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I know, I know – you’re thinking, “Jacque, why has it been so very long since your last post?” Well, I am here to tell you….because SO MUCH HAS BEEN GOING ON!!

I would love to catch you guys up, but as this is the week of Thanksgiving, I though I will, instead, give you guys some very helpful tips on how an outdoor adventurer survives the FAMILY THANKSGIVING!! So, here we go…

  1. Wear comfy pants – and by comfy I don’t mean a little roomy – I mean a LOT. This is for your comfort and to protect anyone else from flying buttons.
  2. Don’t wait until the last minute to ask “What can I bring?” because you are going to get hit with the UGH list…mashed potatoes are yummy – but making 50 pounds takes muscles, sweat, and quite frankly a mixer you don’t have….so, opt for something simple.
  3. Do NOT – under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES say to an elderly family member “Wow, I didn’t know you were still with us.” Won’t go over well.
  4. Sit quickly. You worked really hard not to sit at that kid table. You know, the one where everyone thinks it’s funny to show chewed up food. Grab that seat!
  5. No matter what, offer to help clean up. Even if you don’t mean it. Then, when the hostess inevitably says, “Oh, that’s okay.” Go relax with some pie. I mean – you gave the chance right?
  6. If there is turkey and ham – eat both. Just in case one is awful. Turkey is like wine – it takes years to perfect. Young cooks often dry out the turkey. Ham, well, it’s technically already cooked so all you have to do is really heat it up. Good choice!
  7. DO NOT GET DRUNK. This will end badly. Maybe not on this day, but I promise your family will never stop talking about the Thanksgiving So-and-so got smashed. And, you will forever be labelled the sot. Not something you want brought up when they are REALLY mad at you.
  8. Football is – well, football. Engage your family, but if you are a fan, find a sneaky way to be excused out of conversations so you can catch the game without making them feel offended. Like…start a conversation of interest with a gabber and then walk quietly away.
  9. Eat, eat, rest, eat, rest, dessert. Firsts, seconds, rest, nibbles, rest, then BIG dessert.
  10. Lastly, and most importantly, give thanks. Go around and thank each person for who and what they are in your life. Life is often too short. I am reminded of that each day now. Hugs and sincere sharing of fond memories and truly connecting will go a long way.

So, if you think you just CAN’T make it through the whole thing, pawn off that you have to share with your partner, spouse, or significant other…that works too!

Happy Thanksgiving! I am truly thankful that you read this blog, share with your friends, and support everyone Getting Outside and doing 

Tropical Tromping….

I know you are wondering what is going on in the world. You are asking why the Chicks with Ticks haven’t been around.

Kaleigh and Allison exploring the sand flats

Kaleigh and Allison exploring the sand flats

Well, IT’S SUMMER SILLY. That’s right – kids are out of school and adventures abound. So, in honor of summer I thought we would begin to tell you what AMAZING places we have been adventuring so far.

View of the shore.

View of the shore.

We are going to start with Caladesi State Park It is only the most beautiful island ever…well at least one we can paddle to.

Alex relaxing near an old log.

Alex relaxing near an old log.

So, we load up paddle boards, coolers, kayaks and 4 kids….me with 4 kids isn’t that unusual. In fact, I almost always travel with 4 kids. Just so happens that this trip included my two biologic kids and each of their best friends. IT also included loads of silliness at Wal Mart to get food and stuff, bouncy balls that flew out of the window (another story for another time) and an amazing parking spot.

Allison searching for adventure....and creatures.

Allison searching for adventure….and creatures.

We loaded up and paddled out to the tip of the island from the causeway. I recommend this for above average paddlers as there is a boat traffic pattern, channel, sand bar, and sometimes a strong current and winds. This paddling is very east most times – but occasionally it is a little tiresome for beginners – none the less – it’s a blast.

There are mangrove trails to paddles, crystal clear shallows to explore, lots of sea creatures to selfie with, clean sandy shores, bird watching, shelling, relaxing, and – our favorite – ADVENTURING. SO – don’t miss out. You can rent kayaks and paddle boards on the causeway. Also, if paddling is not for you – take the ferry – it’s affordable and fun. Bring your lunch – camera and RELAX and enjoy the amazing natural habitats of Florida beaches.


For advanced paddlers (and drinkers) there is a marina and beach well into the islands that has amazing lunch and sangria. The beaches host tortoises and beautiful rare plants. You can paddle with porpoises sometimes and see some great mangroves.

Chapter 8 – We Became Wild

Chicks With Ticks:

As I text Kristen between tears, I realize how long it has been since I have gone deep into the woods….and Now i understand my tears….

Originally posted on Chicks With Ticks....:

As you might expect, we see a lot of wild things. I mean wild in every sense! We see wild flowers, wild animals, wild people, wild encounters, wild weather, wild places, and just wild things in general. It’s hard to imagine, but I much prefer wild things to anything else.

Somewhere along the path we lost our fears of most wild things. We forgot about the scratches and the thorns. The dangers were just dangers. We became more in tune with what we were doing. We became in tune with each other. We became in tune with nature. We became wild things.

It wasn’t apparent just how wild we had become until I got laid off recently and was removed from the wild places for a while. Don’t go sniveling now about that – it’s a story for another day. I look back, even right now, and it’s hard to…

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Chapter 8 – We Became Wild.

Looking upstream

Looking upstream

That’s right, I know you are all pouting and say, “Jacque, where have you been?” Well, I

This little guy os growing from our green logs where the creek disappears under a newly created natural bridge.

This little guy os growing from our green logs where the creek disappears under a newly created natural bridge.

have no really great story where I get chased by some wild animal or get lost deep in the forest (we wish right?). All I have is the fact that I have been running around crazy.

Looking downstream

Looking downstream

I thought you all would absolutely love the fact that I am working in a confidential area making guess what….? Ditches! I know you guys understand I believe in a lot of crazy stuff….but…NOT DITCHES.

So, I have taken it upon myself to team with my buddy and boss, Matt to stop the madness. We have begun designing what a dear friend Michelle Sims calls “conveyances”. I call them unditches.

So the basic idea is that we disguise a nasty and boring ditch or gully as a small stream segment. We give it character, habitat, shape, form, and a better function in the landscape. The bugs and fish already love it. I love it. Guess what? I got a sweet surprise birthday visit from 10-20 DEP reps.

The fish will love this pool.

The fish will love this pool.

Now, most folks hate it when they see a pack of DEP nerds coming but I get all excited. I LOVE THEM! There’s nothing like watching them tromp around in the woods downstream in the preservation

and all over the site. The smiles, questions, suggestions, and interest were fun! I love sharing what we do and why….especially with people who care just as much as I do.

This natural system will benefit from more care in the connection design.

This natural system will benefit from more care in the connection design.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,800 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Who will fill this man’s shoes?



That’s right, there is a time and a season for everything. You are probably thinking, “Jacque, there are only four seasons.” But, I am here to tell you that there are infinite seasons. Let me tell you what I mean by that.

Last Monday, at about 7am, a coworker was doing what he does and suffered a fatal accident. Now, we are all grown ups here (well, some of you at least) and we know that accidents, be they minor or fatal, all happen unexpectedly. After all, that’s why they call them accidents. But, I am here to tell you that this seemingly tragic life event has changed the way I will look at my coworkers forever.

A smiling, happy, driven father of three, husband of 35 years, son to two amazing living parents died in a tragic accident. In attending his services and funeral, I wanted to share a few epiphanies that may or may not affect you.

Firstly, whether or not you are religious or spiritual, you may find some message here that sparks something. Forget that I was at a Baptist church in Polk county Florida. Forget that I was a lone observer of a family’s grief and the sorrow of an entire community. I want you to remember this – I heard folks speak of this man we lost in the most amazing ways. Not fancy – not flowery – simply amazing. This man I worked alongside was so much more than what I thought.

In fact, I can’t tell you what a loss the whole world may be at. If the chaos theory and butterfly effects are at all true, we are all in for it! This man inspired many. Loved much and as the preacher placed his muddy work boots on the pedestal he said, “Who will fill this man’s shoes?”

Who will fill my muddy boots?

Who will fill my muddy boots?

I can’t tell you how effected I am to this moment by that question. It made me think…..who will fill the shoes of any lost loved one. It made me think of my responsibility to those left behind. It inspired me to think of those around me in a different light.

He mentioned a time and a season for everything. Never mind the biblical references, there now seems a season for everyone, every creature, every living thing and the living things to come. Now I see cycles of life everywhere I turn. I can’t tell you folks how I saw the whole world and life itself in a new way. I saw it all as cycles. It makes sense. It became quite clear that life is actually much simpler that we think – it’s just a cycle.

As I stood alone outside the service watching family and friends, young and old, some crying and some smiling with some memory of their lost loved one, I immediately felt so tiny and insignificant. I was witnessing a web of people connected by that set of muddy work boots. I was watching as the trickle down effect began to change them all forever. I was seeing that when one cycle seemed to end, it really just changed momentum and direction. It took many forms right before my eyes.

I watched them walk to their cars and leave that place. I wondered how so many could have known him. I wondered how he had touched so many lives and hearts. I wondered if he was aware that his season is still not over! If so, I hope he is smiling at the vibrations he struck in that web of folks on Saturday. I hope he knows that those infinite cycles are all connected in some way. I’ll bet he knows now that those infinite cycles are, in fact, infinite!

You think my tractor’s sexy?

Wide open spaces.

Wide open spaces.

That’s right, it’s official, I am now a farmer! You thought, ” Jacque, what the hell are you doing farming? I thought you were a scientist.” Well, I’m here to tell you – you can’t farm without science…and mud, and cows, and grass, and fertilizer (fancy name for cow poo), and TRACTORS!!

Rolling Rolls

Rolling Rolls

I have spent some hefty time sitting on a Rollmaster harvester on our sod farm near the Myakka river. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to ride and operate the harvester which rolls up the sod. Sitting behind a diesel tractor all day isn’t my idea of a glam job – but it sure as heck had me smiling. So, I have come to the simple conclusion that….drum roll please…..KRISTEN WAS ALWAYS RIGHT – WE SHOULD BE FARMERS!!!

It’s such a green and simple life, fraught with weather watching, cow chasing, muddy boots, pump fixin, rain gauging, cow patty avoiding, and

Farmer Jack

Farmer Jack

sweet smelling grass! The most interesting thing is – all that GREEN brings in a lot of GREEN! Green side up and

Trucking along...

Trucking along…

payday is Friday kind of green.

I thought all you kids out there would want to see how a girl farmer works…and what a sod farm looks like. So, without any further adieu…..For Fun Friday – Here’s Farming….



The mother tree stood in silence somewhere in the middle of a long forgotten hammock glade. The morning dew lit brightly by the dawn. Crystals hanging from her leafy fingers. I said a secret kind of prayer as I approached. Something from my childhood. Not wanting to disturb her slumber lest her limbs began to thrash wildly like before.



Withered and rough, I felt her furrowed bark cut into the skin of my thighs as I began to climb. Eyes still wet with disappointment and fear. Heart full of shadows.

Reaching higher and higher looking down occasionally to see if anything had followed me I knew I was almost there. I calmed myself so as not to rush. One slip from her heights could leave bruises best not explained. 

I found my space worn smooth by years of reverence. I took my usual position on my belly, limbs hanging loosely, face pressed against her bark. I would remain until my tears stopped, until my pain dulled, until I smiled. Her arms rocking me gently with the breeze. Her scent filling my nostrils with that loamy warmth.

Eyes dried, heart lighter, healed.

Animal Power

Originally posted on The carbon pilgrim:

One ancient practice nearly wiped out in the United States by “progress” was the widespread use of animal power in many important endeavors, including farming, hauling, logging, herding and various types of transportation. In the late nineteenth century, for example, getting around in New York City meant employing at least one of the nearly 200,000 horses stabled in the city (whose manure production posed a serious and perennial public health hazard). Equally hard to imagine today is the knowledge that until the adoption of tractors in the1920s, nearly all American agriculture was powered by livestock!

As someone who came of age among the asphalt suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona during the 1970s—the nadir years for animal power in the U.S.—these historical facts were hard to comprehend when I first heard them. Although I had spent my youth around horses, they were strictly the recreational variety. I knew nothing about draft animals…

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