Borrego Springs, CA

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Archeology 101, part 1

IMG_5348This morning, I headed out with Jan and Karl Smith, volunteers extraordinaire, on a tour of Malheur NWR from their perspective.  They have been volunteering here for fourteen years as amateur archeologists!  But, as Karl says, they have more field experience than most professionals.  This is a picture of them and Harry.  Harry is a picture of a doll that was given to Karl when he was one year old.  Harry has followed Karl on his travels for 72 years now!  He used to come in person, but suffered a trauma that could be described as a near decapitation last year, so now only his likeness appears in their travel pictures.  :)

We left pretty early this morning and headed for Frenchglen for breakfast at the historic Frenchglen Hotel which is now a state park.  As we drove to the Hotel, Karl and Jan gave me a welcome lesson in the geology of this area.  I learned all about volcanic eruptions, and balsamic layers and columns. 
_MG_5326After breakfast, our next stop was an actual sod house.  They don’t know when it was built, but it’s probably over 100 years old, and was actually lived in through the 1930’s.
51 Malheur NWR, Oregon2It’s in a state of rather disrepair, and as I looked around, I couldn’t help but think of Little House on the Prairie.  :)   What Spartan living conditions!  However, in the bottom right picture you can see that in later times they did have electricity!  (click pics to enlarge)

_MG_5329Besides the sod house, there is also the remains of the stick coral for livestock.
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This homestead is not open to the public, so I really enjoyed imagining how it would have been for early settlers.  This is such a harsh environment in the high desert to try to homestead.  Can you imagine trying to eke out a living here?  Behind the sod house, an orchard was planted with what I think were plum trees.  The trees were large, but their fruits at this time had not yet ripened.  A hard freeze is not long off at this elevation, so it makes me wonder if the fruits will ever ripen.
IMG_5343 _MG_5339
The biggest necessity for living in this region is water, and this homestead had a very inviting warm springs.  That’s why those folks settled here.  As I dipped my hand into the spring, I could just envision having a nice long soak in those warm waters!  :)
IMG_5340 IMG_5342
There were many teasels surrounding the springs, and lots of dragonflies. (I can’t remember the difference between dragonflies and damselflies right now, so I’m going to call this a dragonfly)  I loved the brilliant blue color of this one.

The three of us visited quite a few more places today, and I learned a lot more about archeology, but I’m going to save the rest for tomorrow’s post.  This is long enough.  :)

I will leave you tonight with another pic of this morning’s sunrise…
IMG_5318Thanks for stopping by…. talk to you later,  Judy


  1. What an awesome post. I learned a bunch of interesting things from it, and got to ogle more of your fabulous photos! Jan and Karl sound like great people. :)

    That damselfly looks like it's grinning. :P

  2. About the only thing that looked good about living in that sod house was the nearby warm springs. What a tough life. Great to have good guides with you too!

  3. Having guides who can explain the area to you is worth lots to enhance your enjoyment. Ours too.

  4. What an interesting post! I would have liked to have seen that sod house. I, too, was a "Little House on the Prairie" fan (the books first, then the TV show). Loved the sunrise pictures!

  5. The sod house really makes me appreciate the motorhome even more!

  6. What a harsh life they must have had.

    I love the cute little face on the blue Dragonfly!

  7. What a great picture of the dragonfly. And the rest of the pictures are also spectacular. Glad I found your blog. I'm going to enjoy traveling along with you and Emma.

  8. the picture of the drangonfly is awesome.

  9. I think I could live in that sod house, especially with warm water near by:))

  10. I can tell by the Happy expression on your face that you are in your element. Would love to use one of your fence pictures as my desktop background, with your permission, of course.

  11. I love the Laura Ingalls Wilder books too, and later the tv show. We drove through Walnut Grove, Mankato etc. and even toured the site where their dugout was located. (now it's a mound of dirt near Plum Creek) Amazing how folks could live in those!

    Oh... did you know teasles were collected and affixed to a paddle and used to *fluff up* the surface of woolen woven fabric? Even machines had rows of them set up to rake back and forth on blankets to bring up the fluffy fibers and make wool garments and blankets softer.

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

  12. I think it's a damselfly but a great photo of it! Very interesting area!

  13. I am really out of touch with nature...I wasn't aware there was such a thing as a damselfly...How the devil does one tell the difference anyway??...nevermind, I'm not sure I want to know...That sod house was great..probably used during the dust bowl like the poor family in The Grapes Of Wrath....I'm not much for geology, but I do LOVE history!

  14. Sometimes I wonder how people could have survived the long trek across the country. At one time, where I live now it was a full day trip down to town. I drive it in 15 minutes!

    A big old RV looks pretty darn good!

  15. Judy, I just loved visiting this place when I was there two years ago. I met Jan and Karl, I think, on a dig with the Malheur Archaeologist. As I recall Jan makes baskets. Hope I'm not confusing her with someone else! I've volunteered with the NPS and will be at Organ Pipe, AZ for two months starting in November.