Thursday, July 10, 2008


Quickly before I forget... (apologies for listicle)

Forth of July = work, jumping off the Taos Junction bridge into the Rio Grande, chicken dinner, Johnny Walker, two-stepping with a real cowboy at the Sagebrush (Sev roped me into it)

Saturday = day off = plant walk with Wind (learned how to tell the difference between dandelion and hemlock, make rope from milk weed, eat reeds and other leafy things to cure what ails you), laundry, Jeff's melancholy departure, leaving my wallet on top of the car and driving away (ice cream and movie to wallow in)

Sunday = back to Vista Verde trail, MORE TIPI GLYPHS than I ever thought possible, home early to get a tour of the old Morningstar commune (awesome ruins, amazing location)

Monday - today = still at the same site which is proving to be an amazing assemblage of Apache or Ute glyphs of the scratched variety. Hard to see and a pain to draw, but once documented it becomes clear it's excitingly new stuff. It gets boring and exciting in waves. 

The future = work through Friday, powow on Saturday, paper work on Sunday, the next week is all up in the air. Don't want to leave ... 

Friday, July 4, 2008


This place does not like cars. Kaet's "beast" has been put permanently out of commission (more because we're scared of it than any actual problem) and Tuesday morning Chaco, a neighbor's dog, chased a squirrel under the hood of Mari's Honda Hybrid and preceded to chew off the license plate and emblem as well as scratch and claw the bumper and hood. Mari only joined us Sunday night and a busted car is not what you want on your mind when you have an 8 hour day out in the field ahead of you. I went into town with her instead of out to the field to figure it out. Stopped at Michael's while she made the necessary phone calls and got the most amazing chocolate cream cheese croissant. Eventually she talked to Chaco's owners and they easily agreed to pay the damages. It's still going to take some time and brain power to get it to the shop and fixed and all. Bummer.

Heading back a few days ... 

Saturday was a half day of work and Jeff's 20th Birthday. Sam, Albert, Christian and Tessa came out to visit. It was so great to see them! We went to the Gorge Bridge and the Earthship visitors center. We've decided we want to build and live in an Earthship palace. Albert's in charge of finding the land. They had to get back to Santa Fe so they couldn't stay for the birthday feast and hot spring jaunt. We made a surprisingly yummy gluten and dairy free cake and went to the hot springs they used in Easy Rider. They're more like luke-warm springs, but it was pretty idylilic. We walked down in the dark and some locals had built a fire. The sky was perfectly clear and the fire flys were out in record numbers (which for this area isn't tons, but enough). I was the only one who kept jumping in and out of the river to keep the springs feeling toasty. Lakeside has trained me to think this is the only way. I think it is.

Sunday was our "day off" and we slept in (until 8:30). Jim, a friend of Bob's who lives on the other side of the highway in Arroyo Hondo took us out on his land. There was an amazing concentration of lithics and pottery and an old pit house that apparently someone had preliminarily excavated a while ago. Jim is a member of the only non-native Katsina society in the world and is trained in putting on sweat lodges. He invited us to one on Saturday. We might go. It would certainly be a trip. He is a wonderful guy and has a very friendly way about him. He took us up to some rock art and gave his interpretation and while anglo appropriation and all that he was completely genuine. He has a silent thoughtfulness about him that's a nice change from some of the pontificating the goes on around here. After our field trip with Jim we came back and made a huge brunch feast. 

In the afternoon Anand, Kaet and I headed out to Santa Fe. Anand had to catch an early flight monday morning and I wanted to visit the clan at Tessa's so it worked out perfectly. Icing on the cake came with the revelation that Megafaun was also playing a little show that very night. We had a beautiful drive through a monsoon. Amazing downpour and thunder and lightning. Cranked the music and made a real road trip out of what became a little over 2 hour drive. Some snaffos (or "faffs") finding Tessa's, getting food, finding the show, but we made it in the end. The show was at this guy's house who hosts bands for free. Santa Fe is a little lacking in a deep music scene it seems. In any event it was the perfect intimate venue for their music and I was beyond thrilled to see the boys and their bearded little faces. Post-show we all went back to Tessa's to hang out and were greeted with fireworks from the roof! Tessa's dad has a beautiful place on a hill and we watched the lights of Santa Fe from the patio. So funny to have gathered such a group so far from all our native states. Because of our numbers crashing at Tessa's was out. So, the two chorts (Anand and Kaet) and I relied on the hospitality of Phil, Brad, and Joe and laid ourselves out on the floor of their hotel room. We had to get up at five to get Anand to the airport shuttle (only slightly brutal) which gave us plenty of time to grab grub and head out to meet up with everyone in the field. "Showers" in the Rio Grande are the only way to make it through the day.

Monsoon season has begun here and the clouds roll over the perfectly clear sky every afternoon at about three. The light is, if it's possible, even more incredibly in the early evening after the storm passes. It leaves little bits of clouds here and there that make the sunsets absolutely heart breaking. I had started to take the views here for granted, but driving back to New Buffalo every day we hit the highest point on the highway in just the right spot to see the whole Rio Grande rift valley and the gorge at the perfect time of day. One of these days I'll stop and take a picture. It may be that I'm particularly focused on the looks of things as I took my first real shower in four days, but I think that this may be one of those places that is never just so-so, but always breath-taking. Lindsey's impeccable taste in music helps keep us awake on the ride in in the mornings, but the drowsy carful in the afternoon perks up only on this curve.

Tomorrow is the fourth of July and we'll be working a full day I imagine. A few of the towns around here put on parades and parties and since we'll be taking Saturday off I think we'll try and celebrate somehow. Talk of putting on a BBQ here for the guys may manifest in more than talk, we'll see. 

Crotch splits in the middle of the day in the middle of nowhere (dun du duh)

$11 replacement jeans from WalMart 

Friday, June 27, 2008

Unlucky in lunch, unlucky in love

Christina told me she read this and didn't seem too impressed. I guess I should try to craft these posts a little more, but the sun really saps my ability to turn a witty phrase, haha.

Since last I wrote we had a slow monday, spent tuesday doing laundry and going to Taos peublo, had Kaet's car get a flat at the trail head and had two very strange "crickets" scavange food from our shelves at New Buffalo. This week has been a little slow. We've been finding some interesting stuff but it's all been within a fairly small area and today seemed like most of us were getting a little antsy to move on. We still have a fair amount of work at that site, though, so we'll have to make really interesting lunches to make up for it.

The "crickets" are two very very strange women that showed up here "to garden." Barking in the shower and other oddities included. We'd probably be laughing it off if they were in any way friendly. One of them has clear cokebottle glasses about three inches thick and short grey hair and the other is a very large black young lady with a bad case of vertigo. She holds onto the walls as she walks down the four steps into the Buffalo room. They creep around and don't seem to do much. I wish Bob (who runs the place) could find a good group to get this place going. The crickets found an ad about New Buffalo in a newspaper at the Taos bus station. Serendipitous yes, but il-fated it seems. How do you kick someone off a commune?

The Beast, Kaets car, continues it's beast-like ways. Second trip to the shop in a week. We did learn the answer to the age old question, "how many archaeologist does it take to change a tire." Turns out seven almost does it. Eight might be better.

Last night we tried two-stepping again. I think we've improved a bit. The trick is, apparantly, not to move your feet very much. I can't quite get my head around the dance but don't move your feet thing, but I think I've got the Muskogee (sp?) spin down. 

Today we ate outside and watched the sun set. I need to remember to take more photos here at New Buffalo. There is such a thing as too many photos of boulder fields.

Forty bug bites on my left arm only

Drawing faces on hardboiled eggs
Caves twenty degrees cooler than the surface

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Taos Te Tching

Yesterday was the solstice and I have to admit that, in sum, the celebration exceeded my expectations. It started off with a cheesy, new age-y "ceremony" (in which I - as a woman - had to sprinkle water off a sage branch on people) but quickly devolved into a down home sing-a-long with some of the old New Buffalo and Rainbow Family folks who now live the life on "the mesa." Apparently there's a movie called "Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa" that's all about these folks. Two Ravens, Dog Man, Robbi to name a few. Robbi is a lovely old man who plays a mean mandolin from his wheel chair and has more than a story or two to tell. We sang for hours and hours (five, maybe?) and never repeated a song. A scene I wish Erin and Parker especially could have been a part of. Tambourni's, drums, guitars, harmonicas and even a cello at one point appeared out of the crowd. I promised to get a copy of "Where There Walks a Logger, There Walks a Man." I taught him "Whistle Punk Peat" and he decided he needed to know more logger songs. Ended the night out by the bonfire. People came and went and there were varying degrees of weird nostalgia and real Taos folk. Not a pure throwback. A fun time.

Today we went back out to the Vista Verde Trail (late, around nine) and documented a sight we found friday. Hundreds of flakes, a few pot drops, and a bunch of really beautiful and unusual points. At about 3 a big thunderstorm rolled in and we decided to call it a day due to the lightning. Standing on a giant hill of iron cored basalt is not the best place to be in that situation. We took the grocery store by storm instead. Walkie talkies make shopping for eight much more efficient. 

There's actually been a few little storms in the past three days. The first was friday in the middle of the night. I woke up to rain pounding on my tent and some really amazing thunder. Luckily my tent held and I woke up dry and happy. A small swap did form a little down hill from me because an irrigation ditch over flowed. Everyone else has move to the lower pasture. I guess i'll join them soon. We can't break up The Shire (which is what we named our little tent camp). 

Now were sitting (as usual) at the kitchen tables on our computers. Well, Jeff is drawing a projectile point, but he's an exceptional young man in that respect. 

We seem to be breaking up the days enough so that this won't get old very soon. Corn dance at the Taos Pueblo on Tuesday. It's really exciting to find these things and talk about what we find. For example, on thursday, we found a bunch of possible rock shelters and sheep pens that were associated with dateable pottery and stone tools. It's amazing that you can start to construct the story of the early historic shepherd who was spending tim on this hill with his sheep when a Saint's day came around and he decided to peck some crosses into the stone. You can start to figure out the story in the same place those people where standing. Simple. Obvious. Still woah. I'm still not super confident that I know what I'm looking for and that I'm missing a lot, but the nature of the survey is that we will never get everything. I'm getting over it. We've also been followed by our butterfly (from the Katsina mask site) for the past few days and have named it Ginger (after Anand's new love). It almost landed on me today. Apparently in one of the cultures from around here the afterlife is a world of flowers populated by butterfly spirits. Oooo...

Everyone is getting along smashingly and we all seem to genuinely like each-other (or at least I genuinely like everyone else) for which I am eternally grateful. Have to get some recipes from home so I can pitch in with dinner one of these days. Irish soda bread and Marbella chicken I think. I'm open to suggestions of course! (The cheaper the better!)

A week ago today I pulled up to New Buffalo expecting to be roughin' it and here I am dirty a bit tired but perfectly content. Couldn't have asked for more really, except maybe for boots that aren't coming apart at the seams. Ha.

Finger cut from using a swiss army knife to cut ducktape to repair


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Forgive me Father, it's been three days since my last shower.

I think I've given up on a full recap of the drive out. Suffice it to say the drive with the folks was a blast and the places my mom found for us to stay were lovely. It's funny how quickly one starts to feel at home in a place that waits for you after a long day.

Yesterday we finished up our survey of a major portion of the sage flats on the Western Rim of the Rio (which is NOT near Pilar I came to find out). After sitting on the edge of the plateau looking down into the Rio valley we headed towards Pilar (for real) to check out a site called Suazo that was surveyed last year. We got our rock art tutorial there. Some pretty incredible glyphs there.
We then went a mile or so down a road and began a glyph survey up a VERY steep and high hill. We found quite a few things and returned this morning to document. The view from the ridge was incredible and the fact that we climbed it would make my mom cringe. Had my first run in with a cactus. Blood sacrafice to the gods necessary for a sucessful project I'm told.

The undergrads and Sev had dinner at a roadside Mexican place (everything is roadside here) and then went to lecture at SMU. As interesting as it was we were all totally exhausted and struggled to make coherent conversation with the lecturer when he approched us. No great impression.

Woke up a quarter before six again this morning. Waking up with the sun is a really good feeling.

After documenting the glyphs north of Suazo we headed out to Vista Verde trail down in the gorge. Major boulder hopping. I think this may be my favorite kind of survey. Keeps you interested lest you fall off a ridge. We didn't find much until the end of the day when we found some incredible archaic and pueblo glyphs. [I don't have any photos but will tomorrow.] We were all astounded as they are incredibly beautiful, and far more complex than we (meaning Sev) have ever seen for glyphs that old. Sev started talking about them and the site in an incredibly reverential way and I have to admit that I definitely felt some sort of difference standing under that particular rock face. A huge yellow and black butterfly kept circling the site too. I'm taking it as a sign. Cheesy as it may be.
Sev, Anand and I boulder hopped back to the cars as the rest of the group walked the trail. It's really such an dynamic landscape I want to get in as much of it as I can in this short month.

I write now from the kitchen as the "grad students" cook dinner. They've taken control of the food situation very successfully and us youngling offer not complaints. We moved our tents to a immensly better site out in a pasture off the kitchen under some trees. Should be nice sleeping away from the barking dogs next door. Tomorrow we head back to the Vista Verde trail Grad student-less as Sima is leaving and Anand and Kaet are going to ABQ to pick up Anands "love interest," Ginger. We've been teasing him endlessly. They'll be staying in the "enchantment room" as the wooden plaque on it's door proudly proclaims.

Today is Lyndsy's birthday so we're having cookies and ice cream and building a shrine somewhere down on the river to celebrate.

Knees (cut and bruised)
Neck (RED)

Katsina mask glyphs
buffalo burgers in tortillas

[There's not enough bandwidth here to post photos but I will as soon as I figure it out]

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A League of Their Own

First day out in the field:
Went out Pilar way (western rim of the Rio Grande). Within about 10 minutes of walking
transect lines we found a good site with tons of lithic scatters, a bit of pottery, and some points. Took a while to hit my stride but by the end of the day I'd found my first projectile point! (yay - don't worry, I've given up on my tattoo idea).

Still stunned by the scenery here... we walk with our noes to the ground and look up to find one of the most impressive vistas I've ever seen staring right back at us. Still getting a feel for the way the landscape actually "works" but time, time, time.

Worked on some mapping with Sev when we split off and then some "recon." We would walk just 10 meters and find another site.

Exhausted by the end of the day (and still am now). Bumpy ride home and then a quick jump in the Rio Grande to cool off.

Got home. Set up tent (possibly on top of an ant hill). Ate. Listened to Bob, the big guy here at New Buffalo, share some history of the place. Just as we are finishing Wind shows up. Weathered looking guy who truly lives off the land. Sometimes crashes here on a pallet of straw outside and finds most of his food in the brush and mountains. Now we're all here sitting in the kitchen on our computers while Sev tunes up his guitar for a little sing-a-long. Too classic right?



First point

New Buffalo


Monday, June 16, 2008

A Fish Called Wanda

Just arrived at New Buffalo after a long drive from the Albuquerque airport to drop off the folks and pick up Jeff and Christina. 
Update from the 1000 miles to get here soon.
Night in the kiva and tomorrow a tent!