It was spring time in the desert and that meant it was time for Cemetery Crawl. Each April, folks with a love of Arizona history and historic cemeteries anxiously await the coming of the Amazing Cemetery Crawl. The seven teams of the Amazing Cemetery Crawl 10 arrived at the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park (cemeteries) in Phoenix, Arizona bright and early on Saturday, April 18, 2015. They were ready for another weekend trek along the back roads of Arizona seeking historic sites and cemeteries.
The Cemetery Crawl 9 teams, Twisted Minds, Ghostie Geckos, The Walkers, The Guided Ghostly Trio, Historians Ala Mode, Celtic Chicks, and Born to Wander received T-shirts, scarves, hats, lucky gnomes, goody bags, and info folders with the rules of the road. The theme for this year’s event was: “Arizona’s National Parks and Navajo Land Towns.”
The Amazing Cemetery Crawl was created in October 2005 as a way for graveyard enthusiasts to see and learn the history of cemeteries in Arizona. Teams are given directions to various cemeteries across the state. They also receive a poetic clue that describes the tombstone they are to photograph in each cemetery. There are several detours to complete which earn them “funny money” (play money) and extra points. Members of the Cemetery Crawl teams say this is a great way to discover long lost tourist meccas and historic places forgotten with the building of Interstate highways.
On hand to greet the Cemetery Crawl 10 teams were members of the Kaos Funeral Car Club with two of their hearses. Teams drew numbers to see which two teams would go first on a progressive relay, unloading a coffin from one hearse, walking around an obstacle, and reloading the coffin in a second hearse.
After completing the task, the teams were handed their first envelopes at the Pioneer and Military Memorial Park and discovered their first set of detours would have them traveling through downtown Phoenix to visit the Heard Museum, the News Chopper Crash Memorial at Indian Steel Park, and to place an American flag on the grave of a Viet Nam veteran at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona. Teams are asked to pose for a picture at each detour location to earn “funny money” points.
Heading north to Mayer, Arizona, the teams traveled to Mayer Cemetery to search for their first tombstone using a poetic clue handed to them in an envelope. Once the tombstone was found and photographed, the teams were handed their next set of clues and detours. Guided Ghostly Trio took an early lead, followed by The Walkers, and the Historians Ala Mode.
A short drive later found them all at in downtown Mayer where the teams needed to pose in front of the Antique Store (former saloon and dance hall), the Old Mayer Hotel and the old cribs from the old brothel next door. Then the teams drove another seven miles to the Humboldt Cemetery where they placed another American flag on the grave site of soldier Geo Lemmon White. It is here they did the Puzzle Challenge. Teams laid out their pieces of the puzzle and each team added additional pieces until the picture was completed. The last team was required to photograph the completed puzzle and bring the pieces back to the next check point. The was one time that it paid to be last!
From Humboldt, the teams traveled to Camp Verde, Arizona to photograph a 32-foot tall Kokopelli—symbol of the Navajo Indian God of Wealth and Fertility. Then it was off to the first National Park. Much to the Crawler’s delight, it was a FREE National Park weekend and their first stop was Montezuma Castle National Monument. Here, Crawlers had to ask a park guest to photograph their team with Montezuma Castle in the background. Then they were off to find a park ranger wearing a hat to join them in the photo. Farther up the road the teams exited Willard Springs Road to get a photo of the remaining snow on the San Francisco Peaks north of them and found their way to their next pit stop up the road.
The next cemetery clue search was in Calvary Cemetery located in the center of Flagstaff, Arizona. Last year’s winners, The Walkers grabbed the lead for first place. Guided Ghostly Trio moved to second place and Born to Wander closed in at third. A new batch of detours took the teams to a Fast Food stop and to snap a photo with the counter clerk, and the 3rd Annual Bear Pose Off in front of the famed (and most haunted) Route 66 Museum Club commenced. Marshall Shore, of the Historians Ala Mode, took home the cherished teddy bear for his prize.
Now the teams were headed north and turned off HWY 89 for a visit to the Sunset Crater National Monument—another FREE weekend option at the National Parks. In this park, teams were asked to photograph the park sign, stop and photograph the Bonito Lava Flow and stop at the Cinder Hills Overlook for a great view of the Sunset Crater. Following the loop through the park it joined with the Wupatki National Monument where again they photographed the sign and had a great time at the visitor center, the Wupatki Pueblo Ruins and demonstrated the force of the blow hole!
Continuing north the Crawlers made a stop at Cameron Trading Post—the Eastern Gateway into the Grand Canyon. There they photographed team members in front of the old trading post and went inside to find dinosaur tracks embedded into the stonework walls of the building. Just outside the parking lot the groups photographed a team member near the large suspension bridge over the Little Colorado River.
The seven teams headed east to the Tuba City Community Cemetery. The Crawlers parked their vehicles and walked to the grave of PVT Bancroft where they honored him with a beautiful bouquet of colorful flowers. Continuing East, their tasks were to photograph the rock formation called Elephant’s Feet and the old Black Mesa Coal Conveyer Belt from the Kayenta Mines.
Once in Keyenta the group was asked to stop at the local Burger King where they photographed the Navajo Code Talker’s Exhibit within the fast food venue. Following HWY 150 the teams visited the Keyanta Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery where they were treated to quite a view of Monument Valley and the famous ‘Mitten’ rock formation. At the cemetery, teams put a bundle of colorful flowers on the grave of Bonnie Luna Chief. The teams recited a sacred flower seed ritual and blew their wishes to soft blowing winds towards the majestic Monument Valley.
Then it was on to the finish line! A scenic drive southeast took the teams into the town of Chinle, Arizona—their final destination of the evening. One by one, the teams arrived at the Sacred Canyon Lodge snuggled near the walls of Canyon De Chelly.
Debe greeted the teams at The Pit Stop for Day One of Cemetery Crawl 10 in the courtyard of the Scared Canyon Lodge. The top three teams of the day were The Walkers, second place was Ghostie Geckos, and rounded out third place was The Guided Ghostly Trio. Celtic Chicks were fourth, Born to Wander came in fifth, Twisted Minds were sixth, and the Historians Ala mode (who missed their turn) succumbed to last place.
With the town eating spots closing early—and the variance of the Teams finish times—the usual Team get together dinner had to be forgone. Teams enjoyed a restful night in their rooms dreaming about the next day’s adventures.
Will the teams survive another day on the dusting roads leading to some of Arizona’s early trading post towns and National Parks? Will they be visited by spirits of Canyon De Chelly during the night? Learn Spider Rock. Find out how long it took the teams to put together the puzzle in the scramble egg game. Who will get lost? Will anyone strike it rich? Who will win the Amazing Cemetery Crawl 10?
Be sure to come back and read Part 2 and the exciting conclusion of Cemetery Crawl 10!
See links below to other great adventures from Cemetery Crawl 5—6—7—8—9 which include a musical slide show!
Debe’s note: More slides will be added to this slide show AND a full musical slideshow will be coming soon!
Arizona Haunted Sites Examiner: Debe Branning firstname.lastname@example.org