Florida visit wrap-up

It’s taken me a couple of days to get around to writing a sort of “Florida wrap-up” post on our trip down to see the in-laws in Naples. We didn’t get home Wednesday until after midnight (our flight wasn’t delayed– we were just on a late flight) and then we spent most of Thursday either recovering from the trip or going up to Brighton to buy an account and start shopping at Costco. That’s its own fine story….

Anyway, more picts and such:

Steve and Will at Caribbean Gardens
On Tuesday, while Annette and her mother went shopping, Will and his grandpa and I went to Caribbean Gardens/The Naples Zoo. I’m not completely sure I understand all of this, but this place used to be called “Caribbean Gardens” and was until very recently a privately-run zoo. But when the owners of “Caribbean Gardens” decided it was time to cash in– the land is probably worth millions– the city of Naples stepped in and bought it. So even though everything still says Caribbean Gardens, it’s not. If that makes sense.

Anyway, Caribbean Gardens is a modest but pretty nice place to spend a couple of hours. There’s a boat ride known as the “Primate Expedition Cruise” on a small lake dotted with tiny islands which serve as the “cages” for a bunch of different kinds of monkeys. They have a ton of alligators which they feed big hunks of chicken (sadly, those pictures didn’t turn out well), and they also make the most of their other animals by dramatically feeding them, as we see with this tiger:


They also had a great snake show that featured all sorts of cool snakes and lizards and stuff like that. Will had a grand time. Here he is petting a big ol’ boa as we were walking out of the show:


A bit over-priced in my view, but still fun.

Since our flight on Wednesday was quite late, we went up to Fort Myers (where the airport is) and spent a couple hours at the Edison/Ford Winter Retreat. Long LONG story short: Edison had a winter home in Fort Myers since the 1880s and spent between 3 and 6 months a year at the place pretty much his whole life. Henry Ford bought the house next door in 1915, and they spent a fair amount of time together. After these two died, the families gave up the property to the city of Fort Myers and now they have tours.

I posted some information about some of the stuff in the museum part of things– especially different things Edison invented having to do with media technologies– on my official blog, if you’re interested. This is more of the “touristy” stuff here.

Steve, Giant Edison, Will
Here’s Will and I with a ridiculously large statue of Edison (unless he really was seven and a half feet tall) in front of an enormous banyan tree. The picture doesn’t really do it justice because the tree covers a couple hundred (at least) square yards of space. At first, we were told it was the second biggest banyan tree in the world; then they said it was the biggest banyan tree in the U.S.; then it was the biggest banyan tree in the Continental U.S. (there is a bigger one in Hawaii). I don’t know; it was a big-assed tree.

Edison's House
This is the front of Edison’s House (with Annette’s mom walking by). There wasn’t much in the house actually because they were just finishing up a major restoration. The Edisons had termite problems big-time.

Ford's House
This is the back of Ford’s House; on the left is a garage that had some old cars in it. Ford’s house was pretty much as it was way back when because it was made from a certain kind of Florida pine that was resistent to termites. The woodwork inside this place was really amazing.

Edison's Pool
Here’s a picture of Edison’s swimming pool. I realize this is a kind of dumb picture, but I decided to include this picture so I could include this one:

Keep out!
Not just “No Trespassing” or “Keep off the pool deck;” the Historic pool deck. Whatever.

Finally, there was Edison’s lab:

Edison's Lab
This is actually Edison’s second lab on the grounds. The first lab he had here– one where he supposedly perfected the lightbulb– is the one that is now at Greenfield Village in Dearborn. This lab was constructed after World War I as part of a collaboration between Edison, Ford, and Firestone to find a substitute for rubber. When that company went out of business, they pretty much left everything in place, turned off the lights, and locked the door. In other words, this stuff is all pretty much the way it was back in Edison’s day.

At least that’s what the guide said.

On the whole, it was a good trip. It’s always nice to go down there this time of year, where a dip into the 50s is considered frigid.

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