#114 10 Days of Archaeology: Day 8

Today is the last day of the session.  For some projects this means a drive day home.  For others it’s a partial day of work and then a drive home.  Since we work ten-hour days and our drive is under four hours we decided to work from 7 am to 12:30, have lunch, then drive home.

The crews split a bit differently this morning because one of our crew members had to leave the session early.  So, It was just me and one other person this morning that were sent to clean up a small area of survey.  Of course, in the Great Basin, nothing is predictable.

For most of the session it’s been in the mid-90s (F) and a bit windy in the afternoon.  This morning we woke up to upper 30s and snow on the mountain peaks.  During our survey it snowed annoying little ice pellets for several hours, off and on.  I know that the weather here can be crazy but I still didn’t expect to be wearing a jacket and gloves in the beginning of June.

That brings up something I should have mentioned in the first post: clothing options.  I almost always have my light, Under Armor gloves in my pack.  They are light and don’t take up much space.  I also usually have a light jacket in the hotel room that I can grab if the forecast suggest that it might cool off.  Usually it doesn’t.  Today, however, was a jacket day and I’d have been in pretty bad shape if I didn’t have it.  Out here, you have to be prepared for anything.  A good, light, rain jacket works well as a wind breaker too.  Luckily for me, the jacket I had was good enough.  The weather out here will certainly keep you on your toes!

Anyway, back to the survey.  We only had a small portion to do and had plenty of time to do it.  When we started our last transect back to the truck we were on course to finish the area by 10:45 or so and be back to the meeting spot about an hour early.  We were looking forward to a hot cup of coffee and a respite from the wind.  So, all you archaeologists out there know what happens next, right?  We found a site!  Of course.  Not a single site in that entire area and we find one on our last pass.  So, we spent about 45 minutes recording it and got to the rendezvous point ten minutes late.  So much for hot coffee.  It was a so-so site for the area and easy to record, at least.

Good bye, old friends.

Today marked the last day for my boots too.  I didn't have them long but they were very good to me.  I've hiked a lot of miles in those boots both on and off the clock.  The boots are light hikers from Keen (I didn't even know Keen made hiking boots before I bought these) and they cost about $200.  Most people get some sort of leather boots for hiking in and I used to as well.  The boots I've had in the past (quality, expensive, boots) were all great for most days.  However, when days started reaching nine or more miles my feet would hurt and sometimes I'd get blisters.  Maybe it's my fat and wide feet.  Who knows.  I never once had a blister from these boots.  They are super comfortable for every mile of every day.  They just don't last too long when you are walking on abrasive rock and are crashing through sagebrush and shadscale all day.  However, my feet are what helps me earn a living so if I have to spend $200-$300 a year on them, it's worth it.

The drive home was windy and we experienced periodic heavy rain and mixed rain/snow.  We also saw another semi-truck accident (see the first post in this series).  Just shows that anything can happen any time.

At the end of a session with this company there is always something to do back at the office.  Some companies do their hours differently and dismiss the field techs in the field.  As a tech you are free to pursue your weekend activities at that point.  As a crew chief or regular employee you usually have to deal with cleaning the trucks, filing paperwork, and putting gear away.  For this company the entire crew usually leaves from, and returns to, the office.  That means there are plenty of people to help clean up at the end of the session and we can all go home a little earlier.

I ended the session by having sushi with my wife at our favorite place in Reno, Ijji 2.  We often have sushi at the end of the session which is about every two weeks.  I like to do that because, well, the sushi is amazing there, and, it’s such a different atmosphere and experience from the field.  When we go to that sushi place it’s almost like my mindset is altered from being in the field to being a member of society again.  You can get caught up in the “field way of life” while you’re out there and forget what everyone else in the world is doing.  In the field you learn to wear dirty clothes day after day and eat food that my be somewhat questionable to others.  You walk for miles in the desert, dodging rabbits, finding thousands of years old projectile points, and abandoned mine shafts with miles of tunnels beneath them and think, “doesn’t everyone do this for a living?”  No, they don’t.  Going to sushi (or your restaurant of choice) is my way of changing my perspective.  In six days everything flips and the cycle begins again.

Come back tomorrow for the final installment in this series.

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