#101 The View From the Top

Survey in Southern UtahToday was the hottest day we’ve had yet this year.  The terrain was steep and there was no shade.  I went through my five liters of water by four o’clock and that is with a 7 am start time.  The survey was made more tolerable, physically, by the fact that we had a crazy number of features to record which slowed us way down.  It was the sort of day that makes me think.  First, though, a little about what we are doing (leaving out anything that can tie me to a location, my company, or any persons alive or dead.  See my post about getting fired for writing a blog…).

We’re working in this area that is adjacent a previously recorded mining complex and we’re just adding to it.  So, all the mining features that we found were recorded as features of that previous site.  Which means, no site record.  We just had to take photos, GPS points, and write up a feature description.

The day just had me thinking about life and this job.  There are certainly times when I am frustrated by what I’m doing or frustrated with my bosses or frustrated with my co-workers.  In the end, though, I would’t trade it for the world.  Well, I’d trade up for a PI job!  Someday someone will take a chance on me and I’ll get one.  I’m not worried.  I still may just have to start my own company, though.  

I got off track.  Oh right.  Work.  More to the point, field work.  I do love being home and getting to do all those homey, comfortable, things that homes provide, including my wife!  However, I love being in the field too.  Most of the time.  Today we were in some fairly steep terrain.  One of the wonderful things that steep terrain provides are great views.  When you take that last, laborious, step and you think you just can’t go any further, there it is, the view you’ve been waiting for.  I don’t care how many places I go or how many desert landscapes I see, it never gets old.  It’s always worth it.  Really.

People think archaeology is all about finding cool sites, handling rare and amazing artifacts, and (to some) getting chased by natives in some foreign land.  Well, sometimes it is all those things.  Most of the time, though, it’s good old survey.  Sometimes you walk for miles and don’t find a thing.  Sometimes you find lots of things but they are all just copies of the same thing, like prospect pits or mining claim cairns.  These are the days when you come to cherish your views.

I’ve had days where I thought, this will be my last season.  After this, I’m doing something else.  Yeah, it can get that bad.  But then, on your solitary transect with your nearest neighbor 30 m away, you get to the top, and you remember why you keep coming back.  There still is adventure in archaeology.  You just have to look for it.  Most people don’t get to see what we see on a daily basis.  Most people will never see these things.  Think of that the next time your crew chief is telling you to walk faster up that tabular basalt slope (you were just looking for a large scraper any way…), while your feet slip, the GPS is nearly crushed several times as you break your fall with it, and your pin flags are poking you in the ear.

We don’t have it all that bad.  Really.  Just look at the people around you that don’t do archaeology.  There is a reason that they envy you.  There is a reason that they wish they had followed their passions, like you did.  Tell them about your “bad” day hiking in the high desert or in the swamps of Georgia (OK, that’s pretty bad), or in the hills of Vermont.  Tell them and see what they say.  They’ll tell you how they got yelled at because the canned goods weren’t rotated properly or how the copier kept jamming.  Nice.  I’ll take a desert landscape that I had to work for any day.

Thanks for reading.  If you’re a crew chief, tell your crew they did a good job today.  They’ll appreciate it.  If you’re a crew member, do your best, ask questions, and learn something new every session.

Be safe and I’ll see you in the field.