Another Fabulous Day to Be at the Beach

Another Fabulous Day to Be at the Beach

It truly is a gorgeous day today. Spent a good chunk of it soaking up some rays and enjoying the sights and sounds of the ocean.

Last night I wasn’t completely sure I was beach-bound but one of my fave Central Florida weather folk, Channel 13’s Mallory Nicholls, said the chance of rain for today would be a mere 30% and I pointed the nose of my cruiser to the east and hit the gas!

If you’re also from the Central Florida area, you know we’ve had nearly-constant rains around here for the last two months or more. I’ve whined about the dreary weather we’ve had lately here on da bulldog blog on a couple of occasions. But today has been close to ideal.

Having said that, I didn’t have the best of luck with photos. I’m not the best at shooting under different light conditions. I have an auto-everything cam, the Canon Power Shot, and I like the results under the usual kinds of conditions but I do need to progress to a camera that will stretch me a bit so I can learn the craft better. (What in the world does “usual kinds of conditions” mean in photography, anyway?)

Anyhow, the featured photo is one from a different visit to a stretch of beach quite close to where I was this morning. I like the tranquil feeling I get when I look at this one. And I really like that Mother Nature gave some of her most devoted subjects–like me, to name only one–at least one July day without a big freakin’ downpour! I was a happy camper!

Make that a happy beach-goer, now that I’ve given it a moment of thought.

 

“Beachdog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

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

 

It’s Saturday and I’m NOT at Silver Springs State Park

It’s Saturday and I’m NOT at Silver Springs State Park

I do work on weekends these days. Not sure what it would take to change that. It’s an issue I’m working on.

If you’re mostly an outdoor dog — as I am — there’s one advantage to having your free time falling on week days: it’s easier to book campgrounds and you won’t be crammed in to beautiful natural ¬†settings along with 10 bah-jillion other nature lovers.

I understand that but it’s still hard for me sometimes be getting ready for work when most folks are in full-play mode. Heavy sigh…

Here’s a photo I took at Silver Springs State Park just east of Ocala. This was almost exactly six months ago today; it was a very nice outing, indeed. I would so love to be there right now. Or maybe on Monday, when fewer outdoor enthusiasts would be enjoying the sights along with me!

Happy weekend, folks. I’ll be posting again before too long…

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile in full-work mode

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

 

Fave Fotos: hitherto unpublished pix from Wekiwa Springs State Park

Fave Fotos: hitherto unpublished pix from Wekiwa Springs State Park

Never did get these up here on my blog. It’s time.

These are from my second trip to Wekiva Springs State Park this year. Some of these, I think, show my best work. Not sure why I waited so long to get them up here.

Here in Central Florida, we haven’t had a break from near-constant rains in a while. This Monday was somewhat less wet than most days; we did get to see the sun for several hours. But it’s been dreary weather around here for about three weeks now and I’d love to see it end. Yes, I know we needed it.

I rarely make plans to do outdoor stuff when the conditions are like this, and that’s the main reason I’m feeling this way and whining about it. So my strategy to deal with it is to dip back into the picture box and enjoy some photos from an excursion not too long ago where everything — including the weather — was damn near perfect.

In this second shot I didn’t get quite as close to the terrain. I like the way it turned out. It’s quite possible that the next time I get a chance to scratch the outdoor itch, I’ll be heading back to Wekiwa Springs. Not only is it a first-rate site for shutterbugs, but they recently completed some extensive renovations to the camp grounds and I’d like to see how that turned out.

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Some good stuff for nature lovers and folks who like to capture such things with a camera. I hope these pics help to bring a few moments of serenity to you today.

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile in dreary O’do

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Trips to the Beach On Those Cloudy, Overcast Days

Trips to the Beach On Those Cloudy, Overcast Days

 

Trips on days like that can be nice.

I made it to the beach on one of those days about two weeks ago. I was sure that I’d get wet but my beach jones was so bad that day that I pointed my car towards the Beach Line Expressway and hit the gas in spite of the really, truly dire forecast.

I’m glad I did. I did get rained on but it was less severe than I expected and the rain held off until I’d grilled my awesome Johnsonville Cheddar Smoked Sausages, cleaned up and explored the beach for about 20 minutes with my Canon. Canon Power Shot, to be more precise. (Just for the record, the fine folks at Johnsonville have not offered me anything to mention one of their great products. Nor the folks at Canon, for that matter!)

It was a very worthwhile trip. And I’m grateful to Mother Nature; her timing was damn near perfect.

Here’s my fave shot from this brief outing. I love shots that re-create that feeling of exhilaration I get every time I get to the bottom of one of those ramps and the planks give way to sand. Only sand. It’s like being launched into Neptune’s domain.

As I put together this post today, I’m having trouble pushing away those familiar and persistent beach cravings. I’m overdue. Because today’s my Friday, my chances of being able to scratch that beach itch soon are very good.

I’ll be sure to take some pictures.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile