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

June 12th: The Pulse Massacre and its Aftermath

Because today makes exactly three years since the Pulse shooting took place, I’m reblogging this. We will never forget.

About Photography, Outdoor Fun, Food, Music, and Other Stuff.

When Islamic extremist and first-class hater, Omar Mateen, walked into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando’s Sodo district he was carrying a variant of the AR-15 assault rifle and a 9mm semiautomatic handgun. And a smart phone. With the two weapons he murdered 49 club patrons and with the smart phone he repeatedly checked to see if news of his hateful slaughter was trending on the internet. Truly a massacre for the digital age.

This was, as you surely know, the worst mass shooting in American history and so much has already been written about it. And will be written about it. By media in Central Florida, all over the U.S. and, quite literally, all over the world. Even without delving into that nauseating social media aspect of this, it was a singular event in America’s history; it was our only mass shooting that was both an obvious act of terror…

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Trouble in the Arctic, Trouble Everywhere

As many of you no doubt know, I post about environmental issues regularly. That’s true of thousands of bloggers, of course.

I usually give a great deal of thought to whether the tone of my posts is too dark. I often agonize over such things, truth be told.

But the news is so overwhelmingly bad as the bill comes due, so to speak, for humanity’s stunning and persistent failures to take care of our planet, that merely passing along the plain truth about all this can sound like some blogger woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

I came across writer Dahr Jamail’s article in Truthout yesterday and could see right away that its message was timely, spot-on and needed the widest possible dissemination.

It details a lot of the most recent events that have those of us who keep an eye on environmental issues from getting much sleep. It’s not an easy read.

But you should read it. All of it.

The part of the article that deals with the importance of feeling the shock and grief that any of us feels when coming to grips with the reality of our planet’s degradation is vital. Don’t shrink back from that part of the piece. Let it all the way in.

There are so many engaged in this work. The work of sounding the alarm as we rush ever-closer to the abyss.

Don’t stop reading. Don’t turn a blind eye.

It’s time for all of us to look unflinchingly at the truth and take the actions this grave situation demands.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

Species are disappearing while humans…

Species are disappearing while humans…

It’s alarming to think about, but it’s nevertheless true that hundreds of thousands of species are disappearing while humans carry on with their ever-expanding enterprise to exploit absolutely everything on God’s green Earth.

In early March of this year–just over two months ago at the time of this writing–the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES, issued a Global assessment and highlighted for an ignorant and often-uncaring world just how grave the situation is.

Nature is collapsing at an astonishing rate and many humans are blissfully unaware that this is happening.

The assessment was quite wide-ranging and examined closely many dark trends which we have not yet addressed as aggressively as we must to keep our situation for going from merely horrible to unthinkable.

Among the issues which the assessment addressed are:

  • Land degradation
  • Plastic Pollution
  • The health of fish stocks
  • The collapse of whole ecosystems
  • The full extent of the threat to non-human species
  • How much of the Earth’s surface and water resources are devoted to crops and livestock.

To read the press release issued by the IPBES at the time the results and conclusions of the assessment were publicized, click here.

It’s past time to stop driving so many plant and animal species into extinction and putting at risk our own survival.

Way past time.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

The Juice of the Sacred Bean

The Juice of the Sacred Bean

This puppy loves coffee! My Mom got me hooked on black coffee when I was only twelve. I’ve always believed it was good for me.

Studies that show that the juice of the sacred bean can be a boon for one’s health are not hard to find. A new one published in March in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is the most recent.

The study’s bottom line: quaff up to five cups each day and you’re likely to reap considerable health benefits.

Here’s a link to an article that excerpts that study. It’s an excellent source if you’d like know more without diving into the clinical literature.

Continue working your personal wellness strategy, that’s always a good thing.

And make sure you don’t slack up on your caffeine consumption!

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Basile

At the Bottom of the Ocean! Really?!

The deepest point on our planet is appropriately named Challenger Deep. You can find it on the ocean floor in the Mariana Trench, a mere 35,814 ft below the surface.

Intrepid explorer Victor Vescovo reached that point in a submersible last week and the results of that dive were released this last Monday, May 13th.

Although the expedition was a great success in so many ways, one of the things we learned from Mr Vescovo’s ground-breaking mission is that there is–wait for it–there is a plastic bag on the ocean floor, at the absolute deepest point on the planet!

Let that sink in. In Humanity’s mad rush to despoil the Earth, we’ve placed trash on the ocean floor. What an achievement!

If you’d like to read more about Victor’s very deep dive, follow this link.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Do our food choices matter?

Yes, they do. The food choices we make are very important, and in ways you may not have thought about.

The ways we choose to eat have big effects on our economy, the environment, our healthcare system and certainly on animals.

The effects that I’ve focused on the most are how my eating choices affect my own health.

I’ve told many friends over the years about how I went vegetarian for three years in the early ’90s. About how the health effects were startling. About how I lost 90 lbs. About how it made me more serene, more at peace.

Well, back in ’95, I went back to eating meat, junk food and lots and lots of pasta. Plenty of sugar, as well.

And, as you might imagine, the results were not good.

So the direct effects to our health and well-being are a big deal. I don’t want to make this post all about me, but let me just say that the issue of our food choices is very important for me again these days because back on Earth Day, I eliminated meat and sugar from my diet.

The results–just as back in 1992–have been startlingly good. For me, the strategy is just to go back to what worked. It worked very well for me a quarter-century ago, and it’s working again.

How our food choices effect all those other things I mentioned earlier in this post are extremely important, of course.

Here is a link to a brief and excellent article that covers ten of the most important reasons why eliminating meat from your diet would be a good way to go.

For quite a few years now, we have seen a huge change in attitudes about how our carnivorous ways affect farm animals. The animals we eat.

I’ve paid a lot of attention to this issue and for me, the ways in which our food choices affect those animals is also a very big deal. Here’s an article that focuses mostly on that aspect of this issue.

Whether you’re focused more on the direct effects on your own health, or those macro-issues that are playing out on a larger scale, it’s quite clear that the food choices we make matter! They matter a lot!

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile