Southern Florida Wildlife

We made it through the Okeechobee waterway and out into the Gulf of Mexico. We continue to see cormorants, pelicans, and blue herons every day. We've seen osprey and vultures all along the way but they're much more numerous down here. Iguanas and gators are new for us though! That second picture down on the far right has a gator in it if you look closely. 

The waterway felt a lot like ICW we've spent months motoring down from Virginia to Georgia, except with a lot more bugs! Our new friends include a pest I haven't dealt much after living most of my life in dry western climates - cockroaches. They're small and less indestructible compared to the ones I encountered when living in Japan, but they're still very unwelcome. We've got the boat stocked with various traps and I stay armed at all times with a wad of toilet paper to kill any of the ones I see! 

We're really looking forward to a few days off around Christmas to visit my grandparents near Sarasota. Then right after we have a whole group of friends flying in for new years on the beach! Having visitors on the boat is by far the most fun part about sailing so far, so we are super excited to host a big group. We plan to use the boat as a ferry to take everyone out to a beach camp site in the Ten Thousand Islands, near Everglades National Park. 

Interactive Map!

I'm very excited to share with you all a preview of the interactive map I’ve been working on! By working what I really mean is obsessing and fretting over for months and months while Zion takes care of the sailing and tries to get me to take days off. Normally our roles are reversed in that regard! The map is a bit clunky at this point but I think it has great potential to accomplish our goal of creating a visually engaging and informative resource.
 
 A few quirks you’ll notice about the map:

  1. The map loads pretty slowly. If you click on it right away you might get some funny results so give it a few extra seconds.
  2. Only the top row is filled in with content and only some of the tags are linked. As I add more images the file gets bigger and loads more slowly, so I’ve added the minimum amount to show what it can do without making the file too large.
  3. For being an interactive map it’s not all that interactive. This is also connected to my struggles with file size because animation and other interactive extras take up space.

Despite the map's limitations, I think it shows our how the cool the map could be with just a little more work. I’m proud of how far we’ve come but I also recognize there comes a time to ask for help!
 
I need a web developer to help me take this interactive map to the next level.I think in just 5 to 10 hours of time with the right person, we could make a resource that loads on any platform (Flash doesn’t work on iPhones or iPads), can quickly display the hundreds of images and resources we’ve gathered, and can feature more interactive content like animation.
 
If you know a developer who is familiar with using Flash in conjunction withCreateJS libraries/HTML5 please put them in touch with me!

Here's a link to the map, enjoy!


 

Near Vero Beach, Florida

Our cruise down Florida's each coast has been beautiful so far. I love seeing more dolphins, pelicans, and osprey than ever, but am less excited about the emergence of "nosee'ems" aka midges, or a horrible little biting insect that my has spared us until now. We were both kept awake by their bites last night. We had planned to dingy to the state park near by and go for a run, but the prospect of moving closer into the nosee'em stronghold made us think twice. Instead we got on our way and let the breeze blow the bug back where they came from! 

Sunset Sailing in St. Augustine

We caught a beautiful sunset last night as we were passing St. Augustine, FL. We made it to the anchorage just as the stars were coming out. 

North Florida

We're finally in Florida! We haven't counted up our miles recently, but we're somewhere beyond 2,000 miles from where we started in Wisconsin. Not too bad for four months at 5mph! 

Zion and I have both been working our buns off to get some big projects submitted. When a stormy forecast made heading south a daunting proposition last Friday, we decided to stay put at anchor outside of St. Augustine for four days. We both put in 12 hour days on the computer all weekend, including on our six month wedding anniversary (12/6). We pledged to celebrate a little better at the year mark!

Teaching Climate Odyssey at CC

We have an exciting announcement today! Zion and I have been asked to teach a course at our alma mater, Colorado College, next summer. The course is called The Institute for Visual Environmental Communication: Merging Art, GIS and Climate Science in the Rocky Mountains. We'll be teaching theory and best practices for communication of environmental issues through visual media. The course is open to college students outside of CC as well, so if you know of a student with an appetite for art, science, and adventure, be sure to share the course with them! 

Here's all of the course information. We'll be taking two week-long field trips, starting with one to the Rocky Mountain Land Library in South Park, CO. The Land Library, a collection of more than 30,000 books pertaining to the conservation and appreciation of Western lands, will be a perfect setting to discuss the history of environmental art while learning about climate change impacts in the Rocky Mountains. Later in the course we'll travel to Mesa Verde National Park to explore the profound impacts that changes in climate have had on ancient cultures.



Cumberland Island, Georgia

After a quiet Thanksgiving on a Georgia marsh, we headed south for Cumberland Island. The island is gorgeous and we definitely plan to return. We saw wild ponies, armadillos, and dung beetles, oh my!

For a realist's perspective on the history of the horses' presence, check out this interesting blog post I found. It turns out they are responsible for quite a bit of erosion themselves. 

South Carolina Easy Living

Here are a few pictures from the second half of our little life swap vacation with our good friends Michael and Wheeler. After an excellent few days on their North Carolina maple syrup farm, we all drove the 5 hours back to the Wildcat and enjoyed a few days of sailing and motoring through the marshy ICW. It was valuable to see our life on the boat through new eyes, particularly after a dreary few weeks of motoring through swamp country. We topped it all off with some killer shrimp and our first fresh oysters in Charleston. Next up, Georgia!