Tag Archive: chapter

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.

So I guess at some point we totally forgot that they were just yard sticks. These things saved our lives. If you got into a bog (which we did) you just used your stick. If you needed to check out a creepy hole – used your stick. saw something weird – hit it with your stick. Cleared spider webs with your stick…etc! I mean, these things became an extension of us.

We kept them in the back of the work truck. Funny thing about work trucks. You WORK in them. We worked almost everyday. Funny thing about people in charge of our work trucks. They don’t WORK in the field. I actually got called out for leaves and twigs in the back of my work truck! REALLY!! Also, people insisted that we didn’t need the sticks in the back of the truck. What the hell did they know.

None of these are MINE!

Did they know that those sticks could have prevented near death experiences? Those sticks were part of our safety protocol. If someone waltzed away from the truck – I reminded them to get their stick. We began noticing them missing. We would get another stick. They got worn on the ends, made them easier on the hands when hiking. They became muddy. You could hardly read the numbers. They became loved! They became family. I even used red duct tape to soften the end of MINE because my wrists are old and tired.

Then, one day, the saddest thing happened. I can’t remember what I hit, but I hit something with my stick to make sure there wasn’t a booger monster in there. Safety first you know. My stick split…..oh my gosh. What was I gonna use now? I taped it up. Then I couldn’t measure. I had to do the only thing I knew to do – I had to start using a new stick. It was as if I was cheating on my spouse.

I couldn’t very well throw away my old stick. It still had uses. I hate throwing away useful things. What if I got stuck and needed just a little grip – it would be perfect. You are sitting there, shaking your head saying, “Jacque, you are nuts. It’s just a yard stick.” I am telling that you are a heartless and unfeeling dolt. That stick was my eyes, hands, legs, and it did more for me than any other tool I even owned. It had my name on it and the red tape. It was MINE.

I used the new stick. I never put my name on it. I never taped the end to make it softer. I used it. It never felt the same. It never went as many places as my stick. It never even really ever saved my life. I threw it in the back seat. I didn’t really remember it always.

One day, I grabbed MY stick when I got out of the truck – just out of habit. I walked into the woods with it and used it gently. It felt good, that old stick. It felt like mine. I never used the new stick again. I guess I feel safer with MINE. After all, it does have my name on it. I sit here writing, and I swear I am thinking that I hope no one threw it away.

I have been gone a month or so. A lot changes in that time. I hope MY stick is somewhere waiting for me to use it gently.

That’s why they call them sticks – duh! You stick them places….well, that’s what I say to remind me not to repeat some errors of days long gone. When we first began going out into the wilderness, we were carefree. Some of us (whose name will remain secret) put our hands into holes, reached into the mud, sat down anywhere, grabbed tree limbs, and generally ruled the land! Life was good.

Snake On Tree

Stick you hand here....NO!

I grew up near the woods. We camped and hiked. We spent some time on rivers and oceans, boats and in tents. I had a pretty good life in creeks and woods. I know some things that keep you from losing a finger. It doesn’t hurt that I am the eldest of three girls. Of all the dads in all the lands, my dad needed sons. He fished, cursed, smoked and drank and was a fun-loving guy who peed outside and spits.

He was also a painter, musician, singer and lover of all things science and anything that lived. He taught me how to fish before I learned to ride a bike. He taught me how to fight and how to stand up for myself. He also taught me the names of trees and flowers. He taught me how to solve problems and fix things. He taught me about magnets, atoms, and pyramid power….most importantly in this case – he taught me about snakes.

My dad showed me all kinds of snakes. I got sent to the principal’s office in kindergarten for taking a ring-necked snake to school in a baby food jar. So, it only stands to reason that dad also taught about how to avoid them, where they hide, how they behave, what ones were nasty little poison bearers.

Imagine my surprise when waltzing through the woods with someone who puts their hands everywhere!!! She reached into places I might not even put a good stick! I was shocked. This had to stop. I took it upon myself to find a tool….it just so happened that the office had a couple of cases of yard sticks. They had been purchased as marketing items long ago and were never used….they were slightly inaccurate. We began using them in the field to poke places.

This began the era of the field sticks. The era that would define us, cost us many arguments, make us tape their handles and mourn their losses….this is their story really.

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