Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Cemetery Visit: Downer Cemetery

One of the fabulous aspects of southeastern Michigan are the historic cemeteries – especially around Detroit.  Remember: Detroit had a Golden Age and there were people of means building mausoleums with sphinxes guarding the doors.  I am privileged to live near Woodlawn Cemetery at 8 Mile and Woodward.  I’ve spent many fascinating hours, wondering around the obelisks and stained glass and marble.  My family consists of several major history buffs so to see the great Detroit names or the names of the soldiers from the Spanish-American war or the zinc monuments…. Wonderful. 

Did you know that cemeteries were the foundation of the National Park system?  In Amerca’s earlier years, families would travel from cities out to the cemeteries to visit their beloved late relatives.  They would bring picnic lunches and stroll among the headstones along tree-lined rolling paths.  Because of the travel time, they would spend the entire day out there.

So, imagine my joy when I discovered that a majority of Michigan cemeteries contain caches.  Now, for those of you not in the know, don’t worry. There is nothing disrespectful about this.  We don’t hide caches on graves.  We don’t have bands of caching enthusiasts disrupting the solemn Sunday visits.  We only display respect.  In many instances, it’s our group that cleans the neglected cemeteries (CITO) or lift the stones upright.  Our caches tend to be in the wooded areas that line the perimeter.  And, quite often, they are puzzle-related so that you learn a little history or can photograph really neat stones.  In the more rural areas, we are the only visitors….

This is a typical note posted on most SQ (Spirit Quest) caches:

The "SQ" in the Cache Name denotes a Geocaching Spirit Quest. This designation is to distinguish Caches that are placed in Cemeteries or Memorial Gardens and have a more Spiritual Meaning than most Caches that are out in the rest of the World. These may be not be found after dark or by certain Times of Day as well as those hunting them must be more respectful of the surroundings due to the fact that these areas have residents that have passed-on and should be respected, as well as the Natural Landscape that is above Ground. The "SQ" caches were started by cachers in Northwest Ohio and has since spread to many other states as well as Canada.

Last night I was out with Team STD (scrapcat, TaGeez and Da Finns).  One of our stops was the Downer Cemetery, a little gem tucked away in Wayne.  I found the sign fascinating.

I didn’t get a chance to take too many photos as there’s no night caching in Michigan cemeteries, and it was getting late.  But here’s a few. 

Such a quiet oasis off a very busy freeway exit.


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