LaBelle to Fort Meyers – November 2019

The weather has been sunny and beautiful.  Journeyer has been tucked away for the summer at River Forest Yacht Center in LaBelle.  The generator has been repaired, but we still have a few engine problems.  Miley’s Diesel Service, the local Cat dealer, finally found the root cause of our engine shutdown issues from last spring: another loose wire!! They repaired this quickly, but still need to address an overheating problem at top speeds.  We subsequently learned that Caterpillar had a bulletin out for this exact problem with the heat exchangers.  We are finally getting things resolved. 

We departed LaBelle for Legacy Harbour Marina on the 4th of November.  We started out early.  I was up on the bow of the boat taking in the lines.  I told Chuck to bring the boat closer into the dock with the Yacht Controller.  He gives it a little pulse, and oh no!  The Journeyer goes away from the dock.  My thoughts were, “Is he a little rusty?”    Chuck thinks he has the remote upside down.  No, not the case.  One of the dockhands stroll by and asks if we need any assistance in getting off [insert lewd jokes here].  Chuck tells him his Yacht Controller is not working correctly.   The dock hand questions on whether or not we had the bottom painted.  Chuck says, “Yes”.  The dockhand quickly realizes that a rookie mistake has been made while painting the bottom.  The thrusters have been put back on incorrectly. The thrusters have to be removed before painting.  Long story short, they were put back on in reverse.  In layman’s terms, the bow thruster is like a big fan.  When put in one way, it blows air at you.  Put in the opposite way, it blows air away from you. 

It was like an Indy 500 race.  Journeyer pulled into the pitstop, and was placed in the sling and hoisted out the water in a matter of a few minutes.  The thrusters were removed and reinstalled correctly.  In a matter of a few minutes, Journeyer was back in the water, and we headed on our way to Legacy Harbour Marina in Fort Myers.  At our first lock, we were met by Mr. Alligator. 

Legacy Harbour Marina is located in Fort Myers, FL along the Caloosahatchee River.  It is just a short walk to downtown from this marina.  During our stay we have enjoyed spectacular sunsets and beautiful weather.

Nestled alongside the Caloosachatchee River, Fort Myers is a great place to walk in the mornings. Each morning, we get up to beautiful Florida sunshine and go for a 3 1/2 mile walk. As I walked the streets for the first time, I kept my eyes open for air plants. I had to give up mine when we went home in the spring. To my delight, I spied several attached to the palm trees. As we continue on our walk Chuck spied the jackpot of all trees. It was loaded with Tilansdia air plants.

The marina is just a few blocks from the historic Edison and Ford winter estates.  We took a guided tour of Edison and Ford’s winter estate that is nearly 21 acres of historic landscape on the Caloosahatchee River. 

Edison purchased the land in 1885.  Mrs. Edison deeded the property to the City of Fort Myers in 1947 under the condition that they keep it open to the public. In 1914, the Ford family first visited Edison in Fort Myers.  They were invited to go camping in the Everglades.  Two years later Ford purchased three acres of riverfront property adjacent to his mentor, Edison.  Ford was distraught by Edison’s death in 1931 and sold his house in 1945.  Eventually, the city of Fort Myers purchased it in 1988

The landscape served as a living laboratory for Edison and Ford.  Edison and Ford were obsessed in finding a cheap alternative to rubber, so they formed the Edison Botanic Research Corporation in 1927.  It was quite interesting to tour their gardens, their lab, and their homes.

The Moonlight Gardens
One of the first female landscape architects in America, Ellen Biddle Shipman, designed this garden in 1928 for Mina Edison.
Edison had one of the first private pools constructed in the region in 1910. Banana trees were planted to block people from looking in from the river. It is over a 100 years old and still functioning. Remarkable.

Inside the Edison’s Home

Thomas Edison’s Inventions

He held over 1000 patents for his inventions. My favourite, the talking doll. Edison invented the original doll in 1877. The doll stood 22 inches and had a removable phonograph that played a single nursery rhyme.

Inside Ford’s Home

Ford’s historic vehicles in a garage that was added by the Biggar family when they purchased Ford’s property in 1945 after Edison passed away.

The Ford FlatHead V-8 Engine

The V-8 Engine was introduced by the Ford Motor Company and designed to out pro-form the 6 cylinder engine. It was one piece and made from cast iron.

The Laboratory

Airboat & Alligator Tour of the Everglades – Immokalee – Lake Trafford

We took the opportunity to take an airboat tour.  It was Mother Nature’s hidden treasure of natural beauty.  On our adventure through the swamp, we experienced alligators and many beautiful birds in their natural habitat.  We held a baby alligator, and a couple of snakes.    I only touched the huge python.

The 24 Mile Bike Ride

It was a beautiful day.  The breeze drifts the most velvety splash of warmth on our skin.  It is the perfect day for a bike ride.  I have not been on my bike since my distal radius fracture.  I was a bit nervous, but it was a perfect day to take in the canvas at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Fort Myers.  On the route, we take in the sites – turtles, and yes, an alligator sunning himself, waiting for his next morsel of food.   Very cool indeed.

Our first stop was the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium.  We took a stroll on their boardwalk, visited the flowers of the sky.  We watched as the blossoms serenaded the dancing ladies [butterflies] to their blooms where they drank in the sweet nectar, later going to lay their eggs on nearby foliage. We see a nearby caterpillar in a snake-like “striking” pose on a branch.  His forked tongue oozes a stinky smell.  Soon this ugly duckling will change into lovely falling petals flitting through the sky.  Later, we visited their Audubon aviary, which is home to permanently injured hawks owls and eagles.  Of course, we stopped to see the rattlesnakes, and non-venomous reptiles.  Later we took in a Planetarium Show – “From Earth to the Universe” plus Autumn Stargazing.

Zebra Butterfly sipping sweet nectar.
Zebra Longwing Butterfly – Florida’s Sate Butterfly
The Giant Swallowtail
Larva of the Giant Swallowtail
Laying Eggs
Monarch Butterfly
Injured Bald Eagle

Our next stop was Six Mile Cypress Slough (Pronounced Slew) Preserve.  It has over 3,500 acres of wetland ecosystem.  They refer to a slough as a swamp or shallow lake system with slowly flowing freshwater, usually a backwater to a larger body of water. This slough catches and filters rainwater on its way towards Estero Bay. The interpretive center was closed for the Thanksgiving weekend; however, we could still stroll the 1.2 mile long boardwalk.   It was very busy, so it was not the ideal time to come, but we did see many plants, some birds, and a couple of tortoises basking in the sunlight.  This is considered the dry season for the slough.   As we walked the cypress swamp, we saw many Swamp Ferns.  As the forest began to close in on you, and you looked up into this dark and magical space, you were rewarded with giant air plants. As we continued our walk, we saw the Cypress knees, which are root looking structures that are sticking out of the ground for cypress trees.  We also saw the Shoestring Fern.  It is a plant that grows on Sabal Palmetto trees.  It makes a tree look like it is growing grass from it.

Louisiana Heron – The Lady of the Waters
So graceful in her movements, she strolls on the water’s edge.
Cypress Knees
Shoestring Fern
The Black-crowned Night Heron
The Pileated Woodpecker. This one is a male. Males have a red strip on the cheek.
The Great Egret

Fort Myers Beach Sand Sculpting

Sculptors from all over the world showed of their talent at the annual Sand Sculpting Championship.  Each year around the last weekend of November a festival is held at Fort Myers Beach.  Sculptors submit applications which are viewed by a panel.  The artists work their magic with all sorts of sand sculpting tools to create some truly inspiring works of art.  The soft white sand beaches of Florida come from quartz rocks.  It is amazingly soft and white.

My Favourite – What is yours?
Dragon is making fun of the lady.