I’m Not Giving These the Boot

I took an education class a couple spring semesters ago.  Unfortunately, I don’t particularly remember the class or the coursework but I remember the shoes of the girl I sat next to.  Like most women would.

She donned a pair of outdoor boots that seemed to be a hybrid of hiking boots and waders.  The best part about her outfit was she sported these with pearls on her earlobes.

I don’t consider myself to be particularly “girly” but that may well be because I fear my outdoor comrades, male counterparts and feminists of the world would be disappointed in my weakness for shoes.  I do; however, admire any woman that can combine rugged, outdoor gear with feminine style.  As a matter of fact, my original idea for Woman, Water, Wild was to portray myself as a pink bow-wearing, girly-girl pursuing outdoor water activities I am unfamiliar with.

But because this is an outdoor blog, I will contribute this article to this particular pair.

I ordered a pair of Redhead brand Pac boots.  And yes, I chose this brand for the irony of the fact that I’m a redhead as you can see in my About Me

redhead brand, brands of the world

Courtesy of brandsoftheworld.com

section.  I recently read that a “Pac boot” can be described as a boot containing a removable inner lining that is helpful in the winter time when the cold can dampen even the best, most insulated pair of shoes.

So far, I have worn them on a more rainy day because the idea of wearing boots before it is cold enough to do makes my feet sweat even when they’re bare.  I would recommend these boots as a winter time rain boot because of the waterproof nature of the product in addition to the fuzzy (and, yes, plaid!) interior of the boots.

They are a little bit chunky but lighter than you would expect, making them a comfortable boot for all day wear.  Comfortable enough that the outdoorsy woman could wear them camping in the Apalachicola National Forest or hiking down in Gainesville’s Devil’s Millhopper.

I do have a minor complaint about the fact that these babies do not come in half sizes (which I never understand because I know plenty of people who are between sizes).

On various reviews that I read, the customers complained that these boots are slippery and don’t keep feet as warm as expected but did succeed at keeping feet dry.  As a clumsy, baby giraffe-like individual, I disagree with the slippery part of their assessments because I have yet to bust my butt!

As a Florida customer, these complaints are invalid for me and only add to my previous article, 20 Reasons I HATE the Cold.

20 Reasons Why I HATE the Cold

  1. Snowwoman, Vero Beach

    Even this snow lady prefers the beach!

    Having to wear extra layers- Peeling off layer after layer once you get indoors where the heater is on is such a pain because I am always so aware that I will have to put them on again.

  2. My hands cannot stay warm.  I need those little hand warmth packets that you break apart and hold for every day of the winter.
  3. In addition to my hands feeling like they can’t open and close, my nose constantly feels like it’s going to fall off.
  4. You can’t swim when the weather is cold unless you go to a stuffy indoor pool with a bunch of ladies that go to water aerobics.
  5. If you get wet on a boat, you stay wet on a boat.
  6. My electric bill goes up because the simple solution to keep cool (turning on a fan) is no longer an option.
  7. Getting up in the morning is so much worse when you’re cold.
  8. The car becomes your own personal ice box… you could put all of your groceries in it and they would keep for weeks.
  9. The snowbirds head south for the winter and all the sudden I am late for work every single day.
  10. The orange crop where I come from suffers.  Poor oranges, you’re one of our only commodities!
  11. Tile floors become your own ice-covered road that you can’t walk on without a pair of thermal socks.
  12. Suddenly, your space for adventure becomes limited to anywhere indoors because the cold is too much to bear.
  13. Winter clothes are more expensive, more boring and I basically resort to wearing jeans.  24-7.
  14. One word: tights.
  15. It’s so hard to dress for work in the winter time because slacks don’t cut it but they are the only acceptable form of dress clothing to wear in a professional setting.
  16. My glasses fog up when I go out to walk the dog… It’s a hazard; I could be killed by on-coming traffic.
  17. If you get sick, you stay sick because the cold weather keeps you down and out. 
  18. Everyone else loves winter so all the winter and cold weather haters are left with only half of their friends to be cynical with.
  19. The days seem shorter because it is pitch black by 5 p.m.
  20. The cold, icy morning dew turns to slosh by the afternoon and makes it so much

How to Find a Free and Natural Therapist

sunset

As my school semester comes to a close and the holiday seasons quickly approaches, I can’t help but whine to my boyfriend about all the stresses in my life (as if we all don’t have them and I’m the only one to carry the burden).

Although both men and women suffer from stress in their lives, studies show that women are more emotional when it comes to dealing with stress but also that acute and chronic stress may take a greater toll on womens’ physical and mental health.  From weight gain to insomnia to hair loss, women show their symptoms more so than our male counterparts.

What does this have to do with my blog about women and the outdoors?  The outdoors can help.  Even smelling the outdoors may help.

Being outside raises our serotonin levels which help to regulate our moods.  The more serotonin, the more satisfied and happy we feel.  If you have ever heard of what they call a “runner’s high,” this neurotransmitter is responsible.  A study suggested that women who run outside are less likely to feel anxious than those running on a treadmill and are more likely to experience higher levels of post-exercise endorphins, or happy-feel brain chemicals.

Operation patients with an outdoor view are less likely to feel as much pain and experience faster healing than those spending fewer days gazing on the green scene.

Not only does the sight of green help with the healing process, but the smell of grass was found to have a significant calming effect on out-of-control drivers.  If it works for drivers, it can work for women outside.

Activity isn’t always necessary to de-stress.  Women can experience relaxation in the outdoors simply by being outside, breathing deeply and enjoying a beautiful day. bird

In a society where relaxation is considered a nap on the couch still holding a remote or a date with our Netflix account, taking a walk outside, working out in the outdoors or taking a moment to reap the benefits of the aromatic therapy that can be provided by pines and other plants can be just as beneficial.

Studies show that finding your center can help reduce the stress in your life.  The outdoors provides women with a full body experience of a breeze blowing through hair, the smell of grass and dirt at their noses and the sun on their skin.

So before you let yourself freak out about all the tasks you must complete, the papers you must write, that pile of papers to organize on your desk, allow yourself a moment of serenity by taking advantage of what is free and what is natural: the outdoors.

For more information about reducing stress in the outdoors, check out this awesome article on Huffington Post: http://www.athleta.net/2011/02/23/reduce-stress-in-the-great-outdoors/

Just Keep Swimming

swimIn high school, my most hated and most cherished extracurricular activity was swim practice.  I remember the first week of it as a lot of swallowed chlorinated water, early nights and sunburn.

The first day I got out of the pool, I had to use the stares and could barely stand so; therefore, I was hooked.

Throughout the rest of my high school career, I swam about 12 to 15 hours a week both with my high school team and my club team.  I knew all the secret swimming tips.  How spit can clean muggy goggles. How to put on a cap without assistance.  The best way to keep warm before an event in the winter time.

High school ended and college began.  I wasn’t the fastest swimmer or the most valuable team member but I was an important enough player that I scored points to help our team win time and time again and I wasn’t ready to let the sport go.

Which brings me to my main point: swimming is a lifetime sport.

A human being submerged in water only carries 10% of their own body weight.  This takes the stress of carrying your weight off of your bones and joints.  If you suffer from arthritis or are overweight.

Speaking of overweight, if you are a calorie counter, swimming is one of the best calorie burners in the workout world.  For every 10 minutes of freestyle (the crawling one!), the human body burns about 100 calories.  Butterfly burns about 150.

Water is 12 times denser than air which means that the muscles are working against a resistance making swimming a powerful toning exercise.  Runners only have to resist air.  Because of this low-impact resistance, swimming increases bone strength, especially in post-menopausal women.

From tot swimming class to water aerobics for retirees, swimming can engage people in exercise for the majority of their lives.

Another advantage of swimming is getting a full body workout.  When you’re twisting through the water, literally like a torpedo, you are engaging all of your muscles.  This motion is so broad that it also works to increase flexibility (although one should still stretch after a swimming workout, like all workouts).  Compared to lifting on barbell at a time at the gym, your muscles are really working together as one cohesive system.

As grueling as swimming felt in high school when all of my other friends were out getting Slurpees after school, I now know that it is a hobby and an exercise I can perform for the rest of my life without worrying about the stress it causes my knees.

Shout out to Michael Franco for his awesome tips at Discovery Health’s website!

Join the Wild Women of Women Outdoors, Inc.

Courtesy of Women Outdoors, Inc.

Courtesy of Women Outdoors, Inc.

I was pondering this the other day as I was sitting in class wishing I was enjoying the crisp sunshine of a beautiful Florida fall day so I decided to take it upon myself to find ways to jump-start a love for the wilderness.  Of course, in order to do that, I stayed inside and “Googled” a solution.

I was happy to come across a good “.org” site which every journalist and blogger knows is a legitimate source.  This website is called womenoutdoors.org. 

The website itself is green-hued and filled with pictures of life-vested, hiking boot-donning, smiling women engaging in my favorite sorts of activities: hiking, kayaking, fishing, you name it.  As I read on, I found that Women Outdoors, Inc. is a “nonprofit, all-volunteer organization” founded in 1980.

Courtesy of Women Outdoors, Inc.

Courtesy of Women Outdoors, Inc.

 

This chapter explores Big Cypress National Preserve, the Intercoastal Waterway (my neck of the woods, ya’ll), the Everglades, and the Florida Keys.  At only $30 a year for dues and $15 for students ages 18 to 25, these opportunities are tough to beat. 

Each year on Memorial Day weekend, the group gets together for their national conference called “The Gathering” in which all region join together to engage in activities ranging from knot-tying to kayaking to Tai Chi.

This year’s Gathering will be held at Sargent Center in southern New Hampshire.

In addition to The Gathering conference each year, Women Outdoors encourages members to attend a service-based trip called “Women Outdoors: Unleashed!”  In the past, this trip has included involvement in Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans in 2007 as well as fund-raising hikes such as Wilderness Heals for the Elizabeth Stone House in 2008.

The group encourages women to speak their ideas for Unleashed! trips for the future.  By emailing SpecialEvents@womenoutdoors.org and providing them with materials on the service or volunteer organization you would like to help benefit, the next trip could be your idea. 

The organization’s mission statement explains their dedication to promotion and education of the outdoors to women and to helping preserve the world’s natural resources.  With over 400 members, Women Outdoors is a great resource for ladies interested in nature. 

 

Presenting Her Deepness, the Sturgeon General Herself: Sylvia Earle

sylvia earle underwater

Sylvia Earle

As it is getting close to that spook-tac-ular Halloween holiday once again, I am constantly trying to come up with costume ideas even if I don’t plan on dressing up.

I am the oldest grandchild of five, four of which are granddaughters.  When I ask the youngest ones in the group what they are planning on being for Halloween, I always get the same answer: a princess.

As the only tomboy that the family ever had, I roll my eyes at all the pink and the frills and think to myself, “Man, I always wanted to be a dinosaur or a werewolf but never a princess.”  Now, I like to think of myself as a feminist in that I think women can do just as much as men can do (besides maybe flip a tire at boot camp, I tried that last week) so I try to come up with costumes that represent stronger women than Rapunzel and Cinderella.

I was on Facebook the other day and found myself delighted

to come across some children whose parents had decided they needed some real female role models.  I’ll post pictures of the little Amelia Earhart, Cocoa Chanel and, of course, Jane Goodall below.

Amelia Earhart costumeCocoa chanel costume

jane goodall costume

But, for the sake of this blog, I felt that I should talk about one of my personal role models I feel worthy of a Halloween costume.

A leading American oceanographer, Sylvia A. Earle is most famous for leading the first female team of “aquanauts” in the Tekite Project.  These women fearlessly lived in an underwater chamber for 14 days studying underwater habitats in 1970.

Earle then began to write for National Geographic     in order to arouse greater public interest in the ocean as well as pollution awareness.  Fighting for the aquasphere deserves a Halloween costume as more than 75% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, our most important resource.

Not only is she a leading female environmentalist to this day, working for Google Ocean Advisory as well as being National Geographic’s Explorer-in-Residence (known as Her Deepness), but she has held the women’s record since 1979 for a solo dive in a deep submersible (3280 feet, 1000m) achieved in the Deep Rover that she designed with her husband.

What I most admire about Sylvia A. Earle is her leadership on Sustainable Sea Expeditions from 1998 to 2002 endorsed by the United States Marine Sanctuary.  She is an expert on the impact of oil spills and lead research trips following the Exxon-Valdez spill in 1989.

 the blog movie theater

Making oil spills which invoke more fear than The Blob disappear.  Who wouldn’t want to be her for Halloween?

What would Captain Planet Do? 10 Steps to Avoid Water Pollution

captain planet

Courtesy of comicvine.com


Water pollution is an issue.

We don’t think about it often in the United States where bottled-water snobs turn their noses up at Aquafina but reach into their office mini-fridges for a Dasani but, around the world, clean drinking water has become a commodity more difficult to find.

Despite the appearance of a the water stores of a first-world country, the United States allows water to run off roads covered in chemicals, dirt, trash and disease-carriers without a second thought to an issue that threatens quality of life and public health every day.  Sure, the Clean Water Act, instated by the National Resource Defense Council, demands that sewage industries and others reduce their pollution of streams and lakes but the real problem exists in our backyards, our homes, our communities and even our cars.  The average U.S. residence uses approximately 100,000 gallons of water a year according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

As every outdoorswoman knows, water provides us with not only a basic need but a place to swim, fish, boat and tan alongside so it is important to take steps necessary to conserve the pure drinking water available to us.

The National Resource Council provides us with “10 simple ways you can help reduce pollution and run-off” which I list and discuss below:

  1. Avoid hard, unnatural surfaces around your home. Concrete, asphalt, that fake golfing grass… all of these encourage water to run every which way to exit your yard.  Water is best filtered through grass or soaked through porous material such as soil.  Don’t want ants or bugs crawling on your feet while you sit outside?  Use wood decking instead of concrete.
  2. Plant native plants and use natural fertilizers.  By doing so, you are insuring our drinking water stays chemical-free.
  3. Don’t over-water lawns or gardens.  Water conservation is just as important as reducing water pollution.
  4. Be sure to recycle and throw trash away properly.  Never flush non-degradable objects (plus, these may clog your toilet so just don’t do it!).  This includes pet waste.  Keep anything you wouldn’t want in your drinking water away from any drainage areas.
  5. Never dispose of chemical products such as paint and cleaning supplies by flushing them down the drain.  Your local sanitation center can take care of these hard-to-dispose products.  Just give them a call.
  6. Use non-toxic household products.  Not only will this protect your water but it will protect your children and pets.
  7. Recycle motor oil you’ve used.  Just like Office Depot can reuse printer ink cartridges, some auto parts places can re-use oil.  Remember, 250,000 gallons of water can be polluted by a single quart of motor oil poured out on the ground.
  8. Go to the car wash!  An at-home car wash uses twice the amount of water a drive-through car wash does.  Some of these professional car wash places even recycle “dirty” water.  It’s a good excuse to avoid a grueling chore.
  9. Tattle, tattle, tattle.  If you see someone, something or some industry polluting or contaminating a water source, alert your local environmental protection group.  Better yet, join one yourself and become a better citizen of the world which leads us to number 10…
  10. Be an activist.

Remember, your mom and your dad would want you to recycle… Check out this PSA from the 70s brought to you by the U.S. Coast Guard and Owens Corning Fiberglass.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEkjB8VtNbs

What to Do When Mother Nature Calls…

toilet

Courtesy of buriedwithchildren.com

You’re camping.  The serenity is just what you needed.  The breeze sways the treetops, the fire is warm and crackling, you’ve got your beloved s’mores complete with Hersey’s chocolate.  The brook is babbling.

The brook is babbling?!  What do you do when nature calls but you’re a lady who is stuck in nature?

Keep calm and fear not.  This post is dedicated to the age-old female problem of using the little girls’ room in the great, wide open space that is the outdoors.  Avoid the ridicule of your masculine counterparts by being prepared and keeping that complaint about lack of proper equipment to yourselves and read on.

Supplies

Unless the idea of wiping with a waxy leaf or some stray pine needle sprays is appealing to you, be sure to provide your own toilet paper.  Chances are, if you are camping with anyone but your mother, the will not think to pack your favorite Charmin despite the cute, woodsy bear mascot on the package.  One roll should cover you but remember, friends are made where extra T.P. is had.

The Scenic Location

Be sure to seek out a secluded spot of wilderness so you won’t be disturbed.  Be aware of sloped ground leading down to the nearest clean water.  No one wants contamination to be an issue… or their sneakers to become victims. 

Last but not least, be sure your pants are where you can see them at all times.  No one wants to re-live their embarrassing preschool “accident” days and find it necessary to use the precautionary “accident pants.” 

The How-to Do…. Do

pine trees

Courtesy of reflectiveimages.com

 

I highly recommend the assisted squatty-potty.  This is done by propping oneself against one of nature’s best oxygen-producing friends, a tree.  Be sure you choose one on level ground and bend your knees as to not disturb the flow. 

According to CampingTrip.com, there are other ways to achieve the worry-free outdoor pee including holding onto a thinner-trunked tree (which can hold your weight!) and leaning back, finding an abandoned log or stump and scooting forward, and the buddy system.  The buddy system isn’t for the shy or the new friend you made because you brought that extra toilet paper.  It involves gripping a friend’s hands and leaning back to simultaneously go at once.

Like I said, not for the faint-hearted or faint-stomached.

The camping experience shouldn’t be one of anxiety or discomfort.  Once you brave the chill of the night air or the solitude that is not your Clorox-scrubbed home bathroom, we ladies can pitch camp with the best of them.

Weather the Colder Weather

Image

Courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel

With winter just around the corner here in sunny, water-surrounded Florida, H2O-loving women need to be aware of some warm-up tips when wading.  According to the Southeast Climate Center, Florida winters can range from 39 degrees in Tallahassee to a mild 65 degrees in Key West.  Although winters in Florida aren’t as harsh as states even just to the north, they are enough to dry up feminine-soft skin and chap lip-sticked mouths. 

But winter provides hazards on even more dangerous levels, such as colder water temperatures and a larger likelihood of experiencing cold weather complications.  Hypothermia, a condition in which core temperature drops below what is necessary to maintain a functioning metabolism, poses a threat particularly in a peninsula state where boating, fishing and swimming are acceptable at any time of the year.

Fear not, ladies!  Women’s Health Magazine has done the research through the vice present and instructor for Mountain Shepherd Wilderness Survival School in Catawba, Virginia for what to do in a situation in which hypothermia may ensue.

Below is a list of four important things to remember during these winter months:

Fetal position- If you find yourself keeping afloat with a bright orange life jacket but tired of paddling, make sure to grab on to your knees and bring all your extremities to the center of your body heat, your chest.  Doing this during your “swim breaks” will prevent loss of heat.

Snuggle up- In addition to keeping each other company, you’re in luck if you find yourself stuck in cold water with a friend.  Huddling together is an even better way to retain warmth in a cold situation than balling up alone.

Warm hands, warmer heart- On land, after being doused and exposing yourself to cold air (even if it’s Key West and 65!) can induce a drop in core temperature.  To prevent this from happening, jam your hands between your legs or in your armpits where warmth is less likely to run out.  Keeping fingers heated will help your body feel warmer.

Get some seat heat- Even if you don’t have a stadium seat pad, it is important to put something dry and, preferably, warmer between your tush and the ground.  Leaves, bark, or dry clothing work well.

Weathering the weather this winter season should be a cinch but if you find yourself in a not so hot position, the above tips will help you get through it.  

Get Your Hike On This Fall in Florida

With the start of the new fall season, comes crisper weather and bluer skies in Florida.  Although the leaves won’t change as drastically as those northern states (and by northern, we Floridians mean Georgia and above), this time of year is reminiscent of Thanksgiving, pumpkins, cider and, of course, the great outdoors.

apalachicola

Courtesy of holidaytripper.com

One great way to get in touch with a nature-loving, tree-hugging, leaf-crunching side is taking advantage of the hiking trails that vein out throughout the Florida landscape.

Below I describe four different trails from 4 different regions in the state below.  These areas include Northwest, Northeast, Central and South Florida, so your neck of the woods won’t be left un-explored!

Northwest:  Enjoy a serene hike through a swampland on higher ground where one doesn’t need to worry about getting their boots wet and soggy.  Apalachicola National Forest is just a short drive from the capitol in Tallahassee and entrance into this park is free!  The 1.2 mile loop is known as the Camel Lake Loop despite the “Camel Lake” being more a pond.

Sweetwater Preserve

Courtesy of Floridahikes.com

Northeast:  Grab your furry friend and hit the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail in Sweetwater Preserve because this hiking adventure permits dogs!  Just on the northern edge of Payne’s Prairie, a location of historic cattle drives across Florida, this trail is 2 miles long and is also great for novice to intermediate mountain bikers.  Check out this trail map for more info!

The Senator

Courtesy of jonathanturley.org

Central: If you ever find yourself in Seminole County packing a pair of hiking boots, be sure to stop by Big Tree Park.  The area is iconic to a 129 foot cypress tree dubbed fondly as, “The Senator,” which is among one of the oldest in the U.S.  Unfortunately, the natural giant was cut short during a 1925 hurricane but the park has been reopened and another tree planted in memory of this beautiful giant’s stature.  Although this trail is short at .3 miles, it is an emerald example of Central Florida’s natural beauty.

key biscayne

Courtesy of tripadvisor.com

South:  If you are ever down in Key Biscayne with a passion for salty sea air and a brisk hike with a lighthouse view, check out Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.  The 1.5 mile hiking trail offers a unique view of the funky, above-water shack of Stiltsville.  On the way to the Cape Florida Lighthouse and the marina, several nature areas bisect the trail.

As you enjoy hot apple pies with melting vanilla ice cream, football rivalries, warm hues of orange and gold, remember a great way to stay active during this beautiful season is to enjoy some swamp-side, beachside and naturally Florida trails.