Starts: August 5th. Eli is just completing a 3-month assignment as an Archaelogy Intern at Bandelier National Monument, a National Park Service site near Los Alamos New Mexico. He's a 2x SCA and this summer he's preserving Ancestral Puebloan ruins, exploring cavates [short for cave excavation in the soft volcanic rock] and hoping to avoid any more encounters with bats.
Name: Elias Robert Logan
Hometown: Manhattan, Kansas
Work/Site Location: Bandelier National Monument
Dream job: Architect/ Landscape Architect involved in sustainable design
Favorite book: The Fountainhead
Favorite movie: Into the Wild (and the book was great, too)
Favorite park: Olympic National Park
Most memorable SCA moment: Building, then using, a sweatlodge on the banks of the glacial Hoh River in the Olympic National Park backcountry. Smoky, hot sweatlodge to freezing cold river is a great combination!
Something few people know about me: Apparently, and not discovered until recently, I don’t enjoy being in dark, confined spaces with potentially rabid bats.
Background: I was born, raised, and now am continuing my education in Kansas- in the beautiful and underestimated Flint Hills, one of the last remaining swaths of tallgrass prairie in the U.S. My interest in the outdoors came originally from travel with my parents to National Parks, but was really accelerated during my time in Boy Scouts. Through Scouting, I was able to have adventures like canoeing in Canada’s Quetico Region, white water rafting in Colorado’s Royal Gorge, spelunking in Central and Southern Missouri’s caves, and backpacking in New Mexico’s Philmont Scout Ranch. My career interest has always been in architecture and more recently, how the built environment relates to the natural surroundings. As a result, I am attending Kansas State University for a degree in architecture, with hopes of one day being able to practice a brand of design that integrates nature and construction in a harmonious and earth-friendly fashion.
I would definitely like to thank everybody who makes the SCA possible. It’s a great organization. I am extremely grateful for the funding and support that you give it. You’ve given me a great experience out here and the chance to learn a lot and have a lot of fun
The Southwest is just a really cool place. The cultural resources like the Ancestral Puebloans ruins are really interesting to me. And the people are just great. I’ve really enjoyed the hospitality here. And the canyons and the mountains are gorgeous.
I want be an architect but honor the past. I’ve learned from these ruins in terms of using the vernacular styles of any particular region just like the Native Americans did and like some people are continuing to practice in this region right now. I have learned to appreciate nature and want to incorporate that into my design aesthetic.
SCA has really helped me connect to nature. I’ve learned to appreciate every little thing.
You know some people might look at the New Mexico landscape and call it a desert. But now I look at it and appreciate each part of this ecosystem. I feel a deep connection to the landscape. Working here at Bandelier and then backpacking, caving, climbing on the weekends I’ve learned to love nature and respect it – not leave a mark on it. I’ll try not to forget that going back to college. I’ll try to keep it with me for a long time.
A really scary moment was an encounter with a bat in an extremely small cavate. The doorway to it was about the size of my shoulders. And the bat was in the caveate that I was about three quarters of the way into by the time it flew directly over my face. I started screaming a little bit just because I was in an enclosed space and we had just had the rabies talk about how every one in three bats can make you go insane. I’d say that’s the worst experience from the summer. But it’s definitely fun to look back on and laugh at some good-natured teasing. I’m sure I had no contact with the bat whatsoever. So I should be in the clear.
Coming out to a totally new environment has made me more independent and at the same time I’ve met a lot of great people that I expect to keep in touch with in the future. And I think that through a bunch of experiences like having your jeep break down at the end of a back country road and getting used to the people in small New Mexico towns or taking a solo hike up into the Jemez Mountains and then looking down on Los Alamos and realizing how small you are but how great an impact I can have through SCA and through the work that I do each day -- that’s the best.
This pueblo had about four hundred rooms for a hundred people. It could have been more like two stories tall in places -- a pretty extensive settlement. If you see it from above it looks like a circle or maybe a baseball field.
And what my program, Vanishing Treasures, is doing is replacing the mortar between the stones from the ruins, originally excavated in the early 1900s by an archeologist named Edgar Lee Hewett. These pueblos date from about 1200AD, and the mortar has been replaced several times since the site was excavated. In the fifties they just smeared it with concrete, and we’re removing that Portland cement.
We’re carefully recording what’s there, picking out the mortar, and replacing it with more earthen mortar that allows water to move through it rather than through the soft tuffs. The problem with the Portland cement was that the water would move through the blocks of tuff, which are obviously the archeological resources, rather than through the mortar and it was deteriorating the stone. In some cases we have to entirely rebuild the wall. So we’re trying to make sure that this ruin is here for years to come.
Last summer I served on a high school crew doing trail work in the rain forest of Olympic National Park up in Washington State. And that was a great experience that I’ll never forget. I took a lot away from that including about eight new friends that are some of the coolest people I’ve met through SCA or through anything.
And I got to do a lot of good grueling work. It got me physically prepared for just about anything really. Hiking two miles up to our work site, gaining two thousand feet of elevation, and then forging a trail farther up the mountainside was a really intense physical exercise. But we got to learn a lot: how to make bread in a back country oven; how to take a bath in a freezing glacial river; how to build a sweat lodge. Both of our leaders, Ross Downer and Jackie Lown, were great people to learn from and just hear their experiences. And I still keep in touch with both of them as well as the other participants in that crew who were all great people. So it really got me excited to continue with SCA. I am here because of that experience.