NM day 5 report: Lots of reading, and chickens!

Chickens and black tea are a good start to my day I have decided. Today I felt like I got a lot of things finished, and it started with a short run very early (5am) and then feeding the chickens with Kaet (at 6am). By 7:30ish we were out at the pit house, and I was digging again in the Northeast corner of Unit 1. Today we realized that the Eastern edge of unit one to the north of the wood stove is bordered by adobe melt wall, and the soil here is hard packed and red in color. So I worked to excavate around the adobe slump in order to reveal the contour of the wall. I found lots of nails all in one layer of soil that was capping the adobe melt area, and that was neat, some of them I excavated so that they remain poking out of the wall. We use two types of trowels: one is diamond shaped, kind of like a pie cutter that you use in the kitchen. The other trowel is rectangular. Both are very flat. You use the diamond shaped one to excavate normally and the rectangular one to edge the unit and make the walls and floor totally level. We also used a plump bob to make sure the walls were straight. Besides the wood stove feature in the Southeast corner of unit 1, there is a strange light blue-green plastic funnel in the Southwest corner, which Diane and I worked together to uncover more of. I also found another piece of the “love sherd” which was cool since i found the first piece during the initial ground survey. The last really interesting thing I found was a turquoise lump of pigment, about the size of a fingernail, so not very big, but vibrant in color. Paco found some scraps of newspaper which was really neat. So the excavation went very well.

We only did a half day, and ended at 1pm to go and do our own projects. I took lunch break to run to the waterfall about 1 mile down the road and wash all the dirt and dust off of me. The soil in the pit house gets super dusty when the sun dries it out, so it gets all over our bodies while we’re screening. The waterfall was great, although not as cold as I had remembered, and it’s not flowing very strongly. Hopefully it picks up again because I really want to visit it a few times. It’s in a beautiful little rock hollow on the South side of the canyon overlooking Arroyo Hondo.

After my “shower” in the waterfall things really started heating up. Most of the dig crew sat in the Buffalo room and read materials for our personal projects. I made a lot of headway in Corky’s binder, reading the whole section on the Middle Road to Picuris, and also some of the Western offshoots of this trail which cross the Rio Grande around Pilar and the Junction Bridge. I have decided that I want to focus on the Pilar area because this is one of the major routes that was used to access the fertile Taos Valley (“the bread basket of Northern New Mexico” according to Corky), and I have found that there are multiple modes of transportation over the landscape in this area. There is the abandoned Chili rail road, the modern car route 68, the foot and horse paths from Picuris to the west, and some old Spanish horse and light wagon routes, one of which is rumored to be the northern extension of the Camino Real coming up from Sante Fe to Taos. There is also the Houses of the Holy Petroglyph site, which Sev surveyed with the crew two summers ago, and this is a well documented spiritual site for the Pueblo people which is approached by various footpaths. All these traces on the landscape will give me lots to look at, and enable me to compare each one easily since they are all close together geographically, and Sev has lots of survey data on the Pilar area from the Gorge project work over the past few years. This way my project can be under the umbrella of the larger Gorge Project, and I will be able to cover more information since the area is already known and surveyed to some extent.

Last night our dig crew (Sev, Kaet, Elizabeth, Dianne, Paco, Mixchel and I) went out to eat at Pizza Out Back, a very quintessential Taos pizza joint. Very tasty as well. After returning to the Buffalo, Kaet gave me another binder of information about the Camino Real, and this volume looks very interesting for me because the author also illustrated his piece in the margins of each page. I have lots of great information now, so today I need to spend some time really getting through it. I wish I could read faster, but in this instance I want to really be able to take in what I’m reading and think about it in detail, so I’ll take my time.

Today I was up, went running pretty far down the East rim of the Gorge, then made sour dough bread, breadsticks, and banana pancakes. I hope it all works out. I enjoy experimenting with my cooking but I’m always afraid it won’t work out. Now I need to get into the reading, and later I want to go sketch some things here at the buffalo, including the chickens. In the afternoon the Hippie-Indian baseball game is on, I forget where we have to go to see this festival-sporting event, but it sounds interesting and a number of the dig crew is going to see it so I might join this expedition. Finally Lisa Law, the famous photographer who helped produce “Flashing on the ’60s” and took many of the early photos of the Buffalo is visiting tonight, so everyone is making a feast in preparation for this visit. Rick Klein, the original owner of the Buffalo will also be there along with other original New Buffalo people.


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