Thursday, November 30, 2017

Crossing Lake Okeechobee, FL

It was a long day that rolled beneath the deep blue sky as the crew of Viridian continued East to cross Lake Okeechobee.  We cruised into the sun at first light this morning up the canal of the Caloosahatchee River from River Forest Marina.  It took about two hours to reach Moore Haven, FL, on the Western bank of Lake Okeechobee.  The waterway turns Southeast for about 12 miles before it makes a 90 deg port turn into the Lake.  Okeechobee is one to the bodies of water that require a good weather day window to cross safely.  Our old friend, the Northeast wind, was against us again today but it had backed down some to 10 mph.  Combine this with the fact that our bearing crossing the lake was 45 deg Northeast so we would take the waves directly on the bow.  Our passage across Okeechobee was about 25 miles to Port Mayaca where the St. Lucie River drains Okeechobee to the Atlantic.  It was a slow day at the Port Mayaca Lock so we sailed right in, took up our lines dangling from the top of the lock wall and went 4 inches down to the St. Lucie River.  Our plan was to anchor at one of the spots listed on our charts just behind the dam.  However, none of these places looked desirable due to currents and proximity to the channel.  Long story short, we finally found a marina that had slips available so we pulled into Port St. Lucie Marina and Lock just after dark in the rain.  This may not be the most glamorous marina we have stayed in but we were sure glad to get our lines around something solid and plug into some juice for the night.  Here are some views from today's passage.

That's the news and here's the views:

We are here

Today's Passage

 Bird's Eye

 Early morning prepping for today's passage

 One of the cleanest boat yards we have seen

 Just before untying at River Forrest Marina, FL

 Cruising along the canal that runs along the Western shore of Okeechobee

 Crossing Okeechobee.  Might as well be an ocean.

 Looking for marinas

 Leaving the Okeechobee Eastbound

Cruising down the St. Lucie River.  Looks like rain to me.

Glad to be at Port St. Lucie Marina, FL

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Leaving The Gulf, Heading for the Atlantic

We really enjoyed our stay at Ft. Myers, FL.  Would love to return some day for a longer stay.  We didn't get a chance to go back to the doughnut shop since it took so long to get the pump-out machine working.  One of our friends in our Gulf crossing flotilla Proper State of Mind, came by to see if we should cruise together since there would be two locks and several lift/swing bridges to traverse.  It's always nice to travel with another Looper so we finished up our morning chores and eased back out into the channel, idled under the Edison Bridge and pointed East into a 15 mph wind to our destination 41 miles away, River Forest Marina.

We are cruising up river and into a man made canal that connects with Lake Okeechobee.  It will take three days to reach the Atlantic coast.  Today we were lifted a whole 8 feet using two locks.  The first lock took us up 1 ft, the second lock, 7 ft.  These locks were built pretty much like the ones on the Tenn-Tom except smaller.  There were no bollards to lasso, just a rope hanging down from the rail at the top of the lock.  The lock master came out and talked to us while we were being lifted 12 inches into the next pool.  We both held on to a line, one at the bow and the other at the stern, and took up the slack as we creeped skyward.  Always a new challenge.

The canal went through rural areas with mixed mansions and trailers along the shore.  There were huge cattle ranches that could be seen from the flybridge looking over the lower banks to the South. Viridian pulled into River Forest Marina (really a boat yard), tied up to a concrete wall and began settling in for the night.   We grilled some burgers and watched a few series of Gotham before turning in.  Tomorrow we will be crossing Lake Okeechobee.  Here are a few views from our passage.

That's the news and here's the views:

We are here

 Today's Passage

Bird's Eye

We rally enjoyed the views on this passage

Beautiful estates on the Southern bank

 Long runs in the "ditch"

River Forest Boatyard - Super clean and well managed

Tied to the concrete wall for the  night

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Day in Ft. Myers Florida

A little history on Ft. Myers, FL according to wiki:
Early Days
Spain originally had colonial influence in Florida, succeeded by Great Britain and, lastly, the United States. During the American Indian Wars of the 1830s, the United States built Fort Myers as one of the first forts along the Caloosahatchee River; it was used as a base of operations against the Seminole. During the Seminole Wars and Indian Removal period, Fort Myers was a strategic location, with access to Atlantic waterways. While many Seminole were forced to move to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River, others used their knowledge of the Everglades and Florida wilderness to resist the Americans. They were never defeated and two federally recognized Seminole tribes still control some of their historic territory.
During the American Civil War, Confederate blockade runners and cattle ranchers were based in Fort Myers. These settlers prospered through trading with the Seminole and Union soldiers.

20th Century
On May 10, 1904, access to the Fort Myers area was greatly improved with the opening of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, connecting Punta Gorda to Fort Myers. This route provided Lee County both passenger and freight railroad service.[18]
In 1908, the Arcade Theater was constructed in downtown Fort Myers. It served originally as a vaudeville house. Thomas Edison viewed films here for the first time with friends Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone.[19] With the growth of the film industry, the Arcade Theatre was converted into a full movie house. A wall divided the stage in order to form two screening rooms. Changes in moviegoing habits since the late 20th century have led to the renovation of the theater for use again in live performance. It is now host to the Florida Repertory Theatre, a performing arts hall.
During the period of 1914-1918 (World War I), Edison became concerned about America's reliance on foreign supplies of rubber. He partnered with tire producer Harvey Firestone, of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, and Henry Ford, of the Ford Motor Company, to try to find a rubber tree or plant that could grow quickly in the United States. He sought one that would contain enough latex to support his research endeavor. In 1927, the three men contributed $25,000 each, and created the Edison Botanic Research Corporation in an attempt to find a solution to this problem.[15]
In 1928, the Edison Botanic Research Corporation laboratory was constructed. It was in Fort Myers that Edison conducted the majority of his research and planted exotic plants and trees. He sent results and sample rubber residues to West Orange, New Jersey, for further work at his large Thomas A. Edison "Invention Factory" (now preserved in the Thomas Edison National Historical Park). Through Edison's efforts, the royal palms lining Riverside Avenue (now McGregor Boulevard) were imported and planted. They inspired Fort Myers' nickname as "City of Palms".[15]
After testing 17,000 plant samples, Edison eventually discovered a source in the plant Goldenrod (Solidago leavenworthii). Thomas Edison died in 1931. The rubber project was transferred to the United States Department of Agriculture five years later.[15]
In 1916, automobile magnate Henry Ford purchased the home next door to Edison's from Robert Smith of New York. Ford named his estate "the Mangoes". Ford's craftsman-style "bungalow" was built in 1911 by Smith. Ford, Harvey Firestone and Edison, were the three top leaders in American industry. They were part of an exclusive group titled "the Millionaires' Club". The three men have been memorialized in statues in downtown Fort Myers' Centennial Park.
In 1924, with the beginning of construction of the Edison Bridge, named for Thomas Edison, the city's population steadily grew. The bridge was opened on February 11, 1931, the 84th birthday of its namesake. Edison dedicated the bridge, and was the first to drive across it.
In the decade following the bridge's construction, the city had a real estate boom. Several new residential subdivisions were built beyond Downtown, including Dean Park, Edison Park, and Seminole Park [16] Edison Park, located across McGregor Boulevard from the Edison and Ford properties, includes a number of Fort Myers' most stately homes. The historic development showcases a variety of architectural styles. In the 21st century, it is known for its community activities and strong neighborhood ties.[20]
In 1947, Mina Edison deeded Seminole Lodge to the City of Fort Myers, in memory of her late husband and for the enjoyment of the public. By 1988, the adjacent Henry Ford winter estate was purchased by the city and opened for public tours in 1990. The combined properties today are known as the Edison and Ford Winter Estates.

A Day Exploring Ft. Meyers

One of the "must see" places in Ft. Myers is the Edison/Ford Summer (Seminole Lodge) homes that the two men built to get away for some R&R.  Instead, Edison continued his work here at the waterfront getaway as he was born a fountainhead for innovation.  That's just who he was until he died.

Here are some views from today's tour.

First order of business is to get some coffee and fresh doughnuts.  
Someone recommended this little shop to us. Bennets had the best doughnuts I've ever eaten.  They were worth every calorie!  George had Orange Crisp and I had Pumpkin Spice.  It took every ounce of willpower we had to resist getting another one.

Maple bacon....maybe tomorrow morning :-)

I don't think so!!!!!

At the Edison/Ford Estate

Henry Ford's House next door to Thomas Edison's 

 Edison's Dining Room serving oysters on the half shell

Edison would be so involved in his work that he skipped meals and would drink a pint of milk three times a day.  He also smoked 25 cigars a day and rarely slept over 25 minutes at a time yet he lived to be 84 years old.  He was married 3 times and his first 2 wives died.  His third wife Mina, sat at the head of the table facing the front yard and Edison faced the beautiful Caloosahatchee River.
Many times Edison didn't want to leave his work in his laboratory so Mina had his supper sent to him on a tray.

 This is the kitchen??

This was part of the kitchen and you can see more toward the back.  They had a beloved cook, Queenie,who cooked at the winter estate as well as their New Jersey home.  She was famous for her fried chicken, ice cream and coconut cakes.

 Porch wraps all the way around the houses

 T'is the Season

 The Grounds around the Estates

 Streetside View of the Edison Estate Homes

 Impatiens Growing in November!  Only in Florida

Ford Flathead V-8 Engine

 Some displays in the Edison/Ford museum

 I can recommend a great read on this subject called "The Last Days of Night", by Graham Moore.  Get it on Amazon.

 Seen a movie, listened to a record player, turned on a light, mixed portland concrete lately?  Thank Thomas Edison.  He had patents every year for over 60 consecutive years.

 This is all one tree.  It is called a Banyan or Walking Tree, a type of  fig tree.  The limbs send roots down to the ground to support the long limbs and will eventually cover everything left unchecked.  Edison planted it here as a sapling and now it covers 4 acres.  He was researching ways to extract latex from from something other that rubber trees.  Finally found that Goldenrod Weed had the highest percentage of extractable latex, grew faster and lived almost everywhere in the US.  However, the advent of extracting synthetic rubber for tires from petroleum put an end to his research in this area just before he died.

 The Two Edison Homes

 Giant Wooly Fig Tree

 All my life I believed a pick-up truck was called a pick-up truck because you used it to go and "pick-up" stuff and take it somewhere.  Wrong-o, The Ford Pick-Up was called that because you purchased the steel chassis with motor and running gear but you had to go to a carpentry shop and Pick-Up the wooden cab and bed, take it home and attach it to the chassis.  Who would know? 

 Edison had these two houses built, each is a mirror image of the other. Henry Ford's house is next door to the left of these.

Edison had a 1500 ft pier built out into the Caloosahatchee River to reach water deep enough to float his electric trawler used to go to Santibel Island and back.  This path leads out to the river and you can still see the post that once supported his pier. (if you zoom in on this picture)

This is for my Sister Sally.  There is a sign on the right that says "Great Dane Xing"

This is a famous house in Ft. Myers. We didn't get the name, but we got the pic.

 More History

City of Palms and Red Brick Streets