I'm going to be on vacation from this Wednesday until Monday (I work weekends, so this is a full 6 days off). I'm not really going anywhere, I just want to not be at work! I am going to try and use my vacation time to work on some genealogy.
I actually started yesterday by visiting my Uncle's grave for the first time. He was buried in the Shadowlawn Cemetery just across town, so it wasn't exactly hard work. On the other hand, there are a few cemeteries I'm planning to visit are about 2.5 hours away. I'm planning to visit two cemeteries in Lincoln County, GA where my Albea family ancestors are buried. Time permitting, I might drive up the GA/SC border to Elbert and Hart Counties, GA and visit cemeteries where my Craft family ancestors are buried. I've been to some of the Elbert County Cemeteries before, but haven't been to the others, so they would be priority.
I've visited a number of church cemeteries before and have learned a few things. Most importantly, given the small size of many of these cemeteries, my goal is to photograph every headstone. In good conditions, it takes less than five seconds to photograph a headstone (without pausing to read or otherwise record the stone). Assuming around 200 - 300 graves, it wouldn't take nearly an hour to photograph the entire cemetery, though delays should be expected for old, illegible or damaged stones.
Ok, but why photograph the entire cemetery? Because in such a small, rural community, I usually find that stones that I didn't photograph turn out to be some sort of relatives. I learned this lesson the hard way with a cemetery a few years ago. I didn't photograph a number of graves with distant family surnames, only to later learn that these folks were actually more closely related.
My pre-planning includes updating my new netbook with Google Earth and mapping out all of the cemeteries that I might possibly visit. I'll be able to use the program without internet access and will be able to navigate routs from place to place (and if my sister's reading this maybe I can borrow her GPS?). Other steps in my planning include researching the churches to make sure that I'm not going to interrupt any meetings or services; prepping my two cameras to make sure that my batteries are fully charged and are set to the take the correct size/type of photo; finding my extra memory cards, as well as a usb cable to load the photos on my computer if I really need to; buy yummy car trip snacks. I'm also wondering about the safest way to decipher hard to read headstones. I've heard that aluminum foil is currently considered the safest and gives great results. I'll have to look into this...