As I sit here typing, I notice that I have an extremely awesome farmer tan acquired by spending copious amounts of time in the Black Rock desert. Yes, my friends, it is field school time. What is field school you are asking? Well, allow me to tell you. Field school is basically a crash course in archaeology and the way universities exploit students for free labor.
The site, Sulphur, is an old mining town founded in the late 1800s and abandoned around the 1950s. The first week of school was spent doing inventory. Basically this means walking around and figuring out just exactly what is out there. Each of us was assigned a transect, or a specific course to follow. We stood about 30 meters apart and walked and walked and walked, flagging anything of interest. I seriously had ADD, because I could not stay in a straight line. I would see something cool and run over to flag it, forgetting that I was supposed to stick to my transect. Needless to say, my first run was not a straight line. But, as is usually the case, I got better as time went on.
Next, we defined features. A feature can be anything from the remains of a house, to a scatter of cans left out in the desert. In the end we had over 100 features. They ranged anywhere from a mound of dirt left by people prospecting for gold, to an intact dugout, lined with cardboard boxes.
After defining the features, we set out to record them. My partner is a tall redheaded guy whom I will call Opie. I feel bad for him because he is getting slowly roasted out in the desert. He borrows SPF 70 sunscreen from another student, whom I will call SpongeBob, due to his smashing rendition of the SpongeBob campfire song (more about that later.) He doesn't talk very much, but that is okay because I more than make up for his lack of conversation. We spend the day taking angles, drawing feature maps, and measuring cans. We also manage to chase lizards, particularly horny toads. We have found three and named them Harvey, Tyler, and Roy.
We have been particularly lucky this year to have rain everyday. This, as you can imagine, makes sleeping in a tent quite pleasant and fun!
Due to the intensity of the sun (when it is not raining) we work from 6:30 to 2:30. After that everyone is exhausted and we basically all fall asleep until eating dinner at 5. We have decided that we are running on senior citizen time because we go to bed at 8. The downtime is spent telling offensive stories to one another. I know that you are thinking and they are not all from me!! SpongeBob might just possibly talk more than I do. I know, shocking! I can tell that sometimes he gets on another student, Alaska's nerves. I have taken advantage of this fact to amuse myself. I try, whenever possible, to get SpongeBob to sing the campfire song, just to annoy Alaska. Last Friday they finally figured out what I was doing, to which SpongeBob replied, "Natalie, we are not your playthings." I disagree.
Because this just wouldn't be a blog posting from me unless it discussed the bathroom in some shape or form, I will honor you would more information than you could ever want. The nice accommodations reside at our campsite. We have a nice wooden box with an attached toilet seat residing over a freshly dug hole. The view from the latrine is quite stunning. One morning I was watching the sunrise as I did my morning business. When I stood up I noticed a ginormous black widow centimeters from where my bum had been. It was super disturbing.
The bathroom at the site is non existent. The land is completely flat and there isn't a tree to be found. The guys have it easy. Basically they walk like ten feet away and turn around. The girls have to walk a good ten minutes to find anything big enough to act as cover.
Well, I am off. More next week!