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

Fave Fotos: A Florida Beach in May

Fave Fotos: A Florida Beach in May

Sometimes I take a photo I like so well that it can be good material for a post all by itself.

The banner photo is one of those. It’s from a trip we made about two weeks ago. It was just when beaches became available again.

We didn’t have to get very close to anyone, so be were able to get in a bit of fun in the outdoors without being stressed about our safety. Or anyone’s for that matter.

Cocoa Beach was lovely that day. No surprise there, of course.

Heading back that way soon. With camera in hand…

“Beachdog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

National Trails Day

National Trails Day

Now, that’s one of my fave days, to be sure!

We do observe this auspicious day each year and I’m thinking of some of the trails I have known and loved.

The banner photo is of one tiny stretch of the Florida Trail. This was taken in the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area three years ago.

Planning a trip back to that WMA before this year is over. Have covered many a mile and there are many, many yet to traverse.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Quick Trip Back to the Beach

Quick Trip Back to the Beach

It had been about three months since I had made a beach visit. And that’s way too long.

Because it’s been difficult — as well as risky, of course — to get to the shore, I’ve been eager to get some sand in my shoes again. And to get some good photos as well.

We got back Wednesday evening. The “explosion” of beach-goers we had been worrying about turned out not to be a thing at all. Well, especially since we timed our arrival for about 7 pm. Not too much danger of being being pressed together with a gaggle of other nature-lovers when the parking area was only about 1/3 full.

We knew that because Memorial Day was right around corner that if we wanted to get to the beach, our window of opportunity would not be open for very long.

So we arrived fashionably late, stayed for a bit less than an hour and had a good time.

Something that we did not expect: we saw first-hand how cruise ships are handling being idle while we’re all dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. We saw six cruise ships trolling around three or four miles offshore, basically just marking time.

Here’s a visual about that, though this photo caught only two of the six:

This seemed a bit odd at first but then I realized that I had actually read about how this is working out in the cruise industry. Because there are no cruises happening — and I mean none at all — there isn’t room in port for all of them at any one time. So we witnessed what must now be business as usual; six cruise ships a few miles out, doing absolutely nothing.

We were perfectly happy after and about an hour or so. I got a few decent pics, we both had some sand in our shoes and we were content to find some hot coffee and begin to head for home.

We will not be venturing out at all in the next three days or so. We’re certain that the Memorial Day weekend will have everything — including pretty much all of our favorite outdoor spots — completely covered up with visitors.

I’m not passing judgement on folks who may be crowding together in a thousand different spaces and places over the Memorial Day weekend. I just don’t feel comfortable being among them.

Best wishes to you and yours over the holiday weekend. I hope you have some memorable and life-enriching times.

And — above all — I hope you stay safe.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credits 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

Is there anything better?

Is there anything better?

Yeah, it’s not a rhetorical question. There’s not.

Nothing. Nothing at all.

There’s nothing better than hanging out on the pool deck on a beautiful Spring day like this.

See ya! I’m logging off so I can devote the entire afternoon to doing nothing at all.

Just hangin’ and sippin’ a cold one…

“Pooldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

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

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