Tag Archive: science


I know, I know, you are thinking, “Jacque, you are covered in ants. Shouldn’t you be jumping around like a freak?” No, I shouldn’t. You know why? I am a man! No not really, I am only covered from head to toe in red ants.

20161207_104941

Native red ants and not fire ants. You know WHY I am covered in red ants to include inside both my pant legs? I am happy. Why am I happy? That’s a great question. You see I know you are expecting some insightful, poetic, deep and meaningful answer. You want to hear all about how a life event has changed me or made me ponder life and it’s meaning once again.

Phooey! Screw life and its meanings. I just got to tromp in the woods. Simple. It’s been a freaking long week already. Once of those weeks that makes you really think about whether or not to come home FROM the woods. I really wanted to say to the team I was with, “Hey worky pants, I am going to just hang out here for a few days until mother nature stops pissing on me. I will catch you all later – ants and all!”

But instead, I left the cool damp woods next to the small river. I turned my back, once again on what I know is right. I walked out the scarred surveyor’s path and went on about my grown up business. Left behind was the healing sounds of the woods. The soft voice of the river calling to me like it always does.

I could have stayed you know. Could have laid there on the banks of that river and solved all of my life’s puzzles. I should have stayed in the poison ivy and vine-covered trail that would hide anything. It would have hidden my furrowed brow, my tired eyes, my unshed tears. It would have hidden my doubt and expectations of myself.

It would have been easier. The coward’s way. But instead I stood in the bright sunshine. It is apparent I have a hangover, it’s obvious something is amiss, but you know what?

Nothing worth having is easy!20161207_111258

 

Itchy and Scratchy

That’s right, I’m itchy….and scratchy. No, silly, not the cartoon characters from The Simpsons….SERIOUSLY! I have discovered what happens when you wear far too many layers in the hot Florida sun.

Image result

Prickly heat – heat rash – or whatever you wanna call it! I was trying to be smarter than the average nerd working out in the Florida sun (104 degrees). I wore layers so that I could shed them as I needed. Only problem, you know me, I got caught up in my work and forgot to shed layers.

So, instead, I have this amazingly sexy rash ALL OVER! I hate to admit it – but now is the perfect time – I was wrong! Yep, make your calendars folks and watch the icebergs grow – cause Hell just froze over. I was totally wrong to even think for one moment that I was going to remember my clothes.

“Why, Jacque? Why would you forget something so important to most gals?” Well, I am definitely NOT most gals. SO, while I was busy looking at my survey gear and constructing a designed creek plan, I just wandered around in way too many clothes.

So, lesson for the day, wear the minimum and bring the maximum. Pack it and keep it handy. Remember, weather changes all over the world at any time! Even MyRadar can be wrong….so make sure you have what you need to stay cool, warm, dry, bug free, sun free, and safe! If you aren’t sure, pack more! If you don’t need it, so be it – but if you don too much or pack too little, you might get caught in a storm, or you just might get heat rash!

For those who are unfamiliar, heat rash is simply sweat trapped under your skin. Sounds harmless…

Image result for heat rash

Now, someone give me some tips for how to treat it!! PLEASE…

 

Forget Black

The cracks, even the cracks of her feet were black with earth.

Her hair matted with black and hanging limp and wildly at her ears.

Her hands were stained black and there were small scars where the work showed through.

And just when it seemed she couldn’t get any blacker,

her heart stood still with the black mud.

Her eyes shed black tears that smudged her filthy cheeks.

Her mouth oozed.

She had stayed too long in the dark wet. She was one of them.

Yet there she crouched. Sobbing and shaken.

Her precious work torn asunder by those who spoke sharp words of machines.

All she knew lay raped and stranded in the bright sun.

It would be theirs tomorrow. Neat and shiny.

It would be organized and proper and clean.

It was always so sad to see them like this. Naked and lost.

No words would come to stay them from her treasure.

She would silently suffer.

It might kill her….

Yes, she would die if not for the others. They always come.

They take back their own into the dank woods.

Who knows what horrors lie there.

God it must be dreary and strange.

Oh, look, it must be time to go. The sun is sinking.

 

 

Brrrrring on the New Year

Happy New Year 2016 Images | New Year 2016 Quotes

That’s right, bring on the new year. I have just about had it with the last one. In fact, if this one isn’t better, I am quitting years.

The problem with last year is tenfold…didn’t go outdoors enough, didn’t camp enough, didn’t surf enough, didn’t tromp enough, didn’t climb enough trees, didn’t fish enough…..so….plan is to change that.

“But Jacque, last year wasn’t all bad!” Duh…of course it wasn’t. I have an amazing family, great kids, a job I love, and the world is my oyster. Problem  was that I forgot that the world was my oyster…and let it be my crab trap.Image result for funny oyster

So, if, like me, you let 2015 make you it’s bitch, here’s some ideas for how we are gonna show 2016 who wears the pants in this year…

  • Write a bunch of adventures on paper, fold and put in jar, take turns picking one out – and YOU HAVE TO DO IT
  • Pick up a copy of One Tank Trips
  • Get a map of your area that includes parks and such – make it a challenge to cross them all off with a visit
  • Let the family vote on a new activity to learn together
  • Call me to book a fun Guided Tromp in the woods or kayak trip
  • Go camping – or glamping if you don’t like tents
  • Try to go to different beaches or forests or both and collect a souvenir from each spot and make a brag shelf

Whatever you do – DO IT! And…

DO IT OUTSIDE! And…DO IT NOW! And…DO IT TOGETHER. 

There’s no time like the present…and no excuses!

Kick 2016’s ass!

 

 

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!

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The transition from upland scrub to cypress dome!

 

Fly like an eagle

Coolest video ever — It’s an eagle flying through the Alps with a camera attached to its back. Enjoy!

http://www.thelocal.fr/20130918/video-viewers-blown-away-by-birds-eye-view-of-chamonix

*Note: you have to scroll down the page a little bit to find the video.

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

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…..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.

 

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

springToday I had the pleasure of presenting our stream classification study to a wonderful group of people – the Master Gardeners of Sarasota County, Florida. It turns out there are Master Gardeners all throughout Florida. The program is run through the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). Its mission is to train a core of volunteers to assist the county extension agent in delivering information to residents on how to design, plant, and care for their plants and landscapes in a Florida-Friendly way. Please visit their website to find out more about this AWESOME program:
http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/mastergardener/about/index.shtml

jac+kristen+logoI’m hoping I was able to inspire some Master Gardeners to get outdoors and enjoy our state’s amazing resources. Maybe they’ll even become Chicks with Ticks (since many of them were women)! The Gardeners definitely inspired me to turn my black thumb green, and even gave me a couple free plant clippings (I’ll let you know how that goes). Thank you so much to Bob at Sarasota County’s IFAS extension office for inviting our team to speak. Always a pleasure talking about what we do and love because…
In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” – Baba Dioum

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