The light bulb is celebrated in Ft. Myers. This city was the winter home of Thomas Alva Edison and the work he completed here is of great community pride.
A different light bulb is at left, a parade balloon ala Macy's Thanksgiving parade in New York City.
Ft. Myers also bills itself as the City of Palms, planting Royal Palms along many of the city streets. Below, the light bulb leads the Parade of Lights through the palm-lined city streets.
Thomas Edison is still in Ft. Myers, standing under a Banyan tree he planted. It has grown to be the largest Banyan in the U.S., covering over a half acre. The Banyan is known as the "Walking Tree" for the way the roots drop from the limbs, growing to tree trunk size, supporting the limbs above. While Edison is most remembered for the light bulb and phonograph, his research into botany was extensive. He brought many species of plants from around the world. One of his projects was to find a plant that would provide a source of rubber if the U.S. was cut off from foreign supplies.
From varieties of citrus ( Temple orange blossom), to palms (Palmaya Palm), a huge specimen of a Brown Wooly Fig tree (another in the large family of Ficus, along with the Banyan), to a hedge of Bougainvillea, the grounds of Edison's home and laboratory are filled with his work in Botany.
Edison's winter home provides a view into the lifestyle and activities in the early 20th century. Lighting was celebrated with elaborate chandeliers.
The home is located on the Caloosahatchee River, providing a beautiful view, cooling breezes, and a dock for shipping material to the home and laboratory.
A museum of inventions and machinery developed by Edison has been organized in the laboratory across the street from his winter home. Of course, light bulbs and electrical generating equipment are a major component of the museum. The Edison Museum is a worthy stop for both the entertainment and educational aspects.
Henry Ford was an employee of Edison Labs. He was working on a machine design of his own, which he called a quadricycle, a four-wheeled internal-combustion-powered device. Edison told him that his design had promise. The rest, as they say, is history. After Ford became successful at his own company, he began spending winters at the Edison home and eventually purchased the house next door. Henry Ford can still be seen standing in the gardens.
The garage behind Ford's home houses two of his most famous products: the Model T and Model A.
The museum has displays devoted to Ford also. Another one of Ford's famous products was the Flat Head Ford V8. It was the first 8 cylinder and first V configuration engine available in a car affordable to the masses. One of its first big tests was being fitted to a Model A and driven to Ft. Myers for the winter.
Sanibel Island is a Gulf barrier island west of Ft. Myers. It is the island in the bottom of the satellite image above, with Captiva and North Captive Island at the upper end of its tail. It was a secluded place and natural environment because it could only be reached by private boat or ferry. Until 1963, that is. A bridge from the mainland was built, leading to much development on the island. Fortunately, some large tracts of property have been set aside for conservation - Ding Darling State Park and the Sanibel-Captiva conservation area.
The Sanibel River flows through the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation area. Its natural appearance and its hosting of native wildlife belie the fact that it is man-made. It was dug to provide drainage of wet areas and to provide flood control for storms. Though man-made, it does add to the natural surroundings.
The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation has an interpretive center with vast amounts of information about the flora and fauna native to the area. One of the displays contained live turtles that inhabit this area of Florida. Another worthwhile educational stop.
The developed areas of Sanibel Island offer some entertainment features also. Randy Wayne White, a Florida mystery writer, lives on Sanibel Island. He has a series of novels featuring Doc Ford, a marine biologist living on Tarpon Lake in Sanibel Island. Randy Wayne White is in partnership with Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grill, featuring his books and some Florida and Caribbean foods.
A sampling of different foods throughout the country has been an objective of this journey. The black bean dip at Doc Ford's was not only delicious, its proportions could have made it an entire meal. A couple of rum drinks added to the experience. Doc Ford's menu includes 19 varieties of rum.
Randy Wayne White traveled through many countries as a writer for Outside Magazine. He began collecting peppers from the countries he visited. His hobby expanded until it became a business with a huge variety of hot sauces. These three were on our table.
A culinary and literary experience combined at one location. For some recreational reading, a Doc Ford book can bring great enjoyment. And, because he researches his topics well, there are always some new information to be learned. The link below will provide more information on RWW and his books. And, if you ever visit Sanibel Island or Ft. Myers Beach, consider giving one of the Doc Ford Restaurants a try.