Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Metal Detectors/Vandals

“Look over here.”

Dang! There is a 3x4 foot hole dug on site.

More holes surround it. There are about 40 holes freshly dug on an archaeological site that we, Site Stewards, monitor. The damaged area covers about 30 meters.

Along with the holes are areas of raking. A few pieces of metal are piled up. Looks like metal detecting activity!

In another area there is a collector’s pile of prehistoric sherds and lithics marked with a large rusty pail with a stick inserted.

In yet another area, rocks have been removed, actually taken, from a prehistoric alignment. Other rocks have been dug out and left to the side of their cast. What would anyone want with those rocks? Lizard hunting is suggested.

We follow the boot prints -2 types. The prints cover the site. Photos of the prints are taken as proof and to be used to compare with other prints.

Leaning against a tree is an abandoned leaf rake. Cigarette butts and new water bottle are nearby. Looting is thirsty work!

Pictures are taken of the destruction and evidence then sent to our land manager.

We call law enforcement and a Deputy Sheriff arrives to look at the damage. Our land manager contact also arrives at the scene. Vandalism, tire tracks and boot print photos are taken by law enforcement. We are given a case number along with the Officer’s name and phone number with a “call me any time” comment. He is disgusted. He grew up here and knows and likes the area.

We revisited the site the next few weeks and new damage continued in other areas of this site but 3 other sites had also been ‘hit’ by these vandals.

Sheriff’s Department and our County contact continue to monitor the main site.

On our last visit, we saw an SUV on site and were able to get the license plate number.

This area is a “permit required” area and this vehicle had no permit displayed on dashboard per requirement. Photos of the SUV, license plate number, make of vehicle, color, etc. were all turned over to law enforcement.

Only 16 % of Arizona is privately owned. The rest is Federal, State, County or City owned and controlled. Fines vary but for this County “permit required” area the fine is $180 just for being there without a permit!

Fines may vary by Land Ownership but can be $250,000 and 5 years in jail for removing or disturbing archaeological artifacts or features.

An e-mail received: Caught the perp! YEA!!

The perp was not metal detecting at the time he was caught but he was trespassing. He squealed on a couple he said he had met there and the individuals had been fined before for metal detecting. So names and car make have everyone on the watch!

In all, the perps have vandalized four sites. Three of them have minor damage. But damage is damage! Damn vandals.

Our concentrated team effort led to the nailing of one perp! We sure hope to get the others-SOON!

And I must remember to put our pass on the dashboard next time we are out there!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Evening of Excitement

A number of years ago my friend asked me to join her, as a volunteer, for an evening of excitement.

Her department at Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) was giving a reception in honor of Dr. Edward Danson, former Director of MNA.

I had read his archaeological dissertation and was involved with some follow up site relocations he had described in his work.

And he happened to be the father of Ted Danson, the actor.

Of course, I said yes.

I packed my clothes for the weekend in Flagstaff. I even included panty hose! Now, living in the desert this is not an item often worn but I was headed into cold country-up north.

Dressed up, ready to kill - panty hose and jewelry! Wow! I would surely wow one Ted Danson who was to be there for his father’s honoring!

I helped with setting up the reception room: tablecloths, napkins, wine-glasses, fingertip eatery. All those good things that go into making a fine, memorable party.

There was great excitement- a buzz- in the air as we waited for Ted Danson to arrive.

But I felt something go awry. My panty hose seemed to loosen at the waist! Desert heat does grim things to elastic. Hmm. I kept on with the chores at hand.

Now looser! Looser! Oh Dang! They were slipping---down!

My entire being was focused on those dang hose! I decided to make a beeline for the ladies room to remove them. Looking to my left I could see Ted Danson.

I was walking side by side with Ted Danson!

By this time my hose’s waist was at knee high!

I locked my knees together and sorta walked-if you can call it that! Try walking with your knees locked together! Ha! All the while walking next to a star!

And my panty hose were still slipping down! OMG! Would I trip? Splat!

Someone asked me later if he was bald! Bald?? How could I tell? I was trying to keep my hose from hitting the floor! Definitely not looking at a man’s head!

A true Evening of Excitement –for me! A night with the Stars!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Desert Weather

Weather predictions for the morning looked great!

Monsoon rain was not to start until about 3 in the afternoon.

The three of us set out early in the morning to do our site monitoring.

Since it was to be a short day I had picked 2 sites both about half a mile from the car.

Sites where near each other, but on opposite sides of the Creek.

Skies looked clear. Not a cloud in sight.

We were about mid site when I looked southeast. Normal monsoon building - big black clouds had formed and a rain shower could be seen.

In this part of the country, west of the Continental Divide, one has to be aware of rain east or south of where you are located as the water flows north and west.

I said, “Guess we won’t go to the other site across the Creek. There is rain to the southeast of us. A wall of water could strand us for hours on the wrong side of the Creek.”

I no sooner had said this, when G S said, “Hey! I just felt a drop of rain!”

Sure enough! Rain from a big black cloud overhead was upon us.

We made a hasty retreat to the car.

Rain had us soaked, so when we got to the car we were sopping wet and cold! Actually chattering with cold.

GS said, “A hot shower is a first-do when I get home!”

A hot shower in July in the desert?

Boy that hot shower sure felt good.

It almost made up for the fact I had failed to look up!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

No One Hurt

We travel dirt and Railroad roads in our Site Steward monitoring and site assessment for an Archaeological Company.

Dirt roads mean lots of dust.

RailRoad (RR) roads mean lots of rocks.

Last month – well, really 6 weeks ago - we traveled along a RR road that had been heavily traveled by trucks. It was high centered in a few spots. I could hear the under carriage of my SUV scrape the rocks.

No damage. Whew!

We have been sidelined for the past 6 weeks, as the desert temperature has been too extreme and very dangerous.

Fire danger has been high. Danger to our beings has been high. So home we sit –moaning, groaning and missing our treks.

A front tire on my SUV looked rather low yesterday and I had been told I was in need of new tires.

Off to the tire shop!

The front tire did have a slow leak but the two front tires were really bad. Replacement was in order.

I watched as my SUV was lifted by the hoist and I noticed a slight backward tilt. 10 fist-sized, whitish rocks crashed out from under the front just missing the workman. He was so shocked! The other workman came running over to check out the noise and the “grunt” from the SUV attendant.

The RR Company, in our area, uses a special rock. They are whitish and all the same size about fist size.

Yep! I knew where those rocks came from!

And I had been driving around town with those rocks for 6 weeks totally unaware of them.

The tire shop workmen gathered around the rocks and I saw them discussing the rock situation. One looked over at the bay window where I was standing and the look on his face was priceless as he noted this little old lady to be the off-roader rock gatherer!

I giggled to myself and thought: “No one hurt”.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Brigadoon Efffect

I talked about the Brigadoon Effect in a past post.

My crew, this spring, really saw it in effect!

We surveyed 2 sites that were ‘nothing’ sites until we ran into this!

One site had 25 rooms and the other about 20!

We were stunned and exhausted!

One site took us into a 11 hour day- so much mapping required.

One of our crewmembers wrote this article.

Pictures of our ‘wonder’ are included.

Our find was so exciting that an archaeologist did a helicopter flyover and took pictures.

The results are astounding!

I am so computer illerate! I hope you can view this link. You may have to copy and paste.If so I am sorry!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Today we were evaluating a site in the Sulfur Springs Valley, located east of Tucson.

Typical – anytime we have a site to visit there is a scramble to deal with barbed wire fences!

I had walked the site and was headed out and had to go under the barbed wire fence again!

I was alone as my crewmates were in the wash and well away from me.

The fence was tight but I thought I could get under without the extra ‘lift’ of the lower wires.

I got stuck!

I was on my belly - squirming under the wires - military style.

The barbs grabbed my windbreaker!

I managed to tilt and release the barbs.

I continued to do the military belly slide – hook and unhook the barbs.

Finally free and I was out!

As I stood up a crewmate laughingly hollered to me, “Didn’t any one tell you to act your age?”


“Don’t all old ladies belly under barbed wire fences?” I hollered back.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Unexpected Caution

We have been monitoring sites within the Cienega Preserve since 2001 and the only ‘caution’ we have had to consider is coming upon illegal aliens or falling off a cliff!

Things have changed!

In early summer one of our sites had a very big prickly pear cactus torn-ripped to shreds!

Next to it was bear scat.

We identified the scat by a book with pictures and drawings of animal paw prints and scat.

Yep! It was bear(ursus americanus).

We were very excited, as bear has never been reported in the Preserve, at least to our knowledge.

This past Friday we were on a high ridge site on the south side of the Creek and there were 3 huge areas of bear scat.

No plants had been damaged but we think there had been several bears on site.

Also they had been there for quite sometime probably just hanging out.

Of course, I mentioned this in the report to the Land Manager.

The county biologist/ranger sent me a picture of a bear he had spotted recently in the Preserve!

In the picture the bear is walking casually down the dry Creek bed!

Often,this is our very means of traversing to sites!

It is a very handsome, big black bear usually seen up in the mountains to the north of the Preserve.

The biologist says, “It seems as though resources are lower in the mountains this year. Game and fish have been getting more calls this year about bears all over southeast Arizona. Plus they love prickly pear and there was quite a bit this year.”

So there we have it!

We add another ‘caution’ to our weekly treks!