Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On to the next adventure

I emailed my resume in before going to bed Tuesday night. I got a reply Thursday night. Not only did I get the job, but they wanted me to join the crew on Monday…in Ohio. Friday I went shopping and packed, Saturday I ate lunch with the family and headed out with Meowthew as my only companion.  Saturday night was spent in a hotel in Kentucky and I was here in St. Clairsville, Ohio, by Sunday night.

The weekend drive

Driving alone can be relaxing. It being the weekend, I’m totally avoiding rush hour traffic. And I don’t have to exit this highway for another hour at least. I go between Owl City, a Vans Warped Tour Compilation cd, and local country stations. After all, I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s musical preference. Except for Meowthew's. But he likes pretty much whatever I like. 

These highways have been surrounded by trees pretty much the whole way since Arkansas. And as I travel between states, I feel like I’m traveling between seasons.  The forests in Arkansas were still dressed in a lush summer green. But as I make my way further north, the trees fade into a lighter shade of green, splotched with soft yellows and oranges and little spurts of deep red. Enjoying the view but knowing that it comes in exchange for seeing the colors change in the Ozarks, I drink it in as I go.

Monday, Sept 29th

As we all stand in a circle in a Rural King parking lot, awaiting orders so we can hop in the van and get to work, I sit and chat with my crew. There is only one other woman, but she’s cool, and none of the guys are creepy. This looks promising so far.

After a little bit of navigation trouble and “is this really a road or someone’s driveway??” We find the area we are supposed to survey today.

Basically, before putting in a pipeline, the pipeline people are required to make sure they aren’t about to tear up any burials or other culturally significant sites. Thus, they hire private firms, which hire archaeology and anthropology majors like me as archaeological technicians. And then we comb miles and miles of land for possible sites.

We find our bearings and spread out in a straight line. We use our compasses to make sure that we are walking straight and in the same direction. Then we walk, scanning the ground for artifacts.   Every 15 meters, we each dig a small whole and run the dirt through a small screen made of a wooden frame and metal mesh, checking for artifacts.

My first couple of holes are completely sterile. The next would-be hole, fifteen meters away, is on a steep slope. Erosion will have taken anything that was once here, so I move along. Pretty soon we are all in the woods on the side of a hill. The slope and vegetation means digging here is a no-go. But we head single file through the clearest trail we can make to check out the rest of the area…each person carrying his or her own shovel and screen. 

At the bottom of the slope is a dry creek bed. While crossing it, I slip on a rock. I catch myself on my screen, but a bit of the cut edge of the metal mesh is sticking out from under the wooden frame and scrapes my arm up a bit. Battle wounds already! I’ll have to get a back pack I can clip the screen onto, as many of the others have done.

After all, this is only the beginning.