Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tampa Escapades List Description

So, as most of you know, I've been away from Florida for the past year...and let's just say I'm antsy. It's been really great being up in MD with Mom and seeing the family a lot and everyone's support has been amazing! (Mom is doing well, if you haven't heard!) BUT...the time has come for me to get back to all the debauchery that most people in their 20s partake in daily.

Looking back on the 2 years that I spent in Tampa (2006 and 2007) I realized that my weekly routine gets a bit, well...routine! I work consistently during the week, play on the weekends, wake up Monday morning and start it all over again. It's not that I didn't have fun, probably too much fun, but in retrospect, I still haven't done all the things I want to do in Tampa. Can you believe that I lived there for 2 years and I've never been to Miami, Key West or the Panhandle? I've gotten involved lightly in some volunteering activities and local groups, but heading up an initiative I'm passionate about is what I'm really striving for. There should be an efficient way to combine my social life with building myself into the person I want to be. This has been a lot to think about. So, I had to get organized.

I've created a working list of about 100 things I want to do when I get back to Tampa. These are things in all aspects of life. And most of them are pretty fun! I'd love to have my friends (you all) involved with whatever strikes your fancy. Who wants to start on my list of Tampa Escapades?

If you think you want to help me accomplish some of my goals or just come along for the ride, then please leave a comment and let me know!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Port Canaveral Field Day

I recently had the opportunity to go down to Port Canaveral for some field work and boy was it fun to be out of the cubicle!! I felt like a fugitive who had just escaped a horrible prison, as if I had to keep looking over my shoulder to make sure my bosses weren't running after me with unfinished reports and expenses.

The pictures from the day turned out ok, but don't really capture the full feeling of it. It was overcast, but in my mind, any day in the field is just beautiful.

Part of the project was to field verify some seagrass mapping. This is a thick area of Shoal Grass (Halodule wrightii). Also present in significant amounts but in slightly deeper areas was Star Grass (Halophila engelmannii). Here's a great website for seagrass ID.

This area, known as the Banana River, has lots of bird rookeries and we saw everything from pelicans, osprey, terns, and more.These pelicans felt the need to guard the property. They just wanted us to know we were on their turf, fair enough.

And this dolphin has obviously been fed by fisherman over the years. He actually came up alongside the boat and begged for food by doing tricks and then look up at us!

We were threatened by thunderstorms all afternoon, but never saw any lightning, so we just kept plugging along with work and got a good long day of field work in.

Fawn Grove Old Tyme Days

How do you know summer is halfway over? The way I gauge it is by the Fawn Grove Old Tyme Days festival. There's a tiny little town just over the border in PA called Fawn Grove where every year, just after the 4th of July, they have a country festival that celebrates farming, agriculture and the community bonds of the old days. The big attraction is the tractor pull which draws a large crowd and many a proud farmer trying to demonstrate his or her agricultural prowess! When I was a bit younger I used to be in the parade that accompanies the event, but now I just attend and it's still awesome...

The tractors you see there come in all forms, makes, models, and rust level.
This is Dan Vaughan, a friend, neighbor, and infamous farmer of the area.

Notice the little sign in the corner?
The event is attended by all people, young and old. This guy has a new high powered version of the "senior wheelchair"!

And when they say "Old Days" they don't mean to imply that women can't partake in the manly events too! The girls were rocking this event.

Fish Sampling in the Bush River

So I realize I've been slacking quite a bit with the blog lately, but things have been picking up at home and work is going insane, so bare with me!

Anyway, a really great thing I've been getting into lately is this fish sampling survey with the Otter Point Creek Estuary Center. They are a really fantastic group of people that are dedicated to making the Chesapeake Bay watershed a cleaner environment for humans and the inhabitants of the bay. They have a ton of really awesome volunteer opportunities all the time, and I don't mean just your typical trail maintenance type volunteering opportunities. One that I'm involved in right now is the fish sampling survey in the Bush River that is specifically targeting variations in Yellow Perch spawning habits in the tributaries of the Bush River. What exactly does that mean? It means that I get to go along with this group of really dedicated and fun loving people every two weeks to do a fish survey. How do we do it? Well...we hope on a couple boats, do some seines and trolling and catch some pretty cool stuff like:

White Sucker
Here's a picture of my big brother, Erik, doing some of the seine netting. The net gets pretty heavy and this was a deep sight, so he was up to shoulder height dragging this net!

If you live in the area this is a great way to get involved, play in the water, learn about some fish right in our own bay, and have a whole lot of fun!