National Read A Book Day

National Read A Book Day

Yes, that is what day it is today!

I’m going through two tomes at this moment.

The first is Hunter Killer by Lt Col T. Mark McCurley. It’s all about the use of drones or Remotely Piloted Aircraft in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If you like books that shed light on newer developments in weapons technology or just like Military History in general, it’s a good read.

The author and his colleagues in the USAF were pioneers in the employment of RPA’s and their use is only going to become more important in the conflicts of the future.

The second book I’m reading right now is Incredible Pirate Tales, edited by Tom McCarthy and it’s a real page-turner.

I’m going through The Ghost of Captain Brand at this moment and am enjoying it immensely!

If you’re not already immersed in a good book, it’s time you were. And what better time to recover your love of reading than on National Read A Book Day?

“Bookdog Ben” Basile

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Basile

Just As Beautiful As Ever

Just As Beautiful As Ever

I did, indeed, make it back to Trimble Park near Mt Dora, Florida this week.

I had a reservation for this last Monday and Tuesday. I arrived just at the 2 PM check-in time and had camp set up within an hour or so.

I took a long stroll around the park. It’s huge. And I was struck again with just how very beautiful Trimble Park truly is.

It’s the crown jewel in the Orange County Park System in my estimation. It must be seen to be appreciated fully.

I was a bit apprehensive about this outing as our weather here in Central Florida has been awful. Lots of heat and lots and lots of rain.

That’s not unusual by any means, but it can make certainly put a damper on outdoor activities, camping especially.

When I began to set up, I realized that I do tote around quite a bit of gear. You can see a lot of it in this photo. The funny thing is that this was only roughly 2/3 of what I actually carry. But unpacking the whole car to take that photo would simply have taken too much time.

The whole site got very, very wet on the first night as we had a very intense thunderstorm come through. Nothing unusual there.

Because the rain fly works well on my Coleman Picton 2 tent, the water inside the tent was bearable. Especially since I sleep on a recliner and not on the ground.

But it was still a serious snafu as it took me until noon on Tuesday to get the tent completely dry.

The weather folk predicted that Tuesday night would be as wet or wetter than Monday, so I thought it through and made the decision to cut short this outing.

My main camera was malfunctioning as well, making the decision to abort the second half of my stay seem even more inevitable.

But I did get some good pix with the cell camera. Such a good thing that we carry a decent camera around with us wherever we go! Mine has come through for me on a number of occasions.

Something I always enjoy is making camp coffee each morning. You know, the kind of coffee you can only get by perking it the old-fashioned way!

The coffee Tuesday morning was glorious and almost made me forget all about the wet gear which would soon require nearly all my attention for about three hours.

And my usual first-morning breakfast of fried eggs and grits was tasty. Alas, there was not to be any second-morning breakfast.

I broke camp around 1 PM, shortly after getting everything bone-dry and ready to stow.

The other thing that went well on this abbreviated outing was that I brought enough wood to keep my campfire burning for over three hours. That part of the trip was awesome. I had no rain on the site after about midnight so I didn’t turn in until almost 4 AM!

But I’ll gladly lose sleep to have the pleasure of tending a fire for a few hours. Didn’t cook anything in it on this trip, but it still scratched that itch for me, as it does each time.

It’s true that this outing was not all it could have been. But this saying is still true for me as I wrap up this post:

The worst day in the woods is better than the best day spent indoors!

Old Camper’s Saying

I hope your next outing is perfect. I know for certain that it will be worthwhile!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

Today is National Moon Day

Today is National Moon Day

As you may know, today marks exactly 50 years since Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Lunar soil.

It is, indeed, a monumental occasion. For so many reasons.

One of the many things that have happened as a result of this historic mission is that today, July 20th, has become National Moon Day.

So today we look back over that amazing achievement. It is, in my estimation, the Crown Jewel for NASA and quite possibly for the US.

I will never, never forget what I was doing at the moment Mr Armstrong thrilled our Nation and the world with this stellar feat of human achievement.

And it’s a very good time to just reflect on how awesome it is to have our luminous and singular moon.

And to think about space exploration and new vistas in general.

It’s ever onward and upward!

“Moondog Ben” Basile

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Returning to Trimble Park

Returning to Trimble Park

I made a camping reservation today to get back to one of my favorite spots to camp in all of Florida.

I’m referring to Trimble Park, right were Orange and Lake counties meet. I’ve camped there three times and am delighted to be heading back.

This adventure is coming next week. And I’m already starting my preps.

The banner photo for this post was taken there at Trimble a couple of years ago. It’s a favorite for me and readers and friends have told me on many occasions that it’s a keeper!

The very photogenic bird in this picture posed beautifully and cheerfully and signed the required photo release the moment I asked him!

How cool is that?!

All silliness aside, I am heading back to Trimble Park very soon with my camera at the ready!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Back to Canaveral National Seashore Yesterday

Back to Canaveral National Seashore Yesterday

Had a ball yesterday at the National Park that’s the closest to me. Yes, that would be Canaveral National Seashore near Titusville, Florida.

This laid-back sea-side experience is by far the best way to enjoy a trip to the beach. To me, at least!

Such a fine and mellow outing it was. Can’t remember the last time I had that much fun!

My companion for this trip had never seen the Atlantic in that glorious and simplified fashion before; she loved it, to say the least. And we’re going back soon.

We did not miss the tacky beach-side rentals and masses of sunburned visitors at all.

I hope all of you have had an outdoor adventure of your own recently. If not, plan one now and then just DO IT!

“Beachdog Ben” Basile

© Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Record spending for the Environment in Florida

Record spending for the Environment in Florida

One of the really important headlines coming out of Florida this last week was about the just-passed budget for the coming year and how it highlights new priorities in the Sunshine State.

Make no mistake, this thorough re-ordering of spending priorities is a direct result of Gov. Ron DeSantis replacing former Governor and infamous boot-licker Rick Scott.

Some quick facts to help you get a feel for what this new budget in Florida can mean:

  • $100 million for spring restoration in several locations
  • $417 million for Everglades restoration in particular
  • $40 million for alternative water supply
  • $25 million for research to combat blue-green algae and red tide, specifically.

If you’d like to dive a little deeper into this issue of the new budget and how it impacts our Florida environment, here’s a link to an excellent article that just ran in the latest issue of Florida Weekly.

This development has certainly been heartening for those of us who keep a close eye on environmental issues in the Sunshine State. Gov. DeSantis has been commended over and over again for stepping up on this issue, as well he should.

I’m hopeful that we all will still be offering kudos to Mr Desantis for his wise and serious advocacy for Florida’s environment as his time in office draws to a close.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Basile

Ben’s Gear on the Camping Trail

Ben’s Gear on the Camping Trail

If you’ve taken a look around here on my blog, you know I love to camp. Some folks are into backpacking and carry everything they need on the camping trail on their backs. I’m going to try that one day.

Some folks are into RV’s. Good option for campers with deep pockets but to me it’s like taking a small apartment with you on your outdoor adventure.

My preferred camping style is somewhere in the middle. The term “car camping” is heard a lot on sites and blogs that cover “camping stuff” and that’s the way this puppy rolls! (By the way, the term does not refer to sleeping in the car.)

You’d be amazed at how much gear I can fit into my 2006 PT Cruiser. I added a car-top carrier about ten months ago and I tote around a lot of gear with my rear seats folded down. (PT Cruisers have a rear hatch.) In fact, I carry way more than I need.

I’m big on my tent, the Coleman Picton II. And, yes, you can see it in the Featured Photo for this post. My camping domicile measures 10’×10′ 6″ and is very comfy for one or two happy campers. (Shown here from the back side with the rear vent deployed.) They say it could sleep up to eight, but that would be sardine-style! It’s designed to keep you warm and dry in winds up to 45 mph, believe it or not. If rain is not in the forecast, I like to keep the rain fly off. Makes for comfy, breezy nights. More about that in a minute…

The tent is just over 5′ high and that’s just right for me to change clothes in. I’m not very tall so that works out fine. I don’t like sleeping bags or cots, though I have a good cot. I’m into sleeping in hammocks or recliners. I have a camping recliner that works very well; it’s the camping equivalent of a Lazy Boy (but can be carried by 1 person) and has the added bonus of eliminating the worry of acid reflux being a big deal and spoiling my camping fun. The docs tell me to never sleep laying completely horizontal anyway; so a camping recliner is a great way to go!

One other bonus of sleeping in a recliner: if I didn’t need to use the rain fly, in a recliner I can see the stars above me through the tent ceiling! It’s a great thing, one of the reasons I camp so much! Seeing the boughs of trees above–same awesome pay-off!

I have two different one-burner stoves, one propane, the other uses the “shorty” composite propane/butane tank. That one is so tiny when folded for travel. Most cooking, though, is with my Texsport 2-burner; you could think of this as a “store brand” Coleman 2 burner stove. Just a bit cheaper. It’s been a champ. It’s easy to clean and when folded is really easy to carry around. It uses the 1 lb propane tanks you can buy anywhere; if you have the adapter, you could use your big 4.5 lb propane tank.

I carry three tables with me, one three-footer that uses the screw-in table legs that store under the table itself when not set up. The other two are the type that fold/unfold easily and snap together; those are 18″x18″ and 24″x24″ and are handy in or out of the tent. The three footer is the main thing in the tent but is not bad for cooking with my two-burner stove at sites where that standard over-sized picnic table is not provided.

I could easily put together another post about all the lanterns, flashlights, torches and miscellaneous small gear and tools I take along. It’s a lot of stuff. I’m not going to walk down that blogging path right now, but the main take-away is that if you decide to try the car camping method, you’ll probably be amazed at how much gear you can take along! A 30 ft RV is NOT required to have fun camping!

And besides, camping is way too cool to leave to the RV crowd! I’m not downing those folks at all. But campgrounds are mostly designed with RV’s in mind. In fact, there are destinations that have “campground” in their name don’t accommodate tent campers at all!  They’re NOT campgrounds, they’re RV Parks! That’s a pet peeve of mine and I really like sites that don’t treat car campers, aka tent campers, as second-class citizens!

My companion and I are now planning a camping outing at Wekiva Springs State Park in Longwood, Florida for later this month. I’m eager to get back there soon.

But regardless of where you prefer to pitch your tent, there’s nothing like camping for those of us who love to get outdoors. I do a lot of it, but not nearly enough! Get out of the house and out into nature, people!  You’ll be glad you did!

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

This feature first appeared in October of 2017

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

© 2017 Ben Lawrence Basile