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That’s right, I know you are all wondering where the heck we have been. Well, there isn’t really one answer – there are many – in fact, there are so many that I am just gonna make a pass at the major 2-3 reasons….so, for all those interested, here it goes…

Losing Jess left us all lost...

Losing Jess left us all lost…

  • Jess one of the founding Chicks with Ticks being diagnosed with cancer and dying after only some months leaving us all a little shaken, lost, and unfocused
  • The slow separation of the field team – Kristen becoming a project manager, and Josh and I the field team.
  • Lastly – Me leaving our company to join a smaller company who actually builds the streams we design.

There are other, smaller reasons, add a little winter laziness, a bunch of kids, some amount of relationship changes for the better and a whole lot of life and you get – well, a lull!

I apologize from my heart. This blog has kept be sane for almost 3 years. Your fellowship and support has kept the lights on in the darkness. It has continued to be my distinct pleasure to share with you all the joys, trials and tribulations of what we do…BUT….now, I want to share with you….

Jacque leaves after almost 10 years!

Jacque leaves after almost 10 years!

A NEW BEGINNING…one which takes us all in different directions all paths crossing at different angles, all experiences new and exciting. So, if you have the strength and courage to continue to stand by us as we push on in the journey – well, grab on folks….it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!

Next installment will be the introduction of new characters and roles!!

 

 

Repost – Ancient Landscapes

Once connected by an ancient land bridge to the deserts of the southwest, the Lake Wales Ridges State Forest boasts some similar species that were later trapped in this area when the ice receded. The wave action and shallow waters created a most unusual landform which is still visible today from the air.

Hiking out of the scrub and into the cypress dome was quite surprising.

What you will find on the ground is equally interesting. In the midst of shallow grassy marshes, there are two cypress domes. I know – that’s crazy right – cypress domes don’t belong on the ridge. Well, they are there. And they are gorgeous. Of course they differ from the swampy cypress domes in that they rely on water travelling underground through seepage rather than flowing over the surface.

Just standing in the middle of the dome after hiking through scrub habitat dominated by white sand and scrub oaks – sharp things and arid conditions – I looked around in total wonder at the soft ferns and mucky loam I was standing on. This seemed to me to be a very unique kind of forest. I felt lucky to be taking photos while my field partner Kevin rejoiced in the beauty as well.

It’s not hard to admit that we feel fortunate to be able to see these places. Truth is, everyone can as they are part of the Lake Wales Walk In Water WMP and are totally publicly accessible. You can even bring your horses and camp! IMGP0082  http://www.floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/lake_wales_ridge.html

As always, these areas are home to some very special plants and animals. Even the soil can’t be disturbed. Please enjoy with your eyes and take no prisoners!

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The transition from upland scrub to cypress dome!

 

Chicks with Ticks Brand Is Going LIVE

That’s right folks, the Chicks with Ticks brand finally goes live for 2014. We will make decals available, shirts, hats and other cool girl gear! In the meantime, to stay on top of the latest brand news, check us out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/chickswithticks

Let us know what you would like to see!!

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We are so excited to share!

Southern Grace – the Suwannee Trip!

We found time to adventure at Owens Springs - you can't miss it!

We found time to adventure at Owens Springs – you can’t miss it!

And so began another Suwannee River trip. That’s right, we headed back up to north Florida to work and study the river and how it interacts with its floodplain. I know – you are thinking, “Jacque, you guys just keep making excuses to go play on the river.” I assure you that is never the case….well, almost never!

Just so happens that this time, we rented a cabin on the river. Not just any cabin, Southern Grace! This is the very same cabin Clyde Butcher stays in when he’s working up there. Yes, there are photos of the owners and the Butchers. His photos are on the frig.

If you get a chance to plan a nice getaway, I recommend calling Kerrey Hoolihan. She is the manager of the property and will treat you like royalty. Of course, like any cabin stay your instructions will be on old typing paper, keys are in weird places, you have to turn on the water, but this place has so much charm, you won’t notice tattered wallpaper.

We proceeded to camp the weekend on another property the owner has – let’s just say AMAZING. For once, we got to taste river life and let me tell you – it is truly good! So, here are some photos from the trip – go ahead – get jealous, get information and get out there…AND GO ANYWHERE – especially the Suwannee!

The swing view of the river

The swing view of the river

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The dock has to serve at all water levels

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The boys celebrating our camping trip!!

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It was a moonlit night when Kristen and I arrived

 

Allen discovered an amazing spring on our hike.

Allen discovered an amazing spring on our hike.

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Can’t go to the river without a canoe trip! After all – they brought it all the way up here!
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Allen and I enjoyed every minute of our camping adventure!

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The view from inside Southern Grace.

 

Melancholy

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Bye for now Jess….the wilds of Florida will never be the same.

It is with heavy hearts that Kristen and I have to say goodbye to one of our own. Jessica Taft is a true Chick With Ticks….one of the fabulous five who began this journey many years ago. Jess would be pissed off to see us shed these tears and sob these sobs as we cry “It’s not fair”. We will share some amazing stories and adventures with her children – who need to know how strong and beautiful she will always be to us. Caio Jess – see ya later!

bacteriaThat’s right, ewww! The Chicks with Ticks go some really nasty places. It’s hard to believe, I know, but we also don’t always have access to a public restroom with soap! Ewwww…I know! That means…you got it – we have germy, nasty hands sometimes.

Recently, a client notified us that hogs in our area tested positive for leptospirosis (blah blah – NASTY bacterial disease). Shortly after that, the news shared a story of a man who recently dies of a bacterial infection from water. The world instantly seemed….well, DIRTY!

So, in order to make it less scary and more bearable, I thought I should make fun of the germy things we have and will do! So, here goes my top ten list of……

NASTY THINGS CHICKS WITH TICKS DO

1. Go into hot swamp water without waders on

(this means that swamp water gets….well….you know – EVERYWHERE)

2. Use the restroom outdoors

(I don’t think I need to elaborate on the many reasons this is nasty)

3. Eat wild plants

(Only do this with great knowledge….or bravery as some stuff can kill ya)

4. Touch wild animals/fish

(yeah – we do it – I will be honest)

5. Wade in mud

(We like it!!)

6. Swim in creeks and rivers

(Some think this is risky – boy are they missing out)

7. Get bitten by nasty critters

(Ants, bees, ticks, fleas, chiggers…COOL)

8. Get weird rashes

(YUCK – true but YUCK)

9. Stink

(It’s hard to be us and not stink….like literally stink)

10. Eat with our hands

(What? Don’t judge us!!)

And, because I have to mention this….I am adding a…

11. Wear stinky, swampy, old, socks or clothes

(Some of us more than others (KRISTEN))

germsSo, we are all still here, happy and healthy. We have never suffered serious illness or injury from our work. This is mainly (we think) because we build up an immunity. Partly though, it may just be because we are wild – part of nature now – and maybe – just maybe – if you touch us – you will get some crazy cooties!! ha ha ha – Either way -

GET OUT THERE AND GO ANYWHERE!!!

Fly like an eagle

Coolest video ever — It’s an eagle flying through the Alps with a camera attached to its back. Enjoy!

http://www.thelocal.fr/20130918/video-viewers-blown-away-by-birds-eye-view-of-chamonix

*Note: you have to scroll down the page a little bit to find the video.

Oak

Bleached by sunlight

Her fractured remains littered the banks of the brown river.

Twisted bones bleached white from long days spent worshipping the sun

now tossed about after the storms of summer.

Sluggish sounds of lapping waves the only reverie.

Her age is unknown. Her birth unwritten.

It was so long ago that no one remembers her absence.

They remember her cool sheltering arms.

They remember her strength.

And they smile as they paddle by.

 

As a follow-up to our previous post, I think it’s appropriate to give a little lesson on what to do if you find lightningyourself stuck in a lightning storm. Which is exactly where my husband and I, along with another couple, found ourselves a couple of weekends ago.

We were canoeing the Little Manatee River. It was a beautiful day, and everyone seemed to actually be interested in me talking about wetland inundation and pointing out various tree species. But then it started to sprinkle. That was nice because it was HOT. But then it started to pour. And then we saw some flashes with some rumbling in the distance. We started to get a little nervous when all hell broke loose with STRIKES and BOOMS right on top of us! Just our luck, we were in a METAL canoe in the middle of nowhere.

We decided it would be safer to be out of the canoe than in it. We pulled up onto a bank, and I remembered some safety training we had once had regarding what to do if you get stuck in the middle of nowhere during a lightning storm. Basically you bend over with your butt up in the air and grab your ankles from behind. Obviously this sounds and looks ridiculous, but the idea is that if lightning hits you it will travel through your butt and down your legs rather than through your heart. So with that comforting piece of information, the four of us were hunched with our bums in the air! If only I had a picture…

It was probably the scariest outdoor experience I have ever had (up there with almost stepping on an

We survived!

We survived!

alligator). After each strike we would count the seconds to the thunder, and sometimes we didn’t even get to one. It was over us for what seemed like forever, and our legs were getting so sore from hunching over, but it was the only sense of security we had to get us through the horror! Eventually the clashes grew further apart and it was safe enough to get back into the canoe and haul bum to our pick-up point. There were others who also survived the storm, even though they didn’t know about the sticking the butt up in the air thing. That’s what we get for paddling on a summer afternoon in Florida. The canoe rental place sure must think we are all a bunch of idiots, but at least they are making some money off of us!

Cool *dry* shirt we bought from the Outpost

Cool *dry* shirt we bought from the Outpost

We can’t wait to go back since we didn’t get a chance to try out the rope swing. If you’re interested in paddling the Little Manatee, the Canoe Outpost was a great outfitter. You can visit their website here: http://www.canoeoutpost.com/littlemanateeriver.html

peace river

Peace River overbank

I’m sitting here on my couch because my softball game got POURED OUT for the 4th freaking week in a row. Our Suwannee River work got cancelled because the river is too high. Alafia River State Park isn’t renting out canoes because the overbank flows are unsafe (though a friend of mine went anyways and almost tipped his kayak and lost his quite expensive camera in the process). It’s normal to get afternoon thunderstorms in Florida during the summer, but this is too much!

A few months ago, Jacque and I were driving home from assessing some swamps in Arcadia and she said something to the extent of “those thistles look funny, it’s going to be a REALLY wet summer.” I know this girl has intuition, but really? Can you really tell it’s going to be a wet summer because some spiky plants look funny?! So I made a mental note, half hoping there would be a drought so I could make fun of her. She even put her predictions in writing (http://chicks-with-ticks.com/2013/06/05/something-in-the-air/) so I would have proof if she denied saying it!

marsh

Wet marsh

Well, turns out Jacque should have placed a bet – because she would have hit the jackpot! We have just been pummeled with rain. Overall, the Florida peninsula receives about 40 to 50 inches of rain a year, with most of it occurring during the “wet season” (June – October). Living in Florida is more like living in the Tropics than it is like living in the rest of the U.S. where there are four distinct seasons. Here we really just have two distinct seasons: a wet and a dry (November – May). During the dry season, many of our small streams go completely dry (we call these intermittent or ephemeral systems). Only our larger creeks and rivers are wet all year long. Yup, this is one of the many nerdy things we have been studying over the years.

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Florida peninsula, just waiting to be pummeled

horse creek

Horse Creek overbank

Florida is just the perfect storm for storms, if you will -– the excessively hot summer temperatures heat up our large expanses of water, causing water to evaporate and form large clouds that then drop rain all over the state as the winds from the Gulf and the Atlantic blow the storms across the state. And obviously Florida is just hanging out in the middle of those two water bodies, just waiting there in the wide open to get hit by a hurricane. Oh joy! So overflowing rivers and creeks are a very natural occurrence in Florida, and Florida streams are often overbank for a good chunk of the year. These flood events help “shape” the river and its floodplain and help cycle nutrients (food). Throughout Florida’s history, many streams and wetlands have been ditched to get water off a property. This takes away an important ecological component, one that Jacque and I are often working to restore. So maybe all this rain isn’t so bad and I should just hush. And pat Jacque on the back for being right. Again. Dangit!

Plunder Branch near Hwy62

Getting wet is fun!

Have a great weekend everyone! Even if it means getting a little wet :)

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