Grits and Bacon Bits! A Marriage Made in Heaven!

Grits and Bacon Bits! A Marriage Made in Heaven!

Am I the only guy who throws some bacon bits into his grits just before plating ’em?

It’s a very cool trick I discovered while camping last winter and it works just as well in the kitchen, folks!

Of course, I don’t mean bacon bits take the place of the coarsely-ground pepper or the pound of butter you must thrown on there, too!

Speaking of camping: I’m hoping to get back to Trimble Park in Tangerine soon. We’ll see if I can make that work. Should be going back to a four day work week soon; that’ll help.

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Bulldog’s Christmas Wish Is a Return to Trimble Park

Bulldog’s Christmas Wish Is a Return to Trimble Park

Visiting parks and natural sites, with or without camping, is one way Americans like to spend the holidays. I throw my lot with my fellows who’re into such things.

I’m very much hoping to spend at least a part of the week between Christmas and New Years Day camping in Trimble Park, a fave spot of mine. It’s here in Orange County, but about a half hour away from me.

There are two complicating factors for me at this moment: the first is that I haven’t booked yet and the demand for camping spots around the holidays in very strong. Very, very strong, in fact.

The second potential issue is that I had a minor accident in my PT Cruiser on Monday evening and am not too sure at this point just how long it’ll take me to get my wheels back.

I’m going to do my dead-level best to solve these problems and get back to Trimble Park before the year’s end. For right now, I’ll be content to post a pic I especially like from a previous visit. It features some waterfowl specimen I find fascinating, though I can’t say for sure what it is!

If you can identify my fine feathered friend, a comment with a tip would be most welcome!

I hope the next few days go well for you as we get closer to Christmastime. And remember to get outdoors!

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

Turkey Lake Park is a Peaceful Place

Turkey Lake Park is a Peaceful Place

I did enjoy my second outing to Turkey Lake Park. I returned from that relaxing two day visit last Tuesday.

By the way, there is no “Turkey Lake Park”, strictly speaking. The official name is Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake, but since I find that a bit cumbersome, the more concise descriptor works for me!

I’m preparing a thorough write-up of my visit, but posting that will have to wait for another day. For now, I’m content just to post a pic and go on the record as saying that I truly love this tranquil setting.

This photo is taken from close to where campers must park and points in the direction of the camping area; as you can see, it’s quite a hike to the actual site where one pitches his or her tent! A very nice spot, nevertheless!

The upside of this arrangement is that it does make your camp site a bit more peaceful and natural-looking; the downside is that it’s a looooooong way to haul your gear!

Another detail that may be of interest: that gentle slope from right to left in the photo leads right to the shore of said Turkey Lake, though that’s just out of the picture.

I will be following up with a more thorough account of this recent trip with more pix before long. In the meantime, let me implore you to put aside some of that stuff on your to-do list for a while and get outdoors!

 

Bulldog Ben Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Bulldog Needs to Get Back to Butterfly Heaven Soon!

Bulldog Needs to Get Back to Butterfly Heaven Soon!

Moss Park. Lots and lots of Butterflies. That was back in the springtime and it was an outdoor excursion I’ll always treasure. One of the best EVER for this puppy, sans un doute! (Can’t beat Florida in the spring if you’re a butterfly buff!)

I have posted with a few pics from the trip–that was in March of this year for any who’d like to see those photos–but today I have some that have not lived anywhere off my hard drive until now.

The one featured here is a fave. But I have plenty of others. That, of course, will be another post on another day…

 

Bulldog Ben Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

 

Bulldog Carries a Lot of Gear While Cruising the Camping Trail

Bulldog Carries a Lot of Gear While Cruising 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!

As I type this, I have a reservation to camp later this month at Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake. I really love their tent sites even though it’s straight-up primitive camping. 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

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

 

Bulldog’s Fave Florida State Park Just Reopened!

Bulldog’s Fave Florida State Park Just Reopened!

As many of you may know, many of our state parks here in Florida were closed after Hurricane Irma passed through. The state has been reopening them a few at a time and I’m on the list of state park lovers to be notified about such things.

I was mostly watching to see if Wekiwa Springs State Park was on the “good list” but it wasn’t until today that the word went out that she’s ready for more visitors. I’m not sure if they’ve green-lighted camping again, I’m going to check on that today.

If you’d like to see the list of which parks are up-and-running again or get any kind of info relating to our truly amazing parks here in the Sunshine State, follow this link to the official site for parks on our peninsula!

I’m going to celebrate the reopening of our lovely parks with a trip to one of my faves before October arrives. Wekiwa Springs is at the very top of the list. So many great ones from which to choose!

That featured photo at the top is one I especially like from a trip about a year ago.

 

Planning a new camping adventure, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

 

Camping World Did Just What They Said They’d Do for This Good Sam!

Camping World Did Just What They Said They’d Do for This Good Sam!

I purchased a good reclining camping chair from Camping World about a year and a half ago. There was a warranty available for it. The clerk told me that if I took the warranty that if I ever had any problem with the product they’d replace it immediately with a brand-new model at no cost. He further said that he’d seen the company already do exactly that in a couple of cases, even though the customer’s issues with the chair were not especially serious.

Well, I was sold. I ponied up the money and made a mental note of what the salesperson had said.

Fast forward to this afternoon. I loaded my faithful chair into the car, tied it down and headed for the Camping World location here in Winter Garden. That’s the location where I bought it. The chair looked a bit worn, but worked alright. The one problem was that it no longer held its reclining position all through the night as it did for well over a year.

I usually use that well-loved chair all through the night, whether I’m in a tent or at home two feet from the bed! Hard, hard use, I know, but a warranty is a warranty!

And before you snicker, yes my weight is within the chair’s stated capacity! With almost 20 lbs to spare!

At any rate, the crew member who listened to me explain the issue found the transaction through my Good Sam Club sales history in her register even though I could not find the actual sales receipt. And within five or six minutes, she brought out a brand-new chair, looking exactly like the one that had accompanied me to dozens of Florida’s best outdoor destinations for over a year. Same arty logo that made it look as good as it worked! In other words, the company stood by that warranty with a smile. They did exactly what the original sales person told me they would do!

One might say that it’s a sad commentary on the kind of service retail customers usually receive that a thoroughly GREAT experience like mine today seems almost miraculous. I’m not going to be cynical and say or imply anything like that. I’m a very satisfied customer of this well-known retail giant whose name is on Orlando’s storied stadium. You might say that Bulldog’s a happy camper! 

Bet you didn’t even see that coming, did you?

 

 

Satisfied customer “Bulldog Ben” writing from Orlando!

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile