Tag Archive: adventure

From Another Time (by Kristen)

One of the best things about being a Chicks with Ticks is getting away from it all… venturing into the depths of a pristine forest, following the bends of a small meandering stream, feeling so remote you think there is no way anyone has ever laid eyes on this seemingly untouched spot, except perhaps some early Florida inhabitants. It is that feeling of being connected not only to the land, but also to a time long past. A time when people lived off the land. A time before constant stimulus and connectivity, when you could just… be…

When I can’t be physically connected to the land, I find myself getting lost in novels depicting early life in Florida to fill that void. Novels like “A Land Remembered” (mine and Jacque’s all-time favorite book) or “The Yearling” (which I am currently reading). Or visiting old towns such as Micanopy or Cross Creek, where I can grab a bite at The Yearling Restaurant on my way home (sort of) from Jacksonville. Or taking the backroads, even though they take longer than the highway. Anything to just get away from it all and see or imagine something beautiful.

Yet I live in the city. And I work the majority of my days in an office. I enjoy these things, for the most part, but you can tell when I’ve been away from where I truly feel free, alive, happy for too long. Or when I’ve gotten a small taste of that place, but not enough, and I’m left just yearning for more. It’s painful. I asked Jacque why it is I feel such a longing and am so deeply affected, and she said very simply, “It’s because we are from another time.” It made me cry, because I knew it was true, and I sometimes can’t help but feel that I don’t belong.

What’s that gator doing in that tiny stream!?

That’s right! We have written about bombing ranges before. I know, I know, everyone has heard the one about how I drove across a 6 foot bomb and never knew it until after a flood….but you can imagine how Josh and I felt when….

So, Josh and I needed to visit our Avon Park Bombing Range sites. This is fun! We got our radio with some critical information – they were detonating unexploded ordnance (like the ones we have driven over and found all over) on one of the tracts we needed to get to. CRAP!! They let us on anyway as we would call on and off and only be a short while.

We exited said tract and got stuck in the middle of two sites by other military activities on our other site of interest. So, knowing us as well as you might by now – you know what we did next! We took the buckets and nets and went into the ditches to catch fish to identify!! NERDS….I heard you scream!

So – then we watched as two of the detonations went off without much ado and proceeded to our second site. You can well imagine the looks on our faces when detonation number three went off……KABOOM – shaking the very ground!! I am standing there with my mouth hanging open.

So we were working with that feeling you get when you escape just in time or just miss a bad situation. The feeling that something horrible COULD have happened. What if one of those were the pieces we have found? We will never know.

As if that’s not enough – we are working in a tiny clear creek that is less than 2 feet wide and 6 inches deep. It’s so cute. There is a little pool just upstream of our gage. I told Josh that it was a great place to catch cool fish while I downloaded the logger.

Josh headed through the palmettos 12 feet away to the waterfall pool……how lovely! He came crashing through the palmettos with a strange look on his face….I said – “What did you catch?” thinking it must be something really amazing. He hollers out….big gator!!

He said there was a huge gator hiding in the pool less that 12 feet away. I went up to look and CRAP!! An 8 1/2 foot alligator was snuggled up in that tiny pool! Josh had noticed it when he dipped his net in to see what fish were in there…..imagine how surprised he was when he realized it was an alligator tail.

I took photos and we both gathered our nerves and finished. We left property feeling like we needed to increase our life insurance! We also felt pretty lucky to be able to see such amazing things while working. Needless to say, we will never look at that creek the same.

Yes we follow safety protocols, yes we have JSAs, yes we do a site inspection – but where we work – you can’t see everything! If you could – it would be boring!! We haven’t had a

This is in the palmettos near the gator hole!

lost time incident and we are happy and healthy. We do, however, occasionally have near misses!

Chicks Can…!

That’s right! Chicks can…! In an effort to motivate you all to get up off your butts and get out there, I am currently working on a summer campaign that will make it hard for you to make excuses!

Chicks can…! Will be a series of articles that relate the exciting things Chicks can do! I want to hear what you CAN do!!

We will follow each article up with lists of resources in different parts of the country and world that will help YOU do the same thing! We want to take away all your excuses for sitting on your arse. We want to challenge YOU to do something adventurous, beautiful, and challenging.

So, keep eating those chips remarking about how you could never be that brave or how you could never do what she did – because honey – You are a Chick – and Chicks can…!


Go Anywhere!

As adventurous gals, we like to go to new and exciting places. Sometimes, it’s a lake right behind the office, and others, it’s a remote stream after a miles long hike. What we really like to do is encourage others to take time to go outdoors and see something or experience something that gives you that sense of adventure.

Sometimes, it’s just a walk in a local preserve or park. Some of us are trapped in a concrete jungle and a plastic cube and that’s about as adventurous as it gets. Others of us will take it to the limits and climb rocky peaks or dive the deepest rifts. The important thing is, get out there and see what we see.

The wild isn’t all filled with danger and mystery. There’s a beauty in nature that we can’t fake, print, pixellate or 3-D. The only way to know what tar flower smells like when it’s sticky and blooming is to see it and smell it in the air.

So, as Spring is springing – let’s remember to get out the and GO ANYWHERE!

Then, tell us about your adventures…the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Wild Women

Co-Creator Jacqueline Levine expressing her excitement as Chicks go live

Taunting us from outside our window...

Jacque and I were moping around the office the other day, wondering why we were more unmotivated than usual. And then it hit us: we had spring fever, a BAD case of it. Not only had we been stuck working on projects that required us to be in the office rather than in the beloved field, but we had also just pushed our clocks forward giving us an extra hour of daylight. Yet here we were, trapped in the artificial light of the office. So we decided to do something about it. We vowed that the next day we would spend our lunch hour (also known as “Lunchingtons”) actually going OUTSIDE.

Murky waters

What a novel idea. Our office does, afterall, sit right on the shore of Lake Bently, a little lake that we had completely taken for granted as it stared at us through our office windows for YEARS now.  While its water is more green than blue and its shoreline is highly developed with storm water drains jutting out every few hundred feet (it has a high LDI for any limnology nerds out there), it is home to birds, gators, fish, and even otters! So why not call it our home as well, at least for an hour?

Happy Jacque!

The excitement of our looming adventure got us through the morning grind, and at noon on the dot we grabbed our lunch (that Jacque had deliciously prepared) and our craigslist-purchased kayaks and off we slid into the murky waters. Within moments we were in another world. Just yards away stood our office building, staring back at us with its mirrored windows, hiding the sterile lights and jealous faces of our co-workers (actually, they probably just thought we were crazy). We paddled happily towards wood ducks and pelicans and ibises and limpkins and cormorants and ospreys and turtles and cypress trees and butterflies. We soaked up the sun and felt the breeze on our faces.

We returned to our offices 59 minutes later, refreshed and more than a little stinky. But we didn’t care. We had cured spring fever, at least for an hour. Do you have any tricks for curing spring fever? CWT would love to hear about it!

We study them to make sure they behave!

When you’ve been doing this as long as we have the way we have, you sort of forget that you are actually practicing science/art! In the beginning, we worked hard to read until our eyes bled. We wanted to know what other scientists had found that worked. We wanted to absorb the data, feel the methods, develop hypothesis…then, we went out on our own and began to attempt to regurgitate it all out into the world.

It was amazing what we found that didn’t work. It sounded so sure on paper. It was cool what did work – some of it just intuition. I think we mostly have more water and mud in our veins than blood and now we think and breathe streams. We can walk up, smell the mud, catch some bugs, have Josh look at the fish, and know which ones need us the most.

Sometimes we go through a lot!

Most people have no idea what we do. What we do is, in Jacque talk, very simple. We study streams. We see what’s wrong and we prescribe a sort of medicine for them so that they function better and make the world a better place. I like to tell people that, not so many years ago, it was normal for some company to have a guy drive a backhoe in a wiggly line and then let the water meander. That was stream restoration in the past.

We found all those wiggly ditches. Companies spend millions of dollars fixing them now because they don’t work right. That’s what we do – fix wiggly ditches and make them act like proper streams (or as near as we can) and we don’t build streams with backhoes much anymore. We like to do things a little differently.

So, here’s my attempt to explain some of the ways we do things.

We start by studying real pristine streams of all kinds. We study them to death. We live them, breathe them, smell them, taste them and generally go to sleep with them until we are them! We take what we learn and literally build streams that will look just like them. We fix sick streams to act more like the proper ones.

Things that should be there.

Don’t beat me up all you nay sayers….we don’t put back microbes and every grain of frigging soil….this is reality! We aren’t god…

We put things in the streams that should be there so the living things can be there too. We help simulate many years of flow that would have carved a new stream. We try to mimic as much of what nature gives to make a new stream! We can’t do it all, but every day we try to give more and more.

We watch the baby streams and the streams we’ve fixed. We make sure that they are behaving and not acting up. We fix them more if need be. We count things like bugs and plants and trees. We take out nasty things that could ruin the place. We love them, nurture them, care for them, are proud of them, and hope that one day – you will too.

That’s what we do. And it’s really cool – and we love it!

In the beginning, there was John…..(and he wanted to play God)..


Here’s one of the first and best! Enjoy!

We have recently been nominated for several peer-to-peer blogger awards. These are always a real treat as they come from those who live, work and play here in the blogosphere and it means a lot that we are noticed among millions of blogs!!

 ClaudiaJustSaying…..nominated us for the Kreativ Blogger Award – Thanks so much!

Cindy at Enclosuretakerefuge…nominated us for the Versatile Blogger. She is so sweet!!

I know there were duplicate nominations so I have proposed that we graciously accept the nominations and thank you all for such warm recognition from such amazing bloggers. We are among royalty.

Please continue to enjoy what pour out of us….it’s real, not fiction! This is our lives digitally recreated in type and we hope you like.

You know, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Yeah, I know good things happen to bad people too but this story isn’t about that, genius! Didn’t you read the heading? Anyway, I wanted to address some of the sucky things that can happen and what you can do to lessen their impact. Being an adventuring woman of the outdoors, I have recently had some pretty darned sucky things happen and I want you to know what to do so you don’t look as stupid as I did trying to take care of them.

  1. Pack for all occasions. – Yes, I failed to pack long socks and wore no-show footsie socks with my snake boots. There are OH so many reasons this sucks. I looked like I had a staph infection or poison ivy on my ankles for weeks. Also, I got a stinking blister where the sand rubbed my bone. Also, feels really nasty – take an extra long pair of socks and stash them everywhere – glove box, backpack pocket, office drawer, anywhere. This will prevent you from the nasty rash and stinging blister I suffered.
  2. Where a tight undershirt under a regular or over shirt. I witnessed this horrid scene….Josh looked crazy and made a weird sound or series of incoherent words of distress. I knew something was wrong and he said – “There’s a scorpion in my shirt and it stung me.” Holy crap! Those are words I never want to hear again. Sure enough, there was a very small scorpion trouncing around in Josh’s shirt. It stung him and, much to my dismay, he suffered a minor sting and no crazy things happened. I wanted there to be pus and ooze and terrors….no – just  a little sting is what he said. Too bad – makes me feel like a baby! Wear a tight under t-shirt – you can rip that over shirt off if a scorpion gets in there!
  3. Gloves are for every occasion! I found this out all too well this past weekend. I got a hedge trimmer for Christmas. I have hedges (duh) and I began to trim them. They are 7+ feet tall and I was working above my shoulders and leaves were a flying….cool! UNTIL – I felt a sting in my t-shirt (and I did NOT have an undershirt on). I reached into my shirt and a GIANT green spiky caterpillar stuck onto my right hand. The damned thing stung all three of my fingers and my left boob!! The pain was such that I was immobilized on my knees weakly calling for someone to help me. My daughter and husband came out and I could hardly tell them what happened….I only whimpered for duct tape. They brought me scotch tape (which actually worked great) and I began to shakily rub tape onto my fingers to remove the hairs….it was excruciating pain. I have never felt that before – WEAR GLOVES!!!! The IO moth caterpillar is what got me – it’s nasty – you never want to feel that pain!
  4. Sunscreen isn’t for babies! I have a 3-4″ scar on my face to prove this one. Of course, as a child of the 70’s we wore iodine and baby oil to get tan. My mom still cries when she looks at my face because she feels responsible – whatever! I never wore sunscreen as I surfed, hiked, biked, beached, swam and whatever – it just wasn’t cool! The basal cell carcinoma was a harmless little flesh-colored bump on my face that annoyed me – the dermatologist informed me that it was cancer and I had it removed in a HORRIBLE SURgERY!!! The doctor was amazing – they just don’t put you to sleep – they operate on you while you watch – the smell of cauterization is awful….the scar is horrid and I will probably have more later in life – sunscreen everyone always – you dog, your self, and remember your neck, hands, and everywhere!!
  5. Shorts with snake boots. There are times when fashion is crap! I have to tell you that there are many place where you should wear shorts with your snake boots. I know – you are saying, “But Jacque, that just doesn’t look or sound right!” Who cares! You can feel all the little creepy crawlies coming up before they get into your nether regions! Plus – you have on snake boots so are protected!! Just consider it! I think it looks rather sexy!

I am not going on further – I think you get the picture. Protection is important. When you leave the safety of the home or office – you must consider what you might encounter – whether it’s in the garden, or in the swamp – you should take a moment to make sure you have what you need to enjoy it safely. Also, having some extra provisions in extra spots ensures that you will be better prepared should you make a mistake and forget a key element. Take good care of yourself out there – You can GO ANYWHERE – but just go safely!

You know, some of you are saying, “Jacque, we know how to swing a machete!” Well, I seriously doubt it. I am not trying to be rude. I just know what I used to believe….that I could swing a machete. I also used to believe that, in the movies, that ringing noise that people made chopping things with a machete was a foley sound….NOPE! That’s the sound of chopping properly with a machete.

That’s right. You haven’t been doing it right unless you hear that RING when you flick the tip of the machete through some vines (or your finger John). The rest of the machete is for hacking or chopping wood….not swinging like Indiana Jones through the jungle. So, here are some helpful pointers on machetes and their uses (or not uses).

It's a jungle out there - iStock photo

  1. A dull machete is a piece of useless metal. The only thing you can do with it is hurt yourself or embarrass yourself.
  2. A sharp machete in the wrong hands is a useless piece of metal (and you know the rest….)
  3. If you are going into deep thickets, a machete can save you a lot of scratches (or be a pain in the arse!)
  4. Carrying a machete around in the wilderness with all that other crap is a BAD idea. You will either…..you know!
  5. Most small shrubs and trees have branches that can be snapped off easier than hacking poorly with a bad machete.
  6. Machetes are not the best tool for woody vines….fire is best for that, or giant rabbits, or magic! Nothing else seems to work for us.
  7. Machete holsters are stupid and so are you for trying to pretend like you know how to use one….get a real one that straps to your leg and your belt….otherwise – there is a distinct possibility that you will trip and stab yourself with that blade….sounds fun huh!
  8. A sharp machete will cut fingers….right John!! If I tell you to be careful and that I just sharpened the machetes, I probably did and you probably should!! lol luckily we all know first aid!
  9. Rubbing oil on your machete will keep it from rusting – WD40 works too….this is serious….rub it carefully!
  10. You can probably put the machete down and do what we do – stop almost stabbing yourself, cutting your coworkers in your swing radius, and just MOVE THE CRAP OUT OF YOUR WAY!!! We have saved countless hours, many serious injuries, and maybe even a life but doing completely away with using it in the field. And, yes, we survey! We use a total station and have found that using our hands to move only what is necessary is much more effective and efficient….TRUST ME – we have done hundreds of surveys in extreme conditions….it works!

Machetes are still in our truck. We like to see who grabs one when we take them in the field – this is how we gauge new field partners. For those of you who have worked with us and grabbed a machete thinking that’s what we would do – we still love you but you need some more time in the forest and swamps! Chicks with Ticks Go Anywhere – without machetes!!


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