The rocks that screwed us

Here's the thing with building a house in California.

Take the cost you think it'll run. Take the time you think it'll take. Take the amount of stress and worry you expect to invest.

Double it. Double it all.

Now maybe you'll have an inkling of what you're up against.

We've been working on putting a house on our vacant lot for almost a year now and we've hit every kind of wall you can imagine. At some point, I'll tell you all about those walls (maybe, if I can find the sanity to do so) but today I want to tell you about rocks.

Most of the area were on is - geologically speaking - called the Lindavista Formation. The rocks found in this formation are relatively insignificant, culturally, but can easily masquerade as something more important. The rocks often have rounded edges, which when broken, can look like grinding surfaces used by Native Americans. So when we had to pay for a archeologist and a Native American to come take a look at the land, our greatest hope was that nothing of significance would be found*. If it was found, we're looking at paying the very same people a four-hour minimum to stand around while we dig up the footprint, at a rather significant cost.

They found this rock:

rocks of significance

In the photo, the left of the large rock shows a slight curve, which they said made it a potential field stone used for grinding.

I find it extremely shady when the people making a recommendation that you pay someone to be on site during digging are the very same people who will be paid to stand around while digging is happening. That sentence didn't mean to be so convoluted, but well, this process is convoluted, so why should I allow you to be comfortable when reading it? ANYWAY, this concern of mine sent me to the ear of a friend of ours, who happens to be a local hot-shot geologist. I asked if he'd be willing to come on out and give me an idea if these people were full of crap or not. He agreed.

And here's the thing, I'm totally OK with the idea that significant artifacts should be properly handled. I just didn't know if I was being lied to or not, as everyone needs to put dinner on the table. And looking at that rock above, I really didn't know what to think.

So Eric came out this morning and took a look. His first impression of the rock was that it was insignificant (which is what I thought!). But what he found next? Well, that is not insignificant.

rocks of significance

You see those thin bits of rock? These kinds of rocks do not naturally break like that. The shape could have occurred when the area was graded in the 1970's, but upon closer inspection of the wider of those two shards, he found this:

rock of significance

"You're going to have to pay them."
"Yep. Those may be nothing, but they look like potential tool marks. Tool marks mean there may be more to look at here." He glanced around some. "You have an alternate site for the house?"
"OK, just know this could take longer than expected."


At least this is coming from someone I trust. And after he left, Mark and I took a walk around the property and came up with an alternate plan, just in case something is found that will take a long time to unearth.

For once, I'm hoping that my land utterly and completely unremarkable, insignificant and boring.

Fingers crossed.


*Who can come up with the best "An archeologist, a Native American and a geologist walk into a bar" joke? Winner gets a potentially significant rock from the Lindavista Formation. GO!