Tag Archive: surveying


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.

 

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You know, my daughter’s name is Allison. She loves to hear all about my Chicks with Ticks adventures. She especially likes it when I relate an exciting story and later she and I share a similar experience. I am proud to hear that she wants to grow up to work with animals and possibly wildlife in particular. She likes to get dirty, but appreciates bright nail polish. She is the epitome of who and what Chicks with Ticks stand for.

This is Allison – The first Official Young Chick with Ticks

I thought it would be interesting to interview her and ask a nine-year old young lady what she thought being a Chick with Ticks was all about and how she felt about me blogging while she swims in the pool at the hotel on our Venice, Florida vacation.

I was pleasantly surprised, a little taken aback, and somewhat humbled by her responses. What I thought would be a cute filler about my daughter turned into an eye-opening exchange that made what I do here much more than just “filler”.

I first asked her what she thought of being a CWT. She quickly did a backflip in the pool and answered that she thought it was cool that you can be funny and naturee. She remarked that it is cool that you can be any age to be like naturee and do outdoorsy stuff. You love that you can be any age and be a scientists.

I asked her what her wildest adventure was. She recalls going to Tennessee to visit my parents last year. She liked that we hiked the waterfalls as a family. She remembers hanging over the ledges and the forest being so beautiful. Her other favorite was caving. She has a friend Rhiannon, and together they create fairytale places in the Withlacoochee forest while we hike and find lime caves to explore.

I asked her who is a Chick with Ticks. She tells me she gets dirty. She doesn’t care what other people think of the outdoorsy things she does. She takes risks and does things that others don’t understand the reason for. Chicks with Ticks are beautiful because they care about our earth. Being a daredevil and taking risks is exciting and makes them amazing – “Like You!” She said to me.

She says she thinks it’s really cool because other people wouldn’t think of making a blog and giving it out to the world. She thinks it’s cool that we share adventures with people who may not be so brave. “Maybe you will inspire others to go out and do amazing adventures some day.”

Off on an adventure…..Allison heads into the forest.

I guess this wasn’t just filler….and, Allison, I hope that one day I inspire even one person to go out and have an adventure. Even if I never hear about it – it will be amazing.

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.

Yes – that’s right, sometimes you have to go where no man or Chick with Ticks has ever gone before. And, out in the woods, there isn’t always a path. Oh sometimes you get a path but there is something that makes using it a bit challenging…like a creek…in the wet season…in the Florida swamp! Well, Chicks with Ticks don’t let that stop them. No!

In the event that you find your path heading straight across water “of an unknown depth” (a popular safety meeting topic line), you should probably know a few things before you try to cross it.

Question 1 is obvious,

  1. Have you done this before? If the answer to this is no – DON’T DO IT! (although you might still) If yes, continue to question two.
  2. Is your vehicle four-wheel drive? If not – DON’T DO IT! If yes, proceed to the next question.
  3. How deep is the water? Now, there’s only one way to find out for sure. Oh, you may see a gauge with numbers on it – I wouldn’t rely on that one totally. You have to get out, grab a stick or pole (trusty yard stick works every time). Walk back and forth across the path until YOU COMPLETELY HAVE AN IDEA OF THE ENTIRE PATH’S DEPTH. “Jacque, why are you shouting at us?”, you might say. Well, I happen to have a lot of experience in doing it both right and not so perfectly right. The important thing to note about the depth is – will it float or flood the truck? If it will – DON’T DO IT! If you are not sure – DON’T DO IT! If not – keep going….at your own risk!

    Testing the depth is important!! ha ha

  4. What is the bottom like? If the bottom happens to be mucky, slimy, silty, organic (debris), or anything other than good old sandy dirt – DON’T DO IT (unless, of course you have done so before and are willing to suffer the possible consequences)! If it is good old sandy dirt – onward ho!
  5. Are you willing to get across without stopping, chickening out, listening to squealing field partners, risk the worst case scenario (floating or flooding), and just go for it? If not – DON’T DO IT!

    Floating without flooding is a skill!

    If so, put steady pressure on the gas and DO NOT GUN IT. That creates ruts that other people (like these photos of Kristen and me at Colt Creek) will get stuck in. This is rude and unprofessional….it also slings a lot of mud – roll up windows. Neeexxxttt…

    Winching out the Wenches!

  6. Did you make it? If not – hope you have a few boards, a winch (not wench), some rocks, or a friend to call, like we did. If so, congratulations, you will now want to cross every damned creek you come to and even some wet rivers! Enjoy it.

I hope you will keep in mind that safety is always first – but fun actually comes before safety so is easier to come by….combine the two and it makes everything more fun! And, we all know it is fun out there! Chicks with Ticks GO ANYWHERE!

As an added note: do not enter water that is flowing too quickly, is too deep, is filled with alligators (oh -we do that, nevermind) or otherwise poses a threat to you – a vehicle can become a death trap in water and it is no joke….please follow all safety recommendations.

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!

That’s right. I am going to share the secret, let the cat out of the bag, spill the beans, you know, let you in the club! In order to be a full-fledged member of the Chicks with Ticks you must have a sense of adventure. This sense usually accompanies a need to be outdoors and a basic disregard for what is proper.

I have begun a sort of Guidebook. A manual, if you will, that will assist you in becoming a Chick with Ticks (if you are not already) and guide you along on your journey to become a true member (or honorary member for you boys and men) of Chicks with Ticks!

Some general rules for Chicks with Ticks:

  • Backpack/purse – same thing
  • Snake boots go with everything (including shorts)
  • You can wear the same pair of socks two days (or weeks) in a row as they will only get dirty again
  • What happens in the forest, stays in the forest (this rule is to protect you – trust me some embarrassing stuff happens out there)
  • Call “Log”, “Hole”, “Don’t Move”, “Duck”, etc. to your partner if you are in front
  • Pick a tree to climb in the unlikely (yeah right) event that something comes at you
  • Never stick you hand in a hole – that’s why they call them sticks – DUH
  • You got my back – I got yours
  • Everything is Perfect!!

This is just for starters. An introduction, if you will. For all situations, there is an answer – we will address them in Sections.

Thank you for your interest in becoming a Chick with Ticks!

YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU STARTED!!!

Plunder Branch Hwy 62

It's Perfect!

So Jacque and I were to become surveyors and survey dozens of streams around the state for our nerdy research project. We had this fancy total station that Jacque had figured out how to use and we were ready to begin our adventures shooting streams and floodplains through crazy vines and branches.

But then time stopped… John was really busy, and if we wanted to keep the project rolling we were just going to have to survey on our own. You are probably thinking that you have already heard this story, and that’s true. When I read Jacque’s story about how she put a smile on her face even though she was scared and felt like she had no idea what she was doing, it was news to me, and so I felt compelled to admit that I too was feeling the same way! I couldn’t let Jacque throw that admission out there and not share my side. We are a team afterall!

I was the grad student, which apparently meant that I should have some clue as to what I was doing… but in reality, I didn’t! Sure, I had plenty of textbook knowledge, but I had very little field experience at that time. But Jacque expected me to know what I was doing and she sure as hell seemed to know what she was doing, so I pretended. I just kind of did what I had seen John do, which meant I would hop right into a stream without a care in the world, without giving much thought as to what may be lurking beneath the waters. To Jacque, I was brave and experienced (or stupid), but in reality I was just naively doing what I thought I was supposed to in order to get the job done.

Back then I wasn’t aware of the danger we were putting ourselves into each and every time we left “the real world” and stepped into a world that very few humans had probably ever been. Each day brought new experiences, some amazing, some terrifying. We shared these experiences together. I don’t know quite when the pretending became true knowledge and understanding, but I do know I will never forget any of it and that I have been forever changed because of it. I applaud Jacque for taking the initiative to share our stories and to hopefully inspire others to discover the world around them!

 

This guy blends right in!

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