So a few minutes ago, I was clicking my way nostalgically through old Christmas pictures on my computer when the Creepy Ice Cream Truck rolled by outside, eerily tinkling out "Silent Night."
Naturally, this strange turn of events got me thinking.
I better write a blog post!, I thought, or everyone will think I was finally eaten by mountain lions when in truth I've simply been recovering from what was, perhaps, the most eventful and yet arguably least successful field school I've ever been a part of, depending on how strongly you feel that doing archaeology should actually be part of an archaeological field school.
To be fair, we accomplished lots of things during the mini six-day field school. For example, we accomplished not being eaten by mountain lions or attacked by zombie ranchers. Or cows. Or zombie cows.
We learned a lot too, which is, of course, one of the things Field School is supposed to be good for. You could probably say that we learned more than we accomplished, if you wanted to be accurate. But of course that's all neither here nor there. We're alive. That's the important part.
The first thing we learned was that our monstrous Ford F-250, aka Stretch (think stretch limo), needs to be driven around some in between projects to ensure that the battery doesn't fail the morning you are to leave on a five-hour trip out to the ranchlands of central Arizona.
I, personally, learned that when the vehicle you're driving suddenly loses all power on the highway in the middle of Phoenix, you're probably not going to be able to make it up the exit ramp. And Ashley and I both learned that I can be scarily calm even when it becomes clear that the accelerator is no longer functioning and we now have to cross three lanes of rush hour traffic to stay alive.
Also -- and we already had an inkling of this -- but now three of us are absolutely certain that breaking down in Phoenix in July is no fun at all.
We all learned that Stretch has hubs - and if you don't turn them when you want four-wheel-drive, you'll have to leave him behind at the bottom of that last muddy hill because he's simply not coming back to camp with you. He's a dainty kind of giant truck.
Twenty minutes after getting Stretch stuck, we learned that Dave can drive his Landcruiser, Omar, down slick muddy roads - "greasy" they call them out in those parts - like the (presumably) bad-ass cowboy he was in his younger days. It'll still take four hours to get back to the bunkhouse, but at least you'll make it.
We learned about how giant spiders inhabit the bunkhouse at the 7Up Ranch. We learned about climbing muddy, cobbley hills in the middle of thunderstorms. We learned that rattlesnakes can exist that don't rattle even when they're pissed off and at eye level with you. We learned about running out of beer.
And we learned about riding in the back of surplus Swiss Army vehicles called Pinzgauers for five hours across rocky volcanic landscapes. In particular, we learned a lot about fumes and about "cushions" and also about how if the Swiss Army ever tries to recruit us, we will say no.
Oh, and we also recorded two sites, which means we learned how to record sites situated in rockshelters and caves. Which is very cool.
Something else weirdly coincidental? Camping out in the grass in front of the 7Up bunkhouse is pretty awesome. It's super-quiet at night, except for that one amorous frog. In fact, you might say that every night was a silent night.
And of course, I have pictures.