The Packing Frenzy

A map of Texas with a magnifying glass over the southern border counties and Brooks Co highlighted in Red

In just a few short days the UIndy team will be heading back to South Texas to help with the humanitarian efforts in Falfurrias and at Texas State University. The Archaeology and Forensics Laboratory (AFL) is abuzz with activity. The beginning of the summer has been especially busy for us, packed with tons of casework, a conference, and a weeklong recovery out of state. This flurry of activity continues as we get closer and closer to the day we leave. As excited as I am to get to Texas, I’m starting to realize all the prep work that still needs to be done. Oh sure, the supply lists have been made, the plane tickets and hotel accommodations have been taken care of ages ago, but now the packing frenzy begins.

This afternoon we put those supply lists to good use and packed a bag with field supplies and everything that we would need to do skeletal analyses. Our field gear includes measuring tapes, compasses, string, stakes, and a north arrow, among other things. Our skeletal analysis supplies consists mostly of paper forms and reference materials. The most sophisticated pieces of equipment we’re bringing with us this year are a set of sliding and spreading calipers, which are tools that we use to measure bones with. Most notably, we will be carrying with us a box full of animal bones that will be used for teaching purposes, of course. Carrying this box through the airport should be interesting.

For my own personal packing, my top priority is what books I’m going to pack. Already, there is a stack of books next to my empty suitcase on the floor. I know that much of the trip will be spent working hard, so I’ll have to be judicious about the number of books I carry with me. At the top of the stack sits Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, followed by Pride and Prejudice, and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Off to the side I have a book of poetry by Elizabeth Bishop, an American poet who did quite a bit of traveling herself. She writes some truly amazing stuff. This one will go directly into my carry-on.

I have never been to Texas before and I’m glad for the opportunity to be able to do so. I’m a New Yorker, born and raised, and until I went to graduate school I had never lived anywhere else. I haven’t really travelled much in the United States. I’ve mostly stuck to the Northeast and Canada with an occasional visit to Florida, where my brother lives. Everything I know about Texas comes from books, TV, and the three Texans that currently inhabit the AFL. I’ve been told that Texas is extremely hot and humid, that the people there are the nicest you’ll ever meet, that the tacos are amazing, and that, yes, everything is bigger in Texas. I’m excited to immerse myself in all things Texas and am lucky to have two native Texans, Dr. Krista Latham and Ryan Strand, to show me the ropes.