Friday, December 26, 2014

Holy life changes, Batman!

The title totally says it all, and is exactly why I haven't done a post in....oh.....6 months?  8 months?

Not much archaeology in this post, I'll save that for the next one.

But, in a nutshell:

Had a baby and three weeks after moved 2,000 some odd miles west to the Gateway to the I guess midwest.  But!  I like saying I live in the west; brings to mind all sorts of nefarious outlaws of olden times (thank you 9 year old daughter for that phrase!).

Road trips are so rough for a baby!
All that sleeping....
Anywhoosier....Our move from Virginia to North Dakota read like some sort of Country song (at least in my husband's case):  A guy in a truck with his two dogs.

As for me it was more like:  A mom, an almost-9-year-old-going-on-15-and-being-grounded-forever, and a 3 week old sleeping/screaming baby in a filled-so-much-I-can't-see-out-the-back-window SUV.

We stopped in nowheresville Ohio that first night.  Then Chicago....I LOVE CHICAGO!  Did you know that the Great Lakes are FRIGGIN' HUGINORMOUS!?!?!  I mean it looked like the ocean.  

It isn't Dodger Stadium, but it was pretty cool.

Mind is still blown.

Then we stayed in somewherestown Wisconsin.

And then there was this....

A freaking VIKING in MINNESOTA.  In Alexandria, Minnesota to be exact.
Because that is EXACTLY where America began.  'Merica!

We eventually made it to western North Dakota.  I absolutely LOVE it here!  I miss many friends in the DC area, but hot damn!  If I need to get across town it takes 5 minutes.  Seven minutes if it is lunch time and I get stuck at a light.  If I needed to get across town in Virginia, it would take me 30-40 minutes. Of course, if I want to go north out of town, I run the very real chance of an hour long drive taking more like 2 hours due to Bakken oil traffic, but I remedy that by rarely going north. When I do it is for work.  Easy peasy.

Speaking of work.  This shovel monkey is a shovel monkey no more!  The whole reason, if you haven't heard, for us moving from the megametropolis that is the DC area to the bustling town of Dickinson, North Dakota is that I got a permanent, big girl ties-her-own-shoes-and-everything job.  As an archaeologist for the Bureau of Land Management.  Yep, same organization I worked for in Montana.  I'm beginning to think my freakishly excitable enthusiasm for archaeology only works on interviewers from Montana and North Dakota.  But, I also think I was simply the only person who had northern plains work experience who was willing to move to a "small" town in North Dakota where prices for everything are so high that even Wal-Mart has starting pay of $15.00/hour.

Sadly, don't do much field work, but that's okay.  I gotta put my time in here, then I can move on to a position that let's me have all the field work I want!

Speaking of field work, I shall regale you with one story.  The BLM has around 50,000 acres of land in North Dakota.  One small tract of it lies at the Little Missouri River State Park.  Oil well pads and access roads are going up all over the place, and so the ND State parks and recreation peeps want to blaze a new hiking trail through the BLM lands.  So!  I'm like, "Sweet!!!  Field day!"  This is in December, mind you.  December 11, 2014.  Winter.  In North Dakota.

Basically, I'm an almost-idiot.  There was snow on the ground, but we were having a heat wave of above freezing temps, so we figured enough snow would be melted and all would be good.  Pfft!  HAHAHA!  Yep.  This is where we were:

Super beautiful!!!!!  And, as it is daytime, the flares from the oil pads aren't visible so you can actually pretend there's no humans!
Beautiful.  Can't say that enough.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is sort of what the badlands look like.  All chopped up hills....I love them.  I'm completely fascinated by the badlands, but that is for a future blog post.  For now, my story.

We went out there (see above) to survey the route for the new hiking trail.  The trail currently is non-existing.  Which means we get to walk it in all of the trail's natural glory.  ALONG THE SIDES OF THESE HILLS!  These hills, mind you, are made up of gumbo soils.  Gumbo is slimy, sticky, makes you grow as you walk, and can cause you to slip and slide everywhere.  Even down the side of the hills if you aren't careful.  I had to resort to the, always, super safe method of hiking that involved using my shovel as a walking stick.  Evolution hasn't weeded me out, yet!

We walked about 3-4 miles in that....and at about the halfway point (which was also the ending, turn around, point) I suddenly had the urge to find the vehicle key.  The government loaned vehicle, to which the key belonged.  Could I find it?  Of course not!

Long story short, I slipped and slid my way back as fast as I could (clearly I survived), to see if the key was locked in my truck.  Of course not.  We ended up waiting for help.  Once helped arrived, with the spare key, we bolted.  It gets dark up here early, say 4:30pm, and when that sun goes down, the temperatures drop fast.  It got cold quick.  As soon as I had the truck started we tried to leave.  But the badlands weren't done with me yet.  I had to turn around on a small farm land access road, and as soon as I put the truck in drive and took my foot off the brake, I heard the strangest sound of metal creaking.

Metal should NOT be creaking.

Turns out the ground decided to fall out from under the back right tire.  I didn't waste any time messing around.  Put the truck straight into 4-Low, and let that Chevy engine do what it does....

I may not do field work often, but when I do, I do it with style and excitement!

Here are some more pictures from our hike.  You know you're jealous.  I know I'm not going back out there until a few weeks after the spring thaw.  When the ground has dried.

There's a Chevy key out there somewhere.......

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