Deer and Springs at Kelly Park

Deer and Springs at Kelly Park

We had occasion to camp at Kelly Park in Orange County (Florida) not very long ago and had a terrific time.

We were stunned at how tame the deer were. They came around–and in considerable numbers–every evening and night.

Having said that, I must add that I have no photographic proof. At the times they’d drop by to say hello, the light was already too low for my low tech skills to document the fun.

I took several videos with my cell phone but the light is so low that using the delete feature to put them out of their misery was my only real option.

The banner photo is of one stretch of woods not far from our campsite where we first saw them appear. That was about 45 minutes before sundown on our first day.

This scene is no more than 150 feet from the site where the banner photo was taken and showcases another spot where we saw deer looking for dinner on many occasions.

Kelly Park is known for its abundant wildlife. But the world-famous Rocks Springs which are found there also bring around the crowds all year long. The crowds have subsided of late, as the pandemic has forced Orange County to close the springs for swimming but it’s still well worth your time and a modest admission to see the Springs up close.

We dedicated a pretty good chunk of day two’s time to wander about at Rocks Springs and had a great time doing so. Below is one more photo from those lovely Springs.

I heartily recommend Kelly Park to any of you who are close to Central Florida or who might be visiting in the near future. The plentiful wildlife, the iconic and beautiful springs and the general allure of the Sunshine State beckon nature lovers from anywhere to head this way and stay awhile.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

Time to go visit your Mother

Time to go visit your Mother

Joan and I spent two lovely days at Trimble Park back in January. It’s one of our favorite camping spots in Central Florida.

It was about two months before so many things–including parks and outdoor venues of many kinds–began to close down because of the coronavirus.

As I write this, many if not most parks and spots where outdoor-lovers like to go are open again. In fact, we’ve been on four camping excursions since many places began to reopen.

It’s easy to practice social distancing in parks and camping spots, as you might imagine. The fact that we’ve been able to do a lot of the things we really enjoy is such a good thing.

Many things that folks find enjoyable are difficult–and sometimes impossible–to do right now and I’m happy to be able to engage in the outdoor activities I enjoy so much.

I will have postings about those aforementioned trips in the near future. Today I merely wanted to share one photo from that delightful excursion to Orange County’s Trimble Park seven months ago and feel a little gratitude that Mother Nature is still receiving visitors as we go through some disquieting changes.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

(c) 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Something tells me…

Something tells me…

…it’s all happening at the zoo! And our visit last week confirmed how true that is.

Had a chance to visit The Brevard Zoo again just a few days ago. This fine Central Florida zoo–like most in the country–closed back in March. It reopened about six weeks ago but zoo-lovers must book well in advance and will not be admitted until the time of the reservation comes around.

The few guests that are admitted each half hour can take in some fine sights and see plenty of critters. It was reassuring that with the admission policies and the rules about the wearing of masks and social distancing, the zoo is as safe as any public place can be.

Enjoyed seeing many of the “usual suspects” on this visit. Below is one of the jaguars that call this zoo home. He was just chillin’ and though we only saw him from the neck up, it was pretty cool!

We stayed around to get another shot or two. But Jerry Jaguar soon got bored with our feeble efforts to immortalize him digitally and he went back to what he had been doing before we showed up. Napping, of course!

Because the Brevard Zoo is here in the East Central Florida region, it must have a gator or two. So here are a couple of photos featuring one of the reptilian superstars that were checking us out while I was angling for a good spot to catch him for posterity.

Mike Macaw was enjoying the pleasant mid-afternoon slice of a fine Thursday. As usual, he wasn’t doing much besides just looking authentic and colorful.

The Brevard Zoo has a large and colorful aquarium and it kept me entertained for quite a while. Here’s one photo that’s ready for prime-time.

Our piscine friends seemed to be enjoying their their afternoon cruising all about. I understand they sometimes travel in schools of three…

One of my favorite things to do at the zoo is to get photos of some of the vistas that don’t actually feature a creature at all. The beautiful landscapes at this–or any zoo–can keep a shutterbug like me entralled for hours.

Zoos are the one place where ordinary people can observe an assortment of animals, learn something about them and their habitats, and how they’re faring in the natural world.

The girl in this picture is enjoying a rare opportunity to observe a wild primate up close; this encounter was fun for all but–sad to say–involved neither a real girl nor an actually monkey.

The Brevard Zoo offers something you won’t find in most zoos: a chance to go on a guided kayak tour around a good portion of the park.

We arrived too late to take advantage of the tour but found that the view from the pavilion where guest wait until their tours begin, was splendid, indeed. Have a look, I think you’d agree.

Being annual passholders for this fine zoological park, located in Melbourne, Florida, is something we feel very good about. I’ve taken many trips to plenty of zoos; more than I can count, truth be told.

And I’ll take many more.

A proud, card-carrying lover of zoos, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credits Benjamin Basile

National Camera Day

National Camera Day

Photography is a very big deal to me and today is a day I wanted to get a photo or two up on the blog.

It’s true that there’s not a lot left of this auspicious day, but here we go…

We did have a fabulous trip to Silver Springs State Park about ten days ago. It was my third trip to the Park all total. The weather was ideal, the camping was top-shelf and there were lots of good photo ops, of course.

There’s a lot to the park besides the well-known springs. I’ll have more about that coming in another post. But today’s post is a quick look into the springs part of Silver Springs.

The glass bottom boat tour is always a treat. But there were plenty of kayakers and boaters out that day as well as the conditions for an outdoor excursion were as good as it gets.

Here are a couple of outdoor lovers paddling about on that lovely summer afternoon.

Boaters were well-represented too. The couple here seemed to be having a good outing. That old saying “a bad day on the water is better than your best day at the office” comes to mind.

An outing as good as this one certainly deserves more than just one quick post. I’ll have more to say about the visit and more photos in the near future.

Happy explorations to everyone. If you get outdoors soon, social distancing is the order of the day.

Enjoy yourselves and stay safe.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Basile

Fave Fotos: A Florida Beach in May

Fave Fotos: A Florida Beach in May

Sometimes I take a photo I like so well that it can be good material for a post all by itself.

The banner photo is one of those. It’s from a trip we made about two weeks ago. It was just when beaches became available again.

We didn’t have to get very close to anyone, so be were able to get in a bit of fun in the outdoors without being stressed about our safety. Or anyone’s for that matter.

Cocoa Beach was lovely that day. No surprise there, of course.

Heading back that way soon. With camera in hand…

“Beachdog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Quick Trip Back to the Beach

Quick Trip Back to the Beach

It had been about three months since I had made a beach visit. And that’s way too long.

Because it’s been difficult — as well as risky, of course — to get to the shore, I’ve been eager to get some sand in my shoes again. And to get some good photos as well.

We got back Wednesday evening. The “explosion” of beach-goers we had been worrying about turned out not to be a thing at all. Well, especially since we timed our arrival for about 7 pm. Not too much danger of being being pressed together with a gaggle of other nature-lovers when the parking area was only about 1/3 full.

We knew that because Memorial Day was right around corner that if we wanted to get to the beach, our window of opportunity would not be open for very long.

So we arrived fashionably late, stayed for a bit less than an hour and had a good time.

Something that we did not expect: we saw first-hand how cruise ships are handling being idle while we’re all dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. We saw six cruise ships trolling around three or four miles offshore, basically just marking time.

Here’s a visual about that, though this photo caught only two of the six:

This seemed a bit odd at first but then I realized that I had actually read about how this is working out in the cruise industry. Because there are no cruises happening — and I mean none at all — there isn’t room in port for all of them at any one time. So we witnessed what must now be business as usual; six cruise ships a few miles out, doing absolutely nothing.

We were perfectly happy after and about an hour or so. I got a few decent pics, we both had some sand in our shoes and we were content to find some hot coffee and begin to head for home.

We will not be venturing out at all in the next three days or so. We’re certain that the Memorial Day weekend will have everything — including pretty much all of our favorite outdoor spots — completely covered up with visitors.

I’m not passing judgement on folks who may be crowding together in a thousand different spaces and places over the Memorial Day weekend. I just don’t feel comfortable being among them.

Best wishes to you and yours over the holiday weekend. I hope you have some memorable and life-enriching times.

And — above all — I hope you stay safe.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

Serenity is a Full Moon

Serenity is a Full Moon

Like all of you, I’ve been a bit stressed in the last month or so. And I was really looking for something that would help me banish the stress-monster for a moment or two.

About 30 minutes ago, I noticed that a beautiful full moon had just popped over the neighbor’s house. So I grabbed my trusty Canon and took the pic that’s now living at the top of this post.

I hope you’re feeling alright on this lovely night. I’m not exactly a paragon of serenity, but I’m feeling better than I was a little while ago.

And there’s nothing wrong with that!

“Moondog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

You Can’t Go to the Zoo Today

You Can’t Go to the Zoo Today

Going to zoos is — without a doubt — one of my most favorite ways to spend an afternoon.

But, as you know well, it’s something we just can’t do today.

Fortunately, I’ve been to zoos many, many times and have some good photos of those visits.

Today’s banner photo is a pic from a 2017 trip to the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida. It’s a pic I like a lot.

I’m delighted to be able to say that I went on four different outdoor adventures in the last three months, while we could do such things without fear of compromising our own or others’ health.

And, yes, I’ve got plenty of photos!

So I will be posting about said adventures soon.

So the fine foto of my feathered friend above is the latest pic from one of my nature excursions.

And it most certainly will not be the last even if it takes me a while to escape the confines of my home!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Return to Moss Park

Return to Moss Park

A couple of months ago I spent a very pleasant part of a winter’s day at Moss Park.

This gem is about 4 miles from Orlando Int’l Airport and features amazing scenery and camping, among other things.

I always love making a trip and taking in all the sights. I have camped there twice and have made two other day visits to grill and take photos.

And, yes, I got some really good photos on this trip.

My companion and I enjoyed a pleasant picnic lunch and then I started roaming around with camera in hand.

The banner photo is one that I especially like. The vistas in this part of the park–situated very close to the park’s entrance–are always breathtaking.

The one you see below is from that same part of the park. I always know that pix taken in those last couple of hours before sunset often turn out fabulously. On this visit, I was not disappointed.

Both our lunch and the photo expedition were wonderful. You can be sure that there will be another return to this fine outdoor spot very soon.

And when I go back, I’ll undoubtedly capture many memories and plenty of photos to go with them.

Photos like the one below, the last one I’ll share for now.

Enjoy your outdoor adventures. At this moment in our shared history, it’s all the more important to look for ways to grab a little serenity.

Taking in the beauty of some of our superlative outdoor spaces is a wonderful way to do that.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Fort Christmas Park

Fort Christmas Park

My fellow outdoor enthusiast and I made another trip to Orange County’s Fort Christmas park a couple of weeks ago.

It was another splendid trip, and I did have a chance to take some good photos.

When you visit Fort Christmas Park, there are so many things to see. It’s a park in the Orange county park system wrapped around a pretty authentic re-creation of the actual fort. Fort Christmas was active for a short time in the 2nd Seminole Indian War.

That’s a photo of that storied fort (as re-created) but the fort is only one of the reasons why making a visit to the park is time very well spent.

There are at least 15 out-buildings spread all over the park grounds and they shed light on what life was like for settlers in Florida in the late 19th to early 20th Centuries.

I’ll have more coming soon both about the fort, a very brief mini-history of the Seminole wars and why the fort came to be. And then a photo journal of all of the other things that lie in store for the park’s visitors.

Keep getting out to see some of the great outdoor spots in your neck of the woods. Every corner of America–and our entire planet, for that matter–has a thousand lovely places just there for the taking!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile