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 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.

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.

Shipwrecked? Have a worry-free underwater exploration.

Breaconshire shipwreck

One of the advantages of living in a state that sticks out from the main land mass that is the United States is the number of ships that run their courses into it.  And I mean literally!

Because of the limestone under-layer that Florida sits upon, many ships have met an untimely end.  This is most unfortunate for them but, years later, I find myself thinking how bored I would be as a water adventurer had they not met such misfortune.

Exploring shipwrecks is an activity that every sunshine-loving Florida girl should get to experience at one point for another. Continue reading