#107 10 Days of Archaeology: Day 2

Woke up at about 0545 and, of course, immediately started the water for my coffee.  We have a seven o’clock start time so the morning is spent getting my pack ready and making sure I’m ready for the day.  I made a quick trip to the breakfast room at the hotel to see how bad that was going to be.  They had a waffle maker!  You know how I feel about waffle makers...Anyway, all I grabbed was a mini-bagel.

Out at the parking lot we had the usual first-day-of-survey talk with some confusion.  There are nine of us working in three crews.  We had to divide up the gear including a Trimble GPS for each crew, two digital cameras, a photo scale, and all the paperwork we’re going to need.  That settled, it was off to the gas station!

I used to get something unhealthy when going to the gas station.  Kind of saw it as a treat to just be able to go there in the morning.  That was years ago, though, and now, I just grab a few Gatorade’s if I get anything at all.

The project area is real close to town so it didn’t take long to get there.  We spent a few minutes putting on sunscreen and determining the plan-of-attack for the area we wanted to cover.

There are fences up all over the place and we have to cross them.  After having the bottom strand of a barbed-wire fence slip down when I went to cross over it last summer, resulting in a 10 in scar on my thigh, I usually go under now.  That was made so much easier out here because they use the newer fences with no barbs on the bottom strand.  Someone finally realized that cows are stupid and will be thwarted by only a couple strands of barbed-wire.  They put the un-barbed strand on the bottom so small animals, and archaeologists, can get through unharmed.  How nice of them.

The survey is pretty straight forward.  We’re recording smaller sites and isolates as we come to them and leaving larger sites for later (that’s called a flag-and-run).  We’ll record the large site if access is difficult.  For example, if we have to walk two miles just to get to the site then it’s not worth wasting time to walk four miles round trip later on when we could just record it right now.  Sometimes reason wins out in archaeology.  Not often, though.

We managed to get back to the truck for lunch at about 1:15 pm.  When you’re walking transects, lunch never happens at the same time every day.  I think the human brain just has a problem stopping in the middle of a transect to eat lunch.  We always have to go to the end.  We had a certain motivation to make it all the way to the truck for lunch.  The gatorade mentioned above was sitting in a pool of ice and just waiting to be consumed.

After lunch we split up and knocked out the remaining area, completing our goal for the day.  Didn’t find anything crazy.  Pretty usual northern Nevada survey.

When I got back to the hotel I sat down on the couch in my room for a while.  Sometimes you just want to sit for a bit after walking almost eight miles in 80 degree weather.  I had a few slices of pizza from the day before and a nice, crisp, Sam Adams Summer Ale.  By 6 pm I was feeling guilty and went on a 20-mile bike ride.  I keep track of my rides using the RunKeeper app on my iPhone which posts my rides to Facebook when I’m done.  I don’t know if anyone actually thinks this way but knowing that the ride posts to Facebook motivates me to go further.  When I really wanted to turn around (I was doing an out and back) at about eight miles, resulting in a 16 mile ride, I just thought about my friends seeing that and giving me shit for not making it to 20 miles.  So, irrationally, I pressed on.  It was a good ride but the headwind came on the return trip which made the ride quite taxing.  Glad I did it, though.

After a shower I recorded a few segments of my overdue podcast.  It’s going to be tough to get that out since I can’t even access the articles I need.  The WiFi here is ridiculously slow in the evenings since the hotel is full.  After a quick call to my wife I finished the book I was reading and went to bed.  Day 3 will be much the same as Day 2.  If all goes well, every day this session will be much of the same. Hopefully I’ll have something interesting to write about but that’s one of the points I want to drive home with this series: archaeology is not usually glamorous and exciting.  We work many days without finding or doing anything exciting just for that one exciting find.  That’s passion, and that’s why we continue to do this.

Check back tomorrow for Day 3.

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