Lori Wilson Park might be…

Lori Wilson Park might be…

My fave park in Cocoa Beach is Lori Wilson Park, adjoining the beach. Right off A1A. And it just might be the the best spot in the very cool town of Cocoa Beach for outdoor freaks like me.

There are plenty of things to do and see in and around Cocoa Beach. I’ve seen quite a few of them. But I do keep returning to LWP over and over.

The banner photo is one I took a while back that I like a lot and has not been shared yet. I hope you like it.

 

Planning my next outdoor adventure, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

 

Crowded Beach, Serene Beachscape

Crowded Beach, Serene Beachscape

I made it out to the beach yesterday and, yes, it was just a bit crowded! But, it’s June in Florida, so that’s just how that works!

When beachgoers are almost on top of each other, it’s not my fave time to head for the shore. I didn’t stay for very long this time out.

But I do love to catch some beachscapes. In Florida, that’s pretty much a can’t miss proposition!

The banner pic is one I like. It makes me feel tranquil.

That’s not a bad thing.

Wishing you moments of calm. Moments of tranquility, throughout your day today.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

 

 

 

 

 

The Beach–Good News and Bad News

The Beach–Good News and Bad News

Made my escape today and got to the beach a bit late. A little after 4 this afternoon.

The good news is that I was at the beach!

The bad news is that it was cold. And really windy.

The wind has not been my friend for the last couple of days. We get days like this here in Central Florida four or five times a year and it makes doing outdoor stuff no damn fun.

So now I’m in my fave Starbucks. I generally come here after a beach photo session to do some editing and enjoy the wares. Not much editing this time around…

I’m referring to the Starbucks where SR 520 meets A1A in Cocoa Beach. And, with a latte in one hand and a cookie in the other, I’m fine with this not-so-great beach outing.

What’s that old saying: a bad day at the beach is better than my best day at the office? Yeah, I think that’s how it goes…

Today I had a chance to prove it’s true.

 

 

“Beachdog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

And, yes, that is the actual Starbucks location featured in this post!

 

Good Beach Outing with Lots of Pix

Good Beach Outing with Lots of Pix

I had a really nice trip to Cocoa Beach recently and have quite a few pix I’m happy with. The next major thing for the blog is to get some of my photos from that hike at the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management area. That’s still on.

And shortly after I get those pix up, I’ll have a bunch ready from the aforementioned beach visit.

For right now, I just have to post with this shot. I’ve never been able to get a cruise ship, a pelican and some of Neptune’s quixotic waves to sync up like they did for this fine foto.

Yeah, it was a moment. The gods of photography were definitely smiling on me at that precise instant.

I’ll take it.

It’s so true that we’ve got to seize those moments when they come. That’s not a skill I’ve mastered, not by any means. But I’m working on it. And this shot is one of those little signs that I’m making some progress.

Hope you’re enjoying life and focused on making the most of the opportunities that come your way.

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

 

 

Ben Sneaks Off to the Beach on Thanksgiving Eve!

Ben Sneaks Off to the Beach on Thanksgiving Eve!

I had a ball at the beach today! Didn’t decide to go until about 1:45 this afternoon, so it wasn’t the longest beach outing I’ve had lately, but it was time very well spent.

My schedule and my budget have conspired to keep me away from the shore for the last couple of months and so getting the hell outta Dodge was a priority. Very glad today was the day. Traffic and crowds were not an issue at all. Yay!

I am working more hours these days and so I’m not sure when I’ll be beach-bound again. But I’m determined to get back before Christmas Day.

I took just over 300 photos this time. So far I’ve only worked a grand total of six that I think are blog-worthy! Yeah, not the best outing from the photography standpoint. But the featured photo you see above is a keeper. My new gull friend was riding the wind about 40 feet above Cocoa Beach. Without a care in the world. Just doing what gulls do.

I admire him. Heading back for another few stolen moments of freedom as soon as i can make it happen.

 

Back in landlocked O’do, I am,

“Beachdog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

Fave Fotos–A Shot of the Sunrise Diner at Sunrise!

Fave Fotos–A Shot of the Sunrise Diner at Sunrise!

I posted my review of this fabulous, real-deal diner back on August 20th. I’m putting up another pic of this place today for two reasons: the first is that I’m jonesing for a trip to the beach right now but can’t get away. The second is that it gives me a chance to use the awesome title of “A Shot of the Sunrise Diner at Sunrise” for this post! That’s a damn good reason!

Bulldog’s going to be a land-locked puppy for another few days and then a trip to Cocoa Beach will be happenin’. Until then, memories of some of his fave beach-side spots will just have to do!

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Sunrise Diner in Cocoa Beach is the Real Deal

Sunrise Diner in Cocoa Beach is the Real Deal

I have loved having breakfast at the Sunrise Diner in Cocoa Beach for about five or six years now. It’s my “go to” spot in Brevard Co. for real food at breakfast-time.

You’ll notice as you approach, that’s it one of those diners. You know, one with a simple and undeniably “old school” look. And yes, they have real food. And a real staff. A few of whom have been around for many, many years.

One of the things that sets the Sunrise apart from other places of its type is that you can–and probably should–eat breakfast, lunch and dinner there. Most diners that live up to the name close around 2:30 in the afternoon. Just SOP for these storied establishments. But this one doesn’t stop seating patrons until 9 PM.

To be honest, I have only enjoyed breakfast here; I’m not a good source on those two other times of the day when Americans usually feel like they have to “fill the tank.” But I have eaten there five or six times and always have a first-rate breakfast, receive very good and personable service and don’t ever feel like I’ve had my pocket picked.

The place hasn’t changed in the six years or so that I’ve been going and it looks as though it’s been around much longer than that. Long-time crew member Wendy told me on a recent visit how long it’s been around and I just don’t remember a number; suffice it to say, they’re far from newcomers.

One of the things I like about the Sunrise is that the breakfast sausage featured there are those over-sized patties that are about the size of a sand dollar. That’s the way this pup likes his sausage in the morning and places that have it are few and far between.

I do know that you’ll find quite a bit of seafood on their menu, and Greek fare is featured prominently as well. I tend to get stuck in a rut at many of my fave eateries but that doesn’t mean you should! And though came as a bit of a surprise to me, their beer selection isn’t bad at all.

Let me close by saying that if you’re anywhere near the heart of Cocoa Beach in the future, especially in the AM, you owe it to yourself to stop at the Sunrise Diner. It’s conveniently located on SR 520, aka Cocoa Beach Cswy, just a block from where 520 meets A1A.

Sunrise Diner ~ 365 W. Cocoa Beach Cswy ~ Cocoa Beach, FL 32931 ~ 321 783-5647

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Another Fabulous Day to Be at the Beach

Another Fabulous Day to Be at the Beach

It truly is a gorgeous day today. Spent a good chunk of it soaking up some rays and enjoying the sights and sounds of the ocean.

Last night I wasn’t completely sure I was beach-bound but one of my fave Central Florida weather folk, Channel 13’s Mallory Nicholls, said the chance of rain for today would be a mere 30% and I pointed the nose of my cruiser to the east and hit the gas!

If you’re also from the Central Florida area, you know we’ve had nearly-constant rains around here for the last two months or more. I’ve whined about the dreary weather we’ve had lately here on da bulldog blog on a couple of occasions. But today has been close to ideal.

Having said that, I didn’t have the best of luck with photos. I’m not the best at shooting under different light conditions. I have an auto-everything cam, the Canon Power Shot, and I like the results under the usual kinds of conditions but I do need to progress to a camera that will stretch me a bit so I can learn the craft better. (What in the world does “usual kinds of conditions” mean in photography, anyway?)

Anyhow, the featured photo is one from a different visit to a stretch of beach quite close to where I was this morning. I like the tranquil feeling I get when I look at this one. And I really like that Mother Nature gave some of her most devoted subjects–like me, to name only one–at least one July day without a big freakin’ downpour! I was a happy camper!

Make that a happy beach-goer, now that I’ve given it a moment of thought.

 

“Beachdog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Life’s A Beach! And Then You Go Back to Work…

Life’s A Beach! And Then You Go Back to Work…

I ended up scheduled to work Saturday and Sunday again this weekend and it’s not the end of the world. I like the work I do and our management and crew are exceptional people to work with, so I’m not going to whine about working through the whole weekend.

It’s just that there was no way I was going to do anything on Friday except go to the beach. I did. I had a great outing.

I spend quite a bit of time at Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach and arrived Friday morning just after 10:00. If I had gotten there much later, I would have ended up using some other site for that day’s beach excursion; a paid site, that is. But I did get in before the “cursing and orbiting” got underway; Bulldog was a lucky pup this last time out!

I usually unload my gear and head straight for the ramp but lingered a while this time to ponder whether this would be the trip where I’d explore the Hammock nature trail at L.W.P. It took me a while to decide that it was and so I threw my beach umbrella back in to the cruiser and headed for the ramp for the nature trail with only my trusty Canon in my hand.

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The trail, I discovered, is not that long; it comes in right at 1/4 mile total. I took my time exploring its length and did slip into the trance with which all photographers are very familiar. It was a good session. Here’s a shot I liked especially, love to play with light and shadow in settings like this:

 

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Truth be told, I only stopped because I realized that I left that beachy straw hat I love so well in the car and that’s not a good thing for this dog. So I cut it short with about 200 shots, went back to the car pour mon chapeau and other essential beach gear and headed for the ramp.

I opted to stay beach side for about four hours, which is a bit more time than usual for me. Before long I was joined by about thirteen jillion of my closest friends and though I thought about leaving many times before I did, I focused on my little slice of sandy, salt-saturated real estate, took a few pix and chose not to dwell on the fact that this trip did not include that illusion I treasure that this time, I’ve got the beach all to myself!

Here’s a shot of my new gullfriend, who in this frame does seem to have Mother Nature’s gifts all to herself; but there were gulls-a-plenty at Cocoa Beach on that lovely Friday afternoon, so neither one of us had the pleasure of pretending that we alone held the key to that tiny corner of Poseidon’s kingdom!

 

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It was a little shy of 4:30 when I headed back to the park, stowed my gear and headed off in search of food. Once my hunger had been staunched, I set out for my fave Starbucks in Cocoa Beach to start working the photos. I knew I had more than enough for a blog post or two and got pulled so deeply into the editing job that I completely missed another activity in Brevard that I had tentatively planned to take in; a quick look at my cell phone’s calendar feature revealed my latest in a never-ending series of failures to review calendar entries until the events have come and gone!

It was a bit frustrating, but because the day had been very well-spent, I was not going to spoil it with thoughts about how it might have been even better. I’ve done that so many times, but passed on the latest opp to sabotage my happiness. And on Saturday morning, as I headed for work, the memory of another happy outing on one of Florida’s amazing beaches was not diminished at all by the awareness that I’d soon be logging on to the system at work and jumping into another busy shift. I’ll create another opportunity to scratch that constant outdoor itch that has plagued me for my six decades on this planet.

And when I do, I’ll take some photos. I’ll have an update or two on social media, and a blog post here for sure. And I’ll no doubt have to show up at work for another shift or two to support my outdoor habit. And then the whole cycle will launch again. C’est la vie!

 

“Beachdog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Pelican Flats Gives Way to Another Dunkin’ Donuts in Cocoa Beach

Pelican Flats Gives Way to Another Dunkin’ Donuts in Cocoa Beach

Pelican Flats ~ formerly found at 695 North Atlantic Ave ~ Cocoa Beach, Florida 32931

I’ve actually been putting off telling the sad story of the closing of Pelican Flats, a now-defunct Cocoa Beach eatery I liked a lot. But now that another Dunkin’ Donuts is about to open in that same spot, it’s time to stop the foot dragging. Here goes…

As some of you may know, I have very long roots in Orlando but have been making Cocoa Beach my “home away from home” for about six or seven years now. I know the town very well.

As a long-time server and foodie, I’m eating in places all up and down the Sunshine State on a regular basis and love to tell my readers all about some of our noteworthy Florida dining establishments.

Smallish, independent joints are my specialty; I had noticed two that fit the bill in Cocoa Beach located fairly close together on that stretch of A1A just before it splits and you’re headed closer to Minute Man Causeway and the downtown area. (If you’re southbound from the 520 intersection, for example.) Those two places would be Barrier Jack’s and Pelican Flats.

I checked out Barrier Jack’s first. I’ve sampled the wares there twice now and it’s on my A list. I will be posting a write up about BJ’s in the near future. Shortly after, I did stop in for breakfast at Pelican Flats and loved everything about the place.

When I find a new spot like the Flats, it generally follows a familiar pattern. I almost always get one of two fave orders. This is because they’re basic things that are hard for the house to screw up, and so it’s easier for me to compare the quality of the dishes at the new establishment vis-a-vis others where I’ve dined.

They had a skillet or two on the menu and I chose the basic one with the taters on the bottom of the pile, the sausage and cheese in the middle and the fried eggs on top. They called it “The Southern Mess” and it was good. Messy and good. The cook had my over easy eggs just right, none of those “crispy brown edges” that send me over the edge and back to a place like Keke’s where the crew doesn’t commit such culinary sins! Just remember folks: it’s not a crispy edge; it’s a burnt egg!

We were all good at P.F. that Sunday morning! No rejected skillets; no upset patrons!

And as for the service, it was also very good. It’s not always easy to give good, attentive service without crossing that line and becoming a pest, but my crew member did exactly that.

I do pay attention to the design or the look of a place. The concept at Flats was beachy and casual and I think it worked very well. I did not take any photos of the interior, but mon petit bateau perdu that welcomed hungry patrons just before they reached the entry proved to be very photogenic! I loved that little castaway boat and got some good shots of it after Pelican Flats did officially run aground!

By the way, I did return within a week or two of my first and only visit and although my new fave joint was locked tight, nothing inside had been disturbed and there was no sign or note to give customers a clue about what might have been going on. Or what might have not been going on, I suppose might be a better way to put it.  Surprisingly, that went on for at least a month. I don’t have a firm date as far as her closing, but it’s been quite a while.

The construction on the new D.D. on the site began a few months ago. For me it gave a bit of finality to Pelican Flat’s silent, sad and abrupt closing. My thought is that there are Dunkin’ Donuts everywhere, and Cocoa Beach has had one for many years. But diners with a cool and well-executed beach theme, good food and a fine staff are not that easy to find!

Alas, Pelican Flats! You are no more! But the memory of that delicious Southern Mess concoction and that really cool one-off, castaway boat will live in my heart for as long as diners love over-easy eggs and real hash browns! A very long time, indeed!

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“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

© 2016 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile