NOTES FROM THE ROAD


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Fun at Big Creek Rocks…


Back on the rocks…


31 December 2016: Finishing off the year out on the trail in Uwharrie, NC, with the crew from Big Creek Rocks for a fun run with a diverse group of rigs. Nice to be out on a challenging course with some interesting rock obstacles on a cold but beautiful day for a final stop on the holiday road trip, before the marathon drive back north…



Exploring in the Ocala National Forest…


Scouting some forest trails…


26 December 2016: Mapped out some routes around the Hopkins Prairie area of the Ocala National Forest to work on navigation in unfamiliar terrain. The driving is easy and the landscapes vary alternating between heavily wooded sections and more open areas of “scrub.” Fun to discover some interesting sections of trail beyond the popular OHV areas…



Christmastime in Ocala…


Arriving in Ocala for the holidays…


21 December 2016: Spending a few days in the town of Ocala, FL, before heading into the woods and decided to check out the downtown area that is all decked out for Christmas. Loving the holiday lights on the palm trees and the warm weather. A nice place to pause and enjoy the festive ambiance…



Checking out Okefenokee Swamp…


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Exploring a unique ecosystem…


18 December 2016: Took some time out today to explore the amazing ecosystem of the Okefenokee Swamp. This National Wildlife Reserve in southern Georgia covers 353,981 acres of wilderness, much of which can only be explored by water. There is a small driving loop which leads to some foot trails that also offer interesting perspectives on the varied landscapes of the swamp environment. A quick afternoon visit provides encouragement to return for a much longer and intensive exploration of the area in the future. Cool wildlife encounters here…



On the beach at Chincoteague NWR …


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Driving the island’s OSV area…


17 December 2016: Heading south, but made a short detour to the coastal barrier islands along Maryland and Virginia to explore some beautiful wilderness areas on a small series of “barrier islands”. At Chincoteague NWR there is an Overland Sand Vehicle (OSV) area, where we are permitted to drive down the strip of beach that at some points is so narrow you can see the water on both sides as you drive — it’s like almost being out on a sandbar in the middle of the sea. It was a wintery day with threatening skies, wind and rain from the tail end of a winter storm further north. High tide had just peaked and so was clear to drive the length of the island to an old abandoned Coast Guard station at the start of what they call “the Hook”. The harsh weather made the simple drive seem adventurous, though in fact the moisture kept the sand relatively firm. Just getting to the island was a pretty cool drive across a series of islands and marshes via bridges or causeways that are so low, you feel as if you are actually driving on the water…



Hitting the Road for the Holidays …


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Leaving New York for a roadtrip…


16 December 2016: It’s holiday roadtrip time. Left Long Island to begin the journey in the evening, when there is a better chance of avoiding traffic snarls getting to the “mainland.” The drive was generally smooth, and even the dreaded backup before the bridges was not too bad. With decent weather and a clear night made it all the way to the Delaware/Maryland border before midnight…



First snow on LI this winter …


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Its getting winter-y here…


15 December 2016: The first snow of the winter fell this morning while the Jeep was being serviced in preparation for the roadtrip departure tomorrow. It looked beautiful coming down and it seemed like a grey veil rendering everything almost black-and-white. The cold air was confirmation that it’s time to head south…



Familiar trails out east …


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Animal encounters on the trail…


5 December 2016: A cold crisp day on the east end of Long Island where some deer were out on the trail near the Fire Island National Seashore. Always fun to spend time on some favorite trails near home…


PREVIOUS NOTES FROM THE ROAD >


THIS MONTH:
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It’s roadtrip time. Heading south to Chincoteague Island, Okefenokee Swamp, Ocala National Forest and Big Creek at Uwharrie in a quick loop through the southeast …


COMING UP SOON:
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Heading back to the southwest for some adventures along the border …


ABOUT OCALA NATIONAL FOREST

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The Ocala National Forest, located north of Orlando, is the southernmost forest in the continental United States and protects the world’s largest contiguous sand pine scrub forest. The Forest has more than 600 lakes, rivers, and springs. The sand pine scrub forest is a desert-like environment atop ancient sand dunes that stood well above the waves of primordial seas. Full of special places, the forest contains four major springs, hundreds of lakes and ponds, islands of longleaf pine, and sinuous waterways that breathe life into an otherwise arid environment. Proclaimed as the first National Forest east of the Mississippi in the continental United States in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, it encompasses millenia of cultural history, from prehistoric village sites up to pioneer settlements just prior to the creation of the forest. A significant number of structures remain from the 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps era and are still in use today. The forest has nearly 200 miles of ATV / motorcycle trails and another 81 miles of off-road trails for Jeeps and other 4WD vehicles…


ABOUT OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

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The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refugee conserves the unique qualities of the swamp, protecting and enhancing the wildlife and its habitat to ensure the integrity of the ecological system. The Refuge also sees part of its mission as embracing the grandeur, mystery, and cultural heritage of the area. Native Americans inhabited the swamp for centuries and coined the term “Okefenokee” which means “land that trembles when you walk on it.” The swamp is thought to be 6,000-8,000 years old. It is contained in a saucer-shaped depression that drains toward the south and southwest. Drainage from the swamp forms the headwaters for the St. Marys River and the Suwannee River. Habitats provide for threatened and endangered species, such as red-cockaded woodpecker, wood storks, indigo snakes, and a wide variety of other wildlife species. It is world renowned for its amphibian populations that are bio-indicators of global health. More than 600 plant species have been identified on refuge lands. The Swamp survived an attempt at draining in the late 1800’s and was logged extensively in the early 1900’s before becoming a refuge in 1937 by declaration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The refuge has 353,981 acres of National Wilderness Area within its boundaries and is a Wetland of International Importance (RAMSAR Convention – 1971) because it is one of the world’s largest intact freshwater ecosystems…


ABOUT CHINCOTEAGUE OSV

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Chincoteague Island is part of the Assateague Island National Seashore managed by the National Park Service. The Over-Sand Vehicle (OSV) zone contains miles of unspoiled beaches open to appropriately equipped motor vehicles by permit. These barrier islands are constantly changing as they are recreated each day by ocean wind and waves. The terrain includes sandy beaches, salt marshes, maritime forests and coastal bays connected via a series of small bridges and causeways. The Assateague Island NS stretches for 37 miles along the Atlantic coasts of Maryland and Virginia and is part of a vast chain of barrier islands extending from Maine to Texas. Barrier islands form when offshore sand deposits accumulate sufficiently to break the water surface or when sea level rise causes inland dunes to become separated from the mainland. These islands are highly dynamic constantly reshaped by storms and currents that transport sand south along the coast throughout the year. On a seasonal basis, harsh winter weather pulls sand from dunes and upper beaches, depositing it into offshore sand bars and reducing beach width. This process is reversed during milder summer weather, as gentler wave action acts to restore the shoreline. Assateague is also moving westward as a result of sea-level rise and the force of the surf through a process called “island rollover.” During severe storm events, sand is eroded from the ocean beaches and carried across the island by flood waters and re-deposited in marshes along the western shore, steadily narrowing the bay that separates the island from the mainland. These events can break through dunes, spilling sand in fanlike deposits or even carving inlets, such as the one that has separated Assateague and Ocean City since 1933. Long shore currents will eventually deposit sediments and close these gaps unless, like the Ocean City inlet, it is maintained with jetties and dredging…


THE BLUE HEART CAMPAIGN

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Team Engage supports the UN’s Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking and the Blue Heart Campaign as their platform to raise awareness about global human trafficking— an issue which disproportionately effects women. Human trafficking is modern day slavery and includes sex trafficking (forced prostitution and forced marriage), labor trafficking (domestic servitude, sweatshops and fraudulent bonded labor contracts), child soldiers and organ trafficking. According to the International Labor Organization, nearly 21 million people or 3 out of every 1,000 people worldwide are victims of human trafficking. The UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking was established in 2010 and provides direct humanitarian, legal and financial aid to human trafficking victims. They provide grants to small grassroot NGOs that directly assist victims with housing, food, legal aid, access to justice, psychosocial support, medical care and training. Click here to donate directly to the Fund…

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