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 ┬áPark 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 ┬ácamper — 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

Florida is Burning Up in the Summer of 2016

Florida is Burning Up in the Summer of 2016

It’s really, really hot out there. Not that I’m telling you anything you didn’t already know. The other day I glanced at the temperature indicator on my dash on the way home. Even though it’s crazy-hot out there, I was a bit surprised to see that it read 100 degrees. Welcome to Florida!

As you no doubt know, the temps are insanely-hot everywhere. All told, this is my 52nd summer in the Sunshine State and I’m over this heat! I realize we Floridians are not alone here, but who cares when the heat index is in triple digits. I really don’t like how each summer seems hotter than the one before…

And by now you know that the Zika virus is a thing down here. It’s not just travel-related cases anymore, our home-grown mosquitoes can transmit it. You don’t have to get bit in the tropics first and then fly back. Our native-born, highly-trained, courteous and efficient skeeters can gnaw on your sweaty flesh and transmit this terrible, modern-day plague.

I’m sick of the heat. I don’t want the latest mosquito-borne virus moving up the peninsula; got West Nile Virus in 2003, don’t want Zika. And I’m sick of that other plague we deal with here in Florida: Rick Scott, with the brain of a mosquito, and the heart of a vampire. Come to think of it, he looks like one, too!

Sticky, unrelenting sub-tropical heat; Zika-bearing skeeters furiously beating wings upstate, lusting for blood; the reincarnation of Bela Lugosi masquerading as our governor. That’s it. I’m hopping the first north-bound freight and heading for Canada.