Tag Archive: ticks


Lesson: Canoe Camping

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 turtlescelebrating 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.

naked ed2As 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 cold!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 andcamp view 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!eric+zelda+gear

In the beginning, there was John. I am not going to type the last name, just suffice it to say – if this becomes popular, he will want me to put it in. John had these amazing ideas about streams in Florida. He wanted to put together a team to study these streams and them formulate all sorts of amazingly technical data and documentation and formulation and general science that I probably can’t write here so – just some really cool stuff!

John had me – Jacque – and I could do anything. Yeah, I know it’s hard to believe, but that thing you are thinking that I can’t do – well you are dead wrong buddy! I can do anything and I have and will continue to do anything. You see, my dad told me as a young girl that I could do anything…anything in the whole world, as long as I could find out how to do it! So you see, liar I am not!!! I go around doing anything all the time by the way!

So, John needed a team and  he had Jacque. One person is not a team so then he found Kristen, she was a student at a college and she would be mini-John and Jacque would do anything and together they would stomp around the wilds of Florida collecting information and having a blast all for science. John’s idea was that they would do all of this in a day or so (slight exaggeration) and that they would learn some cool stuff.

John was a genius – he was both right and wrong! Aren’t they all! Not only did we spend 3+ years in the wilds of Florida, we learned some really cool stuff. Now, at this point, you, the reader, might sit up and say “What really cool stuff did you learn, Jacque?” and I would say – well, let’s start at the beginning – hmmmm let’s start….in Lakeland. We will start in the office where John is very busy, Kristen and Jacque are eager to start their adventure into the wilds, and time seems to have stopped. The team is waiting for something. Kristen is waiting for instructions on what it is she and Jacque are supposed to be doing exactly – right? I mean, like who the hell just walks into the woods on an unknown wild property, gets to some stream and just starts learning cool stuff……?

The answer may shock you – Chicks With Ticks do!

You don’t want a pic of where mine was!

Go ahead and laugh your ass off! That’s right – I said ass. Just spent most of my work week in Baker county Florida hacking through the most god-awful vine infested, nasty unburnt forest in the world….oh – and there’s ticks and chiggers in them thar woods.

So, after spending the day collecting thorn slices in my forearms, and picking seed ticks off my friends from DEP, we get back to hotel, I am excited to shower – and then – it happens…..the worst thing in my life….I find a tick – DOWN THERE!!!

Yeah – there! Well, right almost there – and it was embedded. I have never had a tick embed. I also hate ticks. I don’t give a shit who out there is fighting for tick rights or whatever – I hate the little buggers. I didn’t know what to do – I panicked.

I grabbed it and pulled it out – it was gross….I had to take another shower….then I treaded water in the pool for 30 minutes to see if more would climb up off of me….now I am freaked out that I might get Lyme disease. I have to monitor my bite DOWN THERE.

I just want to dispel some myths – tea tree oil is ineffective, as is most natural remedies – they sweated off very quickly as did 40% deet. you can duct tape all you want but it ruins your clothes, skin so soft works to some degree but is nasty dirty and must be reapplied, I will continue to test – need to test the lye soap thing for the chiggers because I am covered in them!

This is so NOT sexy!

Just a warm beginning to your Memorial Day weekend!! Cheers….

You all know by now that ticks are nasty little buggers. They hang stealthily (it is so a word) on the tips of leaves waiting for warm-blooded hard workers like me and you to wander close enough that they can sink their nasty little claws onto you. Once aboard, they creep their nasty little way into the darkest reaches of your warm sweaty body where they  nibble until they find a juicy bit – then they sink their vicious head into your skin and begin to feast on your blood (yeah – I could lie but that’s what they do).

Some of you are concerned that I am a tick hater – that I am biased against these little fellas and am only helping give them a bad rap and making it hard for those who are FOR ticks. I don’t care! Ticks care nothing for their reputation or my opinion or they would dine politely on something other than my ass!

I thought it would be helpful to list a few good ways I have learned to remove them:

  1. While holding a beer in one hand, heat a needle with a lighter and pierce the tick while spewing some comforting  bull crap to the victim. This piercing will cause the tick to remove head and later die. The victim will be traumatized forever unless said victim is our puppy Bella who could care less if you rub her belly.

    Nasty Little Buggers.....

  2. If you cannot find a needle, skip the piercing and go straight for burning it. Hold the lighter close enough to heat and scare it out – be careful not to singe or totally burn up the victim – if the burning up of victim occurs – refer to first aid manual.
  3. Carefully grab the tick firmly and gently twist while pulling softly. This will cause it to release its jaws and you can pull it out safely – unless of course the victim is freaking out because they don’t think that is a very good way and are wiggling.
  4. Various viscous fluids can be used to smother, choke or otherwise make the damn thing let loose (oil, vaseline, rubbing alcohol, fingernail polish) This all sounds great but takes a long time – you might as well-knit the darned thing a sweater!
  5. Tick Remover tool….sounds good right – ha ha – you try that one!

Whatever method you use, the victim will be grossed out, uncomfortable, and probably not happy. Be prepared with candy if under 21 or beer if over….if the victim has four legs just feed or pet it. Ticks suck….REALLY!

(((This is for entertainment purposes only – please don’t inundate me with proper tick removal methods. That is no fun)))

(((And “YES” that is a close up of a tick – don’t you hate them worse now....)))

Well, in the beginning, we really had no idea what we were doing. At least not as it related to surveying. We understood the basic principle but hadn’t really done it right in the field. John wanted to survey a particular stream that he had worked on for another project. Can’t say the name here so we will call it Moon Bay.

John was in a very good mood (at least for now). We parked, and proceeded to the stream to find a reach to survey that represented the “natural” system. Funny thing about Florida, there probably aren’t any truly natural systems left. It’s actually a sad thing. You go miles into the wilderness and voila’ there’s a balloon on a nylon ribbon – deflated and sad-looking – ruining the wildness – making fun of it.

Pristine Creek - by Allison Levine

Anyway, John found what he wanted and we began moving up and down the system flagging each place for survey. John has a back issue sometimes. We were ducking under a lot of trees that had fallen over the stream in the last big round of hurricanes in 2004. He began to lose his sense of humor – this same sense of humor which has us in stitches most of the time.

We finished flagging the reach and went to get the survey equipment. Kristen and I had practiced and thought we pretty much knew what to do. We set up our temporary benchmarks (we are not surveyors so it’s all temporary). We began to shoot the stream survey. John continued to lose his sense of humor. It was hot, uncomfortably messy, vine ridden and lots of ducking and climbing. I remember Kristen and I thought how awful this site was. There was so much to go through, vines, palmettos, and underbrush. This was hell!

Somewhere near the end of the reach, John checked the survey data. There was a problem. A serious problem. At some point someone had made a mistake and now the whole thing was useless basically. John was not happy. I was not happy. Kristen was not happy. This meant that, at some point, we would have to come back. The very thought of fighting this mess of vegetation was too much to bear.

It made me wonder if i could really do this. I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I would never want to come and do this with just Kristen and me. This place was too wild. There were too many dangers. I wouldn’t be able to see her at some points in the survey. Would we ever get this right? It was all too much to even think about. We were mortified.

I would and will never forget this day. I was sweaty and scratched to heck. I was upset and doubted myself. I felt like I had let the team down in some way by feeling this way too. I felt that I had wasted a chance to make an impression on John and Kristen too. How could this had gone so wrong? Now, it had to be done all over again. The fear, the stress, the pain, the risk of busting the survey again…..it just seemed impossible to bear.

It was going to be hard to make myself do this again. This was horrid. I hated the way I felt – DEFEATED.

Whenever you leave the safety and comfort of the office, gym, or living room to embark on your amazing adventures there are just a few things you need – and don’t need. I thought it would be helpful to share some of my field wisdom before you really mess up.

THINGS YOU DO NEED

  1. Water. Sounds obvious right? Not just for drinking, you can wash hands, rinse eyes, wash off muddy cameras, and a million other things. Don’t leave home without it.
  2. Other shoes. You will need them. Yours will get muddy, torn, broken, or otherwise not feel good to your feet after months of water logging and mud bogging. They will stink and so will you. Slipping into something dry will prevent heel cracking and make the ride home that much more betterer!
  3. Duct tape. Not just for car hoses anymore. You can make anything out of it. Hell, my son carries a wallet made out of it! Mix duct tape with your yard stick and you have a great tool that will last years. Mix ripped pants with duct tape and you save yourself embarrassment. Mix duct tape with open wounds – voila’ first aid.
  4. Camera. A picture is worth a thousand words. When the truck gets stuck, when YOU get stuck, when you see that one of a kind sunset or insect, you won’t want to miss the moment. Something to keep in mind is that they sell waterproof and shockproof cameras pretty reasonably. They take awesome underwater shots, too. This is especially important when a HUGE bowfin attacks your shoes in ankle-deep water. The photos you can take are amazing. TRUST ME. Olympus and Pentax make great cameras for under $300 and they last everything I have done to them so far. Don’t forget to add a flotation cuff – they are waterproof, not floatable!
  5. Backpack – good one! We have a backpack that we have used for years!! This thing has been abused at hundreds of sites. It has been rained on, drug around, dropped, dragged, and stuffed. It’s filthy and who knows what’s in the bottom of it because I have never cleaned it out all the way as it is always in use. Go for a good one – it will be your best friend. When your cheap backpack fails you in the middle of nowhere – use the duct tape!

THINGS YOU DON’T NEED

  1. Expensive sunglasses. That’s right – you will break or lose them. Get some cheap polarized glasses and go for it. In a thousand years, they will find about 80 pairs of sunglasses in the woods and will think some crazy ritual occurred. Nope – just bent over and off they went. Or, the cord broke, or layed them down, or fell and they went flying never to be found again! Also, get a cord that is bright pink or orange!!! This is experience.
  2. Expensive clothing. This mud stuff we keep talking about – yeah – it doesn’t come out. Some – NEVER NEVER NEVER will. Also, blood that has been sitting in there all day from scratches doesn’t either. Some stuff you don’t want in your washing machine. Just go to the thrift store – get your gear there!!
  3. Snake bite kit – yeah – those are not to be used! Do NOT ever attempt to use a snake bite kit on me! More serious injuries and infections have been caused and they are no longer recommended! PLEASE SHARE THIS INFORMATION. Calm victim, isolate bite site, ice or elevate – identify or photo snake if possible. GET HELP – do not waste the precious little time you have furthering the venom into your buddy’s system and your mouth! GET HELP!
  4. Perfume. You are saying, “But Jacque, I want to look and smell my best in the field.” Listen up! Bugs love perfume, bees love perfume, some mammals love the musky smell of perfumes….that’s right – just stink for one minute…no big deal because we will all stink together!! One big happy smelly family! Get over it…..if you can GO ANYWHERE – you can stink there!

    Alli's Adventure Art.....Tennessee Mountains....ticks abound!

  5. Jeans. If you think jeans are the ideal pant to wear in the field – stay home. Even in cold weather, they are not a choice! They will get wet, pull down, rub you raw, make you sweat in places that already stink because you don’t have on perfume, and generally be a drag. Go for something lightweight that dries quickly – you won’t regret it! You will regret wearing jeans. I won’t remind you twice – I will just smile when I see you picking your butt or pulling them up after wading in a little creek!

This is a short list. Of course there are many things you should and could take – keep it simple and light. Don’t over complicate it – the joy is in the adventure and experience. Some of the best experiences will be when you don’t follow these rules! Please share them! We all learn from mistakes – even yours! Remember – you can comment and share your insight or ignorance….it all teaches us something!

Nice clothes!

Eric, the supportive husband!

Eric, Zelda, and I are proud to show off our new CWT tshirts, since we’ve all experienced having a tick at one time or another!! CRINGE!!

My new favorite shirt!

I hope everyone is ready for turkey day. I know we are!

Zelda, the happy Beagle!

It was a day much like any other. Kristen and I were clad in our drab and stained field pants and shirts. Completing the look that all women (and men) love were our beloved snake boots. Now, let me tell you something about snake boots. Snake boots are the most amazing footwear to ever be gifted to humankind. They are durable, protect you from snakes, guard your shins, shield your toes, break in pretty well, and are so darned cool that everyone will look at you if you were in them in public. How do I know this? Five years of wearing them – that’s how!

Kristen and I have very different types of snake boots. Without going into brands and such – hers are largely leather with zippers and mine tie all the way up. Both are 17″ and serve the same purpose – making us look decidedly cool. We do, however, WORK IN WATER!!! Imagine, if you can (although I hope you really can’t) the effect of long-term water immersion on leather….get there yet? That’s right – it ROTS. It’s animal hide….yup! Well, sitting in the truck, one day, I got a whiff of the most horrid stench. I asked Kristen what was dead and rotting…she replied, “My snake boots.” You know folks – she was right. They were so nasty that I wish I could have thrown them out the window! Problem with that is – Kristen is attached to her snake boots as I am to mine. When something protects you and makes you comfortable in the swamps, you develop a relationship with it – we LOVE our snake boots. Anyway, I guess other people found it unbearable and bought her these little plastic shoe balls (ha ha) and they really work. So, here it goes….

I smell snake boots!!!! Arrggghhhhh

Lesson 1: Purchase snake boots with the above in mind. Also, note that the tie ups are more secure. Zippers get sandy and silty and are hard to operate. They really do protect you from snakes – I got bitten on my boot before by a moccasin. They really do look cool with shorts and people will NOT forget you! They will secretly envy you wandering around the mall in camo shorts and snake boots and a pony tail. Men’s snake boots work better for me because I like more width. They are waterproof – that only works if the water is shallower than 17″ ha ha. They last about a year in deep water. Please go out and get some snake boots. You can find them at most outdoor stores. They cost around $100 but are worth millions. Plus – just think of your reputation! We are actually famous all over Florida as the Chicks with Ticks in snake boots!

If you have any questions about snake boots, please submit them as comments! Take a photo of you in your snake boots or hiking garb and send our way! We want to start sharing YOUR adventures as Chicks with Ticks and Guys who Love Chicks with Ticks (don’t forget the Little Chicks with Ticks)!! I hope the lesson has been helpful.

Boots + Shorts = SEXY!!

Snake boots can even be worn over waders!

So you’ve heard Jacque’s side of the story of how we became Chicks with Ticks. Here’s mine…

I was in grad school and my advisor told me I would be doing my research assistantship with this PhD student/big shot department head at some engineering firm in Lakeland. This big shot, John, was going to be in Gainesville the next day to meet me. So I rolled out of bed, hungover (those were the days!), and met John for the first time. This meeting turned out more like a job interview, a really long job interview, with John reading down my resume and going on and on and on about some project. Luckily for me John didn’t notice I was hungover (or didn’t care) and decided to give me the job!

I later found out that John’s only real hiring criteria was to make sure I wasn’t some girly girl who would be SCARED to do the job– a job that all the talking in the world (and John can talk ALOT) could have NEVER truly prepared me for. But the way John spoke about the project, like Jacque, I felt that I could do anything with this guy at the helm. You see, you don’t often meet someone so passionate about something, and his passion for Florida streams was utterly contagious! He rattled off a list of people who I would later meet when I came down to Lakeland, none of the names which I remembered by the time I made it down there a couple weeks later.

So then I met Jacque. She was LOUD. She was OUTGOING. She was a GET ‘ER DONE kinda girl. She was TALL with CRAZY curly hair! And I instantly loved her. She’s one of those people who makes you feel comfortable the moment you meet her, like you’ve known her forever. She would be the one out there surveying streams with me. Wait, what?? Surveying?! Where?! I had never surveyed. The only thing I knew about surveying was that that’s what the guys on the side of the road do…

This doesn't look very fun!

Enjoy these looks at Chicks with Ticks…..

Real Chicks can laugh at themselves!

Chicks can take it!

What real Chicks with Ticks Do!!

You won’t want to miss the next episode….Chapter Three – Catfish Creek Part II

Real Chicks wear Waders!

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