Beauty in the ‘burbs!

Beauty in the ‘burbs!

It’s such a marvelous thing when you find amazing natural beauty in unexpected places.

About two miles from the neighborhood where I live is a web of subdivisions all tagged with the Deerfield name. There are four or five different subs all told; it’s a fairly large development.

On the southern fringe of the complex–yes, off Deerfield Drive–the developers created a large urban wetland that rivals any natural space I’ve seen in Central Florida.

It’s quite beautiful and I’ve often thought that the area would be prime for a photo shoot.

Well, one day last week, I finally got off my fanny and took about 150 shots.

I’m pretty pleased with the result.

Here’s another shot I like a lot. At this point, I was probably fewer than 40 or 50 steps into this lovely space.

It’s too much fun when you’re taking pix to play tricks with shadow and light. I love to shoot in early morning or come out to catch those last two hours of daylight in order to have the most fun possible with shadows.

I’ll get one more in before I publish this post and get on with some “other stuff” that’s calling out for my attention this afternoon. This one captures for me that feeling of blossoming serenity that filled me when I first walked up on this wonderful oasis of tranquility that sits less than a quarter mile from busy John Young Parkway in southern Orange County.

Deerfield-shoot-9-5-18-wrkd-2b (28)

 

May you be blessed with some serene scenes and moments of intense tranquility today.

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

 

 

Lone Cabbage Fish Camp

Lone Cabbage Fish Camp

If you live in Orlando and go to Cocoa or Cocoa Beach very often, you’ve passed Lone Cabbage Fish Camp, no doubt.

There are several ways to get to the Cocoa area from O’do and I’d venture to say that SR 520 is the most common route if you’re not fond of tolls. The Beach Line Expressway has them, but SR 520 does not.

Lone Cabbage is that little outpost of civilization on your right as you’re crossing the St John’s River and entering Brevard County.

If you don’t turn in at Lone Cabbage in search of an air boat ride–yes, they certainly do those–you’re most likely on a quest for good, local seafood and a beer or two to wash it down.

I had lunch at Lone Cabbage yesterday after about a thousand trips to Cocoa Beach over that well-travel road and I’m glad I did.

I ordered the Catfish Dinner, took it just the way it comes–with hushpuppies, their seasoned fries and slaw and chased it with a Coors Light. (No beer taps in this well-worn and very authentic joint, but about 15 different bottled brands.)

The Catfish was good and the fries were above average. They had lived under a heat lamp just a few moments too long by my standard, but when you sit down in a busy eatery at straight-up noon, that’s how it usually goes.

I love a good, freshly-made cole slaw and theirs was tasty and not overly-sweet. When the sugar kicks all the other ingredients into the back seat–something that’s far from rare in many home-style restaurants–I don’t like it!

I’d like to think that an establishment with cabbage in the name joint would have amazing slaw and although that’s not the case, it’s certainly not a situation where this often under-appreciated side dish warranted “points off”!

Yikes! I’ve become a “slaw snob”!

My impressions of Lone Cabbage Fish Camp are just fine so far. To have a more complete picture, I’d like to have more than only one dish and check out the air boat rides as well. But based on poking around the site and the County Park next to it a couple of times and patronizing it once, I certainly can recommend it. It’s well-known around the East Central Florida region and has been busy the times I’ve stopped by.

The next time you’re breezing down SR 520 mid-way between Cocoa and Orlando, stop in at Lone Cabbage and take in this landmark. You’ll pass a small Brevard Co. Park, James Bourbeau Memorial, where there is a public boat ramp and public rest rooms.

LoneCabb-airboat-rides-sign

And right next door, you’ll find Lone Cabbage. The basic boat ride does not require a reservation, but the bigger packages do. The minimum wait is 30 minutes. The perfect time to grab a quick lunch!

To visit their site and see more about LCFC, including the menu, just click on this link.

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

 

 

 

 

Big Storm in Orlando means one RV’er is NOT a Happy Camper!

Big Storm in Orlando means one RV’er is NOT a Happy Camper!

Just saw this feature while cruising some news sites. What a story this is!

I have camped here, twice. Very nice park. I have not camped where this gentleman was because the park has separate areas for RV’ers and tent campers like yours truly. The RV section is on the left about a quarter mile before the tent spaces; they are much closer to Turkey Lake, the showers and the cabins.

When this big storm hit us yesterday evening, I was impressed, to say the least! I was absolutely hoping that we didn’t have issues with a window or some part of the roof being wind-compromised and suddenly having to deal with water in the house. (I’m renting in a 60 year old home that’s not in the very best shape.)

Grateful that, in the end, I didn’t have a problem with this huge Florida thunderstorm, but Mr. James Williams certainly did. A very large limb from a large oak came down and not only ripped a huge gash in the RV, but blocked our unhappy camper from getting out of his now-destroyed RV!

The stalwart survivor of this camping catastrophe did dial 911. The City of Orlando Fire and Rescue crews did what they do, and the Red Cross is giving James, and some others around the Orlando Metro area, secure and dry shelter for now.

A closing thought: camping is so much damn fun, I hope Mr. Williams is able to go on enjoying this awesome American pastime moving forward in spite of Wednesday’s vicious storm.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit: Ben Lawrence Basile is the owner of this photo that shows the park on a much, much nicer day. November 27th of last year, to be precise!

After thoughts: the park’s official name is Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake, but although I’m often a stickler for precision, I call it Turkey Lake Park as many locals do. This fine park and resort is the only camping spot in the city’s park system; it sits less than two miles north of Universal Studios.

I’ve posted here before about camping in this nice enclave of tranquility inside Orlando city limits. That post is right here.

 

What’s Bulldog to do when he can’t get away for a camping trip?

What’s Bulldog to do when he can’t get away for a camping trip?

I’ll tell you what he does! He cruises over to one of his fave city parks here in Central Florida and fires up the grill.

Sometimes he does the full monte breakfast; it’s always fun to fire up that two burner camp stove.

There are a thousand reasons why I don’t get to camp or hike nearly as often as I like; could be a work schedule issue. Could be a budget thing. Very often it’s because my fave campgrounds are all booked up.

Boo-hoo-hoo!

The header photo for this post is of Downey Park on Orlando’s east side. This spot was very well-planned and put together and has way more grills than most parks. And even thought it’s usually mobbed–especially on the weekends–I usually have no trouble finding an available grill.

Lake Downey is a lovely spot on the eastern edge of the park; it’s a very nice place to take a photo or two. Or fifty or sixty. So here are a couple of photos I especially like of this corner of Downey Park.

I hope your week is off to a good start. I’m planning a beach getaway for later this week. Will let you know if I pull it off!

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

 

Fine Fotos: A Beautiful Nature Spot in the Middle of Orlando

Fine Fotos: A Beautiful Nature Spot in the Middle of Orlando

As you guys know, posting pix of some of the beautiful places I visit is one of my very favorite things to do on my blog! I’m a total outdoor nut and proud of it!

Well, I had to go to my pharmacy today and pick up scripts. I was struck at how beautiful the campus of Aspire Health Partners is on Mercy Drive in Orlando. Well, it’s not the first time I realized that, but it is the first time I whipped out a camera to record the moment.

I like the way these pix turned out. Didn’t take lots of ’em. But very happy I didn’t let the moment pass.

Always tickled when I find spots of bucolic beauty in the middle of the city. I’ll soon be back haunting some of our lovely state parks here in Florida to drink in nature’s beauty in places where we’re a bit more accustomed to seeing it!

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

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