My daughter Caitlin
and I had a wonderful two week adventure over on the other side of the US. We are west coasters with Cait having never been further east than Las Vegas NV in her life (Cancun Mexico when she was 3 doesn't really count
We went primarily to do a week of volunteer work at an archeological dig near the small town of Morganton, North Carolina.
for more info.) It was an interesting experience working at what is believed to be the earliest European fort in what was to become the US, built in 1567. The powerful local Cawtaba Indians destroyed the settlement in 1560 ending the Spanish experiment in the new world, opening the area to the British who followed with the American Colonies. The lost colony of Roanoke is only a few hundred miles east on the coast of NC.
Having become accustomed to high temperatures at home, average summer is about 100F, we thought the forecast 85-95F of North Carolina would be no problem
how wrong were we!
What we weather wimps failed to take into consideration was humidity
We have a far greater appreciation of the saying "but it's a DRY heat" now
Caitlin and I both agree we have never consumed so much water and Gatorade each day as for that week!
At the Berry site we learned the art of how to "dig".
We novices were allowed to help with the clearing of the top layers of plowed (disturbed) dirt. That entailed using a flat edged shovel to gather about an inch or two deep, "pop" the dirt up out of the square and have it land perfectly onto the framed screen resting on two sawhorses above two wheelbarrows. Now I've done a fair amount of gardening in my life and I thought I'd have no problem tossing dirt around -
it is far more challenging than I thought!! But eventually after over and under shooting (which means the occasional face full of dirt) I got to be pretty good
Our 'digging team' switched off between digging and screening screening means breaking up the clods of dirt that have been 'popped' up and rubbing them through a quarter inch screen to catch pieces of pottery
, or broken arrow tips
or many, many rocks
The purpose of the digging was to get down to the undisturbed layer of dirt below the plows had not messed things up
. At that point the more "trained" people took over and did a more fine tuned kind of digging
with trowels with the final result being nice neat squares showing the edges of the native ceremonial mound where we were digging and a building of some sort at another part of the site.
There was also an area near the local stream where the collected artifacts were washed and separated new finds became apparent when dirt was removed
an apparent rock became a carved piece of soapstone
and a lump of dirt became a clay bead! Dirt samples were also run through water to see what
floated like ancient seeds and charcoal which showed what was being eaten. Caitlin and I decided we liked being in the water area with the shade of the trees and the cool creek water better than out in the sun digging dirt
We also did some exploring throughout the State: driving on the beautiful
Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway...following a series of rainstorms
. Wandering in the excellent museums of Raleigh, meandering in the huge Farmer's Market in Cary
, people watching
in the various cities we drove though, visiting a large zoo
and spending a day on the Outer Banks "climbing" the hill of Kittyhawk
, scene of the first flights by the Wright Brothers. We also spent several hours walking in the surf
, collecting shells
and harassing crabs
down near the Cape Hatteras lighthouse
. I have spent my life within ten miles of the ocean up until four years ago when we moved several hundred miles away so walking the beach was soul fulfilling to me
As we drove, if signs caught our eye we'd follow them to their destination
found two of the few remaining covered bridges
that way, and a centuries old Scottish Cemetery
with headstones dating from the late 1700's. Cait's doodling on the internet found images of a little pond
covered with water lilies we searched it out with the help of Google Maps and our trusty GPS
and were lucky to be there at the blooming season!
All in all we had a great time, and are indebted to our long time friends Ken and Amy along with their three kids, Karen, Rick and James for making us feel so welcomed and to the staff and other students at the Berry Field School for a fantastic experience
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