Life’s A Beach! And Then You Go Back to Work…

Life’s A Beach! And Then You Go Back to Work…

I ended up scheduled to work Saturday and Sunday again this weekend and it’s not the end of the world. I like the work I do and our management and crew are exceptional people to work with, so I’m not going to whine about working through the whole weekend.

It’s just that there was no way I was going to do anything on Friday except go to the beach. I did. I had a great outing.

I spend quite a bit of time at Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach and arrived Friday morning just after 10:00. If I had gotten there much later, I would have ended up using some other site for that day’s beach excursion; a paid site, that is. But I did get in before the “cursing and orbiting” got underway; Bulldog was a lucky pup this last time out!

I usually unload my gear and head straight for the ramp but lingered a while this time to ponder whether this would be the trip where I’d explore the Hammock nature trail at L.W.P. It took me a while to decide that it was and so I threw my beach umbrella back in to the cruiser and headed for the ramp for the nature trail with only my trusty Canon in my hand.

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The trail, I discovered, is not that long; it comes in right at 1/4 mile total. I took my time exploring its length and did slip into the trance with which all photographers are very familiar. It was a good session. Here’s a shot I liked especially, love to play with light and shadow in settings like this:

 

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Truth be told, I only stopped because I realized that I left that beachy straw hat I love so well in the car and that’s not a good thing for this dog. So I cut it short with about 200 shots, went back to the car pour mon chapeau and other essential beach gear and headed for the ramp.

I opted to stay beach side for about four hours, which is a bit more time than usual for me. Before long I was joined by about thirteen jillion of my closest friends and though I thought about leaving many times before I did, I focused on my little slice of sandy, salt-saturated real estate, took a few pix and chose not to dwell on the fact that this trip did not include that illusion I treasure that this time, I’ve got the beach all to myself!

Here’s a shot of my new gullfriend, who in this frame does seem to have Mother Nature’s gifts all to herself; but there were gulls-a-plenty at Cocoa Beach on that lovely Friday afternoon, so neither one of us had the pleasure of pretending that we alone held the key to that tiny corner of Poseidon’s kingdom!

 

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It was a little shy of 4:30 when I headed back to the park, stowed my gear and headed off in search of food. Once my hunger had been staunched, I set out for my fave Starbucks in Cocoa Beach to start working the photos. I knew I had more than enough for a blog post or two and got pulled so deeply into the editing job that I completely missed another activity in Brevard that I had tentatively planned to take in; a quick look at my cell phone’s calendar feature revealed my latest in a never-ending series of failures to review calendar entries until the events have come and gone!

It was a bit frustrating, but because the day had been very well-spent, I was not going to spoil it with thoughts about how it might have been even better. I’ve done that so many times, but passed on the latest opp to sabotage my happiness. And on Saturday morning, as I headed for work, the memory of another happy outing on one of Florida’s amazing beaches was not diminished at all by the awareness that I’d soon be logging on to the system at work and jumping into another busy shift. I’ll create another opportunity to scratch that constant outdoor itch that has plagued me for my six decades on this planet.

And when I do, I’ll take some photos. I’ll have an update or two on social media, and a blog post here for sure. And I’ll no doubt have to show up at work for another shift or two to support my outdoor habit. And then the whole cycle will launch again. C’est la vie!

 

“Beachdog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Pelican Flats Gives Way to Another Dunkin’ Donuts in Cocoa Beach

Pelican Flats Gives Way to Another Dunkin’ Donuts in Cocoa Beach

Pelican Flats ~ formerly found at 695 North Atlantic Ave ~ Cocoa Beach, Florida 32931

I’ve actually been putting off telling the sad story of the closing of Pelican Flats, a now-defunct Cocoa Beach eatery I liked a lot. But now that another Dunkin’ Donuts is about to open in that same spot, it’s time to stop the foot dragging. Here goes…

As some of you may know, I have very long roots in Orlando but have been making Cocoa Beach my “home away from home” for about six or seven years now. I know the town very well.

As a long-time server and foodie, I’m eating in places all up and down the Sunshine State on a regular basis and love to tell my readers all about some of our noteworthy Florida dining establishments.

Smallish, independent joints are my specialty; I had noticed two that fit the bill in Cocoa Beach located fairly close together on that stretch of A1A just before it splits and you’re headed closer to Minute Man Causeway and the downtown area. (If you’re southbound from the 520 intersection, for example.) Those two places would be Barrier Jack’s and Pelican Flats.

I checked out Barrier Jack’s first. I’ve sampled the wares there twice now and it’s on my A list. I will be posting a write up about BJ’s in the near future. Shortly after, I did stop in for breakfast at Pelican Flats and loved everything about the place.

When I find a new spot like the Flats, it generally follows a familiar pattern. I almost always get one of two fave orders. This is because they’re basic things that are hard for the house to screw up, and so it’s easier for me to compare the quality of the dishes at the new establishment vis-a-vis others where I’ve dined.

They had a skillet or two on the menu and I chose the basic one with the taters on the bottom of the pile, the sausage and cheese in the middle and the fried eggs on top. They called it “The Southern Mess” and it was good. Messy and good. The cook had my over easy eggs just right, none of those “crispy brown edges” that send me over the edge and back to a place like Keke’s where the crew doesn’t commit such culinary sins! Just remember folks: it’s not a crispy edge; it’s a burnt egg!

We were all good at P.F. that Sunday morning! No rejected skillets; no upset patrons!

And as for the service, it was also very good. It’s not always easy to give good, attentive service without crossing that line and becoming a pest, but my crew member did exactly that.

I do pay attention to the design or the look of a place. The concept at Flats was beachy and casual and I think it worked very well. I did not take any photos of the interior, but mon petit bateau perdu that welcomed hungry patrons just before they reached the entry proved to be very photogenic! I loved that little castaway boat and got some good shots of it after Pelican Flats did officially run aground!

By the way, I did return within a week or two of my first and only visit and although my new fave joint was locked tight, nothing inside had been disturbed and there was no sign or note to give customers a clue about what might have been going on. Or what might have not been going on, I suppose might be a better way to put it.  Surprisingly, that went on for at least a month. I don’t have a firm date as far as her closing, but it’s been quite a while.

The construction on the new D.D. on the site began a few months ago. For me it gave a bit of finality to Pelican Flat’s silent, sad and abrupt closing. My thought is that there are Dunkin’ Donuts everywhere, and Cocoa Beach has had one for many years. But diners with a cool and well-executed beach theme, good food and a fine staff are not that easy to find!

Alas, Pelican Flats! You are no more! But the memory of that delicious Southern Mess concoction and that really cool one-off, castaway boat will live in my heart for as long as diners love over-easy eggs and real hash browns! A very long time, indeed!

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“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Spent a Few Moments at Tom Statham Park in Titusville This Morning

Spent a Few Moments at Tom Statham Park in Titusville This Morning

I’m on a mission to visit and enjoy every one of our beautiful parks here in Florida. I know I’m only going to scratch the surface, but I saw one more this morning.

Tom Statham Park in Titusville is not a giant of a park, but it’s a lovely setting and a fine vantage point from which to see space launches.

The photo is from this morning’s visit. If you’re familiar with Manatee Hammock Park, a very well-known camping spot in Brevard County, Tom Statham is very close. Less than a mile, I’d say. Just a bit north of its better-known sister.

Do some outdoor stuff this week. You’ll be glad you did.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Teen camper wakes up… and discovers his head is inside bear’s mouth – The Washington Post

 

Your friend and self-appointed camp counselor Bulldog Ben reminds you to keep food away from your site and at least 15′ off the ground. Most importantly: never, never allow a bear to place his jaws around your head while sleeping! No, I mean it! Wow. This kid is okay. The details are below, just click on the blue link:

The bear dragged the teen 10 feet as other counselors and campers tried to fight the animal off.

Source: Teen camper wakes up and discovers his head is inside bear’s mouth – The Washington Post

The First Time I Jumped Was Three Years Ago Today

The First Time I Jumped Was Three Years Ago Today

If you’ve read much from my blog up to this point, you know I love a wide variety of outdoor activities. Skydiving is one of them.

It was three years ago today when I jumped for the first time. That first one was at Skydive Space Center in Titusville. I had a great time and will most likely be going back to that facility for my next jump. The featured photo you see here was about five minutes or so after we had all four feet on Terra Firma again.

I did two more tandem jumps from a skydiving fac in Lake Wales and have only been inactive in the hobby because of reasons relating to work, work schedules and budgets.

I just have to scratch that skydiving itch again, and soon! Because working on a very limited personal budget is just a part of my reality, it’s going to take some time. But I’m elevating jumping out of airplanes to near the top of my priority list and I’m going to do my dead-level best to jump again before the end of the summer. We’ll see if I can pull it off!

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

 

A Visit to the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum

A Visit to the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum

I wanted to do something different with the time I had over the 4th of July weekend this year. I opted to visit the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum in the end even though I made the final choice at the moment I saw the sign about 250 ft ahead of me! (The visit has been on my list for a very long time, however!)

They have quite an assortment of aircraft from every war or conflict I can think of. You can go through the five different exhibits at your own pace or go with a guide. One of the last stops on the guided tour is the restoration hanger; you must be accompanied for that one. There are several restoration projects going on right now, including the nose section of a B-52.

One of these days I want to take the C-47 ride! And no, that’s not included in the cost of regular admission! It’s now officially on my bucket list! I’m gonna do it! Here’s a look at the Tico Belle, who shall one day carry Bulldog over the skies of East Central Florida:

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The museum has had their spot at the Space Coast Regional Airport for many years and there are entrances on US 1 and on SR 405. Finding it isn’t hard. But I venture to say — based on my visit — that the museum could use a few more guests to come through. And don’t forget that they sponsor a first-class air show at S.C.R.A. every spring. The date had to be moved up a bit this year because of a conflict, but making this event is one way to support this worthy non-profit and its museum.

One more thing about this event: the show has been called The Tico Warbird Airshow from its inception but the name going forward is The Space Coast Warbird Airshow. Same event, same very able folks behind it.

For complete information about the annual Space Coast Warbird Air Show coming in April of 2018, just click here.

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Miscellaneous note: if you’re wondering where the Tico comes from in former name of the annual airshow or the name of the AP authority, it’s from Titusville-Cocoa Airport Authority. The Space Coast Regional airport sits in Titusville, very close to Cocoa and serves both communities as well as the greater Space Coast region.

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Florida Gators Take First Ever College World Series Title

Florida Gators Take First Ever College World Series Title

The Gators have won plenty of National Championships over the years in many sports. In fact, they’re better at doing that than any other University in the Country. (In the the post World War II Era, mens’ and womens’ sports, that is.)

Last night they finally did it baseball, the last of the big three team sports for the boys from G-ville. The final score was 6-1 last night but it was a very close contest until the bottom of the eighth.

I was able to catch the whole series; it was well worth watching. The Sunshine State’s favorite swamp creatures bested LSU, taking the first two of a three game series. LSU had six CWS titles going into 2017, but a seventh was just not happening as the Gators were playing very, very good baseball in the tourney and were not to be denied that first-ever title.

The Gators softball program had two CWS of Softball titles going into this year’s campaign and came ever-so-close to gleaning a third before being thwarted two weeks ago by the Oklahoma squad. The Gators boys just made that disappointment much easier to bear.

I’m thinking that the bayous are full of cajuns, tigers and even some Louisiana gators –small g — who feel like they’ve had something stolen from them. I’m not jumping into THAT one today, but I can tell you one thing that the Gators had stolen from them in the last 24 hours… That would be the fine foto which adorns this posting you’re reading. Yeah, it’s a really good pic. No, it’s not one of mine. But I like it. Thank you, University of Florida Sports Information Department.

To read a brief write-up about the series and especially last night’s decisive game two, just follow this link.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile