Tuesday January 15, 2019
We rose early and hit the road during the morning rush hour taking I-95 south from Sarasota toward the Fort Myers area. The goal was to check out the KOA on Pine Island to see if wintering there in the camper would be an option before making it back to North Fort Myers to visit with the parents-in-law.
Expecting a Longboat Key type experience, there was some disappointment after reaching Pine Island. The roads to and on the island seemed to cut through swamps. No-see-um bug land. The island does have its attractions. There are a number of wildlife preserves and other public lands on the island. It looks to be the kind of place that would be good for fishing, birding and other wildlife related activities.
The Fort Myers / Pine Island KOA has hundreds of RV sites, some of which are on little lakes. Many of the sites were close together. The park was clean (including the bathrooms) and orderly. Long term stay pricing seemed reasonable.
A big plus to the KOA is that it is only ½ hour drive to parents-in-law’s winter home which is where we went next.
The parents-in-law suggested that we go see the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers. On the way to the Edison and Ford place, I realized that it was within walking distance from the hotel we stayed in just a week before. See the blog post Fort Myers Florida.
Parking can be a problem even on Tuesdays. There is quite a bit of parking. However, some of the parking is a good walk from the entrance. Get there early to beat the crowds. This is a popular attraction.
Thomas Edison was the first of the two to winter in Fort Myers. Edison did a fair amount of entertaining at his winter home. Henry Ford was invited to come and did stay at Edison’s house.
Edison’s home is supremely comfortable. The wide wrap-around deck sheltered visitors from sun, mist and fog.
Like the music room, many first floor rooms have french doors opening onto the porch.
Notice the french doors in the dining room. How the furniture isn’t crammed into the room. All the open space. This house feels inviting. It isn’t particularly fancy. Not at all gaudy or ornate. In some respects, it seems modest for so important and wealthy an industrial figure of that time.
The Edison guest house is on the other (right hand) side of the main house. I apologize if I’ve got the rooms mixed up between the main and guest house.
In some respects, one would expect Edison to have more books. Certainly he had quite a few more at his New Jersey home.
Separate from the two houses, Edison also had a private study. In today’s vernacular, this would be referred to as a man-cave.
Edison also had a winter laboratory.
Edison continued his experimentation while wintering in Fort Myers.
When the owner of the house next door to Edison decided to sell his house, he wrote Henry Ford a letter. Henry Ford bought the house.
While the architectural style of Ford’s house differs from Edison’s, both houses share the warm inviting comfort qualities of the other.
French doors opening onto the bay side porch.
In the photo above, a piano is to the left, just out of sight.
There is much more to the Edison and Ford Winter Estates than I’ve shown here. I plan to return someday. There are special tours ($$$) available that provide better access to the houses that sound worthwhile. Being there when less crowded would make the visit more leisurely. I also want to spend time in the gift shop. It looked like the kind of place where I might find just the right little geeky trinket.
Linda and I’ve been wondering what it would take to spend a winter month (just like Edison and Ford) in Fort Myers. After leaving the Edison/Ford winter homes, the four of us stopped by Tamiami Village & RV Park to stop in at the office to get pricing and availability information before driving around the park. Availability is tight and monthly winter pricing is high compared to Texas. Other than that, the park seemed like a well run nice place. The location on US-41 north of Fort Myers provides easy access to both Fort Myers and Sarasota. Like the KOA we looked at in the morning, the sites were fairly close together.
Since it was getting fairly late in the afternoon, we took separate cars up to Punta Gorda to eat dinner. We met the parents-in-law at Laishley Crab House. We chose inside seating as it was too chilly to be outside on the deck.
Dinner was excellent. The menu had a number of good items. Service was good. Atmosphere fun. Views from window seats superb. Sunset to die for.
After dinner, we said our goodbyes. We drove north up US-41 to our hotel.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!