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

Strolling Down Blue Jay Way

Strolling Down Blue Jay Way

One of the better things that have come out of the COVID-19 crisis for me is that my girlfriend and I have definitely gotten to know our neighborhood much better. We take our evening stroll about 4-5 times per week and have come to enjoy it quite a bit.

One of the neighborhood streets where we often walk is Blue Jay Way and the catchy name got stuck in my head quite a long while ago.

We truly enjoy our times to go strolling on Blue Jay Way; or anywhere else in the neighborhood where our wandering feet are inclined to go.

Get outdoors, friends!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

News about the Florida Park System

News about the Florida Park System

I am on email lists for a lot of different thing relating to outdoor stuff. I use parks in many systems and love getting the news and updates that come around pretty often.

I was happy to hear two days ago that the folks who make decisions for our parks system here in the Sunshine State are considering re-opening Florida Parks.

It’s not definite and there is no indication of what kind of timeline they’re thinking of if, indeed, they do decide to get things cranked up again.

As I may have mentioned here, my girlfriend and I had a reservation to camp back on the 6th and 7th of this month at one of our fave spots. That would be Wekiwa Springs State Park in Seminole County.

As fate would have it, those dates were about two weeks after all kinds of activities and facilities began to be closed down.

We were very disappointed, as you might imagine when the notification came that the State was closing the door, yet thought that it was probably the only way things could have gone.

We did receive a prompt refund for the reservation fee, but were still wishing that our trip could have gone off as planned.

I will try to reserve again if we do get the green light. That may not be easy to do as I’m thinking there will be a ton of pent-up demand. But I’m sure going to try.

If you’re also here in Florida and would like to read the notice and the potentially good news it contains, just follow this link.

I hope you get to have an outdoor adventure of two yourself. And sooner rather than later.

I’m headed back to our County and/or State Parks just as soon as I can. And you can bet that I’ll let you know about it once I’m released back into the wild!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

From the Wildlife File: a Happy Ending in Florida!

From the Wildlife File: a Happy Ending in Florida!

As you no doubt know, I’m a passionate environmentalist and advocate for wildlife.

And because we’re in such dire straits right now as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, I was quite happy to get a bit of nature news in my inbox just now. Some “feel good” news and I’m more than happy to pass it along.

An outdoor enthusiast passing through the Ocala National Forest a few weeks ago came upon an abandoned black bear cub on a dirt road.

This alert citizen did what anyone would do.

He took our hapless cub to a Florida Fish and Wildlife officer.

Because I’m an annual pass holder at the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, I’m one of the many zoo supporters who got “the rest of the story” about our tiny, furry friend.

He’s now thriving in the care of of Zoo Curator Lauren Hinson and the rest of the staff.

If you’d like to read more about this happy situation, just follow this link.

I loved reading all about it. In fact, I could bear-ly contain my enthusiasm as I passed my delighted eyeballs over the happy missive from the PR crew at the zoo!

Yeah, sorry not sorry!

I hope you’re getting some relief today from the cares of the day. Take good care of yourself, by all means.

And look out for all God’s creatures, whether they walk around in jeans, suits or in their bear skin!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo of a different cub from Nat’l Wildlife and Pictures

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

Coronavirus, the risks of comparison and a Silver Lining

Coronavirus, the risks of comparison and a Silver Lining

It’s natural that when we have a new threat–talking about the Coronavirus–that we compare it to something we already know about.

But the Coronavirus is very different from the flu that we’re all very familiar with. Different in several important ways.

This article will help greatly if you’d like to know more and see why this is a much bigger deal than, for instance, a new strain of flu.

This is affecting so many areas of our lives, as you know well.

It is and will have great effects on the way we do things together.

Let me throw out something that seems–to me, at least–to possibly be a silver lining in this very dark cloud.

One of the things that I’ve been aware of in the last day or so is that going outside and engaging in outdoor activities is most likely one of the areas of life that will be effected least while we weather this storm.

That is of considerable consolation to me right now.

I wish all of you the best. Take good care of yourselves and look out for each other, too.

Especially those whose health is not the best and are most at risk.

Ben Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

A word from Florida’s FWC with Spring on the way

A word from Florida’s FWC with Spring on the way

Each year around this time, wildlife obey Nature’s directive to shift back into high gear.

And each year, our Fish and Wildlife Commission here in the Sunshine State puts out info so the public can be “springtime savvy” as far as helping critters of all kinds is concerned.

Helping–or in many cases–just making sure that our behaviors and actions don’t hurt.

If you’re here in Florida, taking a look at the site and this helpful bulletin would be a good thing.

And it’s a very good thing for those of us who love critters to watch out for them all throughout the year no matter what neck of the woods you may be in.

“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

Blanchard Park and the Little Econ

Blanchard Park and the Little Econ

My traveling companion and I had a marvelous time at Blanchard Park on the east side of Orange County recently.

That outing was about ten days ago and it was a great morning in a wonderful and somewhat under-appreciated spot in the Orange County Parks system.

The banner photo was taken from the picnic area. We had staked out a good spot with a truly fabulous view of the “Little Econ” River.

By the way, the river’s full name is the Econlockhatchee River and it flows into the St John’s River, the longest in the Sunshine State.

Folks around here just call it the “Little Econ”, as you might imagine. A good part of its 54 mile length winds its way through eastern Orange County and there are several parks dotting its path.

Here’s a view of the river looking straight across the bank from our prime spot where we’d set up our camp stove and started to take photos.

I didn’t get too carried away with my camera that morning. But I did get a dozen or so shots worth keeping. Here’s one similar to the banner photo but not zoomed so tightly.

As most of my readers know, I usually take plenty o’ pix each time I get out into Nature’s Den. But the other reason we went to Blanchard Park that fine Tuesday morning was that it was a perfect opportunity to fire up that two-burner camp stove I love so well and make some pancakes and vegan sausage.

We enjoyed our late breakfast that morning and then moved on to another outdoor adventure. That was a trip about ten more miles out East Hwy 50 to the tiny town of Christmas, Florida.

Fort Christmas Park is another choice spot for Central Florida outdoor enthusiasts. But that will be material for another post on another day.

I just want to note as I’m closing that while we were making breakfast, there were two incidents where joggers who were zipping through the park stopped to tell us how awesome the smell of our pancakes were!

That and everything else about the morning was pretty cool. We’re most definitely going to make another trip to Blanchard Park in the near future.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

A Quick Look Back Over Some…

A Quick Look Back Over Some…

I did want to take a quick look back over some of the outdoor fun I had this year.

Although I would have loved to have had even more outdoor fun, I had plenty of it in 2019.

Less than I’d like but undoubtedly more than most folks.

A couple of the trips I made to the Canaveral National Seashore this year were very memorable.

The first was on July 1st and the second in early September, soon after Hurricane Dorian blew through.

The first was memorable mostly because it was just a blissful, nearly-perfect day and the second because the shore was practically covered in shells of every type.

Hurricanes do throw millions of tons of shells and plenty of flotsam and jetsam on the shore in their wake.

I did blog about both of those trips here and here.

Another noteworthy excursion happened in November. It had been over a year since I had had a chance to visit Wekiwa Springs State Park and I’m delighted to say that that trip about seven weeks ago was absolutely wonderful in several ways.

If you’re anywhere near these lovely places here in the Sunshine State, you’re past due for a visit.

About three weeks ago, my traveling companion and I spent two nights and three days camping and seeing the sights at Silver Springs State Park.

We had a fabulous time, though Joan had a head cold start as we were about one day into the trip.

We took the ever-popular glass bottom boat tour for which Silver Springs is so well-known. Below is one of the shots I got on the tour. There were many, many more, as you might imagine.

I hiked solo while Joan rested and we both enjoyed the park and our two-plus days there even with the head cold hassle.

All in all, it was a very worthwhile trip and we’re making plans to return to S.S.S.P. early in 2020.

There will be a more thorough post about that trip coming early in the New Year. Three brief paragraphs here tonight simply do not do it justice.

Outdoor activities are popular in every corner of America and all over the world.

Make sure that in 2020, you get in on some of the fun!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile