Tag Archive: chicks with ticks

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 https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Caladesi-Island. 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.

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.

As Jacque mentioned in previous posts, our team has gone through lots of changes (and challenges) over the past year. I’m sorry for my long absence, but it’s been difficult for me to dig out the words I’d like to say. For now, I will simply say that I dearly miss my fellow Chicks with Ticks and think of them often and fondly.


photoWhat inspired me to come out of blog hiding is that I had the opportunity to visit some wonderful preservation lands the other day, and I wanted to share! I recently joined the Board of Directors of a central Florida-based land trust, called Green Horizon Land Trust. *Note: this is a volunteer position, I have not changed jobs* For those of you who don’t know what a land trust is, it’s a non-profit organization whose goal is to protect land from being developed by putting it under conservation (either fully by purchase/donation or partially by easement). The Nature Conservancy is an example of a very large, international land trust who many are probably familiar with. The land trust I’m now a part operates at a much smaller, more local scale– but it still makes a big impact!


photo3The preservation lands I visited were small parcels that you may never even realize are right there in your own community. They had trails winding through wetland and upland habitat types, exposing one to a wide diversity of plant species. Benches were located along the trails to provide a space to relax and observe wildlife (we saw swallow-tailed kites and gopher tortoises) and stunning vistas (lakes and the famous Bok Tower). Some even had geocaches hidden away, hoping to be discovered.


photo2I encourage all of you out there to not only enjoy your state and national parks, but to also enjoy smaller scale preservation lands like county nature parks and land trust holdings that may be practically in your backyard. They might just be the best places to see wild things since they aren’t on most people’s radar!


ps -The blackberries are ripe for picking in the Florida wilds right now!! (more on that to come)



She did WHAT?

Plunder Branch Hwy 62

It’s Perfect! Go Anywhere!

That’s right, settle down, I left. Yeah yeah – I left the amazing team that has been my family for almost 10 years. I had been….well – it’s complicated. Let’s just leave it at – I was ready for something new! The bad news is that we are all scattered a bit. Good news is – well – we still all work together.

“How the heck do you work together if you work at different companies, ” you might ask -well – that’s a very interesting story…so here it goes.jac+kristen+logo

We build streams. You know that – we study, create, monitor, design, and build streams (among a million other things). We work with some fairly awesome contractors. Last year, we built a stream in an undisclosed area with a small firm from a nearby city. They were amazing. The stream was almost 10000′ long and turned out beautifully.

Sadly, we lost more than Jess last year. We lost a great colleague who worked on our stream with the contractor. So, long story short, I now work for the owner as his stream guru. I will literally be building the streams my old team designs!

Yep – we are all lucky people. Not only that, I also get to do some pretty awesome “save the world” stuff too. Oh – add onto that I work for a great guy and have an amazing crew! I IMGP8439will tell more about that later….so don’t worry – the Chicks with Ticks (and John and Josh) will still have wild adventures and stories to tell. You will just have to keep up with us!

Get out there – and GO ANYWHERE!!!

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!

The transition from upland scrub to cypress dome!




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!

Fly like an eagle

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.


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


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