Getting Ready for Peru

June 26, 2008

GPS Setup at MU

So, it’s t-minus 2 weeks until I leave for Peru. I haven’t packed at all. I haven’t even really made a list of what I want to pack. I’m in the process of trying to find a new apartment, a place to store my stuff should I find a new apartment, and a way to move in to the new apartment (should I find one) when I get back from Peru in late August. To make matters worse, my iMac has still not returned from his trip to the doctor in St. Louis, so the only internet that I have is on my trusty iPhone. As if that’s not enough, I seem to have misplaced the 70$ oral typhoid vaccine in the back of my fridge. I think it’s somewhere behind the three empty Stoneyfield Farms Banilla yogurt containers, the half-empty King Cobra 40 oz. left over from a party in January, and a box of 2-month-old Shakespeare’s pizza.

All this, and I’ve decided to whip up a travel blog for my trip to Peru. As of today, I’ve had 21 friends tell me that they want me to bring them to Peru with me. Seeing as I don’t have 21,000$ laying around to buy everyone tickets, and I have no interest in selling a kidney, a lung, and a partially used liver, I figure the next best thing is to keep them up to date on what I’m doing while I’m there.

So, a real short introduction to why I’m going to Peru: I am working with a faculty member here in MU’s anthropology dept. to survey, map, and excavate archaeological sites on the north coast of Peru, near the modern city of Chiclayo.

As part of my responsibilities on the project, I’ll be running some pretty cool survey equipment that we purchased from Wind Environmental Services. On Tuesday, the unit was delivered, and we did about 9 hours of training with it: Setting it up, collecting data, tearing it down, and transferring data to ArcGIS.

The unit we picked up is a GPS-based survey package, and it allows us to map features at sub-centimeter accuracy. Translation: We can map a helluva lot of stuff a helluva lot quicker than you can using a total station. The secret to the instrument is that it actually consists of two GPS receivers: One that you place on the feature you are mapping, and one that remains at a fixed point. The fixed-point GPS monitors changes in the GPS signal, and broadcasts a correction factor out to the mapping GPS via a high-power radio. Totally geeky cool if you ask me, particularly since the whole thing is BlueTooth compatible. There were more than a few “That is SO COOL!” moments.

Anyway, I should probably stop writing, start packing, and dig the oral Typhoid vaccine out from the back of my refrigerator.