Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On Traveling

I have just arrived home from a very intense, multi-faceted set of projects. I have only been gone for 8 days but it seems like longer. I have been temporarally residing in Florida, New Mexico, and Arizona. I have stayed in hotel rooms, couches, and futons. The trip has involved three airplane rides and two rental cars.

Canyon de Chelly, AZ

I do not mean to complain. My job is aweome, I get to travel to lots of places and meet wonderful people. It is just tiring, both emotionally and physically.

Fieldwork can be stressful. This has been no vacation. Nights have been late and days have been long. I have blisters on my feet, sunburns, bug bites, and chapped lips.

I can't really talk about the work (big suprise, client confidentiality and all), but I will say I was in Palm Beach County, Florida and in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona. Both huge vacation destinations where I was working terribly hard (not joking here). I did spend some time on the beach and touring the canyon rim.

Now, what I really want to talk about here is traveling alone. Because geophysical archaeology is really a one or two person task I usually travel alone, sometimes we meet an assistant at the job site. This means lots of alone time, alone on the road, alone in a hotel room, alone at restaurants, alone on the beach, etc.

Deerfield Beach, Florida

I am not the type of person that spends a lot of time in isolated contemplation. Not that there is anthing wrong with that, it is just not me. I was never the kid who did things alone. I mean, I could entertain myself, but I had friends to hang with and that was much more fun. I had never been to a restaurant by myself until after graduate school (take-out does not count). If you told teenage Sarah that she would someday have a job that would require her to travel across country by herself, spend long evenings in a hotel by herself, and (gasp) tour around by herself, she would have had an anxiety attack and started worrying about it for the next 5 to 10 years (I was a very anxious child, I would lose sleep over elementery school tests). Now I am mostly ambivalent about my solo work, sometimes I even like it.

In Albuquerque

Five Awesome things about traveling alone:

1.) You can eat whatever you want, whenever you want. You feel like greasy burger, it is yours. You want dessert and an appetizer, go for it!

2.) Reading books at dinner. Sometimes talking is lame and you really want to know what happens in your book. Sometimes you do not have anything to talk about with a coworker.

3.) Listening to my dorky podcasts. Most people are cooler than me and are not interested in the last episode of Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me or the even nerdier NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour.

4.) No one will judge you for eating a whole bag of crunchy cheetos and washing it down with a fountain coke.

5.) You can stop at roadside attractions most people would consider lame.

The Kind of Crappy Things About Traveling Alone:

1.) Silence at Dinner. Occasionally, you do want to talk and you have lots to say.

2.) Drinking Alone. I have to say cold beer is essential after a long day in the sun. While I am not above going to a bar by myself and drinking a couple glasses, it is better with someone else.

3.) Laughing. There is nothing lamer than having something funny happen and having no one to share it with. Same applies for something cool... It is nice to share these experiences with another.

4.) Bad stuff happens and you have to deal. Alone. Nothing is less fun than dealing with a screw up by yourself.

5.) People look at you funny. Then they ask you, "is that just one." If I were a dude people might assume I was a business traveler. As a young women, they never think that.

Friend I visited in Canyon de Chelly, rocking the gray and green.

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