Just ten minutes ago, the last of my original field crew left. She's headed to a reunion for her field school*, and the field portion of the project will be complete before she is again available to work. I still have two crew members out here, and I will be here until Thursday, but the last of the original crew has gone. This has left me feeling weirdly melancholic.
As anyone who has asked me knows, I have learned to loathe western Kern County in general, and Taft in particular (and this blog will feature many stories from my time here once I have the chance to actually sit down and write them). And this project has had more than its share of headaches, and I will not miss either. Add to that the fact that, while out here, my average work day has been something on the order of 12 hours, and 14, 16, and even 18 hours have not been unheard of, and...well, it's not difficult to see why I will be happy to put the project behind me.
At the same time, I have been living and working with these people for more than six months now. While I will no doubt work with some of them again, and I will see some of them at conferences, there are others who are pretty much gone for good. None of these people became close, personal friends of mine, but I have enjoyed working with all of them, even when the project itself was at its least pleasant.
In addition, come Thursday, I will be leaving Taft. Yes, I will have to return to tie up some loose ends some time in the next couple of months, and depending on whether or not I am notified in time, I may have to return sooner to perform the last of the survey. Regardless, the fieldwork portion of this project is effectively over, and I will be going home...and hopefully not getting assigned to the next major project in this area.
And so, as happy as I am to be headed home without the need to return for another work rotation, and as happy as I am to be able to finally take a few days off to relax, I am still having this weird, melancholic "end of the school year" kinda' feeling.
Still, I'm sure that it will vanish as soon as I see the Monterey Bay on my drive home on Thursday.
* Essentially boot camp for the archaeologist. Field school is where we pay someone for the privilege of doing hard labor working on their project. It is where most of us learn our basic field skills.