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Spring Break at Sapelo Island

Thursday: March 19, 2015

I was invited to Sapelo to help a friend collect data for his thesis, so of course I had to go! This was one of those times I was happy my other university classes were cancelled since they are not on the same schedule as his (which is where my current online class is). See, there are benefits of being a lowly adjunct;)


I’ve only ever been to Sapelo in the thick of summer, so heading down in March was a dream. Of course, getting there always stinks – and this time more than usual: my engine is sitting in pieces, so I had to take a bus to Indy to then have a 15 hour car ride. (Another win for my classes being cancelled since I cannot drive anywhere! Positive thinking, right?)


The weather was gorgeous. The sky was blue. The only drawback was gnats. Gnats, of all things. Since when are gnats anything other than a mild nuisance? I tell you what – they are on my shitlist with mosquitos, and I have the look of chicken pox to prove it.



The location was equally amazing. Normally, we are in the thick of a Georgian jungle, spending days just machete-ing palmettos, vines, and small trees. This work was staged in a broad field, with giant loblolly (I think) pines looming over us, casting shadows that made the sunshine dabble-y and delicious.



Rather than standard shovel test probes (STPs), we did 50x50cm units. Slower, of course, but more rigorous data collection. And quite a great exercise for a rusty someone like me who missed a season of field work – lots of wall cutting and floor leveling to be done!


The people were awesome too. Our school met up with some UGA students – in fact Zach was tagging onto Brandon’s dissertation work, so Brandon was ultimately in charge. We enjoyed many discussions of Star Trek, video games, and anthropology. I couldn’t have asked for a better group! Plus, I was able to shadow Brandon for a short time to see what fires came up and how to best put them out or prevent them – things I will need to think about for this summer’s HPF granted survey if we are chosen. I also got more experience with the total station, and learned how to resect (rather than backsight)!


We played a few games – one of the traditional Sapelo games now being the “paper game” (some people call it Illustrations). Have you ever tried it? It is like a paper version of telephone mixed with pictionary. You start with a phrase, pass it to your left to someone who draws it, then it is passed again for someone to guess the phrase, passed again for a new drawing, and so on and so forth until it comes back to you. For instance, my phrase morphed into a stick figure with hairy armpits being attacked by weather. As you can guess, a lot of laughs are born with this game!


Aside from the excitement of the work itself, and the friendly chatter of the group, the most exciting thing was that several students found a small stingray trapped in a tidal pool and rescued it. I missed it, but I saw the photos. Pretty cool! And I guess last time, there were manatees swimming with everyone!


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