Arbor Day – Wyuka Cemetery Nebraska City, Nebraska


IMG_0075We stumbled across a unique cemetery and learned about Arbor Day because we failed to follow one of our golden rules. You might be wondering what was the golden rule we broke. It is “never go to a walk-in campground (one where you expect to find first come first serve camping spots) on a Friday or Saturday”. We arrived at Waubonsie State Park on a Friday after leaving a deserted Pine Lake State Park only to find the whole campground taken over by a renaissance reenactment group. So we drove over the flooded Missouri River into Nebraska to find a very clean, modern, and reasonably priced Victorian Acres RV Park which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. If we hadn’t been there, we wouldn’t have taken the time to go to the cemetery.

What is Arbor Day? It’s a day set aside to plant trees and it was officially started in Nebraska City, Nebraska in 1872.  If your interested, you can read about J. Morgan Sterling, the man who is known as the founder of Arbor Day here.

So, now for the segue between Arbor Day and Wyuka Cemetery. After the declaration of Arbor Day, it became popular to have a headstone with an arbor motif. They must have been pretty scandalous at the time.  I think you’ll agree they are unique!


Those logs and stumps are made from stone!

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IMG_0061There were other headstone that were not a part of the Arbor Day theme but were poignant none the less. It’s always sobering to see the number of children and young people who died.

IMG_0072Larry found this cemetery thanks to a free app and computer program called Roadside America. Here is a link to the program

Lizard Effigy Mounds, Effigy Mounds National Monument and Pikes Peak State Park

Wherever we travel, I am drawn to ancient burial grounds.  I have been very moved by the sites I visited in Ireland and the Orkney Islands of Scotland.

It’s a curious thing. I am not drawn to cemeteries or to mass burial sites. There’s just something about the energy of these old ceremonial sites that really speaks to me. I guess you could say it feels like being in a church or other holy place that has held the good wishes and prayers of many people over the years. Maybe those intentions mark the place – give the place the good feeling. Maybe the ancient ones had a clearer feel for those places on Mother Earth that are energetically clean, that feel good to be around; places that call to us to be our better selves. So, they built the mounds on those places. Maybe. I  sense the generosity of the folks who lived near the mounds long ago. When I am there, I think that they wish me well. I think that they might be dancing and celebrating the fact that their children had children who had children, on and on, and then there was me.  They remind me how short life is and how precious – a gift. I’ll never know if I just make up this whole experience as a figment of my imagination or as a clear receiving. Either way, the message is a great one. Appreciate life. Celebrate each other. Honor the Earth – inhabit her deeply with your whole self.

Larry and I just travelled to some burial mounds in Wisconsin and Iowa. They were beautiful and very moving for me. Photography really isn’t a great medium for capturing the essence of these places but that’s what I’ve got. I hope you can visit them some day!

Lizard Effigy Mounds in Farmington, Wisconsin

Effigy Mounds National Monument. These mounds are in McGregor, Iowa on top of a ridge that overlooks the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers.

the pastPikes Peak State Park was a splendid park with many trails along the mounds.

What sort of places do you consider sacred?


Blackhawk Memorial County Park

We’d never been to Wisconsin and the weather was nice so we decided to go north after Iowa City.

Our first stop was a campground called Blackhawk Memorial County Park . It was no doubt one of the more beautiful camping areas we’ve come across.

We’re calling it a Gem despite all the “official” campsites being flooded out and my getting Shiny stuck in a wet area.

Thanks to Coach-Net, a 2 year road side assistance insurance policy which came complimentary with the purchase of Shiny, we were winched out an hour after we called thanks to Al of Al’s Towing and his two trusty helpers.

Tow truck

We spent the first night stuck in the field. After getting winched out we moved to firmer ground right beside the lake.

The place was quiet and peaceful. Fish jumped completely out of the water in search of a bite to eat. There were herons and egrets. Canadian Geese were landing, playing, and taking off in front of us. Ducks casually swam along and turtles lumbered across the pathways.

The park itself is on the site of an 1830’s battle between local militia and Native Americans led by Black Hawk, a Sauk leader. Part of the Blackhawk Wars.

It is hard to believe a battle had been fought here. A small memorial monument and a sign saying ‘Bloody Lake’ reminded us that the European settlement of this area came at such a price.

We stayed 4 days alone here in this quiet, tranquil little corner of Wisconsin.

Finding the Peace Rock might be a little tricky this time. It also might be the last time we hide it since we can’t find it. We’re looking!