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"I have several projects that are literally sitting in the closet," he says. He might have said "skeletons" in the closet that need to be described and published in the academic fashion.
He waxes enthusiastic about getting back in the field.
"There is nothing like being out there," he says. "The sense of accomplishment and attachment. You go through these trials and tests. You wake up in the morning and it's cold and you have a cup of coffee by the fire, then you go out in the field.
"By 12 o'clock, it's 110 degrees; you've been trekking up and down the slopes and you haven't found anything. But you go back to camp and maybe jump in the river and sit under a hot tarp for lunch and start talking about the research. It's total immersion. You're no longer worrying about e-mails and the smog certificate for your car. All that matters is getting into the Land Rover and driving out to that spot.
"It starts to cool down in the evening. You eat dinner and sit out under the stars and maybe smoke a little cigar and talk about the day. Then you crash into your tent and listen to the animals moving around.
Don Johanson wants to get back to the field, back to the classroom, back to science.