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!
Tag Archive: chicks with ticks
Coolest video ever — It’s an eagle flying through the Alps with a camera attached to its back. Enjoy!
*Note: you have to scroll down the page a little bit to find the video.
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 yourself 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
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!
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
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!
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.
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!
Have a great weekend everyone! Even if it means getting a little wet
That’s right – I know you are thinking, “But Jacque, why on earth would we wear ear muffs in the woods in Florida in the summer?” Well, I’m gonna tell you why – that’s right – you know what’s coming….a story.
Once upon a time there was a nerdy Chick with Ticks named Jacque. Jacque was working diligently on some urban wetlands with her partner Kristen. Well, Jacque had to pee. Of course, when we are working in the woods and we have to pee – we pee in the woods. Never much of a big deal (except that time with the scorpion…).
So, Jacque went in search of a nice place to go. It was quite wet in this wetland (duh) and Jacque wanted to find a place where her booty wasn’t dragging in the mud. She ducked under some vine-covered vegetation….and BAM! Something was in her right ear it was horrid and hurt.
Now, this pain wasn’t just an ouchy….it was intense. It radiated into her neck and head and she was much hurting. Kristen rushed her to the local emergency room as she was getting worse and nauseous. Jacque was feeling pain so sever she couldn’t talk through the hysterical crying.
The nice nurse took Jacque into a room. The nice nurse helped take her disgusting muddy boots off. THe nice nurse proceeded to question the girls on what happened….then the doctor came in – took a flashlight and said, “Considering the redness and pain – it was probably a toxic caterpillar.” Jacque agreed as she had wiped something out of her ear that resembled the puss caterpillar.
The nice nurse gave Jacque some percoset – and informed her that there isn’t much treatment for such an attack but that she needed to give Jacque a steroid shot now. The tiny needle didn’t scare Jacque because she was in so much pain she could care less what anyone did. Oh, how wrong Jacque was.
That steroid shot hurt just about as bad as the caterpillar toxin. Then the percoset took effect and Jacque could stop crying. They sent Jacque out the door with more steroid prescriptions, pain meds, and Benadryl.
Today, Jacque was hopped up on steroids digging holes for gopher tortoise trapping….and those darned steroids made her feel like superman! BUT, we want you to know something….there are some very dangerous caterpillars in Florida – and they can cause some very serious health issues.
So, click the link above and learn more about them. They can even kill some people who are sensitive. Please keep tape around as you can use it to remove some of the hairs before you seek treatment. Kristen and Jacque have both had severe reactions to small puss (flannel moth) caterpillars that were tiny! Each time you get attacked – it gets worse and the toxin can affect you more. So, if you must pee in the woods – please watch out for caterpillars.
I usually keep this to myself. Some people don’t appreciate the old “Must be gonna rain my knee aches”. Others hang on your every word until you just feel plain creeped out to say anything. But, I can’t keep it in any longer….so here it goes!
You can call me crazy (and you probably wouldn’t be far off base), but I notice how things in nature behave from year to year. It’s part of the extra sense I have from being in the wild so often. You start noticing the little things.
Birds aren’t going to the same places. Trees aren’t budding at the right time. Bugs are swarming in the wrong week. The air smells wrong and the weather just doesn’t make sense. There’s something in the air that says this will be a strange year.
The animals didn’t move around at the right time. The thistle came up too hard this year. It’s gonna be a bad one. Storms more than likely. I don’t claim to know everything – just that something isn’t right.
Being wild has its disadvantages. You know too much. Nothing is simple anymore. It’s a
ll connected – all of it. You see patterns if you look just right at the way things move, live, eat, sleep, and breed. From one year to the next, the poison ivy thrives and throws out more oils. The fox squirrels mate early. The frogs come out late.
So, mark my words folks, it’s going to be a wild ride this year….just you wait and see! Trust us wild Chicks.
That’s right. I won’t say who wrote this to me today. That would be tattle telling. I will say what it meant to me.
It meant the world. It meant that the team that was heading out and leaving me behind at the office would miss me. And I them.
It’s funny how our team functions. It’s almost organic. Like a living organism that has a life all its own. We feed it our personalities, we care for it with our passion for our work, and water it with our symbiotic natures. That, my friends, has made one strong living thing. TEAM
I will hold the fort down in the office. I will answer emails and keep moving some project work forward. I will think of them on the river. I will miss them. I will miss the their input.
They will work on the river. They will think of what I might say about something in the field. They will miss me. They will miss my input.
It’s not what you plan to do when you go to work. You plan to work, get paid, go home, pay bills, and wake up and do it all again. With us, it’s not that way. We wake up, We go to work, We LOVE our work, We LIVE our work, We get paid, and we can’t believe it!!
After having done many things in my life to make money, I can honestly say that you are a fool to continue feeding your passions and dreams to a time clock. You should stop now. It’s simply not good for the living thing. It’s not good for YOU!
So, think about what you wanted to truly be when you grew up. Think about how you can make yourself happy. Think of how risky it might be and what amazing adventure and excitement might come with that kind of change.
And then reread this – and think of how amazing it is to be a part of something alive….that makes you feel alive. Even when you can’t be there. So, you just gonna sit there? Read this again!!
Then – go out there and make it happen! GO ANYWHERE!
That’s right – the Chicks with Ticks likes to be fresh and new. Spring is the perfect time to talk about all things new so we thought you might like to know some of the things we are going to be doing this season.
- We will begin shooting a series of short spots for the Polk County Board of Tourism. These spots will focus on Ecotourism and Agritourism in Polk county and the opportunities for outdoor adventures. We are so excited to be a part of the effort to bring more people outdoors to share in our agricultural and ranching history as well and explore our beautiful natural resources.
- We will be working with some special friends at the Santa Fe Canoe Outpost on some special trips. That’s right – you can take a trip down the river with us and learn to see it the way we do! Plus have a whole lot of fun.
- We will be looking for opportunities to work with young people on sharing our adventures so that they too can grow their love of Florida outdoors and understand more. If they love it – they will protect it! Also looking for funding to begin an EcoCamp.
- We will be looking for land owners that are interested in allowing Agritours of their lands. We want to show folks that our ranchers and farmers are a huge part of Florida history. New laws and regulations will help us help them keep Florida waters clean. We want this to be a positive relationship for all involved. How better than to help everyone understand how we all look at the landscape and maybe we will ALL learn to walk in each other’s shoes.
- Don’t forget we are always looking for crazy adventures to share with you all. You wouldn’t believe all the amazing things we see and the wonders we experience. Don’t be afraid to do it yourself! Get out the and GO ANYWHERE….find you own adventure and share it with us.
Back in October, my husband and I (and our beagle) went on a canoe camping adventure down the beautiful Santa Fe River. Because we were celebrating both my birthday and our anniversary, we wanted to do something epic. And epic it was! We paddled 15 miles over the course of two days, taking our time to fish, swim, and enjoy the passing scenery… cypress-lined banks, turtles sunning themselves, wading birds feeding, crystal clear springs… what more could you want out of a weekend?
We began our adventure at the Canoe Outpost in High Springs, Florida (http://santaferiver.com/). Here we were able to rent a canoe, arrange a down-river pick up time and spot for the following day (since we were camping overnight), and park our car. The Outpost was awesome. Not only was the staff really friendly and knowledgeable, they even had wheelbarrows available so you could haul your stuff down to the river! And since we were camping, we had a lot of stuff! It’s amazing how much you can fit into a single canoe. Once we were loaded, off we went to begin our adventure.
As I mentioned before, we took our time paddling down the river and even stopped to swim a few times. Wait, swimming in October?! That’s right! The Santa Fe River has tons of springs along its course that pump crystal clear groundwater out at a constant temperature of 72 degrees. Now that’s still cold, but it’s certainly do-able (especially if you’re a Chick with Ticks)! One of the springs we took a dip in was Lily Springs. This spring is quite unique because there is a 60-year old man named Naked Ed who lives in a hut and spends his days watching over the spring. And guess what, he lives up to his name! As we turned off the main river to paddle up to the spring run, there was Naked Ed in all his glory! He was very friendly and knowledgeable, and you can learn more about him here: http://www.sptimes.com/News/081300/Floridian/The_wild_man_of_Lilly.shtml or here: http://stateofwater.org/people/naked-ed/
At the end of the Day 1, after paddling just over 7 miles, we pulled off the river and set up camp in a beautiful spot right on the river bank. Because parts of the floodplain are owned by the state, you’re actually allowed to just pull off and camp in these areas. Granted it’s primitive with no bathrooms or showers, but it won’t kill you to pee in the woods and skip a shower for a night! We set up our tent, gathered up some firewood (there was plenty in the floodplain forest), and cooked ourselves some hotdogs and s’mores. We even had folding chairs to sit on! That’s the great thing about canoe camping, and probably something most people don’t realize: you can fit a TON of stuff in a canoe. And the best part is you don’t have to carry it! Just plop it in the boat and off you go!
When we woke up the next morning, we lit another fire and ate some more s’mores (I probably shouldn’t admit that). Then we pushed off and enjoyed the last 7 miles of our trip. At mile 15, the Canoe Outpost picked us up and shuttled us back to our car. Honestly, it was really easy, and I think it’s an adventure that sounds impossible but is completely do-able! In fact, the Chicks with Ticks are planning to host a canoe camping adventure in March (more details on that to come). Hope to see you there!