Our friends met up on San Jaun Island in late September to celebrate birthdays. One of our stops besides the search for foxes at American Camp was Roche Harbor Cemetery and the McMillin Mausoleum.
Parking is on the edge of the Roche Harbor airport. The entrance has you wind your way on narrow paths through a small pioneer cemetery before coming to the gates of “Afterglow Vista”. The McMillin family incorporated this name as their final resting place in relation to the beautiful summer sunsets in the harbor.John Stafford McMilin was born on October 28th 1855 in Indiana. He is a 32° Mason – Knight Templar – Noble of Mystic Shrine Sigma Chi – Methodist – Republican. The tomb has a replica of the McMillians dining room table. The table is made of limestone to reflect the business the family ran in Roche Harbor along with fellow investors.
The 6 seats are actual crypts for the McMillin family ashes.The mausoleum was designed to have an intentional broken pillar that allows the sun light to shine during the vernal equinox (1st day of spring) which I assume is sybolic for “born again”. The placement of the chairs was also symbolic and in June the sun shines specifically on the crypts of McMillin and his wife.Buried in the cemetery is over 27 employees and thier children from the Roche Harbor Lime and Cement Company.
Waited all summer to get outside in this area up North with Ms. M! We camped at a deluxe cabin on the Puget Sound water front. No joke, haha! The shuttle van driver thought we were the next guest speaker because this cabin had a dedicated bathroom with shower separate from the sleeping quarters yet, still attached to the cabin. We hiked, skipped rocks on the water annnnnd … Still made sure to visit a local cemetery on our homeward bound trek.My favorite part? My favorite part was learning that cattails are eatable, at least some parts, getting a cabin right behind the gift shop, seeing the boathouse where they have historic and group activity events, oh!!! And the cafe – it’s so granola.
Some of the staff are retired soccer mom’s and some are 20s aged with dreadlocks. All of them were talking about soil related topics. Yes, I was dropping as I waited for Ms. M to arrive for breakfast. The smells I liked most were the wet tree moss, the salty beach front air, musty cabin and cafe fresh-herb aroma. At the cemetery my impression was more of a floating quandary of questions. Wondering about the cemetery sextants and what their experiences on-site had been. I imagined the burials and ceremonies that had taken place since before I was even a thought in anyone’s mind. It was, as it is with these thoughts, awe inspiring and joy provoking.
This might be a great place to start our origin story.
September 23rd, 2017. A road trip to Portland, Oregon from Seattle, Washington.
Just us girls in Michelle’s little Fiat, precious escape from work and any excuse to get out of town for my birthday. Dry and sunny weather made for easy traveling outside the cities.
Michelle describes herself as a, “gypsy punk, exploring quite places.” I have been lucky to be her exploring buddy on many a trip.
Her talent of remembering history and stories of the places and people has long been something I admire about her.
We arrived at Wilhelm Portland Memorial in the early afternoon and proceeded to explore the historic building.
Founded in 1901, Wilhelm Portland Memorial is the “largest and oldest indoor cemetery west of the Mississippi.” There is a population of 90,000 people laid to rest within the 10 floors at Wilhelm.
The mausoleum used to be open to the public, but became private in the ‘00s after a rash of copper thefts. Thieves were stealing name placards, flower sconces and other items off the property.
Not only is this indoor cemetery the biggest mausoleum I have seen, in person to date, it is also where Michelle has a relative interred and thus our visit. The 70s couches, copper flower trash cans and hand painted (1000s of square feet! HUGE!) mural are weaved together with polished marble, beautiful fountains and spiral staircases.
We ended our self guided exploratory tour at her relatives marker. This felt like the perfect place to leave my birthday rose that I had with me from the second date with Matt…. that I had been toting around with me for 2 days, across 2 states and giddily sniffing it’s soft fragrance while road tripping.