itself, until Grandma's urn was placed on top of it. My sister and I were discussing what we remember about it: pink marble with roses on top.

Grandpa’s casket was here for forty years by itself, until Grandma’s urn was placed on top of it. My sister and I were discussing what we remember about it: pink marble with roses on top.

Our tasks completed on the new side of the cemetery, the next morning we made our way to the older side of Holy Sepulchre…

I am in love with her.

I think I’m in love.

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I am lichen this more and more.

I am lichen this more and more.

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Oh deer! Our four-legged friends love a good graveyard. We saw seven more in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo the next day. Stay tuned for more Western New York adventures of a creeptastic nature!

Oh deer! Our four-legged friends love a good graveyard. We saw seven more in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo the next day. Stay tuned for more Western New York adventures!

* A special thanks to our friend Amanda who joined in on our family creep fest. Incidentally, she blogs about bath and body care products at The Soap Lady, which is brilliantly named after a saponified mummy on display at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.

Death Goes Downtown

Pretty much anytime I travel nowadays, I pre-Google cemeteries that are located in the vicinity of or on the way to my final destination. That’s why it’s super weird (even to me) that until just the other day, I hadn’t explored downtown Las Vegas’s three cemeteries.

Come this April, I will have resided in Vegas for eight years. The shameful, solitary excuse I have for my negligence is straight-up snobbery; I grew up with the rolling hills, suffragette gravestones and Victorian creepiness of the breathtaking Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY. No burial ground I’ve seen in real life has come close to inspiring me as much as my precious Mt. Hope has. Certainly the brown grass and 20th century headstones of Vegas’s finest funerary fields held no redeeming qualities for a slovenly, narrow-minded death tourist such as myself.

As I approach my 37th year on this planet, considering the recent expected and unexpected losses of favorite people in my life, I have finally come to appreciate nuance. Time. Beauty in the oft overlooked opportunity. (And alliteration, apparently.)

Let me show you what I discovered when I visited the Woodlawn and Palm Downtown cemeteries in February, 2015…

WOODLAWN CEMETERY

Founded in 1914, Woodlawn currently spans 40 acres at the intersection of Las Vegas Blvd. and Owens Ave. As of August, 2013, this downtown cemetery provided a final resting place for 28,288 of our dearly departed. It is owned by the City of Las Vegas, and is listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places.

Upon first glance, Woodlawn Cemetery appears to be rather small. Grass, mostly nondescript rectangular gravestones, teenagers cutting through the property on their way home from school.

A journey toward the “back” of the cemetery reveals another world entirely. Check out this drama!

Old trees line the central paved road that runs through Woodlawn.

Old trees line the central paved road that runs through Woodlawn.

One of the more unusual memorials at Woodlawn.

One of the more unusual memorials at Woodlawn.

One of the few gravestones at Woodlawn that probably wasn't positioned exactly where it used to be.

One of the few gravestones at Woodlawn that probably isn’t positioned exactly where it used to be.

The gray heart and angel stone located behind Mary's head is a very popular design here.

The gray heart and angel stone located behind Mary’s head is a very popular design at Woodlawn. I lost count of how many I saw, but they’re pretty tall and stand out among the shorter gravestones.

PALM DOWNTOWN MORTUARY AND CEMETERY

Palm Downtown opened their current location on Main St. in 1957. In 1958 they built Southern Nevada’s first mausoleum, naming it The Building of Eternity.

It just so happens that The Building of Eternity is one of my new favorite places in all of Las Vegas. The first time I visited (two weeks ago) I was in awe of its haunting beauty and peaceful atmosphere. I returned just a few days ago, notebook and pencil in hand. What follows are my observations from the cemetery on a Wednesday afternoon…

The parking lot is 80% filled with passenger vehicles, yet I only see two people walking among the grassy graves. Adrenaline. Excitement. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much I’m looking forward to visiting this mausoleum for the second time.

I opt to wander the grounds for a bit first. A few smaller mausoleums flank the property, towering over small grave markers that suggest cremains. Valentine’s flowers and balloons dot the relatively small graveyard; an angel with weathered wings presides over a plot reserved for the youngest children. The smell of freshly cut green grass is the predominant perfume out here — a rarity in our desert. The aroma shifts as I approach each marble building, live vegetation replaced by faint must.

The Building of Eternity. The temperature seems to drop at least five degrees as soon as I walk through the open doors. Dim, damp and cool; the mustiness mingles with a bleachy scent, almost peppery or slightly herbal for a second here and there.

Two impressive stained glass windows brighten up both ends of the entryway. Straight ahead a treed courtyard awaits, surrounded by vaults. A single statue resides in this roofless structure. A long hallway to the left of the courtyard runs the length of the mausoleum, leading to two more large, open air courtyards. Grass, benches, small graves in the center of each, surrounded by walls made of marble tombs. A few are “reserved”, a few bear no markings. Looks like there’s room for one more.

A handful of polite flies buzz around, completely uninterested in the living. In the distance, the “beep beep” of heavy excavation equipment.

I think back to the day we put my husband’s brother in the ground, almost one year ago. In my normal routine I push these blips aside; to be transported there regularly is more than my human brain can handle. But here people expect you to be sad. I go there, I cry. I am alone.

When the time is right I head out the same way I came in. Fear and anxiety have left me; I feel spent, somber, satisfied. Numb but free.

This could be addictive.

The Building of Eternity, entryway

The Building of Eternity, entryway

The Building of Eternity, first courtyard

The Building of Eternity, first courtyard

The Building of Eternity, long hallway

The Building of Eternity, long hallway

Weathered Wings

Weathered Wings and Many Thanks.