Tag Archive: swamps


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…

 

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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!

 

 

I know, I know – you’re thinking, “Jacque, why has it been so very long since your last post?” Well, I am here to tell you….because SO MUCH HAS BEEN GOING ON!!

I would love to catch you guys up, but as this is the week of Thanksgiving, I though I will, instead, give you guys some very helpful tips on how an outdoor adventurer survives the FAMILY THANKSGIVING!! So, here we go…

  1. Wear comfy pants – and by comfy I don’t mean a little roomy – I mean a LOT. This is for your comfort and to protect anyone else from flying buttons.
  2. Don’t wait until the last minute to ask “What can I bring?” because you are going to get hit with the UGH list…mashed potatoes are yummy – but making 50 pounds takes muscles, sweat, and quite frankly a mixer you don’t have….so, opt for something simple.
  3. Do NOT – under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES say to an elderly family member “Wow, I didn’t know you were still with us.” Won’t go over well.
  4. Sit quickly. You worked really hard not to sit at that kid table. You know, the one where everyone thinks it’s funny to show chewed up food. Grab that seat!
  5. No matter what, offer to help clean up. Even if you don’t mean it. Then, when the hostess inevitably says, “Oh, that’s okay.” Go relax with some pie. I mean – you gave the chance right?
  6. If there is turkey and ham – eat both. Just in case one is awful. Turkey is like wine – it takes years to perfect. Young cooks often dry out the turkey. Ham, well, it’s technically already cooked so all you have to do is really heat it up. Good choice!
  7. DO NOT GET DRUNK. This will end badly. Maybe not on this day, but I promise your family will never stop talking about the Thanksgiving So-and-so got smashed. And, you will forever be labelled the sot. Not something you want brought up when they are REALLY mad at you.
  8. Football is – well, football. Engage your family, but if you are a fan, find a sneaky way to be excused out of conversations so you can catch the game without making them feel offended. Like…start a conversation of interest with a gabber and then walk quietly away.
  9. Eat, eat, rest, eat, rest, dessert. Firsts, seconds, rest, nibbles, rest, then BIG dessert.
  10. Lastly, and most importantly, give thanks. Go around and thank each person for who and what they are in your life. Life is often too short. I am reminded of that each day now. Hugs and sincere sharing of fond memories and truly connecting will go a long way.

So, if you think you just CAN’T make it through the whole thing, pawn off that you have to share with your partner, spouse, or significant other…that works too!

Happy Thanksgiving! I am truly thankful that you read this blog, share with your friends, and support everyone Getting Outside and doing 

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.

peace river

Peace River overbank

I’m sitting here on my couch because my softball game got POURED OUT for the 4th freaking week in a row. Our Suwannee River work got cancelled because the river is too high. Alafia River State Park isn’t renting out canoes because the overbank flows are unsafe (though a friend of mine went anyways and almost tipped his kayak and lost his quite expensive camera in the process). It’s normal to get afternoon thunderstorms in Florida during the summer, but this is too much!

A few months ago, Jacque and I were driving home from assessing some swamps in Arcadia and she said something to the extent of “those thistles look funny, it’s going to be a REALLY wet summer.” I know this girl has intuition, but really? Can you really tell it’s going to be a wet summer because some spiky plants look funny?! So I made a mental note, half hoping there would be a drought so I could make fun of her. She even put her predictions in writing (https://chicks-with-ticks.com/2013/06/05/something-in-the-air/) so I would have proof if she denied saying it!

marsh

Wet marsh

Well, turns out Jacque should have placed a bet – because she would have hit the jackpot! We have just been pummeled with rain. Overall, the Florida peninsula receives about 40 to 50 inches of rain a year, with most of it occurring during the “wet season” (June – October). Living in Florida is more like living in the Tropics than it is like living in the rest of the U.S. where there are four distinct seasons. Here we really just have two distinct seasons: a wet and a dry (November – May). During the dry season, many of our small streams go completely dry (we call these intermittent or ephemeral systems). Only our larger creeks and rivers are wet all year long. Yup, this is one of the many nerdy things we have been studying over the years.

sat-FL

Florida peninsula, just waiting to be pummeled

horse creek

Horse Creek overbank

Florida is just the perfect storm for storms, if you will -– the excessively hot summer temperatures heat up our large expanses of water, causing water to evaporate and form large clouds that then drop rain all over the state as the winds from the Gulf and the Atlantic blow the storms across the state. And obviously Florida is just hanging out in the middle of those two water bodies, just waiting there in the wide open to get hit by a hurricane. Oh joy! So overflowing rivers and creeks are a very natural occurrence in Florida, and Florida streams are often overbank for a good chunk of the year. These flood events help “shape” the river and its floodplain and help cycle nutrients (food). Throughout Florida’s history, many streams and wetlands have been ditched to get water off a property. This takes away an important ecological component, one that Jacque and I are often working to restore. So maybe all this rain isn’t so bad and I should just hush. And pat Jacque on the back for being right. Again. Dangit!

Plunder Branch near Hwy62

Getting wet is fun!

Have a great weekend everyone! Even if it means getting a little wet 🙂

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!!

Most of you think that this is a page for women by women. Sure, it can be. I am definitely a woman! But we work and play with and around men also. In fact, we have a following that is strictly male and they are The Honorary Members of Chicks with Ticks. They even have their own logo! That’s right – they rock. We love our men!

Anyway – Tyler, my field partner for the day, and I were headed down south to Grasshopper Slough. Nothing special about that, except that we LOVE Grasshopper Slough. It’s on private land that is maintained about as well as any conservationist could ask, even though it’s a working cattle ranch – we love the way they alternate fields, manage forestry, and generally have a love of the land. It makes our job easier.

We got to the stream and it was about 2 feet deep. Now, I had been coming to this spot on this stream for years….mostly alone. I had Tyler today which is sweet because he is like my ninja man….studies Buddhism, meditates, is smiley, and an amazing friend. We got to the stream bank and I put my junk down where I always do. Then…something wasn’t right.

I told Ty (yeah – sometimes I call him Ty) that something wasn’t right. I scanned the area and make sure nothing is gonna eat us and then go about my business. I felt like I was being watched. I’ll tell ya it really creeped me out because there are some very large gators upstream from our site. Anyway, I laughed it off and then asked Ty if he minded being my ninja guardian and walk through the water to the gauge with me – which is sooooo not me because the water is only 2 feet deep and I go there all the time alone. Silly girl.

So, he remarked that was weird but that he would, of course – after all he is my ninja guardian. And he did. We came back with the logger (measures the level of the stream) and I sat on that bank and just looked at that 18 foot wide, 2 foot deep brown tannic stream and thought that I was crazy for feeling the way I did. I was being unreasonable. I told Ty I was being girlie! So, we did our thing and left.

We returned a week later to the same spot to do the same thing. I felt the same way. I might have even felt a bit worse. Something was there. I told Ty that I thought it might be a turtle or otter and I was just sensitive. We started work and I continually scanned the stream (spotted) as Ty went into the stream to measure flow. I still felt uncomfortable. I can’t explain it. I asked Ty to be careful.

I turned to scan the stream one more time. I saw something in the deeper pool just upstream of our site. I couldn’t say what it was so I asked Ty to stay out of the water until I could identify it. This is one of my safety protocols! I hoped to see a large fish or piece of wood floating. I turned away to set up planning to figure it out once I was finished.

Tyler – Honorary Member of Chicks with Ticks & Ninja

I started opening my laptop and setting up the equipment as usual. For some reason, I looked back over my shoulder at the stream just where I had seen the “something”. Headed straight for Ty was a huge gator. It was moving fast and even making a wake. I bent back and grabbed a stick as I yelled to Ty, “Gator, big gator, out of the water!” I splashed the stick around and the gator turned toward me and slowed.

Oh my. At this point, I have to tell you how bad it was. Ty was supposed to be out of the water, right, because I asked him to. Instead, he was bent over pulling grass so he could use the doplar equipment we use to measure flow. This meant that his head was at the surface of the water and the gator was about 5 feet away when I spotted her. You can imagine how we both felt. Now Ty is on the other side of that stream. We had to get him back on the side with me and the truck with a gator in the middle! I tell you what. That gator was every bit of 9 feet and the stream only 18 feet across.

That gator followed us as we walked up and down the stream trying to find a good place for Ty to cross. It snapped at anything we threw. We decided that the marsh upstream was our best bet as I could swamp the truck halfway and at least he wouldn’t be stranded, just the truck would be. He hiked down and I drove. I didn’t see Ty. He didn’t come. I started to panic. I had driven the truck deep into the mucky maidencane marsh. I climbed out the window and stood on top of the truck. Where the hell was he?

I didn’t see him for what seemed like forever. All of the sudden, I see a figure in white (Ty) crouched down sneaking through the grass. Well, let me tell you, he looked like gator bait all bent over and easy to eat. I yelled for him to make himself big and run to the truck. I realized how close we had come when he collapsed in the bed of the truck next to me.

We laid there for a long time cursing and reliving the moment he almost got eaten. We still relive it. It was the most intense experience I had ever had and it changed me for a long time – changed us for a long time. Hell, it even changed the way we worked for a long time. I was afraid. Afraid that every pool had a gator in it ready to eat my field partners. I had never been afraid. Wary, cautious, yes, but not afraid.

Actual photo of gator that almost ate Ty!

That feeling passed, at least mostly. I still think about it when I stand next to that creek. The gator? Oh, a trapper came back a few weeks later and shot it after he roped it. He said the gator didn’t act right. He though it was crazy. I don’t know much about that – I only know that it’s not there anymore.

I only know that I haven’t felt that same feeling I felt the week before the gator almost ate Tyler! I do get that feeling every now and then at other sites. Sometimes it’s everything I can do to make myself go where I need to go. Sometimes, I don’t go at all.

You hear about sixth sense. You talk about intuition. I trust mine. Sometimes I look into that murky water and think I am going somewhere I know I shouldn’t go. I am entering a world that doesn’t belong to me. I am intruding. Most days I know I will be forgiven. I know I can pass without paying a toll. Some days I wonder when my time will run out.

From Another Time (by Kristen)

One of the best things about being a Chicks with Ticks is getting away from it all… venturing into the depths of a pristine forest, following the bends of a small meandering stream, feeling so remote you think there is no way anyone has ever laid eyes on this seemingly untouched spot, except perhaps some early Florida inhabitants. It is that feeling of being connected not only to the land, but also to a time long past. A time when people lived off the land. A time before constant stimulus and connectivity, when you could just… be…

When I can’t be physically connected to the land, I find myself getting lost in novels depicting early life in Florida to fill that void. Novels like “A Land Remembered” (mine and Jacque’s all-time favorite book) or “The Yearling” (which I am currently reading). Or visiting old towns such as Micanopy or Cross Creek, where I can grab a bite at The Yearling Restaurant on my way home (sort of) from Jacksonville. Or taking the backroads, even though they take longer than the highway. Anything to just get away from it all and see or imagine something beautiful.

Yet I live in the city. And I work the majority of my days in an office. I enjoy these things, for the most part, but you can tell when I’ve been away from where I truly feel free, alive, happy for too long. Or when I’ve gotten a small taste of that place, but not enough, and I’m left just yearning for more. It’s painful. I asked Jacque why it is I feel such a longing and am so deeply affected, and she said very simply, “It’s because we are from another time.” It made me cry, because I knew it was true, and I sometimes can’t help but feel that I don’t belong.

What’s that gator doing in that tiny stream!?

That’s right! We have written about bombing ranges before. I know, I know, everyone has heard the one about how I drove across a 6 foot bomb and never knew it until after a flood….but you can imagine how Josh and I felt when….

So, Josh and I needed to visit our Avon Park Bombing Range sites. This is fun! We got our radio with some critical information – they were detonating unexploded ordnance (like the ones we have driven over and found all over) on one of the tracts we needed to get to. CRAP!! They let us on anyway as we would call on and off and only be a short while.

We exited said tract and got stuck in the middle of two sites by other military activities on our other site of interest. So, knowing us as well as you might by now – you know what we did next! We took the buckets and nets and went into the ditches to catch fish to identify!! NERDS….I heard you scream!

So – then we watched as two of the detonations went off without much ado and proceeded to our second site. You can well imagine the looks on our faces when detonation number three went off……KABOOM – shaking the very ground!! I am standing there with my mouth hanging open.

So we were working with that feeling you get when you escape just in time or just miss a bad situation. The feeling that something horrible COULD have happened. What if one of those were the pieces we have found? We will never know.

As if that’s not enough – we are working in a tiny clear creek that is less than 2 feet wide and 6 inches deep. It’s so cute. There is a little pool just upstream of our gage. I told Josh that it was a great place to catch cool fish while I downloaded the logger.

Josh headed through the palmettos 12 feet away to the waterfall pool……how lovely! He came crashing through the palmettos with a strange look on his face….I said – “What did you catch?” thinking it must be something really amazing. He hollers out….big gator!!

He said there was a huge gator hiding in the pool less that 12 feet away. I went up to look and CRAP!! An 8 1/2 foot alligator was snuggled up in that tiny pool! Josh had noticed it when he dipped his net in to see what fish were in there…..imagine how surprised he was when he realized it was an alligator tail.

I took photos and we both gathered our nerves and finished. We left property feeling like we needed to increase our life insurance! We also felt pretty lucky to be able to see such amazing things while working. Needless to say, we will never look at that creek the same.

Yes we follow safety protocols, yes we have JSAs, yes we do a site inspection – but where we work – you can’t see everything! If you could – it would be boring!! We haven’t had a

This is in the palmettos near the gator hole!

lost time incident and we are happy and healthy. We do, however, occasionally have near misses!

Go Anywhere!

As adventurous gals, we like to go to new and exciting places. Sometimes, it’s a lake right behind the office, and others, it’s a remote stream after a miles long hike. What we really like to do is encourage others to take time to go outdoors and see something or experience something that gives you that sense of adventure.

Sometimes, it’s just a walk in a local preserve or park. Some of us are trapped in a concrete jungle and a plastic cube and that’s about as adventurous as it gets. Others of us will take it to the limits and climb rocky peaks or dive the deepest rifts. The important thing is, get out there and see what we see.

The wild isn’t all filled with danger and mystery. There’s a beauty in nature that we can’t fake, print, pixellate or 3-D. The only way to know what tar flower smells like when it’s sticky and blooming is to see it and smell it in the air.

So, as Spring is springing – let’s remember to get out the and GO ANYWHERE!

Then, tell us about your adventures…the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Wild Women

Co-Creator Jacqueline Levine expressing her excitement as Chicks go live

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