#21 The Holy Grail

This is day two of my second 8-day session with the new company.  We are working in Eureka, NV, a small little mining town on U.S. 50.  We couldn’t stay here last session because all of the hotels (three, I think) were full.  So, we stayed in Ely, NV, which is about 75 miles east of here.  

Staying in Ely had it’s ups and downs.  First, the hotel was a bit old and run down but nearly all of the hotels in Nevada are.  The room we were given was “recently converted” to a non-smoking room.  The conversion took place on paper only and the room smelled like an AA meeting.  It took three days of air fresheners to make it livable.

The upside to Ely was it’s proximity to activities and civilization.  We were right in downtown and near several restaurants.  We only tried this little Chinese place but it was nice to have options.  The hotel had so-so internet, small refrigerators, and no breakfast options.  Also, we had an hour and a half drive to the site in Eureka in the morning and afternoon.

We found out at the end of the last session that we’d be staying at the Best Western in Eureka for this session.  We also found out that they don’t have refrigerators or microwaves and that the internet is bad.  It turns out that some of the rooms have refrigerators, all of them have microwaves, and the internet isn’t that bad.  There are also HDTVs with HDMI connections so we can get our Netflix on the Apple TV or from the computer.  Nice.

The room we have is large, with a King bed and a nice desk and chair.  It’s not often that we get to stay in rooms this nice with these amenities while we are working.  Usually there aren’t these types of rooms available in small town Nevada.  Most towns have non-chain small hotels with few options.  Other amenities include a large spa-style hot tub and a small workout room with weights and a treadmill.  After walking 7.5 miles today I’m not sure I need the treadmill.  The app I use to track distance and calories on my iPhone said I burned 1700 calories.  If it’s off by even a few hundred I think I’m fine for exercise today.

Since we started the session with a drive out and a half day of work yesterday I hadn’t tried the breakfast options yet.  Most hotels have muffins, coffee, and maybe a sweet treat of some sort.  You get used to Nevada towns having pretty much whatever Costco sells for breakfast.  Sometimes, if you’re lucky, there will be juice.  Very occasionally there will be something hot and a full on breakfast is right out.

I left the room at 6:30 this morning to go check out the options.  As I rounded the corner to the breakfast area I saw the cereal choices come into view.  They were the standard boxed cereal that you could turn into a bowl and pour milk into as a kid.  I used to look forward to camping just so I could cut my box open and make it into a bowl.  There were about eight options including the standards: Cheerios, Raisin Bran, and Frosted Flakes.  There were a couple non-standard options like a granola cereal too.  Then the milk boxes came into view as well as some hard boiled eggs.  That’s when I saw it.  The holy grail of hotel breakfast amenities: The Waffle Iron.

Staying in small towns all the time you learn to appreciate the little things in life.  We don’t usually eat much for breakfast because we have to bring it.  We usually focus on lunch and dinner options instead.  It’s easy to skip breakfast and just have a snack.  The Waffle Iron changes everything.

When I see a waffle iron it immediately takes me to a lazy Sunday morning where I get to have a tasty hot breakfast with peanut butter and syrup.  Maybe some eggs and sausage too.  It makes living on the road just a little bit more tolerable and, even, enjoyable.  

There was a kid on our crew last session that took two small backpacks with him on session.  One was a field bad and one had some clothes in it.  He bought all of his food in the town we were in and ate out at restaurants a lot.  He’s young and likely hasn’t been doing this long so he still sees the work sessions as a short excursion to “the field” that he’ll soon return from.  This attitude is fine for some people but I think it’s depression inducing in others.  I need to feel like I’m living a normal life when I’m on session.  I bring a coffee maker or a french press and we eat mostly food that we made before we left.  I like to bring things that help me personalize the room and make me feel at home.  

That’s why I love seeing the waffle iron.  It doesn’t matter that the waffle didn’t really taste all that good and that the sugar free syrup is really an acquired taste that I haven’t acquired yet.  That’s not the point.  It’s that good “home” feeling that I get when I’m making it and when it is sitting in front of me.  The little things are what make this life possible and fun.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll put banana pieces on it.

So, this weekend, when you are sitting by the window with your coffee and enjoying a hot breakfast, think of me and all of the other hard working archaeologists that are going down to the lobby just hoping to see a waffle iron or some semblance of home.  We do it because we love it.


Written at Uncommon Grounds, a coffee shop, in Eureka, NV (Established  in 1864).