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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

The Real Housewives of Archaeology

IMG_1435Our four-day weekend of an archaeological field school took place in a very small town on Virginia’s Eastern Shore near the Chesapeake Bay.  The historic area and the survey excavation work on the village green drew students, professionals, and retirees from all over the country, including points as distant as Miami, Florida, and Seattle, Washington.  I was surprised to find two other moms on site, both mothers of four, with four of the eight coming along for the excavation.  Combined, our families’ sizes would approximate the population of this small town. (Yes, that’s me in the black.)

The supervisor met us on Day 1.  Petya and I were used to working together, a mother-and-son team, learning and progressing through our certification process in tandem.

“You’ll be with the moms,” the arcaheologist informed me.IMG_1441

“The moms?” I wondered.

“Yes, the Real Housewives of New Jersey,” he laughed.  “You’ll fit in, coming from DC….”

“But we work together–” I protested, referring to my son.

“We’re splitting you up,” he insisted.

“So soon?  We haven’t even done anything wrong, yet….”

IMG_1534Thus, Petya moved into his role supervising the other teens, motivating them, ensuring that their excavation unit was neat and moving along, layer by layer.  I joined the ladies at my square, both of whom had great skills, but who looked to me to lead.  We laughed, we chatted, and we swapped stories.  We were the Real Housewives of Archaeology.

I drew site plans to scale while they scraped away level after level.  I labeled brown paper artifact bags, filling out paperwork including Excavation Unit Level forms and Excavation Unit Feature forms as they dug.  I carried heavy buckets of dirt to be screened at the 1/4” mesh screening station, designed to catch any small finds which might not have been seen during excavation, shaking and raking the weighty screens with my trowel, while they kept the walls straight and the bulks diagonal, and leaned over in the pit, deeper and deeper.IMG_1460

“You’d make a great government worker,” one dryly noted my supervisory capabilities.

Hey, I wasn’t the one taking hour-and-a-half lunches, and knocking off two hours early each day.  The housewives and kids were here as volunteers, working on a Passport in Time project with the U.S. Forest Service, whereby volunteers earn stamps on “passports”, listing where and when they worked.  It was a great idea and the two of us would end up with passports, as well. 

IMG_1459Their families were heading out and received their passports as the rest of us hummed “Pomp and Circumstance”.  They shook hands with our directors, while we snapped photos and told them to move their imaginary mortarboard tassels.

However, we were here for certification hours, and the two of us needed to prove that we were learning specific skills, no matter how elusive.

By the third day, I felt like I had carpal tunnel syndrome and a broken back, with knees that stayed locked into whatever had been their latest position and were permanently colored red.  The weather was unseasonable in the 40s and 50s Fahrenheit with hurricane-like winds and driving rain.

Speaking of driving, I did not look forward in these weather conditions to traversing again the IMG_1372Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, a 23-mile link connecting the Delmarva Peninsula’s Eastern Shore of Virginia with the mainland of Virginia Beach.  The two-lane bridge in either direction was about 17.6 miles long, but interspersed with a couple of mile-long tunnels with just one lane in each direction.  So here’s a bridge that comes and goes from above water to under water, with tractor trailers flying past you in the opposite direction in the narrow tunnel.  For this privilege, we paid a $12 toll each way.

Better than having the thing leak.

I can only say that I’m happy we were not camping.  The campers’ tents reportedly held up, and the campers were allowed to shower at the Sheriff’s office, but the bitter cold and rain were taking their toll on all of us.  Petya and I had packed rubber boots in addition to our regular work boots, and were the envy of the group.  A few weeks previous, I purchased a  rain jacket with hood and fleece lining that was perfect over my sun/rain hat on the coldest days.

By Day 4, the Housewives and families had departed, and Petya and I were reunited.  I will share more of our time in Small Town, USA, and the archaeological dig’s discoveries, in a few daily installments covering all of the quirks and perks along the way…..



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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Shelley says:

    You look way too cute to be out digging!

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