#106 10 Days of Archaeology: Day 1

Today was a drive day.  That means, no work, just driving.  A lot of sessions start that way in the Great Basin.  Our drive is only three hours (Reno, NV to Battle Mountain, NV) but we had a few hours at the office getting paperwork and supplies together.

First, though, I woke up and made a latte.  That’s a great way to start the day: a home made, five-shot, sugar-free hazelnut (just a little), latte brewed with beans from Kenya.  I had some minor packing to do which just included my cold foods, my toiletries, and my pillows.  Yeah, pillows.  I never leave home without them.  The worst hotel on the planet with the worst bed in the world can be made tolerable by comfortable, familiar, pillows.

After stopping to get some ground coffee for my French Press I arrived at work at about 9:30 am.  I’m crew chiefing this time around so I had to make sure my paperwork box was fully stocked and that my supplies were in order.  Right after I got to work, however, I received a text alert about a search and rescue in progress in an adjacent state.

I’m the alerting officer for my Civil Air Patrol squadron and I’m responsible for notifying the rest of the squadron regarding a search and rescue.  The SAR wasn’t happening in our jurisdiction but we were asked to help out because they had a lot of ground to cover.  I had to make a few phone calls, lament about the fact that I could’t participate, and send the alert out to the other 50 members of the squadron.  With that taken care of I was ready to go.  

The truck I was driving had two others in it and we had a few errands to run before we left town.  We eventually left and began the three-hour drive to Battle Mountain where we’d be staying for the next eight days.  On the way I saw one of those things that makes you want to make the most of every day and spend time with those you love.

We were traveling at about 80 MPH eastbound on Interstate-80 near Winnemucca when I saw a few cars slowing down and getting into the left lane.  I quickly saw something blocking the right lane and spilling into the right of way on the southern side of the road.  Soon, I realized that what I was looking at was the underside of an 18-wheeler semi and trailer.  As we got closer we realized that there weren’t any emergency vehicles around indicating that the accident just happened.  Closer still, we saw that a number of vehicles had stopped and it looked like the driver was out of the truck.  No other vehicles were involved.  An indication that the accident had just happened was that the rear wheels on the trailer were still spinning at a high rate of speed.  

The accident sent visions through my head that had us next to the truck when it veer off the road and tipped over.  Or, had us careening into the truck right after it went sideways.  Any number of things could have happened and we would have been able to do little to avoid it.  Something like that can happen at any time.  Don’t wait to do what you want to do with your life, or to quit your job and get a better one, or to tell someone that you love them.  It’s just not worth it.  You don’t get a second chance.

We arrived in town at about 4:30 pm.  After unpacking for 30 minutes I went downstairs for a briefing about the project.  Not all project managers will do that and I appreciate the fact that ours did.  It’s nice to get on a new project and have it spelled out for you.  Some of your may be surprised to find out that not all sites and not all artifacts are recorded in the same way on every project out here.  The different Bureau of Land Management (BLM) districts out here do things slightly differently from each other.

The meeting spelled out our recording procedures and our plan of attack for the survey.  We discussed survey procedures and artifact recording procedures.  Most of the time we record everything in a project area.  For this area, however, we have some different procedures that needed to be discussed.  I won’t go into the details due to confidentiality agreements.

The evening was spent preparing my gear for the field, dealing with slow to non-existent internet, and blogging for you fine people.  Day 2 will be filled with fun survey and site recording in a mining feature heavy environment with no shade cover and high temps.  Should be a typical day in the high desert!

Come back tomorrow for Day 2.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field.