Year-end countdown: The #5 most popular post of 2014

Counting down from #5 to #1, the 5th most popular post on the BTG blog this year is:

The ghost town of Bodie, CA.

 

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Video tour of Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Here’s a little something fun to watch.

 

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Happy Holidays!

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…from the BTG house to yours. I’ll be off for the next several days to enjoy some well-needed holiday time with my family but in case you need a cemetery fix, I’ve scheduled a neat video of the Hollywood Forever cemetery, plus the Top 5 posts from 2014 while I’m away.

There should be definitely enough to keep you all entertained.

And before I forget, a new theme’s coming in January–Symbols in the Cemeteries. Be sure to check out the neat (and funky) carvings and the meanings behind them.

See you next year!

 

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Snapshots: The Sleeping Angel

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This is hands down, my absolute favorite angel carving of all time.

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Denys Finch-Hatton: Last of the Edwardians

Obelisk

(For those of you who are big into the Edwardian drama, Downton Abbey, here’s one of BTG’s most popular posts I think you’ll really like. P.S., January 4th is when the next season begins).

Aviation pioneer and big game safari leader, Denys Finch Hatton was the quintessential Edwardian gentleman living in the romanticized era of large hats, garden parties and African safaris that occurred between Queen Victoria’s death and World War I.

Finch-Hatton is best remembered by his portrayal in Isak Dinesen’s book, Out of Africa, and by his connection with Beryl Markham, the first woman to fly east to west across the Atlantic Ocean. An aristocrat (his father was the 13th earl of Winchilsea) and educated at all the right schools (Eton and Brasenose College, Oxford) Finch-Hatton moved to British East Africa at the age of 24 and began indulging his love of big game hunting.

Later on, he would parley this experience into acting as a professional guide for wealthy big game hunters.

Yet safaris weren’t the only notable adventures to be had. Aviation was finally starting to come into its own after WWI and by 1929, it was estimated that out of every 100 airplanes owned in Great Britain, the majority of them were DeHavilland Gypsy Moths.

Finch-Hatton’s Gypsy Moth came in handy not only for scouting out potential trips for his clients but for also seeing the African landscape in a completely new way.

And then tragedy struck.

On May 14, 1931, Finch Hatton took off from Voi airport (outside of Nairobi) but never made it to his destination. The plane unexpectedly stalled, plunged to the ground and burst into flames. His body was later recovered for burial in his beloved Ngong Hills at a site marked with an obelisk and a simple brass plaque marker.

In April, 2009, Sabine Ludwig journeyed to visit both his grave and Karen Blixen’s house in Nairobi, Kenya

After traveling fourteen hours on the night train from Mombasa, we arrived in Nairobi the next morning at a beautiful train station that seemed as though it had been frozen in time since the early 1900s.

Nairobi is supposed to be the most dangerous city in Africa since the fighting  started in January, and houses are now equipped with at least two dogs, a security service and high electrical fences. However, Nairobi city center was a pleasant place to visit and the local people all very helpful. Of course we visited the house where Karen Blixen lived from 1914 to 1931. It’s a beautiful museum located in the Nairobi suburbs.

Blixen house 2

During our visit, we decided to take a taxi up into the Ngong Hills to look for the grave of Denys George Finch-Hatton. Unfortunately, the Ngong Hills become dangerous after night fall and we left the Karen Blixen museum later than planned.

The poor taxi driver.

Six miles of badly rutted dirt roads and one sunset later, we arrived at the obelisk where we managed to shoot a few photos before turning around for our long bone-rattling drive back to our guesthouse home, content with having seen this special part of Kenyan history.”

More Resources:

New York Times: In Search of Karen Blixen’s Kenya

New York Times Book Review: Too Close to the Sun: The Life of Denys Finch Hatton

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Snapshots: The race car driver

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Crown Hill Cemetery

 

George L. Smyth was born 1899 in Nova Scotia. Smyth was an early race car driver from the 1920s to the early 1930s, handling a variety of cars that included a 1915 Stutz, a Begg and a McDowell 

On March 4, 1934 he participated in his last race, a fifteen mile race for AAA Pacific Coast Big Cars in California. 

The track became so overblown with dust, drivers had difficulty seeing the course. One car, slowed by engine problems, conked out in one of the turns. The raised dust was so effective in hiding the disabled car that by the time Swede drove into the turn, it was too late to swerve away from a collision. The impact caused Swede’s car to roll, causing fatal injuries to him and two others. 

Source: Motorsport Memorials 

Check out this car racing clip from the 1940s. How times have changed! 

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Snapshots: A bevy of angels…

Barcelona angels

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December 15, 2014 · 05:30