Wednesday, February 10, 2016


SPFB!! (See Previous Florida Blogs)  WP Franklin IS our favorite park and everyone else’s too, which is the main reason it is SO difficult to get in.  29 pristine campsites on this long skinny island each face the Caloosahatchee River or the dead end channels
formed when the causeway was built.  The island connects to the opposite side of the river via a wide dam and its adjoining lock and accompanying guiding entry/exit “gates”.   Last year we were on the site #8; this year we are on site #6 which is still across from the eagle’s roosting tree. He was the first thing we (I) looked for when we pulled in and parked!  The small wading tri colored heron and all the skittish little white ibis are here too!  Florida chickens! This year we’ve seen Manatees too!   Right off the edge of our campsite!  Right where H sails his remote controlled sailboat!  Right where the little orange kayaks slide in and out of the water! 
Our beautiful white/coral Amaryllis is in full bloom!  Her first multi-layered bloom was at least 10 inches across!  IF the day is warm enough and IF the wind is calm enough she gets set out on either the bbq grill or on the picnic table for us and everyone going by to enjoy. 

The weather has not been very warm, except for a few days, so we’ve been putting miles on the truck. On one of those days we climbed aboard the 35c trolley and rode out across the causeway to the end of Ft Myers Beach and walked from Bowditch Beach back to “Times Square” where all the souvenir shops and restaurants are located.  It was a rare day because the temperature actually made it up to the 80-degree mark, so ice cream was called for before we returned to town on the trolley.   We’ve been to downtown Ft Myers several times to enjoy the main streets that are lined on each side, for as far as you can see, with tall regal Royal Palms.  On one trip we parked near the marina area where all the boats with faraway places of origin painted on their sterns were moored.  Next to the marina is a park and walking paths lined with inviting benches to sit and people watch. At one end of the park is an ornate fountain that features the three best friends of Edison, Ford and Firestone.  They are life sized and realistic with fish, turtles, an alligator and even an otter casually “swimming” around them in the splashing water. The high graceful bridge that crosses the wide Caloosahatchee River and leads to Cape Coral on the other side dominates the background!

It was B&C’s turn to come visit us and we went out exploring more new sites that day also!  We intended to have seafood for lunch but Bud’s GPS took us to a ”seafood” place that was no longer there.  However, there was another restaurant there and it had pictures of different types of seafood on the windows.  The parking lot was full!  So we pulled in, parked and entered the building. The interior was almost void of people but the waitress greeted us sweetly and guided us to a cloth-covered table/booth.  A pretty girl, pleasingly plump, she advised us about the menu and what each item was.  Her accent was not the normal Hispanic that we’ve been accustomed to hearing. We learned we were in a Peruvian Restaurant!  Our lunches were different but still very tasty. Mine was anyway – except for all the cilantro!  A visit to the beach park and pier in Cape Coral and a jaunt thru Ft Myers filled the afternoon and then it was time for B&C to head back to their home.

On another day, H was restless so we drove out onto Ft Myers Beach and followed the busy road from the northern end of the island to the southern end and back to the mainland at Bonita Springs where we found the Naples/Ft Myers Greyhound Race Track.  Obviously neither of us is a gambler but we’ve never been to a greyhound track so H pulled the dollars out of his wallet and we slithered thru the rotating gate into the betting and grandstand area. Hotdogs, beer and pop were $1 each so we loaded up and headed up the steps to find a spot to sit and watch and learn.  Someone had given us their program as they were leaving the track and we had the last 3 races to watch!  I thought for sure with a name like WWW Jethro Gibbs, that dog would be a sure winner.  Nope!  In the next race I chose Nitro Kristie but she didn’t do any better!  In the last race, I was positive that Hank Aaron would bring it across the line.  At least he came in 2nd!  Thankfully there was NO $$ involved – just wishes!   We each wondered how those 45mph animals would be able to slow down and come to a halt after chasing that silly rabbit so fast and how the handlers would be able to retrieve their canines.  Simple – a BIG red canvas is pulled up as soon as the bunny went by and the dogs come to a COMPLETE halt – NOW!   The handlers are right there and quickly step in and snap the leash on their charge!

This area of Florida has had 13 inches of rain during the month of January.  At Lithia Springs, we had 6 inches in just 2 days.  Lake Okeechobee, half way across the state, is fed by runoff and rain.  The lake is full and the dams on both sides have been opened and polluted water is rushing into the rivers and out into the blue salt water of the Gulf of Mexico. “Our” dam is spewing out dark, frothing water and since the water behind it is so high – all the trash and dying vegetation is piling up against it.  The buzzards and crows walk on it each day looking for lunch.  After a trip to Ortona Locks, we saw their dam’s 4 gates were spewing even more!!  The islands are a mess from all the storms that have caused a red tide to dump lumps of red seaweed up on the shores. The salt water that was once blue is now dark and mucky from all the water coming from the river.  Everyone is upset and angry.

Our time on this beautiful island is finished and our little account is caught up!  We must resume our gypsy style and move on.  We’re half way thru our winter journey and the “train” has to head east.  East – past LaBelle, around the high dikes of the southern end of Lake Okeechobee to another island – Torry Island.