Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fort Myers

See Previous Florida Blogs!!  SPFB!!   WP Franklin Campground is on an island in the middle of the Caloosahatchee River that flows from Lake Okeechobee, west to the Gulf of Mexico at Ft Myers.  This elongated island has a dam and a boat lock
attached to it, which in turn straddles the river.  From the south side of the lock and dam is the day use/swimming area and the observation deck where visitors can watch an assortment of boats slowly slide cautiously into the dark water of the lock.  When the mighty steel gates creak to a close behind them,
the equally mighty gates at the other end, slowly begin to allow tannic river water to gush in, bringing the water level inside the lock up (or down) to the level of that gate.  Once the churning water has become equal, the gate is fully opened and the boats are free to finish their voyage, either up or down the river.  On the bright sunny day we chose to revisit the south side park, the banks were edged with hopeful fishermen watching over their filament lines cast out into the calm water outside of the lock.  As luck would have it, a tourist vessel out of Ft Myers was entering into the lock along with several private boats.   We joined the other spectators on the long steel observation deck to watch the “locking thru” process.  Down below us in the confines of the closed gates was a pair of manatees that chose that moment to come up for a breath of fresh air!  Then the upper gates opened and the large animals disappeared again.  The fancy white riverboat with the big red fake paddlewheel on the back exited the lock into the wide river, pivoted around and retraced her route back into the lock to finish the tour back down river to her port in Ft Myers.  Also from that side of the river, you can see the entire lock, the dam that was spilling excess water thru it causing a hefty currant, and on the far side, the long sturdy fishing pier and our favorite Florida campground!  If you look just to the left of the light pole in the center of the picture you will see our tan train!  It was a windy day so the awning and sunscreen was rolled up for safekeeping!  The sun rose out our kitchen window and set out our big back picture window each evening so that awning AND sunscreen were really necessary!  

Our days were not all lazy.  We revisited the beach in Cape Coral and even took the trolley back out to Ft Myers Beach and Bowditch Point Park (SPFB!).  As last year when the state was releasing all the water from Lake Okeechobee into the river and eventually ending up on the beaches, the water was brown and murky and the shoreline dotted with dead and dying red seaweed.  The wide white sand beach beyond was still occupied by brightly colored sun umbrellas and way too much body spilling out of way to little bathing suits!!! We spent a day with dear friends B&C, sang Happy Birthday to H, went to the flea market, had lunch and visited with Emily, another of my close friends, and checked on ALL the eagles!  Yes! The eagles still roost in the big tree on the mainland side of “our” island and in North Ft Myers is an eagles nest-near the top of an oak tree-in the middle of a field-next to a church-that is featured on a live web cam!  We even drove out to Pine Island – another tourist and fishing island in the Gulf of Mexico.  We drove to the tiny village of St James on the very southern tip and then north to the equally tiny village of Bookelia, which is actually an island of itself!  The tip of the island has a selection of long narrow piers and docks that reach out into the greenish then finally blue waters as tho they were fingers reaching out to the islands even further out in the Gulf.  The public fishing pier situated at the parking area for the island’s restaurant and gift shop had an ornate white wrought iron gate that separated the paying guests from us curious tourists!  There were several pelicans floating in the water just off of the dock waiting for one of the patient fishermen to catch a fish so they could claim it for their own lunch.  I dared step inside the forbidden gate to snap a picture.  Was the man coming back down the dock coming to tell me to leave??

Of course there is always the return visit to picturesque downtown Ft Myers – both to eat at the Oasis Restaurant and to stroll along the waterfront before crossing over one of the tall bridges that cross the Caloosahatchee to Cape Coral on the northern side.  One visit included a jaunt thru the farmers market that was being held under one of the wide shade giving arches of the bridge and then along the walkway and out onto several piers to watch the boat traffic on the river and the auto traffic speeding up and over the bridge. Then from the top of that same bridge you could see the park where we had just walked, the pier and the skyline of the city beyond.  The riverboat with its distinctive red paddle wheel was missing from her mooring next to the large white building on the waters edge.  No doubt she and her passengers were up the river, going thru the lock at WP Franklin!

We’ve gained more friends!   Our new Trimble Park friends were here!  A couple from Illinois was parked on one side of us but had moved out and then luckily got to move back in to another spot.  Hopefully we will continue to communicate with them also!  There was a set of ladies and their fella’s from Ohio.  Both of the girls were crafters!  We shared our projects – until they too had to move on.  Next door to us was a neat couple from South Carolina - - CLEMSON territory (Sorry Ohio State!!).  These folks grew up in Perrysburg/Waterville Ohio area!