Thursday, July 11, 2013

Archaeology awesomeness and recent revelations!

I have said it before, and I'm saying it again.....I LOVE ARCHAEOLOGY!  Archaeology, I've learned, is so much more than digging in the dirt.  This is especially true when I stop and actually think about the whole "historic building restoration" aspect of the job.  I'm not sure what I thought it would be like...I mean, the whole "restoration" part never translated as "building a house foundation."  Clearly, I have some things to learn.  

Legit building construction.  Color me impressed.
For the project in general, they've been doing a whole lot of foundation support building and whatnot; however, several of us got to go rock shopping through the mining tailings in the Little Rockies.  What that means is I get to drive here:

My view whilst jealous.  (Just FYI,  I was parked when I took this, because it is most definitely not safe to take pictures and drive off-road across streams at the same time....might drop my phone.  Safety first!)

I drive there and follow these road signs:

And as I drive along these ravines full of rocks and across streams, I stumble upon stuff like this:

I like to think that the driver thought, "If we're crashing, we're making it epic!"

In addition to collecting ginormous stones for the foundation, there was also a lot of digging.  Between people with shovels and a backhoe, about 2 feet of soil was removed from around the house in order to expose the foundation.  And this wasn't just immediately around the house, it was at least 6 feet out from around the house.

Imagine this, but evened out and all around the house.
Of course, I couldn't let all this churned up dirt go unsearched.  The archaeologist in me continuously looked for artifacts, and I'm pretty proud of my haul!  We haven't screened anything, because we aren't excavating per se, but between me randomly searching the piles, and other people looking for stuff we've found this: 

Bone, ceramics, tin pull-tabs, a thimble, glass, and a fossilized squid!!  

In addition to all the above awesomeness, archaeology in Montana has also taught me a little something about myself:  I am a fearless pansy.  I attribute this to living in big cities, thereby avoiding exposure to things a lot of people in the country deal with on a daily basis (or I could just be making excuses). My fearless pansy-ness was made very clear to me as we sat in the yard of the Ranger Station eating lunch.  I was just sitting there, munching away on my broccoli and hummus, when all of a sudden a freaking spider ran up over my leg and into my lunch box.  I promptly said something along the lines of "oh, shit!" and chucked my lunch box about a foot away.  Then, not five minutes later I look down and there's another freaking spider sitting on my leg.  I all but ordered my boss to get it, which he did, complete with a "Hulk smash" moment.  I am forever grateful.  So, I thought I had gotten used to spiders, evidently I was mistaken.  

Here is a tick on the hunt.  Epically creepy.  Those are front
legs...not antennae.
Aside from spiders, there's ticks.  Ticks!  Ticks are creepy little shits that grab ahold of you as you go walking, then they crawl up and all over you, only to find their little tick happy place on your body where they proceed to bury their freaking heads into you in order to suck your blood.  They hang out on plants with their 6 back legs holding onto the plant and their 2 front legs sticking out waiting.  Did you count that?  8 legs.  8.  Flip it sideways and it is the infinity symbol.  Like they have an infinite amount of legs. 

I'm done now.  Anywho, in my 18 years living in the greater Los Angeles area, I never saw a tick.  I'm not even sure I knew what a tick was....except for that cartoon The Tick, but yeah.  I didn't have my first tick experience until my dog had one feasting on his muzzle in Hawaii.  Then I got to Virginia and we had a few, but mostly on/in the dogs.  The one time I found one on me we were in a car, so I freaked out until the car pulled over, jumped out and bounced around for a few minutes.  By the way, I was totally wearing pants, not shorts, and it was on my jeans.  So, 6 years, one tick.  I get to Montana, and I found at least one tick a day!  I very quickly got over them. Or so I thought.  I was fine with them until I washed one out of my hair.   

He was IN my hair.  
Because of him, I now apply a bug spray with 40% deet.  Haven't had any since, but now I'm just waiting to find that one that is embedded.  I know it will happen sometime between now and September, but.....eewww. 

Caterpillars I can deal with!  Especially beautiful ones!
 And then today I initiated Operation Counter Poison Ivy.  You see, we went out to the Missouri River in order to learn all about weeds that they don't like in Montana.  Noxious invasive weed species....plants.  They were green, I think.  The point is, I was 5 steps into the plant life when our illustrious instructor suddenly stops and goes, "I forgot to ask, is anyone allergic to poison ivy?"  To which I asked, "There's poison ivy here?"  And then I proceeded to notice (now that someone pointed out actual living poison ivy plants) that I strolled right on through a bunch of it.  Fan-freaking-tastic.

My freak out continued (internally for the most part, at least) the whole way home.  And then!  I proceeded to stand just outside my apartment door, took off my shirt (I had a tank-top on, get your mind out of the gutter) and used it to untie and carry my boots.  Then I tip-toed into my apartment straight to the bathroom where I placed my shoes.  Actually, I tip-toed everywhere for awhile.  I found my Tech-nu (which I've had for a year and have never used) and proceeded to douse my clothes and shoes in it.  There may have also been a vigorous scrubbing of my legs as well....and my hands....just in case.  Then there was laundry.  Operation Counter Poison Ivy seems to have been successfully completed.  Here's to being able to tie my boots tomorrow and NOT find out I missed a spot!

So, yeah.  I'm all brave and adventurous charging through the undeveloped prairie and mountains of Montana, up and down hillsides searching for cultural stuff through thick ass pockets of sagebrushes and cacti, encountering snakes and horses, and crawling into caves.  Yet, I still have a minor freak out when a tiny spider scurries into my lunch box or I wash a tick out of my hair, and I panic when I stroll through some poison ivy.  Ergo, I am a fearless pansy.  And I am totally okay with that!  

Here are some more pictures for your viewing pleasure:

I am fantastic at choosing great places to park!
So many rocks!!

I drove through that!

My poor shoes....

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