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Hanover, Pennsylvania, USA
August 14, 2007

Archaeologist working on Powerline site, Middlesex/ Essex project.

Beginning of an excavation unit. Depending on soil disposition and artifact frequency, these units can be over a meter deep.

Two projectile points.

“Traveler, there is no path; paths are made by walking.”

-Antonio Machado Cantores

Well friends, it has finally happened: I found myself a boat to brave the ocean’s waves upon. A commercial fishing boat out of Nantucket. Although I will not be riding on a cross ocean journey, I do hope to gain a little experience that would enable me to do so. The boat is called the Ruthie B, and is the last commercial fishing vessel to sail out of Nantucket. It is interesting to me how an entire population of fishermen and whalers were gentrified out of there native land in the name of tourism. But I have not yet been to Nantucket, so I will hold off on any impressions until I have a chance to walk its shorelines. I am still unsure of when I will be able to make it out there- I need to get back to Asia in only a few weeks. Hopefully I will be able to go out on at least one fishing voyage before running across the globe.

Steve finding treasures.
There is an entire sect of scientific laborer who crosses the USA from end to end continuously, rages in bars nightly, and are, in most respects, hobos of the old time sort. They are professional archaeologist, but are also know by the tongue in cheek title of ‘Shovel Bum.’ I do not know if I pride or loathe the fact that I am amongst their ranks haha. I have been pursuing work in other directions, just for the sake of learning, for many years, but the lifestyle inherent to doing archaeology suites my path perfectly. Every year I say that it will be my last of doing fieldwork . . . but then summer comes and I find myself signed on to another project in some odd corner of the country, digging square holes, and making up the money to get back abroad with. . . and really enjoying it all.

It is perhaps folly to view work as merely a means to an end- it is a reason and direction for travel. An ancient occupation that has taken people to the farthest corners of the earth. To procure what one needs to survive is perhaps one of the most basic underpinnings of the Wanderlust.

The process of work is interesting in and of itself- you end up places that you would never venture to on your own, you meet people that you would never ordinarily meet, and have experiences that you would not have had otherwise.
A “for keeps” wandering archaeologist spoke the following statement about the profession: “You know, I would travel on my own to Washington State, or California, but I would never even think of going to Kentucky. Which is why I try to pick up work in places that I would not ordinarily go.” An interesting bit of wisdom that could be applied to travel in general- Why only go to places that you are particularly drawn to? Is there not little gems of romance in every corner of the globe? A little touch of beauty under every smokestack? A small treasure just where you never imagined it to be?
Yes, it is time to stop letting pre-conceived notions of places dictate my direction. Maybe it is time for a little random selection- an eyes closed finger point down on a map? Travel is for the process, not the destination- a full blown jump into the waywardness of providence!

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Filed under: Archaeology, Friends, North America, Other Travelers, Travel Inspiration, Travel Philosophy, USA

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3126 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Zhushan Village, Kinmen, TaiwanMap