One small way to help our oceans

I got my license plate today for my “new” used car. I’ve gotten quite a few specialty tags here in Florida in years past, they’re pretty common. I’m quite pleased with this new one.

I’ve wanted for years to get a specialized plate that shows my support for beaches, natural spaces or trees and such.

It was hard to make a final choice but I went with the “Protect Our Oceans” tag. I’m loving it! The additional fee for that one goes to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation; Guy is also the artist who designed the plate, as he’s an accomplished artist and illustrator in addition to being one of our most visible advocates for caring for our oceans.

If you’re here in Florida you can get specialized plates and support any one of many nonprofits. Quite a few of them are focused on the environment. Another choice: you can show your school spirit for the Florida University that you attended or support. We have more specialty tags here than any other State. The series honoring our Nation’s veterans are very much in demand.

To me, my new plate was certainly worth a few extra dollars.

Don’t be surprised if you pass a black PT Cruiser with the tag you see in the banner photo anytime soon heading towards Cocoa Beach or Clearwater! Or any one of a thousand different natural spots and beaches that you can find all over the Sunshine State!

“Beachdog Ben” Basile

© 2022 Ben Lawrence Basile
Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

The Storm has passed

Hurricane Ian has come and gone and I’ve been thinking about the effects on so many others here in Florida. It’s all very sobering. Sobering and sad.

The effects for me and loved ones in the State were minimal. Because so many of us weathered this storm without a lot of damage, it’s easy to think we’re all good here in Florida. But we aren’t.

It’s hard to wrap your mind around this kind of devastation. I’ve tuned in to some of the reports and it’s so dismal and sad that I have to manage my news coverage carefully in order to not get an overload.

If you’d like to help those in Southwest Florida who’ve been so devastated by this horrible storm, there are many ways to do so.

The FEMA site has a lot of information that may be helpful. And there’s no shortage of non-profits who are helping. And although there are hundreds, I’m leaving a link to the Red Cross. Their work over many, many years has been invaluable to people around the world who’ve experienced disasters of all kinds. I’m happy to support their fine work.

Take care. Stay safe. Reach out for help when it’s appropriate. May that care be there for you when you need it most.

And may you extend that hand of care to others when you’re able. 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2022 Ben Lawrence Basile

Hurricane Ian is Coming

I know you’re almost certainly aware that Hurricane Ian is bearing down on the Sunshine State as I write this. It’s a very big deal.

I’m posting about it now because I think the majority of friends who follow this blog are in or near Florida.

If your Hurricane preps are complete, good on you. You know this storm is not to be taken lightly.

If you are in the Central Florida region and your preps are not-so-good or if you haven’t started, do it now! While it’s true that you might find empty or nearly-empty shelves in some places, it’s still worth the effort and aggravation to get out there even at the eleventh hour and do what you can.

If you’d like info about this storm, I suggest the Weather Channel if it’s available from your cable provider. The weather folk at most local network affiliates usually do a great job when the storms hit; That’s a good alternative. A shout-out to Tom Sorrells at Local 6 in Orlando…

If your internet’s working fine, this site is a good place to get updates. Especially if your cable connection isn’t working, but you have power and a working internet connection.

Be safe, friends. This storm is right on our doorstep and it’s going to smack us hard.

Battening down the hatches in Davenport, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2022 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit:

A Beautiful, Windy Beach Trip

Two weeks ago we were sitting around, trying to remember how long it had been since our last beach trip. It had been a while.

So we fixed it. We loaded up the car and headed to Cocoa Beach, our favorite site for a quick getaway.

We listened to the pounding surf and soaked up some sun for about an hour and a half. We enjoyed lunch at one our favorite spots. Coastal Market in downtown Cocoa Beach in case you’re curious. And we headed back home with smiles on our faces.

The only downside was that the wind was pretty freakin’ strong. We put up our beautiful beach umbrella–for about a minute! I’m always a bit freaked out when Mother Nature turns my umbrella inside-out, so we just braved Apollo’s rays without the usual protection.

Yeah, that happens to us a lot. Thus shall it ever be for those of us who like to visit Florida beaches. But you know, that’s why God made sunscreen!

If you’ve neglected to get yourself into a lovely natural setting for a while, just make the time, just get out there! You’ll be glad you did.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2022 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

NADF News–it’s all about the Trees

Some of you may know about the work of the National Arbor Day Foundation. I’m happy to support them and I try not to miss an opportunity to spread the word about the much-needed work that they do.

They have been on a mission to plant trees all over the US and prioritize replanting where communities have lost their tree canopies, especially when natural disasters strike.

This undertaking is never actually completed, as you might imagine. Because there are more natural disasters each year, meeting the demand would take a major miracle. But the Foundation is all-in to do all that can possibly be done. And I’m happy to lend a hand by keeping my membership current and helping to spread the word about their work when I can.

An update about their work hit my inbox this morning and I want to pass the news along.

There are many communities who’ve partnered with the NADF this year to replace trees they’ve lost. Among them are Bayard, Nebraska, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Lafitte, Louisiana. These recent projects are great examples of how the Foundation operates, helping to meet the urgent needs of cities and counties who’ve experienced first-hand one of those outbursts of Mother Nature’s wrath.

In the case of Bayard, the disaster was a serious tornado, in combination with an outbreak of the Emerald Ash Borer. In Cedar Rapids, the disaster was a derecho with 140 mph winds. Lafitte lost most of their canopy of beautiful and Earth-nurturing trees after being visited by Hurricane Ida in the Fall of ’21.

To get current of some of the recent work of the Nat’l Arbor Day Foundation, just follow this link.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2022 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit

Hot Temps and Common Sense

Yesterday I was driving up US Hwy 27, one of the major roads in my part of Central Florida. My girlfriend and I had just made note of the fact that the digital thermometer readout on the instrument panel was displaying that dreaded three-digit temperature. Yes, it was 100° outside and we felt every bit of that even though the car’s AC was blasting.

Not very long after our convo about what an insanely-hot day it was, we passed two people making their way down the sidewalk, each carrying two handsful of groceries.

Nothing too remarkable there. It’s a common sight around here, as it is pretty much anywhere.

The truly remarkable thing is that they both were dressed in all black. Black shirts and shorts. And with no hats, no head coverings, to boot.

Yeah, I was gobsmacked. I’ve been in Central Florida for a very long time, I do/have done hundreds of hours of outdoor stuff and heavy-duty yardwork and I know what the uber-high temps we regularly have around here can do.

To make this even more puzzling is the fact that the closest grocery store was quite a ways back.

Now, I still do outdoor stuff–including camping–over the Summer months but I would never even think about what these people were doing. I realize that they almost certainly had limited options as far as getting to and from the store that afternoon but it still is an unthinkable situation for me.

Folks, don’t just hide inside until September comes around. But when you are outside–whether for fun or because you have an important task in front of you, make sure you look out for your safety. Please don’t put your well-being and your very life at risk when Mr Sun is throwing down this kind of thermal assault on all the denizens of Earth.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

PS: In case you’re wondering, yes, I did feel awful that we didn’t stop and offer them a ride to their destination. That didn’t hit me until we were a mile or two down the road. And I feel more than a little regret about it.

© 2022 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit

Had a Fabulous Time at LKSP

Lake Kissimmee State Park is about ten miles outside of Lake Wales, Florida. It’s a spot we always enjoy when we have a chance to get out there again.

About two weeks ago we made it out again for 3 days/2 nights of camping and had a great time.

There are so many beautiful sites all over this park. As you may have heard me say repeatedly, the Florida State Park system is one of the best in the country and LKSP is a real gem.

Here’s a part of the park I’m very fond of. It makes for plenty of photo opportunities and it leads to the observation deck one finds at the edge of the part of the park reserved for camping.

This is a view of the part of the park where you can set off in three different directions. One of those leads but to the camp store. I’ll have a little more to say about that in a while.

About that store. Here’s the thing I like about it: it’s stocked with all the staples one expects when camping at just about any State or County park. The thing I don’t like: this one is only open Friday through Sunday. Now it’s true that we can get all the same stuff and more at the General Store about a mile outside the Park’s entrance. But I’d like to see them open for more than three days. We usually book in the middle of the week because of our work schedules and would love to have that option on our camping excursions.

A little more detail: it’s called the “Cracker Shack General Store” and is situated a manageable walking distance from most camp sites, quite close if you’re driving. And it’s right on the edge of the marina and the main boat ramp. And sells–among many other things–the live bait that anglers in the Park need to bring in the day’s catch.

I mentioned an observation tower and another “General Store” located outside the boundaries of the Park and I’ll have more to say about those two things in posts coming soon. But that’s a rundown of some of the features at Lake Kissimmee State Park that stand out for me. And it will do for now.

Truthfully, I’ve just scratched the surface here. To learn more about this fabulous Park–including how to book your own camping adventure–just follow this link.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2022 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

Summer’s Officially Here

I wrote officially there in the title of this piece because it’s been feeling very summer-y for quite a long while here in Central Florida.

I’d be willing to bet that you’ve noticed the same thing wherever you are. The Planet is most definitely warming and you can feel it no matter which corner of the Orb you’re living in.

Not getting on my soapbox today, just saying that it’s hot here where I am and I’m longing to see some more moderate temps. If you’re singing from that same sheet of music, I feel ya!

Now, to be clear, I don’t stop enjoying outdoor activites while Apollo is working overtime. But when it’s blistering-hot, I do throttle back a bit. No long hikes for this puppy for a little while.

So here’s to Autumn and the cooling off we look forward to each year. For this overheated, Nature-loving fellow, that can’t come soon enough!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2022 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Drink Java, Live Longer

I just finished another delicious, life-giving cup of coffee. I’ve always known my regular obsessive consumption of the juice of the sacred bean had beneficial effects. And a recently-published study confirms it… again! With or without added sugar, I hasten to add.

Here’s to all of my sisters and brothers who’re also cashing in on coffee’s benefits! Let’s celebrate with another cup o’ joe!

To read the study’s results, follow this link.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2022 Ben Lawrence Basile

Return to Lake Louisa

It was last week when I had another chance to pitch my tent at Florida’s Lake Louisa State Park. I had a blast.

My girlfriend and I had camped there twice before and we’ve made three day visits there to take advantage of the lovely beach in the Park. Joan was on a road trip with her daughter and I opted to camp solo this time, something I’ve done a jillion times and always love.

I wouldn’t say that it’s my fave in the Florida State Park system, but it is first-rate and has another not-to-be-discounted advantage for this outdoor nut: it’s really close to home.

L.L.S.P. is just outside the City of Clermont in Central Florida, close to where Lake and Polk counties meet. Although it offers many fabulous things to do, outside of camping, it’s the actual lakefront beach on Lake Louisa that I like best. A photo of the beach from our day visit in early May is right here:

There are many other options for outdoor lovers who’d like to check out this prime spot in the Central Florida region: Glamping in the Park’s pre-set up luxury tents with AC as well as what they’re calling eco-camping in a separate primitive section closer to the stables. (No hook-ups there; only porta-johns provided).

The two main loops which provide over fifty spaces to accommodate RV’s and tents–with full hook up’s–have access to excellent rest rooms and showers, as well as laundry. That’s standard in the Florida State Parks system.

Equestrian and true primitive camping can be found in a section away from the main camping areas, closer to the beach at Lake Louisa.

Love the outdoors but not really into roughing it? There’s a whole separate complex of cabins for those who aren’t into RV’s or tents located a little closer to the Park entrance. The cabins are well-suited for large families or groups of all kinds.

There are also extensive hiking trails–many from which to choose. I’ve observed that these are popular with day visitors. There are three other lakes in the park besides Lake Louisa and other amenities as well. The rates for the horseback riding are reasonable and are one of the offerings you can take advantage of that you won’t find at most of our Parks here in the Sunshine State.

So whether your next outdoor adventure is in this part of the world or some other, make sure you do in fact get off the couch and get outdoors! You’ll be glad you did!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2022 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile