Thursday, June 30, 2011

Family Time

Ryan caught this great photo of Oliver being still for a split second

Oliver playing ball with Grandpa

Cross/Rosier family photo

Rosier family photo

Dressed up for Travis and Megan's wedding
We got home last night from our trip to Anchorage and Palmer. We spent a lot of time with Ryan's family and enjoyed some beautiful weather (I even got sunburned)! Our nephew Oliver turned two while we were there. It was so fun to be able to spend time with him and get to know his little personality.

We babysat him while his parents were at work on Tuesday for three hours. He was tons of fun to play with and really easy-going. His two favorite words are "yeah!" and "thanks!"  and he always says them with a lot of enthusiasm. There is nothing cuter than helping him with something simple like putting on his shoes and then hearing "thanks!" in his tiny little two-year-old voice.

On Sunday we all spent the day enjoying the sun at Ryan's parent's house in Palmer. Oliver ran around the yard non-stop playing with all the cool toys his grandparents have for him - a tractor, a police car, a tricycle, a mini wheel barrow. Ryan's parents see Oliver almost every week and he adores them. He can't quite pronounce "grandma" and "grandpa" yet so he calls them "Namma" and "Dappa." It's pretty cute.

We managed to take these great family photos while we were there. I am VERY happy with how they turned out. I thought with so many of us and a two-year-old, I'd just be happy if we all had our eyes open and Oliver was in the photo. Instead we're all smiling, except for Oliver, but he is sitting still and looking at the camera and you can't ask for much more than that with a two-year-old!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Travis and Megan's Wedding

In Alaska, June and July are a popular time to get married.  The days are long, it is finally warm, the fish are running and it is general just a happy time of year.  There were a lot of factors that influenced our exact wedding date back in 2007 but we would not have considered anything but summer. 

It was the wedding of our friends Megan and Travis that brought us to Anchorage this last weekend.  Travis is a friend of ours from UAF and we've gotten to know Megan over the last few years that they have been dating.  Travis and I were working on our masters degrees at the same time; Travis in mechanical engineering and myself geophysics. We took many classes together though including a class called geophysical fields.  It was an advanced math class where we were expected to use computer programing to solve difficult problems of math and geophysics.  The problem was that I didn't know how to program! I am very grateful to Travis for teaching me the Mat-Lab programing language and the basic theory of computer programing that allowed me to survive that class.  We spent many late nights studying together in the natural science building. 

Travis and I were also friends outside the classroom.  We would often meet up a the gym or go skiing together and spent many hours together driving between Anchorage and Fairbanks.  My most memorable adventure with Travis was a winter ski trip to Tolovana Hot Springs when it was 20 below.
Travis and Megan at their reception (thanks to whoever took this photo as I stole it from Travis's Facebook page)
Self portrait taken at midnight after the reception - still light out!
The wedding was of course beautiful and Travis and Megan looked so happy together.  We are glad we could make it to the wedding and look forward to seeing them again soon when we are back in Anchorage.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Name Brand vs. Fred Meyer Brand

Today as I ran to store to pick up just a few things, including Worcestershire Sauce, I was confronted with the perpetual grocery shopping dilemma: do I buy the name brand or the usually (much) cheaper store brand? If Ryan lived and ate by himself, he would probably always buy the Fred Meyer brand. There are a very select few things I buy in the Fred Meyer brand; toilet paper, for instance, but most of the time I prefer the real thing. I do always feel a slight pang of guilt when I choose the name brand, knowing that Ryan wouldn't have spent that much money if he were doing the shopping by himself.

So today as I agonized over the $2.00 difference between the Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce and the Fred Meyer option, I thought about what Ryan would do. I picked the Fred Meyer brand. As soon as I got home I opened it to use with the shrimp I was grilling for dinner. I took a whiff and then compared it to the almost empty Lea & Perrins bottle I had. They are definitely not the same. I felt an instant regret and even wondered if I'd be back at Fred Meyers next week buying another bottle of Lea & Perrins. But, after eating my exceptionally delicious shrimp I was forced to reconsider. The Fred Meyer brand may not taste exactly like the Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, but that doesn't make it bad. Now I'm confident I can make it through the bottle of Fred Meyer Worcestershire sauce without hating myself for being so cheap. I'm also sure I'll be paying the extra $2 next time though.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Sailboat Cake

Jay and his birthday cake

This is my friend Jay. His birthday was on Sunday and I needed an excuse to make a cake. Jay has been very involved with the UW sailing club over the last couple of years so I wanted to make sailboat cake for him. I did some googling and then came up with this cake design. This was only my second attempt at using fondant - but I was much smarter this time around (read about my  first fondant experiment here). Coloring and rolling the fondant went much more smoothly this time and I was glad to have Ryan's help again.

Baking the cake was a bit of an experiment too. I used a yellow cake recipe from "Rose's Heavenly Cakes." This book strongly suggests weighing ingredients rather than measuring them. Each recipe provides both the measurements and the weights though. I baked two cakes for this sailboat cake (I only have one 10" pan). For the first cake, I carefully weighed each ingredient. By the time I made the second cake, I was over it; I haphazardly measured the ingredients and threw them together as I normally would. The batters came out very differently - the first one was much thinner. I was interested to see how the cakes would differ. I thought the first one was sure to come out better. To my surprise, almost everyone at the party said they preferred the second cake, the one I measured rather than weighed.

There are other variables that might have influenced which cake people preferred though. I think I slightly over-baked the first cake. That cake was also the bottom layer, so it sat under the weight of the second cake and all the frosting and fondant for three days before we ate it. It probably got a little compressed. In the end I'm not sure why the second cake came out better.

I guess I'm just not totally convinced the weighing thing is worth the extra time and effort. Since the combination of baking the cake/s, making the frosting, rolling the fondant, decorating, etc. takes so long anyway, I'm tempted to cut corners somewhere. I sort of feel like the bottom line is that cake is cake; you can't really go wrong when you're main ingredients are flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. Those are definitely not Rose's sentiments in the introduction to "Rose's Heavenly Cakes" though - according to her there is no comparison. She doesn't have to know what a lazy baker I am though!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Anniversary weekend at Mt. St. Helens

Hiking at Coldwater Lake

Me messing up Molly's photo of the bright red Indian Paintbrush

Coldwater Lake

Water droplets on Lupin leaves
This weekend Molly and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary by hiking and camping near Mt. St. Helens. It has been over thirty years since the volcano violently erupted, but the eruption and resulting destruction is still very evident. Perhaps one of the most interesting facts I learned this weekend was that the landslide that took away nearly half of the mountain was the largest land slide in recorded history!

Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. It was so foggy at the Johnston Ridge Observatory that we couldn't see anything. We enjoyed the visitors center and lack of other tourists nonetheless.  We did an out and back hike along the shores of Coldwater Lake and again found ourselves in near solitude (quite a rarity for a weekend in June). Perhaps the best part of the weekend was the camping its self. We enjoyed sitting around a camp fire away from the distractions of work and facebook, thinking about the 9 years that we have known each other and where we will be in a another four years or decade.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Field Season #10

Top: Zaimka Mound 2002, Bottom: Dutch Harbor 2003

Sanak Island 2004

Lake Clark National Park 2005

Donlin Mine 2007

Kuril Islands 2008
It is hard to believe that this is my tenth field season doing professional archaeology (that doesn't include the sites I played at when I was a kid or at Spirit Camp). I know that I am very fortunate to be able to work in some of the most remote and beautiful parts of the world. Not many people have the opportunity to visit these places. And I have gotten to see some amazing archaeology. And I got paid, for most of it anyway. I don't know how I got so lucky.

Above are a few photos from the archives. After I originally wrote this blog post this afternoon, Patrick saw it and emailed me the photo from 2002. I didn't have any photos of my own from that excavation. Apparently taking pictures wasn't cool in high school. I'm so glad Patrick took lots of photos and has them so well organized! It's funny to note that I still wear those same orange Grundens that I bought in 2002! I even had the same pair of extra tuffs that I bought in 2003 until this last summer. That's a long time for one pair of boots!

Below is a list of the places I've worked over the last nine summers.

2002: Zaimka Mound Excavation, Alutiiq Museum, Kodiak, AK
2003: Amaknak Bridge Excavation, Museum of the Aleutians, Dutch Harbor, AK
2004: Sanak Island Biocomplexity Project, off the lower Alaska Peninsula
2005: Field school in Iceland; survey in Lake Clark National Park, AK
2006: Delta Railroad Extension survey and the Donlin Mine for Northern Land Use Research, Inc. out of Fairbanks
2007: NLUR again at the Donlin Mine and in Fairbanks; two excavations near Reykjavik for the Institute of Archaeology in Iceland
2008: Kuril Island Biocomplexity Project, Russian Far East
2009: Lassen National Forest in Northern CA
2010: Penguq excavation, Alaska Peninsula;  Mitks'qaaq Angayuk in Kodiak - Alutiiq Museum. I also worked for NLUR on a short project in Old Harbor and in Point Hope.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Home made flatbread and roasted red pepper ketchup

Home made flat bread with thyme

Turkey feta burger with home made ketchup
After attending and helping organize the department graduation this morning on campus, I spent the entire rest of the day in the kitchen. I tackled home made flat bread and ketchup for the first time. Both turned out just as good as I had hoped and neither was particularly difficult - just somewhat time-consuming.

After coming back from the field I've been inspired by all the fresh summer produce available at the stores. I got out my canning book, Put 'em up, and picked out a recipe for today. I went with roasted red pepper ketchup because, well, I love ketchup. The recipe called for tomatoes, red peppers, cider vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, onion, and garlic. I knew this would be a good one. Especially for all the burgers I plan to cook on my grill this summer. And it was good. I could eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon. I'm already planning what I can eat all week that could go with ketchup. We had it with turkey burgers and feta cheese tonight. A perfect combination.

I've also been thinking about making flat bread for a long time. I followed this recipe; it was as simple and straightforward as I thought it would be and makes me wonder why I never tried making flat bread before. I think I'll be eating flat bread and ketchup again tomorrow!


I was on a committee this year at school that plans and organizes the department's graduation ceremony. It's a smaller alternative to the huge UW graduation that happened in Husky Stadium yesterday. I had never been to the department graduation before, so it was great to see how it went. Four archaeologists received their PhD's this year. This is the first year that the graduates are actually close friends of mine - it makes finishing seem just a little more attainable. I know they have worked very hard and it is inspiring to see them move on to the next stage of their careers.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Recent work and travel

I haven't posted to the blog in a few weeks because work and travel has been eating up all my time. Now I am back in Seattle and feeling in control of my life again. When I travel for work it is GO GO GO. We work 7 days a week and at least 12 hours a day. By the time I get back to my room at night I just want to zone out and get some sleep. Enough excuses and on to what I have been doing.

The job was in Chesapeake Bay and was a major mobilization of equipment for a relatively short survey. We brought two trucks, an equipment trailer, and a 34' boat out from Seattle for just nine days of  survey. I can't really say what we found or did not find or even tell you exactly where we were working. What I can say is the Navy was interested in examining the impact of their historical use of the waterways.

It was a very interesting job and utilized multiple types of sonar and our magnetometer array. We can pretty much find anything on the bottom that is not natural and is reasonably large. That said, this job was not about finding everything so much as just evaluating a large area and sampling a small percentage of the area (i.e. looking at the distribution of anomalies). The work was mentally and physically exhausting interspersed with occasional moments of boredom when everything was working. For the most part we had very nice weather - a little hot for my liking but good for boating. Occasionally, just occasionally, it felt like a vacation. A vacation from my cubical anyway.

At the end of the job I was tasked with returning a truck and our geophysics equipment trailer to Seattle. That worked out great because I was able to first drive up to New York and visit family. The drive back to Seattle was very long but a great experience. I will save that part of the trip for a separate post.
Nice weather to be working on a boat.

My data acquisition and navigation station

Rich is "flying" the towfish and collecting sidescan sonar data.

The boat captain is piloting the vessel on pre-planed survey lines.

The Ugly Duckling

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mint Lemonade

My cousin Ann Marie has a Vitamix (which she is in love with) and the last time I was at her house, she made me basil lemonade. It was amazing and I haven't been able to get it off my mind since. Feeling especially summery today (60 degrees may be cool for Seattle this time of year, but after being in Kodiak it feels like summer to me!), I headed to the store to get the ingredients to make lemonade in my own blender.

I was about to buy fresh basil when I saw the mint. It reminded me that we have mint growing all over our yard. So I bought two lemons and then came home and picked a small handful of fresh mint. I briefly glanced at a recipe on the internet for mint lemonade but I didn't really follow it. I just peeled the two lemons and put them in the blender with the mint, maybe 3/4 cup of sugar, and maybe 3 cups of water. I just sort of kept adding things until it tasted good with out really keeping track. I also added about 1/2 bottle of lemon juice I'd had open in the fridge after I had watered it down too much. We ended up with a yummy lemonade. I'm definitely going to get some more lemons tomorrow and try to perfect it, so stay tuned for updates on good proportions.

And perhaps it is fitting that the glass I happened to choose is one that Ann Marie gave us when she worked at the Alaska Salmon Bake in Fairbanks!

Update: This is the round two, perfected mint lemonade recipe:

3 peeled lemons
a handful of fresh mint leaves
5 ice cubes
2 1/2 cups water
3/4 - 1 cup sugar

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

More from Kodiak

Cape Chiniak

Hiking at Cape Chiniak
My dad and John about to go fishing

John with his catch from last week - 53 reds in just a couple of hours!
Shooting stars at Cape Chiniak
Ryan says I've been posting a lot on the blog...but I haven't had a lot to do in the week I've been back from the field, so why not? The last couple of days my hands have been much better, but the weather has been terrible so I've been inside. I've been reading the Twilight series (laugh all you want, but it's been keeping me entertained). Today I came into town to hang out with John and Katelyn. John and my dad put the gill net out at the mouth of the Buskin tonight after my dad got off work. I opted not to go since the weather isn't exactly nice. I spend enough time being wet and cold outside for work, not need to do it for fun!

On Sunday the weather was pretty nice here and I did go for a little hike out at Cape Chiniak with my parents and brother. The wildflowers are coming out. It's amazing how much Kodiak has greened up in the two weeks since I arrived.

Monday, June 6, 2011

More Karluk Photos

Mountains around Karluk Lake

The Koniag cabin and yurt at Portage

Patrick, Mark, and Mary waving goodbye to me last Wednesday while they went off to work and I waited to be picked up
I've been back in town for five days now. My hands are almost better - the swelling is almost gone and most of the blisters and healing. I could definitely travel now, but my ticket back to Seattle isn't until Wednesday. I looked into changing it to fly home early but it was way too expensive to consider. Even more of a bummer because Ryan got home from his fieldwork last night. I might have a chance to put the net out for reds with my dad and John at the mouth of the Buskin tomorrow though - something to look forward to. I'm just hoping the weather will be nice.

The rest of the crew got home last night. They finished a day early and were able to come home. I went into town and met them. They were amazed at how much better my hands were. I was anxious to hear about the rest of the survey. They found lots of new archaeological sites but they also had a lot of rain. I'm still sad that I had to leave early, but I do know I made the right decision because my hands healed so slowly and I would have been miserable moving camp every couple of days (it was really hard for me to pack my things with my hands all swollen and blistered).

In hindsight I am very glad that we were staying in the Koniag yurt and cabin when my hands were really bad. At least I had a comfortable bed to sleep in, comfortable chairs to lounge in during the day when I couldn't work, and heaters to keep us warm. It would have been difficult for me to deal with zipping up a tent and climbing in and out all the time.

It is amazing that Mary, Mark, and Patrick finished the survey a day early. They recorded a lot of sites in a short time! Especially when you consider that we got started almost two days late due to bad weather and they still got done early!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Archaeology on the Karluk River

Mary holding a ground slate ulu
The remains of the walls of a sod house with two wooden posts still sticking up

Mary in a particularly deep test pit in the midden
Me in the test pit that gave me pushki burns (notice I had taken my gloves off, I will never be doing that again!!)
Mary standing in a side room of Koniag period multi-room house

 Even though I only got to participate in half of the Karluk River Survey, I  still saw a lot of really cool archaeology. I've always heard about the big villages along the Karluk River and was very excited when this opportunity came along. The Alutiiq Museum likes to do their surveys in the spring before the vegetation comes up very much. It is so much easier to see the house pits and other surface features when the vegetation is down! Most of the house pits are clear as day. It makes me think back to the other places I have surveyed in July and August in other parts of Alaska and Russia and how difficult it was to find the house pits until you literally step or fall into them.

The first village we surveyed was huge - I can't remember how many house pits it had, but it was a lot. Perhaps a couple of hundred people had lived there at some point in time. We found that there had been two periods of occupation at the site. One older Kachemak occupation (probably around 1000 years ago) and one Koniag occupation (probably between 800 and 300 years ago). We were able to see different styles of house construction for the two periods: the Kachemak houses were usually smaller and had roof sods and the Koniag houses were generally larger and did not have roof sods. We did find one large Koniag-looking multi room house that did have roof sods though - a bit of a puzzle for us. We are especially interested to get a radiocarbon date from that house to see how old it is. Perhaps it represents a transition from the roof sod to no roof sod construction between the Kachemak and Koniag periods.

One of the other villages we surveyed had house depressions with wooden posts still sticking out of the ground all around. It was really cool to see just how much wood was needed to frame up these houses. The wooden posts seem to have mostly turned to moss now.

We also found preserved faunal middens at some of these sites so we got a glimpse into what sort of animals people were eating. We of course saw tons of salmon bones, but also cod and a variety of marine shellfish such as clams, mussels, snails, and cockles. People carried these marine products all the way up  the river to consume later. We also saw some sea mammal bone, bear bone, and either dog or fox bone.

After all these years of working in coastal Alaska, it was very cool for me to see what some of these same people were doing inland on Kodiak Island. We have our suspicions that people were living on Karluk Lake and River in the fall and winter - when there are fish up there, the mosquitos aren't bad, and the ground is frozen and easy to hike around on. Hopefully we will be able to test some of our hypotheses in the future.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Floating the Karluk River

Two inflatable canoes and 1000 lbs of gear including four archaeologists.

Packed up to move camp

Patrick paddling us down river

Mary and Mark
Patrick and I
Mary and Mark, looking toward the mountains around Karluk Lake

We were lucky to have some great weather in the first week of our survey. We were also lucky that it had rained  right before we flew out there. The river was really high and we were able to float straight through sections that are usually so shallow you have to get out and drag your raft. The floating was so much fun that it really should not be called work!

Patrick has these two inflatable canoes that he uses for archaeological river surveys and I think he also uses them while hunting. Rolled up they each weigh 50 lbs. They are easily inflatable with a foot pump and can hold a lot of weight. We loaded them up with 1000 lbs of gear and people. They are definitely sturdy, but not really very maneuverable when heavy. Luckily the Karluk River is mostly very mellow.

On the first day we floated from the outlet of Karluk Lake just around the first bend in the river where we camped for 5 days. After that we floated several miles to Portage, surveying three sites along the way. That was a long day of floating but we had amazing weather. I also had a particularly awesome time because I didn't have a paddle. Patrick did all the padding for our raft! My official job was to take pictures. =) I even experimented with the underwater video mode on my camera. You can how shallow the river is!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Getting a flight out of Portage

The outlet of Karluk Lake

Mary and I digging on the first day

The Karluk River
Once we made the decision that I needed to go back to town if at all possible, it proved to be a lot harder than I expected to get on a flight. It wouldn't have been a total disaster if I'd had to stay out there - I just would have been completely useless and very uncomfortable. The first thing we did was call my mom on the satellite phone and have her try to find me a seat fare on a float plane coming back from somewhere near Portage where I was staying on the Karluk River. My mom called all the local flying services and they all said the same thing: they had no seats available for several days. My last option was to call my friend Keller who flies for Island Air. I had to have my mom go find my iPhone at home, turn it on, and read me his cell number. I was so relieved that Keller answered his phone! When I told him what was going on, he didn't hesitate for a second. He said of course he would come pick me up; he'd be on the south end of Kodiak in a couple of hours and would have an extra seat. I am so lucky to have a friend like Keller who is willing to go out of his way to help out because Island Air had just told my mom a few minutes earlier that they had no seats!

Rain and fog set in shortly after I talked to Keller though and it was apparently even worse in town; he didn't make it out that night. He said he would be trying first thing the next morning though. I called him again at 8:30am the next morning and he told me he'd be leaving town at 9 and should be at Portage to pick me up around 10:30. The plane that showed up to get me wasn't Keller though, it was a Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge plane. The pilot said he had an extra seat and Keller had asked him to pick me up. I didn't ask too many questions, relieved just to be heading back to town.

When I got to town I called Keller to thank him. He told me that just before he was about to take off at 9am, the Island Air office told him that someone had called and said I didn't need a pick up anymore. Thank goodness Keller immediately knew that wasn't right because he had just talked to me 30 minutes earlier. Island Air told him that Andrew Air was picking me up on a charter. So Keller took matters into his own hands and called Andrew Air while he was taxiing in the float plane! Andrew Air had no idea  what he was talking about so Keller was determined to still come get me at Portage. Island Air, however, was going to charge the Alutiiq Museum an arm and a leg for my flight. On one of his stops on the south end of the island, Keller ran into the Wildlife Refuge pilot and arranged for him to pick me up, knowing I wouldn't be charged a fare. Between Keller, my mom, the Alutiiq Museum, and I, we are still not sure what happened with the arrangement to have me picked up. Apparently some wires got crossed somewhere and Island Air thought I worked for Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game or something and would be picked up by a charter. All I know for sure is that I am very grateful to Keller for not giving up on getting me out of Portage and to the Refuge pilot, Kevin for agreeing to pick me up on very short notice!! Between those two pilots and the doctor who agreed to see me after hours, I am very glad to be from a small town.