Learning New Skills with the Ladies

Each year all over the USA there are Becoming an Outdoors Woman workshops. These workshops are wonderful for introducing new skills to adventurous women of all ages. This year I was helping teach a number of freshwater fishing classes.


Day one  started out very at a very chilly for Florida 24  degrees. After spending the night tent camping I was grateful to have my MK Stagecoach Jacket to wear to fend off the cooler temps. The hand warmer pockets were put to good use!


Class 1 was pan fishing. We talked about line, rods, reels most of the ladies were familiar -the big questions were how do I tie on my own hook and how do a take a fish off the hook.

This did not surprise me. So many of the ladies had gone fishing with the Dad or brothers growing up. The thing that troubled them was why did they never get taught to do these things! Tying knots is simple enough. and learning how to remove a hook from a fish, though a dirty job is something every fisherman should know. So fellas – teach your sisters, daughters and girlfriends everything – so they are well prepared to enjoy the sport of fishing even when you are not around.


We received the same responses from the Bass Fishing class participants as well. All the women from both classes had no trouble casting, most even know about the lures and bait. I must say it felt great leaving with 30+ more ladies heading out with all the skills they need to be able to go fishing on their own.

MK Stagecoach Jacket

By the end of the weekend many of the ladies were sporting their new MK Organic Tee’s (won as door prizes) and thanking all the wonderful volunteer instructors for taking the time to teach them new and useful skills.


Watch out fellas….these gals just may out fish you!

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Hiking in Winter… in Florida

Winter is not one of the “prettiest” months to hike in Florida – but the weather is perfect! If you know where to look there are small surprises everywhere!

Winter Mushroom

During a recent hike at Brooker Creek Headwaters Preserve we found a number of flowers in bloom. Toothpetal False Rein Orchids (Habenaria floribunda) were popping up everywhere under the pines. We was dozens of them!

Toothpetal False Rein Orchids (Habenaria floribunda)

Pink Sundew (Drosera capillaris) were starting emerge from the damp earth and the abundance of them is much greater than in years past. Another month or two the ground should be covered with them!

Pink Sundew (Drosera capillaris)

The biggest surprise for me was seeing how the Hooded Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia minor) are spreading – they are all out in the middle of the trail/road now when once they were hidden and very limited in numbers. I am hoping they do not take them out when they mow the property! Hooded pitcher plant is listed as a Threatened Plant in the Preservation of Native Flora of Florida Act. This is defined as species of plants native to the state that are in rapid decline in the number of plants within the state, but which have not so decreased in such number as to cause them to be endangered.

Hooded Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia minor)

We were also pleased to see many Orange Milkwort (Polygala lutea) coming up along the wetlands portion of the trail.

Orange Milkwort (Polygala lutea)

As the Pine Lilies from Late Oct. faded away along the scrub, we searched for another beauty and found plenty of Sabatia (Sabatia brevifolia)

Sabatia (Sabatia brevifolia)

“This property includes a mosaic of forested swamps, floodplains and low-lying uplands. The uplands include pine flatwoods, xeric oak hammocks, and mixed hardwood and pine prairies. Since 1993, Hillsborough County staff has performed a number of resource inventories that identified an abundance of wildlife and vegetation, some of which are considered threatened or endangered. For this reason, recreational activities on the property are limited to walking and hiking.”

When hiking these trails please remember that many of the trails that are noted as “seasonally wet” are oftentimes under water. There are not restrooms or water so come prepared! It is very important to practice the principles Leave No Trace when hiking this very special place.

Dogs are permitted ON LEASH ONLY! You must clean up after your pet for everyone’s enjoyment.

To learn more about the fabulous selection of endangered and native plants visit http://naturecoast.fnpschapters.org/

For a guided hike please contact Jeanene at Not a Clue Adventures http://www.notaclueadventures.com/

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First Day Hikes offered by Florida State Parks

Start Your New Year With a First Day Hike

Kids having fun outside

Kids having fun outside

~Visit a Florida State Park on New Year’s Day and take part in a hiking extravaganza.~   

On Thursday, January 1, state park visitors around the nation will take part in an initiative to start their year off by getting healthy and outdoors. As part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes, many of Florida’s state parks are offering hiking opportunities on New Year’s Day. The hikes provide an opportunity for family and friends to get outside and start their new year in a healthy way. The hikes will be guided by park staff and volunteers, who will also provide educational information along the routes.

Hiking is a great way to get active and Florida’s state parks provide many hiking trails that are available throughout the year for all levels of expertise. The Florida Park Service would like to remind all those participating in the First Day Hike of 2015 to arrive dressed appropriately with sturdy shoes or boots and to bring water, healthy snacks, a hat, sunglasses and any other items you may want for your hike.

There are more than 30 hiking events taking place throughout Florida. See a full list below:






Other Important News

Mobile App for Smartphones Plan your state park adventures using the new Pocket Ranger® app for your smartphone.The FREE Florida State Parks Pocket Ranger® mobile app is available now on iTunes, Android Market and PocketRanger.com.

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2014 in review


Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 57 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Teaching In the Rain – No problem

I came across this article recently and after having to cancel a rather large event this past weekend due to rain thought that now would be a good time to share. This article is written by Ray Cramer is an experienced outdoor educator at IslandWood, a 225-acre outdoor leaning center in Bainbridge, WA Where they see their fair share of rain! So, for all of my friends in Florida (where we also get a fair amount of rain) I hope that you learn some useful tips on teaching in the rain.

Teaching in the rain

Teaching In the Rain? No problem!

I teach outdoors on an island near Seattle, so I decided to recount a few things I have learned about teaching out in the rain over the years. Much like sitting outside in a circle, minding the details makes all the difference, so here are ten I keep in mind.

Zip-lock baggies

Writing in the rain is challenging, but usually worth the effort. One great technique is to put the journal or paper into a gallon zip closure bag. When the time comes to write, the writer turns the bag upside down and then unzips it while keeping the paper inside. They hold the paper in place through the bag with one hand and snake the other hand in to write, looking through the bag and being sure to keep the opening at the bottom. Short pencils work best with this approach (think golf pencils).



Let’s start with the obvious—you should have waterproof raingear. For some, this means a Patagonia jacket, but I know a lot of outdoor educators, myself included, who have a $30 plastic jacket because you never have to worry about the seams. For everyone else, don’t let anyone kid you that their coat is waterproof when you can tell it isn’t. The bottom line is to make sure you have a truly waterproof rain jacket and pants for everyone.


If it is not currently raining, help folks stay dry when they sit on something wet by having them fold their rain jacket or pants into a pad. Make sure they put the outside of the garment on the wet object, keeping the inside dry for wearing later. If they just have a rain jacket and are wearing it, they can usually pull it down as far as possible over their gluteus maximus and then sit on it. Of course, they could also just put those rain pants on.


Remind yourself that it is just rain. Relax your shoulders and turn your face into it. Enjoy a natural phenomenon and be in harmony with it. You will get no wetter. (Credit for this idea to Tom Robbins in Still Life With A Woodpecker)

Teach about the rain

Let the lessons come to you when it is raining. Animal tracking, watershed studies, erosion, water cycle, deposition, and amphibians all become even more authentic topics in the rain. Branching out from the natural world, building shelters, dams and boats can make science and engineering come to life as well. Even the act of gearing up could become a lesson on surface area, heat loss and physiology. Turn your lesson to the rain as well as your face!

Batten down

Recognize right away when it starts raining and stop for a moment to allow everyone to pull up their hood and zip their zipper. Don’t wait to see if it will get worse–it just did! You are either getting your base layers wet or you are not, so choose not. Many folks think their raingear leaks when it really is just operator error!

Use the drip line

Trees stay dry underneath to varying degrees. Know the species in your area and head to the best ones for an instant shelter. Even if you don’t know the trees where you are, one good indicator is dry ground or a dry trunk on one side. My favorite is currently Western red cedar, what is yours?

Heads lose 45% of your heat…

…so claimed a U.S. Army field manual from the 50’s, and the lore took off from there. While more recent studies put this at actually 7 to 10 percent (close to the head’s 9% of total body surface area), it is worthwhile to note that the head is usually the least clothed part of the body. Comfort equals focus, so get a warm hat on and perhaps some gloves too.


Make sure the backpack contents stay dry by lining them with a trash bag, splurging for a $5 pack cover, or simplest of all, putting the backpack on first and then the rain jacket over it and the person. Also be vigilant for an “inside job,” where the water bottle leaks onto everything. Prevent this by testing it–inverting the bottle and squeezing before considering putting it inside the pack. Planning ahead for your backpack as well as your body doubles your dryness.


They are lightweight and cheaper all the time, so bring one along on the rainy days and take a few moments to be out of the precipitation at lunch or for a longer lesson. As a bonus, you have something to play games with, a hypothermia wrap, and a picnic blanket when the rain stops. What other tips do you have for teaching in the rain?

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Camping With a Large Group

As an outdoor educator, please allow me to share some general guidelines for camping with a large group of approximately 30-40 of your closest friends /associates. I’ve done this many, many times and have the scars to prove it. Group Camping
Unfortunately, you/I cannot take a large group anywhere with any kind of spontaneity. Especially when your chosen destination is in close proximity to a major metropolitan area. So you need to realize these genius ideas sooner!

Having said that, your choice of venue is important. If you like it, chances are everyone else will like it as well. Whatever you do, always try to visit an area first. There is also a large disparity of experience in groups so it’s important to plan ahead for the “newbies”. One can only do that with an in-person visit.

Speaking of the “newbies”, they are the big determining factor in your outing’s success. If they have a good time, so will everyone else. People get turned on to people getting turned on in the woods. So your inclination toward more developed facilities is well founded. Nobody ever learned to fly by pushing them off a cliff. So let’s take it one step at a time with them. In the long run, if your less experienced attendees are comfortable and confident, they will want more. They will also regard you as the man who provided that comfort and confidence so it will be much easier the next time around.

Okay, you planned ahead (in Fl peak camping season is late Oct to early May), chose the perfect venue (state parks can fill up  – up to a year in advance for in season and holidays), and everyone’s ready to go. How do we foster those feelings in our whole group? Let’s address comfort first. I’ll get right to the point. The bathroom facilities have to be CLEAN. If the venue is unable / unwilling to help with that, someone in your “advance party” has to do it. Otherwise you will be doing it yourself. Unfortunately this has to be done if you want to see these “newbies” again.

Obviously, good food is another aspect and I won’t waste your time with it. Information is a great comfort as well. Like, “how cold will it be?” is always a popular subject. Studying the weather reports for the altitudes you expect will be important.
Many do not need much for comfort but the top three items to consider are:

  1. great food
  2. comfortable sleeping temperatures
  3. A clean place to relieve oneself.

    Now for the confidence….Confidence comes from involvement. No one expects you or anyone else to entertain the “newbies”. They must be involved in setting up, taking down, cooking, recreational choices, etc.

    Also, you will want to schedule activities that inspire confidence. For instance, I know many people fear getting lost. I also know many women not only fear getting lost, but they may not be interested in looking at a compass or map either. Other concerns are bugs, snakes, bears – having someone along that can help instruct on the basic behaviors of the native wildlife is a plus!

    Take a poll of your more experienced people and see what they’d be willing to teach. First aid? Outdoor primitive cooking? Make it informal. If you can teach someone how to get along in the woods, they’ll feel much more confident. They’ll love the woods like you do too.

    A little advance planning (create a pre-trip organizational checklist. Create individual checklists for your group too) and remembering comfort and confidence will create lots of good will. Just avoid activities that are obviously team-builder-y. People are getting wise. Create camaraderie instead. It builds stronger teams.

Not a Clue Adventures provides all the gear, instruction, meals and activities for groups from 2 – 50. We are Central Florida’s First Choice for Concierge Camping Services and Guided Backpacking. Let us do all the work or teach you to do it on your own. We provide all the equipment, meals and guided activities to make your outdoor experience a positive one! We also offer guided birding, kayaking, hunting trips and Eco-Tours.

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Dialogue Between A Boy And The Brain Coral

This is a wonderful story of a beach visit by father and son. Touching commentary by the father clearly states why we must preserve and protect our natural places.

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Brown Bagging It

Whether you are going back to school or heading out with the kids for a hike a bag lunchBrown Bagging It may come in handy. Below you will find 20 unique upgrades to the brown bag lunches of the past! Do you have one you would like to share? We would love to hear from you!

1. Pasta Salad Bag

cooked pasta
small chunks of cheese
quartered pepperoni slices/turkey
ziploc bag
diced red and green peppers, shredded carrots
salad dressing pack
plastic fork

2. Mediterranean Pita Pocket
fill a pita pocket with falafel balls ( Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both.) or hummus (store bought comes in many flavors).
fresh spinach leaves
Cucumber slices

3. Fruit & Cheese Bag
Fill divided container with assorted cubes/slices of cheese
easy to eat fruit slices (apples, pears, grapes, berries, etc)
whole wheat crackers

4. Peanut Butter Fun Bag (you can use sunflower butter or almond butter as well if there are allergy issues to avoid.)
Spoon 2 tbs of nut butter into a snack sized bag/or reuseable container
whole wheat crackers or pita pocket
Raw vegies such as celery, zucchini or jicama sticks (Jicama, also known as yam bean, is a very low calorie root vegetable)
Popsicle stick or plastic knife to spread butter

5. Everything is Better on a Bagel Bag
1 regular or 2 mini bagels
tuna or lean lunch meat
onion/tomato/pickle slices
romaine/spinach/ lettuce or sprouts
mustard packet

6. Rabbit Bag (salad)
Fill plastic container with items for a:
Cobb salad
spinach or chopped dark green lettuce
chopped or sliced boiled egg
light cheese, and or lean ham or turkey
Chinese chicken salad
dark salad greens
shredded chicken
shredded carrots
sliced green onion
toasted sliced almonds

7. It’s a Wrap Bag
Wraps are a nice change of pace from the usual sandwich.
multigrain flour tortilla.
Spread on mustard, hummus, light salad dressing, or green or sundried tomato pesto.
Fill with:
chicken Caesar salad
assorted lean meats and/or cheese
tomato, sliced onion, and shredded Romaine lettuce
Just roll it up and wrap in foil.
Kids can eat it like a burrito — by unwrapping it on one end and working their way down.

8. Fun Fried Rice Bag
When made with eggs, tofu or chopped lean meat, and lots of veggies, cold fried rice can be a satisfying noontime treat. Make your own using brown rice. Or set some aside for the next day when you get take-out Chinese food for dinner.

9. Muffin Mania Bag
Muffins can add flavor and flair to a bag lunch. If you bake them ahead and keep them in the freezer, you just have to pull out one or two in the morning. By lunch, they’ll be soft and ready to eat.
There are a few tricks to improving the health value of muffin recipes. Substitute in whole-wheat flour for at least half of the flour in recipes that call for white flour. Incorporate other whole grains when possible. Add in summer fruits such as berries or peaches or vegetables like corn or grated zucchini, when appropriate. You can also cut back on the sugar called for in a recipe when you add in fruit. Switch in smart fats (such as canola or olive oil), when possible, and reduced saturated fat options (such as reduced fat cheese).
fruit slices

10. Tasty Spanakopita Triangles
These spinach-filled filo puffs are vegetarian finger food that’s fun to eat. Some stores carry frozen spanakopita that can be baked in the morning or the night before and packed in bag lunch.
fruit cup (spoon) or slices

11. Going Natural Bag
Squeeze pack of apple/fruit sauce or make you own by spooning into a ziploc bag (trim corner when ready to eat and squeeze out)
Nuts (almonds, pistachios, sunflower, peanuts, walnuts)
Cheese sticks
Dried fruit/granola/ healthy snack bar

12. Pizza in a Pita Bag
Pita pocket
shredded cheese
pepperoni or ham slices
sliced toppings (green pepper, mushrooms, pineapple
Small amount of spaghetti sauce or marineria sauce (container or ziploc snack bag)

13. BBQ Chicken Lunch for 2
Foil pack of cooked chicken (can be found in tuna aisle)
Pita or lettuce leaves
BBQ Sauce
plastic knife or fork
Fruit slices/pickle wedges
14. Ham and Cheese Me Bag
ham slices
cheeses slices
lettuce leaves
take 1 slice each with lettuce being 1st layer and roll-up
optional – pickle wedge (tasty addition to be rolled up in center)

15. Egg me on Bag
2 hard boiled eggs
couple slices or cubes of cheese lean lunch meat
Whole wheat crackers

16. Taco Treat Bag
1 bag Fritos
1-2 packets taco sauce (Taco Bell always hands out too many to use with your meal)
shredded lettuce, diced onions, diced tomatoes ( you can get already prepared in most grocery store produce departments)
shredded cheese
plastic fork

17. BLT Wrap Bag
couple slices pre-cooked turkey bacon
thinly sliced or diced tomato
lettuce leafs
wrap bacon and tomato in lettuce as roll up
Optional serve in pita or with whole wheat crackers or bagel

18. Veggie Delight Bag
bean sprouts
sliced avocado
diced or sliced tomato, onions, salsa
Pita, lettuce leaves or tortillas
19. Chickpea Delight Bag
diced tomatoes
cubed cheeses of choice
arugula, spinach or chopped romaine
Greek dressing packet
whole wheat crackers

20. Elvis Bag
2 tbs nut butter (peanut, almond, sunflower) in container or snack bag
banana slices
whole wheat pita pocket/bagel or bread of choice
plastic knife

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A Life Without Restrictions; A Life Without Fear!

You must step outside of your comfort zone and experience adventure for yourself. No one else can do this for you! I hope you have an adventure you can share with others! #NOREGRETS

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Eating Well on the Trail

Preparing Backpacking Meals

Backpacking meals

Steak bites, green beans, tomatoes and mashed potatoes made a great meal on the trail!

Don’t be lazy! Pre-packaged meals hold little to no nutritional value, you’re not doing yourself any favors by been cheap with your time; they do not fill you up very much either. Also, the meal aspect of a trip can take a crappy trip and make it exceptional… cooking on the trail is one of my favorite topics and things to do!

If hiking regularly you can prepare double portions of certain meals, dehydrate them, package them and keep in the freezer until it was needed. However, there are still great meals you can plan that don’t require huge preparation:

Pasta, just add some roasted red pepper spice with some sun-dried tomatoes – easy and tasty (I usually add some onion and bell peppers).

Vegetarian Chili – 1 cup red lentils, cumin, garlic, onion, chili powder and oregano, beef bullion, plus 6-12 sun dried tomatoes. Add 3 cups water on the trail, simmer for 10-15 minutes. (yummy even if you are a meat eater!).

Shepherds Pie (oh yeah!). Pre cook ground beef then dehydrate. rehydrate with enough water to cover the dried beef and bring to a boil and sit… I usually add a package of gravy with extra water. next make some instant mashed potatoes, i also add some vegetables of some sort (few fresh carrots diced and blanched or rehydrate a vegetable mix.). Next portion out the meat mixture, next the veg and top with instant mash potatoes. Top with cheese (optional) and enjoy.

Breakfast: Hard cheeses pack well with melba toast. Also try some Bulgar wheat, soak in water bottle over night with onion/garlic powder, cumin, and oregano (maybe some chili powder), salt/pepper, saute in a pan and add sharp cheddar cheese – saute until cheese is melted and blended.

For desserts, make instant chocolate pudding (use powdered milk) in a zip-lock bag, crumble oreo cookies in the pudding and eat from the bag.

Looking for a real treat, bring good chocolate with a tester bottle of triple sec/amaretto place in a small pan, place the small pan in a larger pan with water, bring to a boil and when the chocolate melts you have chocolate fondue. (what you’ve made is a double boiler). Bring biscuits or apples to dunk.

Be inventive on the trail, it really impresses the people you are hiking with and if you are in a place with other parties at a campsite, you make them jealous and they view you as a back-country culinary expert!

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