Practicing vacation

In a completely unexpected turn, work at Amazon is slowing down.  Slowing down so dramatically, we were told there wouldn’t be any overtime this weekend.  So, we had off both yesterday and today, and positively luxuriated in the sweetness of 2 days off in a row.

Yesterday we went with a couple friends to Fallon, NV, to visit Grimes Point Archeology Area.  It was a whole new experience, as we headed east from our campground for the first time!  With the tired eyes I’ve had for most of the time we were here, I had only seen brown nothingness around us.  On our drive, I instead saw little independent ranches, quirky little “towns” (Hazen, which looked to be only an abandoned gas station and a handful of mobile homes), and big beautiful skies. Big, big beautiful skies.

Amazing how your experience can be so changed just by a new way of seeing.

We started at the Churchill County Museum, which I expected to be a tiny little collection of a few dusty things.  Instead, it was filled with fascinating history and artifacts.  My favorite piece was a 1900-era music box, with a collection of shiny metal plates for different tunes.  The museum staff played it for us, and it filled the room with a lovely, simple rendition of “Joy to the World”.

At the museum, we were met by a guide from the BLM, and our group caravanned out to Hidden Cave at Grimes Point.  The cave was rediscovered in the 1920s, and has had 3 major archeology digs since.  It was used much like a safe deposit box for the nomadic peoples who lived in the area, to hold their valuables until they returned the next season.  So, unlike many dig sites, it contained whole, unbroken artifacts, and an amazing history of human use.

JJ, Judy, Ralph, and Sandy outside the cave.

To get into the cave, we had to crawl through the very low doorway, which quickly opened up into a room about 100 feet wide.  The first thing I noticed was what the informational video about the cave had dubbed “the smell of science.”  It had been home to a colony of bats before a potential guano prospector drove them out by burning tires to fill it with acrid smoke.  The resulting combo of ammonia and burnt rubber assaulted our noses, and several of us found it hard to concentrate on anything other than the stifling “aroma”.

The excavation areas were just as the researchers had left them, and we could easily see the strata of deposits over the millennia.  Ancient peoples would dig a shallow hole in the floor of the cave, line it with a basket for protection, and then fill the deposit with arrowheads, fish nets, weapons, and tools.  The layers of most intense use were quite thick, with the decomposed mats of baskets.  We could also see two white lines, one thinner from the Mono Lake Crater explosion about 1000 years ago, and a thicker one from the huge eruption of ancient Mount Mazama, which created Crater Lake in Oregon about 7000 years ago.

After the official tour, we did a bit more exploring on our own, to see other small caves and petroglyphs.

Snake, rainbow, upside down peace sign?

The geology was fascinating, with such an array of rocks.

We had a yummy lunch at the Slanted Porch in Fallon, and after we came home, I did….absolutely nothing.  To JJ’s delight, we watched a movie, and then just lazed the day away.  It’s been a long time since we had the chance to relax for a whole day, and we both really needed it.

From this point, we really only have a couple days of work left.  We will work Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and just half of Friday.  We just reached enough hours to be eligible for 5 hours paid time off, and we’re going to use that time to leave early on Friday.  The plan is to get on the road Friday afternoon, and get as far as we can before dark.  (Which happens around 4:30 in this eastern edge of a time zone.)  The next day, Saturday, we will try to get to our friend’s house, just north of the Los Angelos area.  We’re hoping for the best with the weather, because we will have to get over a mountain pass if we want to take the short route.  If it snows much, we will have to do some serious detours.

5 days til launch!

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