Sorry about the lack of posts, but we've had a crazy few days.
Last Monday evening we were in Medora, South Dakota, on top of a gorgeous butte. Tuesday we got back out to the site (forecast iffy, but only 30% chance of precipitation). It was cold and windy, but we began work.
Then the clouds began to roll in. We had miles of visibility across the badlands from our perch, but one by one the hills were swallowed up by the white band of advancing nothingness.
We were screwed.
Not rain, not even sleet, but actual fluffy flakes. In May. At first it wasn't so bad - even though we were basically in the cloudbank, the temperature wasn't too bad and a few flakes were nothing to worry about. Better snow than rain, actually - you get less wet.
These pictures, of course, don't really do this justice. It was so windy that the screens were difficult to hold up, and snow was building up on my back and legs. The dirt was muddy and very difficult to push through the screen. Finally our boss threw in the towel, and decided that we would pack everything up, go back to Bismarck, and return in a few days when the weather was supposed to get better.
To say that I was displeased by this would be putting things mildly. Of course, it was ludicrous to continue to excavate. It was too cold and sloppy to do anything carefully, and our paperwork was quickly wet and encrusted with mud. And the decision to drive the two hours back to Bismarck was an easy one - why pay for hotel rooms for people to just sit around when you don't have to?
But I was dreaming about the hot tub and sleeping in a bed after excavating in the snow and wind all morning. Returning to the KOA - because we had no place to stay in Bismarck - was not what I wanted to do.
Then we had a change of plans.
We had only been planning to remain in North Dakota for a few weeks, because we didn't want to be local techs. Local techs are responsible for their own housing and do not receive per diem for expenses. Non-local techs get a paid hotel and per diem. After accounting for rent and not receiving PD, that would really cut into the total amount we could make this summer. And we're trying to pay for Leland's tuition next year without taking out loans.
We were very upfront with the company in Bismarck about our intentions to look for other hotel-and-PD work, but it was still bad timing when we received a phone call on the way home from Medora to Bismarck. Long project on the New York/PA border. Starting in 8 days. Lots of overtime. Were we available?
We decided to leave Bismarck for the new project, and we had to leave that evening. It was a little shitty to leave the Bismarck company in that manner (in the middle of the stalled excavation), but the benefits to us in leaving were too great to give up the opportunity. People in the Bismarck company weren't pleased that we were leaving, but we could tell that they would do no differently, given similar circumstances. "You have to do what you have to do." We heard that a lot.
That evening, after 8 hours of driving, we were back in St Paul. The next day we packed up all our stuff, rented a U-Haul, and took off for Pennsylvania. We had a weekend in PA, and then drove the final leg up to Goshen, NY, where we are now.
We had a half day today in the field and the location is gorgeous - in a state park and completely wooded.
A few of the crew members complained about the weather today, but Leland and I weren't phased. Sure, it was about 55 degrees and drizzling, but there were trees! And no wind! And NO SNOW!