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

 

 

The Cost of a Lifetime Senior Pass to Our National Parks is Going Way Up!

The Cost of a Lifetime Senior Pass to Our National Parks is Going Way Up!

I should have made sure to get this post up before today as there’s barely enough time for any of you who didn’t know this but would like to have the pass at minimal cost to get ‘er done.

The cost of the America The Beautiful lifetime senior pass for the National Park system has been $10 for about 23 years. That all changes this Monday, the 28th of August.

The new price will be $80. Yeah, quite a jump, isn’t it?

I just got my paperwork mailed off two days ago. There’s no additional fee if you get one in person at any National Park. But because of the approaching deadline, it’s damn near impossible to get one that way; there’s a huge run on these gems, and they’re usually all gone within a few hours. I was told that by a Park Ranger in a phone convo on Monday.

So printing the hard copy app and filling out credit/debit card info may be your only option. They’ll hit your card for twenty bucks, ten for the actual fee and ten more for processing, at the time they print it, lick it and stick it! (Cards only, checks won’t work.)

If you think you might be able to make it to a park in person in your neck of the woods before they’re all gone, here’s a link to the site to see all the possible parks and facilities where they’re available but you must call before you go! Then you’re good with just ten bucks! For a lifetime pass!

Can’t wait for mine to get here!

Enjoy Mother Nature’s bounty, folks. Hope to see you out there!

 

 

Keepin’ one eye on the mailbox, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit National Park Service

 

 

Teen camper wakes up… and discovers his head is inside bear’s mouth – The Washington Post

 

Your friend and self-appointed camp counselor Bulldog Ben reminds you to keep food away from your site and at least 15′ off the ground. Most importantly: never, never allow a bear to place his jaws around your head while sleeping! No, I mean it! Wow. This kid is okay. The details are below, just click on the blue link:

The bear dragged the teen 10 feet as other counselors and campers tried to fight the animal off.

Source: Teen camper wakes up and discovers his head is inside bear’s mouth – The Washington Post

The Recent Return to Moss Park Was a Success in Every Way

The Recent Return to Moss Park Was a Success in Every Way

No, it wasn’t just about lots of butterfly pix. That was a real treat, for sure. Even if I’m the only one who thinks those photos constitute some really awesome camera work.

It may well have been my coolest encampment yet. And the gang of raccoons that plundered my food store and invaded the sanctity of my precious PT Cruiser last time around did not inflict great trauma on me on this visit to their domain.

And I got to know the park better, beyond the camping part of it, that is. Huge park with so many cool things to do.

This featured image is from that great mix of stalwart pines and majestic oaks that are all around the main swimming beach.

This photo is from my camp site looking in the general direction of the lake, though it can’t been seen in the photo. My space was also right next to the main pier.IMG_3693

Loved my spot even though this time around it put me a bit too close to a large group of very, very rowdy campers. I think it was something like a family reunion. There’s a little more to that story, but I’m going to keep it happy and upbeat. Loved the getaway, loved my pictures.

It’s looking like I’m going to have to dial back on the frequent camping in the next few weeks or months to bump up my earnings just a bit. Life is filled with these trade offs, isn’t it? We do what we must, I suppose.

I’ll still be scratchin’ that major “outdoor itch” I get a lot. But I got to TCB, too! I most certainly be posting stuff right here on da Bulldog blog all along.

Best wishes to you as we go through this early spring time. May it be an excellent season for us. A good time to get out there — frequently — and enjoy the wonders of Nature.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

J’ai seulement vu un papillon la première fois

J’ai seulement vu un papillon la première fois

When I saw this photo the first few times, I thought it was only one exquisitely beautiful papillon, but it’s two. Not sure why I didn’t see the second one for a while. She’s turned “on edge” so she seems one-dimensional. But there are two of them there. Working together. As butterflies should. Whatever that means!

Thinking today about how I often don’t “see” things accurately. About how it’s not unusual for me to need to take that second or third look. And about how flying solo is not necessarily the best way to go…

It’s my M.O. but not necessarily the best way to go.

I love to take pictures.

 

 

Still flying solo here in Central Florida, I am,

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Latest Adventure: Manatee Hammock in Titusville. Nice Park, Horrible Weather!

This was my first foray into a very popular park and campground in Brevard County. That would be Manatee Hammock  Park in Titusville. T’ville is a little north of Cocoa on US 1, for those of you who aren’t too familiar with East Central Florida.

Very nice park. Old school. Allows folks to stay up to six months out of the year. That’s very unusual here in Florida, at least for a county park. Not talking about private RV Parks, that’s a whole ‘nother thang, as the saying goes…

Just to mention a couple of features real quick: lots are small-ish. There is laundry, that’s always a plus. No grill or fire rings on site. That surprised me. Many folks bring a grill, I will next time out. Not the end of the world for me, I’m mostly a propane guy.

I sincerely wish I could have tried this well-known spot for the first time under better conditions. The weather was awful. Just awful. Only a little rain, but the wind was savage. I’ve been in Florida for well over half a century, so strong winds are nothing new for me. But the last two days have been ridiculous. And, as many of you know, I’m a real  camper — meaning a tent camper — not an RV’er, so strong winds are NOT my friend!

I hasten to add that miserable conditions have nothing to do with the park or its management. This place is as popular as any camping spot in the Sunshine State, but we just got off on the wrong foot. I will try her again. I promise.

Are you inclined to ask, “Ben, how windy was it?” Well, I’ll tell you how windy it was: I didn’t fire up a grill or any of my propane stoves for the whole two days. I’ve never done that before. Or NOT done that before, I suppose I should say. Never fired up my Tiki Torch brand skeeter keeper-away device, either. I love that thing and it works. Way better than citronella and all that other stuff. But I was afraid it would get blown over…

The soil — if I can call it that — on my site was so rocky it was next-to-impossible to drive a stake into it. I bent three stakes before I gave up and used gear and gallon water jugs as improvised stakes. Sorta like snow stakes in the winter or using sand anchors for a beach shelter. Kind of ironic that the worst winds I’ve ever had camping came when I was at a site where your tent stakes were unusable. Mother Nature does like to f*ck with you now and then! But I do love my Mother, nevertheless!

Breaking camp and putting away my tent this morning was quite an ordeal. Not even gonna go into that! But I promise to go to Manatee Hammock again before long and get passed this not-so-great first impression.

By the way, this park’s claim to fame is that it’s the one that gives park goers and even some members of the public (for a fee) an amazing view of space launches! Yeah, it’s THAT park! It was very hard (impossible) to book in the Shuttle Era, but now with private launches not quite so hard.

One other thing that was a bit of a surprise to me: they do not have an alcohol prohibition. Read the rules three times. First State or County park I’ve seen without such a rule. Not that I’m complaining, mind you! Just surprised me. In a good way.

Try Manatee Hammock Park if you’re anywhere in or near Florida’s Spacecoast. And tell me what you think. I will be booking again in the near future. There’s nowhere to go but up!

Sequestered safely inside now, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Camping at Lake Mills Park in Beautiful Chuluota This Week

Camping at Lake Mills Park in Beautiful Chuluota This Week

I am here in Chuluota, a small town in Seminole County. That’s on the eastern side of the Orlando metro area. Lake Mills Park is way more than only the camping area, which has 13 spaces and is smaller than most. I haven’t roamed around much yet, hope to do more of that today and get some good pix.

This camping adventure is really unusual in one particular way: Ol’ Bulldog here is the ONLY camper! Yes, you read that right. I’m the only one! Last night it was just lil ol’ me and the critters! Who mostly were keeping a low profile.

One cool thing about being the only one: they let me pick my space. The one I chose from a map at booking was next to a bridge on one of the trails that are popular with folks who come to the park. There is a sign telling people not to drive vehicles into the camping area, but they can walk through all they like. It’s kind of weird. And space no. 10 was right there in one of the best-loved and most visited parks of the whole park. But folks “just passin’ through” seems to happen all over the camping area. So I did choose another space, moved all the way up to no. 1! (This was a great lesson in the limits of maps!)

I’m not complaining, just noting that that’s very different. (Am I complaining? Let me get back to you on that!) Bottom line, I’ve never seen that before. In most of the parks I’ve camped in, the campers are in a much more remote part of the park and seeing folks not booked for camping walking into the camp sites — or even through — the camp sites would be pretty strange. I know I’m more into maintaining one’s “personal space” than most folks; perhaps this would be no big deal to some. It felt a bit strange to me.

Having said that, let me emphasize again, Lake Mills Park is beautiful. Truly. I can’t promise a bunch of pix, as I’ve let my camera battery run down and power and water are not a part of the deal in Seminole Co. Parks. If you lean towards the primitive flavor of camping adventures, try Lake Mills Park!

A more complete report coming after day two.

Hey, I wonder if I’ll spend night two all alone as well. We’re about to find out!

Have a marvelous Monday. I’ll be checking in again before too long.

 

Bulldog Ben in Chuluota, Florida

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

My Second Visit to Long Point Camp and Friction Farm!

My Second Visit to Long Point Camp and Friction Farm!

I got back into town six days ago after my return to Long Point Camp in Melbourne Beach. Had a very nice time but didn’t blog about it until now as I’m right in the middle of a move.

Moving is just about my least favorite thing in the whole world. It ranks just below having a root canal but a tad bit higher than throwing up on a crowded bus. And — as you all know well — moving is not just taxing physically and emotionally, it’s always really, really time-consuming. Yuck.

Be that as it may, my return to Long Point was a fine stretch of camping by any standard. The weather was absolutely perfect and I got a chance to see a couple of friends from the world of acoustic music that I don’t get to see very often. That would be Aidan Quinn and Christine Stay, known together in the world of acoustic music as Friction Farm. These two have been delighting lovers of acoustic music for over ten years now and they’re faves of mine.

Staying at one of the coolest campgrounds in the Sunshine State and getting to see Aidan and Christine again — two mighty fine days and a wonderful way to kick off the month of February!

Friction Farm is so darn good that I’m going to devote the next post to their show at Long Point Camp. I booked Long Point for this particular camping excursion specifically to have a chance to hear them and catch up on their musical adventures. Not that one needs a special reason to make a trip to Long Point, but I did want to see Friction Farm again. I’m glad I did.

So, more about the musical part of this excursion in a minute. I’ll wrap this up by saying that I hope you guys are having a splendid month of February and that at least some of you are getting to scratch that outdoor itch!

Back in the apartment and missing Mother Nature, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Moss Park in Southern Orange County is a Lovely Spot

Moss Park in Southern Orange County is a Lovely Spot

Just got back from a two day camp. Moss Park this time. If you’re familiar with greater Orlando, you know that’s just a bit east of our airport and that the Lake Nona area has grown up around the park. Yes, Moss Park pre-dates all the Lake Nona stuff. By many, many years.

What a place for a shutterbug to run wild! Loved it. Will be returning soon. In Florida, our motto should be “So Many Beautiful Places; So Little Time!”

Well, I’d vote for that. So much beauty all up and down the Sunshine State. Getting to experience just a bit more of it, and “talking” about here gives my life meaning and purpose. I’ll start tonight with just one quick photo. More to come. I promise.

 

Photo Credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

 

You Do Have to See Silver Springs State Park to Get It!

You Do Have to See Silver Springs State Park to Get It!

Just got back from a two day camping excursion to Silver Springs State Park near Ocala and had an awesome time!

Silver Springs State Park is the newest gem in Florida’s state park system and I’m glad it’s been added. As many of you may know, it was a tourist attraction, the oldest in the Sunshine State and was completely converted to a state park in October of 2013. And it’s beautiful.

I never did see the original attraction. Had seen Weeki Wachee as a kid and Cyprus Gardens a time or two, but never made it out to Silver Springs. Awfully glad I finally did!

I just spent two nights camping in the park, enjoyed every moment of it. It was just a bit chilly for sleeping, but to me that’s better than really hot! The temps here in Florida are not always ideal for those of us who enjoy outdoor activities. This time of year is as good as it gets.

If you’d like to know more about the history of Silver Springs and its change from a tourist attraction to a state park, the Wikipedia entry is a good place to begin.

If you’d like to visit the site for the park as it exists today, follow this link.

I took plenty of pix. I’ll be posting soon with more.

 

Happy Camper Bulldog Ben

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile