Archive for May, 2013


Suwannee Week…..!

the view is amazing

the view is amazing

That’s right folks, the Chicks with Ticks spent a whole work week (plus Sunday) in North Florida on the Suwannee River. We were surveying 80+ miles of cross sections of the Middle Suwannee. One thing is certain, we are bad ass!

The first day out was a doozie – boats broke down, I forgot there was a kill switch that prevents the choke from working unless you plug it in, the surveying went slowly and we just plain needed to get our groove on. Well, Stella – your groove is nothing compared to what Kristen and I had.

Working with some colleagues from our Seattle office (who will only remain anonymous because I did not ask if I could use their names), we completed what is – to date – our largest river survey. Yes, it’s true, we got poison ivy, bruises all over, scratches, and a new appreciation for massage therapists, but we also got a new appreciation for ourselves.

cheesy - but it's hard not to smile on the river!

cheesy – but it’s hard not to smile on the river!

Kristen climbed shear banks for five long days – in this heat – without complaining (for the most part). I shot clean for five days under fairly strange conditions – rock ledges, shifting sand banks, cramped spots – and we also managed to dodge the damn sturgeon.

That thing about the sturgeon killing and hurting people as the fish jumped seemed to be a random and fairly rare event that only happened to other people. Well, I am here to tell ya folks that there are FAR TOO MANY JUMPING STURGEON ALL ALONG THE MIDDLE SUWANNEE RIVER FOR MY TASTE. Yes – daily I watched as multiple sturgeons some 3-4 feet in length – cleared the water weighing in at about 100 pounds. every trip on the boat was a nervous ride.

I can’t explain the feeling – but those things are HUGE and it’s no joke – get some extra life insurance before you go hauling down the river.

The fact that I setup survey gear on rock outcroppings that probably stood as lookouts or fishing spots for native Americans hundreds of years ago gave the trip a sense of depth…an other worldly feel. There must be stories locked in that riverbank limestone. Hundreds of years of hunting, fishing and living on the life filled river.

Ahhh – the Suwannee….can’t wait to head that way again!

Kristen at the desk our coworkers built

Kristen at the desk our coworkers built

My husband and I recently travelled to Italy for a little “spring break” get-away. When you think of Italy, you probably think of delicious cuisine, wine, museums, and cathedrals rather than outdoors adventures. Well, we were lucky enough to find all of the above! We visited Cinque Terre, a coastal region comprised of five (cinque = five in Italian) small villages situated on cliffs overlooking the ocean.  The villages are connected by centuries old hiking trails that worm their way through the mountains, offering some of the most spectacular views. People from all over Europe (and the world), flock here just to hike the trails to the towns. And based on the cool outdoor gear and hiking sticks people were sporting (not us, we aren’t that cool), we knew we had come to the right place for some adventure!

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The first day we arrived, we dropped our bags off at our bed and breakfast and immediately set out for a hike. We had a small map, but it proved to be meaningless so we just sort of wandered up a little trail hoping to reach our final destination. We came to a sign that had one arrow pointing to “Il Medio” and one pointing to “Il Sirioso” (or something like that), which of course we interpreted as “medium” or “severe” trail. We chose the medium one since it was first day and we didn’t want to kill ourselves. Eventually we came to a locked gate with an “Il Medio” sign on it. Crap! So a woman comes up behind us and just walks through an open spot in the fence. We call after her and ask if this is the trail into town. It turns out she is German and hardly speaks any English or Italian, but luckily Eric took German in highschool and we are able to piece together that she is the owner of “Il Medio”, which is a farm, not a medium difficulty trail! Rather than making us turn around and go all the way back, she tells us we can cross her property, ford a stream, and then follow the river back into town. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well, she realized we would more than likely get lost, so she had her 6-year old son (who definitely doesn’t speak any English) lead us across the “stream”. And it’s a good thing we had a little helper, because the stream was a waterfall and we had to criss-cross rocks and planks! It was awesome! How cool would it be to grow up there as a kid?!

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We hiked about 10 miles each day we were there, making it to each of the five towns. Some of the hikes were quite challenging, both physically and mentally. One particular trail (Trail 7) was nearly vertical. We thought having some wine before we headed up the trail might help build up our courage and help us lose our fear of heights, but it only ended up making us more nervous, and there were moments we thought we might fall right off the edge of the cliff! But it was all worth it when we reached the top, and we were so proud of ourselves. So, naturally, we finished our bottle of wine to celebrate 🙂 It was an amazing adventure, and I feel so lucky to have been able to make it out there (and to have survived the crazy trails)!

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That’s right….our family swimming pool turned green. Greener than a snake! And, as is the way of nature, when you build it – they will come. It quickly became a tadpole pond.

Cute Kids Win over Tadpoles

Cute Kids Win over Tadpoles

They were teeming….it was primordial! One problem – what kind were they? Another problem – how do we rid the pool of them kindly if they are “good” frogs so that the kids aren’t afraid of swallowing tadpoles? If they are “bad” frogs, how do you kill them without going to hell?

Well, I tell you what, there’s just no good way to accomplish either one! There are simply too many in the pool. We can’t wait for them to develop into frogs either so don’t even go there. It’s 90 degrees in Florida already folks.

My genius is limited – so i got a bucket and a net – scooped thousands up and dumped them into my fish ponds – sink or swim that was their chance at life. Then we began adding treatment….TO KILL THEM!!

Go ahead and hate me…I understand. But what you don’t understand is that the kids are MUCH CUTER than the tadpoles. On top of that, I confirmed that they were, in fact, Cuban Tree Frog offspring….the nemesis of all Florida native frogs. I secretly rejoiced when I made this discovery.

So, now my fish ate all the “rescues” and the environment is free of hundreds of exotic and aggressive destroyers of native wildlife….I feel good. I slept well! Once again…The Chicks With Ticks are ready to make a difference.

IMGP0868That’s right. Last week, I spent the entire work day researching swamps, bogs and seeps. Believe it or not, they are very different.

You are saying to yourself, “but Jacque, they are all muddy wet swampy places.” Sure, on cursory glance. What I have discovered after days in them and loads of research is….

THERE ISN”T ENOUGH INFORMATION OUT THERE ONE THEM….most especially seepage swamps. So, it will be a personal mission for the Chicks with Ticks to begin to uncover the SECRETS OF THE SEEPS….

It seems that these complex depressions in the landscape are home to some interesting combinations of plants and animals. Some of these are endangered here in Florida. 

But – i thought it would be fun to see what Dictionary.com had to say:

 

 

swamp

  [swomp]  Show IPA

noun

1.

a tract of wet, spongy land, often having a growth of certain types of trees and other vegetation,but unfit for cultivation.
verb (used with object)

2.

to flood or drench with water or the like.
3.

Nautical . to sink or fill (a boat) with water.
4.

to plunge or cause to sink in or as if in a swamp.
5.

to overwhelm, especially to overwhelm with an excess of something: He swamped us with work.
6.

to render helpless.
 

bog

 [bog, bawg]  Show IPA noun, verb, bogged, bog·ging.

noun

1.

wet, spongy ground with soil composed mainly of decayed vegetable matter.
2.

an area or stretch of such ground.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object)

3.

to sink in or as if in a bog (often followed by down  ): We were bogged down by overwork.

Verb phrases

4.

bog in, Australian Slang. to eat heartily and ravenously.
 

seep

  [seep]  Show IPA

verb (used without object)

1.

to pass, flow, or ooze gradually through a porous substance: Water seeps through cracks in the wall.
2.

(of ideas, methods, etc.) to enter or be introduced at a slow pace: The new ideas finally seeped down to the lower echelons.
3.

to become diffused; permeate: Fog seeped through the trees, obliterating everything.
verb (used with object)

4.

to cause to seep; filter: The vodka is seeped through charcoal to purify it.
noun

5.

moisture that seeps out; seepage.
6.

a small spring, pool, or other place where liquid from the ground has oozed to the surface of the earth.
 
There ya go! Chew on that vocabulary for a while….so, sounds like the Chicks will need to do more research!!
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