Fave Fotos: hitherto unpublished pix from Wekiwa Springs State Park

Fave Fotos: hitherto unpublished pix from Wekiwa Springs State Park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

Red Nose Day is Tomorrow! Better Get Your Nose!

Red Nose Day is Tomorrow! Better Get Your Nose!

It’s just about here. Tomorrow, May 24th is indeed Red Nose Day and remember it’s all to benefit kids.

Many different businesses and people are participating in the very cool fundraising event. Here in Central Florida, folks often associate the well-known pharmacy chain Walgreens with Red Nose Day as they’re doing some great publicity for it and their stores are the easiest way for folks to get their nose.

Some may not be clear on exactly where the funds raised are going. The answer is Save The Children and that’s an org I support without reservation. The specific objective for this promotion is to end child poverty. Yeah, I know; that’s a tall order. All the more reason to support this event.

I first came to support Save the Children from a door to door solicitor. Although I had reservations about whether S.T.C. would raise money that way, they do, and I’m glad I chipped in. (By the way, I don’t know if they still do, but they did in 2014.)

If you’re in Central Florida and you’d like to participate, go to any Walgreens and get your nose on. Literally.

I didn’t realize that they’ve been doing R.N.D. for 25 years now. If  you want to know more about this very worthy event, just follow this link.

I’ll see you tomorrow! And if I do, we both should be looking a bit like my friend Alli from Slow and Low Barbecue in Cocoa Beach!

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“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Knights Knocked Out of AAC Softball Championship Tourney by Lowly East Carolina

Knights Knocked Out of AAC Softball Championship Tourney by Lowly East Carolina

Last Thursday the softball squad from East Carolina eliminated our UCF Knights on day one of the conference championship tourney. I love and support the Knights but that was a huge disappointment for me. UCF was the no. 3 seed; E.C. was in the AAC cellar before the tournament. Perhaps being the host team helped the Pirates kick it up a notch or two.

The Knights finished with a 29-23 record for the 2017 campaign; it was not a bad season considering how young the squad is and that one has to consider it to have been a rebuilding year.

Yes, die-hard fans like me can look forward to the next few years now that the team has more maturity. There certainly is no lack of talent. And coach Rene Luers-Gillispie and her staff are very good at what they do. But the quick exits from the American Athletic Conference the last two years have dampened this dog’s enthusiasm just a bit.

Damn, what a whiner I am! #ChargeOn, Knights fans!

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Our Florida Mall in Orlando Thrives While Most Are Dying

Our Florida Mall in Orlando Thrives While Most Are Dying

Tonight I did something I haven’t done in quite a while; I cruised one of our local malls. I know that malls are really struggling in most American cities and at least three of them here in the Greater Orlando area have gone belly up or are just barely clinging to life. The Orlando Fashion Square Mall was a fave of mine. Our family watched it go up in the ’60s. So sad that the mall’s owners declared bankruptcy a short while ago…

I did notice a few months ago that The Altamonte Mall is doing pretty well and is very busy on weekends. That was good to see. Altamonte Springs is a cool town about 20 minutes north of Orlando, for those of you who aren’t too familiar with Central Florida.

So tonight I thought I’d check out the Florida Mall as I was in that part of town. And it was absolutely thronged. It just blew UP! Of course, it is a Saturday night.

That was a good thing to see.

Not only was business good, but the mall is undergoing a major renovation. I’ll have to check back in a year or so and see how that went.

In the meantime, it’s good to see that some of our malls here in Central Florida are doing just fine.

A quick attempt to fill in a bit of the history of malls around here: The Florida Mall, like the newer Millenia Mall, is very, very close to the heart of our tourist stuff in O’do. I doubt there’s a better location anywhere in the country. No, that’s not an overstatement.

So I suppose it’s not too smart to draw any conclusions about national trends. I don’t see things improving much for investors who’re heavily into a typical mall, but here we’re not doing too badly.

The photo is of the entrance to the Spencer’s Gifts at our thriving Florida Mall. Glad they’re still around, too. I don’t spend money in places like Spencer’s these days, but it’s good that they haven’t gone away.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile in Orlando

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

UCF Softballers Bash UConn in Home Finale

UCF Softballers Bash UConn in Home Finale

What you’re seeing in the featured photo is a softball about a millisecond before Knights catcher Cassady Brewer crushes it into the stands in right-center field. I caught that first inning shot, it was the first of the two round-trippers she smacked on Sunday afternoon.

The second was a walk off grand slam, which triggered an immediate 9-0 run rule victory for the Knights in the sixth. UConn bested them on Friday night with two grand slams of their own; UCF’s intrepid softball squad took game two on Saturday and yesterday’s convincing win gave them that badly-needed 2-1 series edge.

I did not catch Cassady’s coup de grâce on film. I had put my camera away by then. I just wanted the luxury of watching the game without being in my usual “don’t miss this next shot” mode, and so I stashed my pride and joy in the car. That’ll teach me! Of course, merely seeing it with my eyes is still one of the best moments of the 2017 season! (If you’d like to read my posting about an earlier round-tripper from Brewer, one that bested Baylor, catch the one dated March 20 of this year.)

This was the last home game for the Knights. Sad to see the season wrapping up. There are four more regular season games, a single tilt with BCC in Daytona on Wednesday. And then a three game series in Tulsa with the Golden Hurricane. And when the AAC Tournament kicks off, Tulsa may well be the team to beat; but you can bet that the Knights will show up in Greenville ready to play.

UCF had/is having a decent season — their record after Sunday stands at 25-21, falling far short of last year’s campaign. The 2016 squad made it to the regional play-offs last May where they beat FAU twice but were eliminated by the Gators. I traveled up to G’ville for that tourney and enjoyed it immensely in spite of the Knights not advancing.

As this season winds down, let me contrast the current season with last year’s to shed a bit more light on recent UCF softball history. The 2016 incarnation of the Knights was really good, finishing 38-22 and delighting UCF fans all over Central Florida. The only down side: the team graduated eight seniors including ace pitcher Shelby Turnier, catcher and power hitter Samantha McCloskey and slugger Jamie Ujvary. Shelby — as you may know if you follow the sport — had a stellar first season at the pro level with the Chicago Bandits of National Pro Fastpitch.

It was apparent to most fans that the Knights would have a hard time topping last year’s season and so their 25-21 record at this point with four regular season games left is not a bad 2017 campaign. As far as how UCF’s softballers may fare in the future, there are no fewer than nine freshmen on the squad, including a gaggle of pitchers who show a lot of promise, so I’m looking for great things from UCF moving forward. And in the meantime, the results of Sunday’s outing will send the squad into their last series and the AAC tourney ready to show their stuff.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Steak ‘n Shake in the Hunter’s Creek Area

Steak ‘n Shake in the Hunter’s Creek Area

Had breakfast this morning at the Steak ‘n Shake location way down So. OBT in the Hunter’s Creek part of South Orlando. Enjoyed every bite. And the fine service. Janet is more than just a good server; her skill, experience and customer manner put her way above most who put on the apron and pour the coffee.

If you’re in the Hunter’s Creek part of the world some morning, stop in. Of course, you can stop in at any time, they’re open 24 hours! Steak ‘n Shake has some new and very tasty menu offerings. Their prices are lower than just about any eatery of that type and if it’s breakfast time, you’ll most likely have Janet as your server. Lucky you.

 

Steak ‘n Shake ~ 13133 So. Orange Blossom Trail ~ Orlando, Florida ~ Dial 407 240-8740

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Having a Fine Time at Trimble Park on Earth Day

Having a Fine Time at Trimble Park on Earth Day

This is my third visit to Trimble Park on the farthest edge of Orange County and I’m havin’ a ball! Took plenty of photos, too.

I’ll have more to say about this beautiful spot a bit later. For now, here are a couple of photos I especially like.

I hope this spring is going well for you and that you’ve had a chance to get out of the house and do some outdoor stuff. My life would be dreary indeed if I didn’t get out and visit my Mother regularly.

Gus the Gator was not terribly interested in posing today. But I did get a pic or two out of him. The bird in the Featured Foto was more obliging; I love that photo, it’s as good as any I’ve ever taken.

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Enjoying the outdoors here in Central Florida, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile