Archive for February, 2013

This is the time of year when we all long to be on the other side of the glass in our office. So, find a hammock you like, find a place to hang it – and get outdoors silly! You can GO ANYWHERE!

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.

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… 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.



It isn’t everyday you get to live. Most folks are too busy making a buck or talking the talk. If you stop, if you just stop and refuse to participate you just might find yourself living. I’m just reminding you the way you want me to….

Discover the passion of discovery.

Discover the passion of discovery.


The Chicks with Ticks will be hosting the  Amec  booth at the February 16th Speak Up at Wekiwa Springs State Park 10am-4pm

Stop in and say “Hello” and see what we do to help keep Florida waters clean.

Schedule of Events

10:00 – 10:30  “Florida’s Unique Wildlife” Program – Nature Center Deck

 10:20 – 10:45    Jim Draper, “Feast of Flowers,” Artist – Film Pavilion

 11:00                    Dr. Jay Exum, Friends of Wekiva River – Main Stage

         Pastor Joel Hunter, Northland Church

         Deirdre Macnab, League of Women Voters

         Bob Graham, Former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator

        Darren Soto, Forida State Senator

        Lee Constantine, Seminole County Commissioner

        Charles Lee, Florida Audubon

12:00 – 2:30       Animals: Central FL Zoo, Audubon, Herpetological Society – Exhibits

 12:30 – 1:15         The Ashley Gang, Live Bluegrass Music – Main Stage

 12:30 – 1:15         “Creation Care” Video – Film Pavilion

 1:00 – 1:30          “Wet to Dry” Guided Hike – Nature Center Deck

1:30                        Alex Bunker, Follow Your Green – Main Stage

         Sister Pat Siemen, Center for Earth Jurisprudence

        Lisa Rinaman, St. Johns Riverkeeper

         Charles “Chuck” Drake, SJRWMD Governing Board

         Preston Robertson, Florida Wildlife Federation

         Bill Belleville, Author

 2:00 – 2:30         “Wet to Dry” Guided Hike – Nature Center Deck

 2:45 – 3:45           The Ashley Gang – Live Bluegrass Music

 2:45 – 3:45           Equinox Documentaries – Film Pavilion

 4:00                        Speak Up Wekiva Closes

 4:30                       Last Shuttle Bus Leaves the Park

All Day: Dozens of exhibits, nature themed vendors, hot food and Wekiwa Springs State Park!

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 ( 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: or here:

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

Kayaking at it’s best….


It was as if we stepped back in time under the mangrove trails.

That’s right, the family has taken up kayaking. Oh, we don’t do class 5 rapids or dive off frozen cliffs only to plunge into frigid water. We throw a lunch and some extra clothes into a bag, tie the yaks on the roof of the Trailblazer and head out on our next adventure.


Crabs adorned the mangroves but gave us no trouble!

Our goal? Relaxing, sight-seeing, nature watching, exercise. Our previous experience – NONE!! Well, we have all canoed at some point – but it’s true – you don’t need to be super skilled to get onto a kayak and go where you usually can’t. You need some basic skills and a sense of adventure.

We headed to Wheedon Island’s mangrove trails that were carved in 1927 by the Boy Scouts. There are miles of the shallow, shaded tunnels through the mangroves. You can see birds, crabs, fish, and even get out and explore. We advise looking at weather reports in advance and making quite sure you know to follow the marked trail. Skill level – beginner!

Caladesi Island State Park – put in at the kayak rental place prior to the bridge into Honeymoon Island. Don’t rent there unless you have to – it’s quite expensive. You can buy one used fairly reasonably.

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Caladesi was amazing – ask Mel and Alli

We paddled over the channel (choppy but cool) and beached on the island. We set up our picnic area and got in the yaks to go to the marina and park. We enjoyed a nice beach trip, a great glass of sangria, and some good time with the park rangers. Dolphins swam right by us while we docked at the nice facilities.

Then it was into the mangroves – we enjoyed a short trip although there are miles to explore and even a historic homestead! We saved that for next time. Back to the beach for shelling – amazing and the sunset was perfection! Skill level – slightly above beginner – make sure you have a map and/or compass….this is a gorgeous trip to see some real Florida wild places.

If you have any questions about where to go, check out To find the parks that can accommodate kayaking. Or, check online for the coolest adventure spot near you. There are even clubs that can help you plan a special trip.

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The shelling was amazing….

If you are feeling really adventurous, the Chicks will be hosting a special Weekend on the Water in March! More on that  soon. Space will be limited so you won’t want to miss making your reservation! If you like – you can join us at SpeakUp Wekiva February 16th at Wekiva Springs State Park.

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