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 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

 

 

 

Irma Has Fallen Apart and Florida is Recovering

Irma Has Fallen Apart and Florida is Recovering

Hurricane Irma blew through my part of Florida in the wee hours of Monday morning. The peak winds for us in the Orlando area came around 1:20 AM. Yes, I was up and I couldn’t keep from watching my NE facing window since that was the main direction from which those vicious winds were coming.

No serious damage here, but we did have several smallish trees in large planters blown over and lost a large limb on the big oak in the back yard. (See photo above.) I say “large limb” and I mean about 10-12″ across; that’s a good-sized limb. Big enough that removing it is going to take a rope and a crew of two or three. It was right on the property line and will almost certainly fall into the adjoining neighbor’s back yard when cut free. (Its fall was arrested by other, lower limbs.)

On Thursday morning I’m going to remove another good-sized limb from the neighbor’s yard on the east side. My roomie and I estimate that it will take about two weeks to get all of the yard debris to the curb for collection. It’s not an afternoon or two of work. And this yard is not as big as some. But a lot of growth since the last big storm.

I’m the newest tenant here but because I have a lot of tree experience and love doing this kind of work, I’m in the middle of the clean up effort. The primary tenant has been here for 17 years so she’s definitely the committee chair; the owner is in Naples, which took the full effects of Irma’s wrath, so we’re going to do what’s got to be done without having to get him to redirect his attention from what is almost certainly a huge task as far as getting his own domicile squared away. The structure seems to have weathered all of this in fine form, but trees, shrubs and cacti are going to need considerable attention.

Because I’ve been in Florida since 1961, I have been through many, many hurricanes. Riding out a storm is not too big a deal, but I certainly will admit that I don’t sleep a wink if the damn thing happens to come through my part of the state in the wee hours. No doubt some folks can sleep just fine when storms blow through; I’m not one of them.

Let me point out that always “keeping one eye open” for the approach of danger is an example of an evolutionarily positive trait. Meaning that those who have that trait are more likely to reproduce and therefore pass along that trait. Being a light sleeper in hazardous conditions is a very good thing! Let the record show that Ol’ Bulldog does indeed possess that trait!

Damage to trees and shrubs was the worst for my house mates and me. But many in Florida were not so fortunate. Well over half of our state’s utility customers were left with no power; as of 11:00 PM today, Sept 12th, about a third of all Floridians are still toting flashlights and burning candles. Although cell service and internet connections were disrupted here, we kept our lights on throughout. Good to have fortune smile on us on that score, to be sure!

The death toll in the Sunshine State stands at 12 as I write this and will almost certainly go higher. Irma was no wimpy storm and we’re certainly relieved now that she’s gone up the road a ways and ultimately fallen apart. We know that some of her siblings will be heading this way; some, perhaps, before this year’s hurricane season wraps up.

We’re Floridians; we’ll be ready.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

The Professional Bull Riders Tour came to Tulsa this week

The Professional Bull Riders Tour came to Tulsa this week

Professional bull riding is an insane sport! Mad respect to the cowboys who ride those damn bulls! I caught a Pro Bull Riders tour event this afternoon on CBS while channel surfing and stayed with it to the end. Some good riding in Tulsa this weekend.

And please know that the bulls are not mistreated; this is nothing at all like Bullfighting. The bulls are part of the action and get scored too. Riders don’t want to draw a bull that isn’t top shelf because it would hurt their score. Sort of like “degree of difficulty” for an Olympic diver. Unusual and very interesting sport. My fave bull is “Seven Dust” named because it’s so hard to stay on him for the full eight seconds required to score!

As many of you know, Bulldog is a big sports fan; bull riding is not at the top of my list, but I feel about the sport the way I feel about hockey; the skill level of the athletes is so insanely high–as is the likelihood of mayhem and great bodily injury–that you just have to give them a ton of respect.

The other reason I keep one eye on the sport is that in my early cab driving days I had several fares with riders who were in town for their events. I don’t think we’ve had many of those in Orlando lately, but there were several PBR events in the early aughts at the old Amway Arena. Those were the days!

Anyhow, a tip of the hat to the riders and to the bulls who don’t want to be ridden! And everyone associated with this sport. It’s way down on the list in terms of audience and dollars for the athletes, but it’s one helluva sport!

 

 

Lovin’ the PBR today and waiting for SNB to start, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

A Dark Tale of 49 Murdered by Hate, revisited

The story of the slaughter of 49 partiers at Pulse has been told many times. By a thousand journos and bloggers. Orlando and her people are still coming to grips with what happened there in the early morning hours of June 12th; all the more so today as we’re exactly one month from this sad and shocking spectacle. The memorials still attract many people–from around Central Florida and all over the planet–on a daily basis.

Like so many of us with deep roots in this marvelous city, I’ve read a lot of the coverage. Every media outlet in the country has been all over this story, and they should. Because I worked part time in radio news way back in the day, I’ve always enjoyed critiquing the media and I must say that I think so many around here have done great work on this heart breakingly-awful story. WKMG, our local CBS affiliate is among them. I’ve been a loyal viewer for many years and think they’re showing the rest of us how it’s done.

The Orlando Sentinel has never shone more brightly. I say that as one who’s been reading their work for half a century; we go back to when The Sentinel landed in the driveway every morning and The Evening Sentinel-Star was tossed into the same spot mid-afternoon each week day. It was a welcome thing, back in the ’60s and ’70s, to have a paper to peruse after dinner.

Today’s article in The Sentinel about how our city and its people are doing a month after the tragedy is first-rate. To catch that, follow this link.

When I think about Pulse, I eschew thoughts of hate, trauma and death and instead focus the good times had with musical colleagues back in the ’90s when the club that would later become Pulse under the new owners was a well-known Italian eatery. Dante’s served up good Italian fare and liberal helpings of local music. Good times. If any of us could have had just a moment’s premonition of about what would one day happen in that place, it would have been world-altering.

In a previous blog posting here I said that if the shooter’s goal was to make our city cower in terror or turn on one another, he failed miserably. This community has never been more united. The messengers of hate who tried to kick Orlando when she was down have learned that this community thinks they’re really sick. Yeah, I’m speaking to you, Prosecutor Ken Lewis. Sorry, make that former-prosecutor Ken Lewis. Fits my concept of justice precisely.

We’re remembering and celebrating our brothers, sisters, children and friends who didn’t make it out alive. Praying for the survivors and doing what a community can do, in a material way, to help them move forward with their recoveries and their lives.

Watching that unfold is greatly consoling. Chronicling it for this community and the world is exemplary. As I take in the many stories carried by our local TV stations and The Sentinel 30 days down the road, I’m reminded of one more reason that Central Florida is an excellent place to live, thrive and survive, filled with many caring and generous people. The slogan #OrlandoStrong is not merely a feel-good phrase, it’s a statement that sums up well the true character of this community.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile