Monday, August 29, 2011

Thomas Edison's Winter Retreat

While we were escaping Hurricane Irene, we had the opportunity to visit Thomas Edison's winter retreat on the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers.  He wanted a warm escape during the winter months from his New Jersey home base.
This banyan tree was a gift from tire industrialist Harvey Firestone in 1925.  When Edison planted the tree it was 4 feet high and 2 inches in diameter.  Now, it is an acre in diameter and is the largest banyan tree in the continental United States.  (Maui has a larger banyan tree.)
Edison purchased 13 acres along the river and created an estate that included two homes and a laboratory.  He called his home Seminole Lodge and the Edison family wintered here from 1886 through 1947.
The living room is located in the family wing of the lodge.
There are 15 "Electrolier" lighting fixtures located throughout the two homes.  They are Edison's own design.
Edison's wife, Mina, had her own bedroom on the ground floor.  The other bedrooms were located on the second floor but we weren't allowed to see them.
The guest house is connected to the family wing via a covered walkway.
The ground floor of the guest wing has a sitting/game room connected to the dining room.
Some of the well-known guests who stayed in the guest house included President Herbert Hoover, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone.
Their meals were prepared in this kitchen.
Edison's daughter, Madelaine, had her own set of rules all guests had to abide by.  I think I would have liked her!
The back of the house looks out over the Caloosahatchee (no, that's not misspelled) River where the entire family loved to fish.
They had their own dock that extended far out into the shallow river.
I guess the river wasn't good enough for swimming in because they had a pool installed in 1910.
Edison had a small office on the west grounds of the Seminole Lodge in addition to the one at his laboratory.
Mina created a Moonlight Garden as an extension of Edison's office.
Only part of the Caretaker's House existed when Edison purchased the property.  It had been used as a stopover for cattle drovers moving herds down the road to Punta Rassa for shipment to Cuba.  The Edisons expanded the building to accommodate staff.
We ended up our tour in Edison's laboratory.  Naturally, this was the highlight of the tour for Hubby!

Next time:  Henry Ford's winter estate.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fleeing Hurricane Irene Across Florida

Interrupting my regularly scheduled blog to bring you updates on Hurricane Irene - and how she affects me and my life in a 5th wheel!  Last week, the weather forecasters were sure she was going to hit us dead on in Juno Beach so we made plans to flee to Georgia.  Then, Irene decided to track further east, off the coast of Florida, so we decided to take those previously planned vacation days and travel across the state to Fort Myers in hope of avoiding any tropical storm force winds and rain.
We found a temporary home at North Fort Myers.
It's the slow season since all the snowbirds have gone home for the summer.
Back at our Juno Beach RV Park we have ducks and iguanas.   This RV park has giant grasshoppers.
Our Juno Beach RV Park has two ponds but this RV park has a canal so you can launch your boat and keep it next to your park model or RV.  The canal leads out to the Caloosahatchee River then on to the Gulf.
It has rained every afternoon, but that's normal for this time of the year.  The video is for my Arizona friends who don't get to see much rain.  The sound you hear is the rain on the roof.
We're enjoying our time in Fort Myers, known as the "city of palms."  We've been shopping, and sightseeing at Thomas Edison and Henry Ford's winter estates.  More on that later.

Our friends in Juno Beach are presently experiencing heavy rain and 50 mile per hour winds even though Irene is 170 miles off the coast.  I'm glad I'm not there!
The people along the Atlantic coast further north are in my prayers!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back to Key West - Part 2

We had a great time in Key West for Hubby's birthday.  While we were there we visited Mel Fisher's Treasure Museum.  I couldn't imagine the thrill of finding so much treasure!
We started out slow with various pottery and dishes.
Then it was on to the good stuff!
Plenty of silver coins.......
gold necklaces......
and gold plates.

All that treasure built up our appetites so we had to have cheeseburgers in Paradise at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, of course!

Thus rejuvenated, Hubby couldn't pass up the chance to tour a retired Coast Guard vessel at the Ingham Museum.
Officers slept in beds like this.
The crew slept in beds like these.
The crew ate here......
the officers ate here.....
and the captain ate here.  It's definitely better to be captain - or at least eat like one.

I have much more to post about our trip but tomorrow we'll be fleeing Hurricane Irene by moving, temporarily, to Georgia.  Hopefully, Juno Ocean Walk RV Park will still be standing when it's all over!  I'll keep you posted!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back to Key West!

The weekend before I left for Missouri was Hubby's birthday.  We couldn't be home with family and friends so we did the next best thing to celebrate - we headed for Key West!

First stop on our journey was Marathon Key for lunch at Burdines Marina.  When Ceekay, from,  was visiting me we discovered this culinary jewel so, naturally, I had to share it with Hubby.  The shrimp was delicious - again!  It's hard to find, but I highly recommend it.

Right after Marathon Key is the seven-mile bridge originally built by Henry Flagler for his overseas railroad.  After it was destroyed by a massive hurricane in 1935 it was modified and re-built for automobile travel.
An engineering marvel!
There's the old railroad bridge alongside the newer bridge.  After the hurricane, that part of the bridge was still so strong they laid the pavement for car traffic on top of the old bridge and used it for many years before building a brand new bridge.

When we reached Key West we checked in to the Seascape Inn Bed and Breakfast just off one end of Duval Street.  This is the entrance to our room.
Isn't it cute?  And they had a delicious breakfast every morning too!
They even made up a basket of healthy snacks with a birthday card for Hubby.

Before retiring for the evening, we took a little walk over to the historic cemetery.  Most people have to be buried above ground because the island is made up of hardened coral making it too difficult to dig very deep.
When they run out of space they just stack them up!

After a delicious breakfast the next morning, we headed out to explore Key West.  Imagine our surprise when we saw Ernest Hemingway's everywhere!  We happened to arrive in time for Ernest Hemingway Days, celebrating the author's birthday on July 21st.  There were about 200 Hemingway's in town to vie for the honor of being selected the best Hemingway look-a-like.
Celebrating Hemingway's birthday wasn't confined to a look-a-like contest though.  Food and craft vendors lined Duval Street as it was shut down for the "Running of the Bulls."
A good time was had by all.

Inspired by all the Hemingway's in town we decided to tour his former home.
It's still home to dozens of six-toed cats.  They have full run of the property - inside and out.
Hubby enjoyed his birthday!

Next time, I'll show pictures of Mel Fisher's Treasures and the rest of our Key West birthday trip.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mark Twain's Hannibal

When I was visiting my parents in Hannibal, a couple weeks ago, I took some pictures of this historic town.

My husband and I first visited Hannibal as tourists when our children were young - before my parents owned Robards Mansion.  We wanted to show them where Mark Twain had lived as a child.

A must see is Mark Twain's boyhood home and his father's law office.

Every 4th of July, Hannibal has "Tom Sawyer Days" where they select Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher look-a-likes.  Tom Sawyer wanna-be's can also enter into a fence white washing contest.

There's a statue of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn at the base of Cardiff Hill overlooking the Mississippi River.

Here's the bridge across the Mississippi River from Hannibal, Missouri to Quincy, Illinois.

The mighty Mississip'.

This statue of Mark Twain overlooks the Mississippi from Riverview Park.

At one time, Hannibal was a bustling riverport city with many manufacturing and lumber barons making their homes here.  Barges still travel the mile-wide river.

Trollies give guided tours of Hannibal and then bring tourists to Sawyer's Creek outside of town where they can eat, do some more shopping and play.

Mom and I had lunch out here one day and I did a little souvenir shopping.

We spotted the paddlewheeler from the restaurant window.  You can go on cruises during the day or dinner cruises in the evening.  My husband and I did the dinner cruise the last time we were here and had a wonderful time.

We also saw these barges being pushed up river while a train carrying carloads of coal traveled down river.

Across the road from Sawyer's Creek is the Mark Twain Cave where Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher got lost.

This is the famous "Lovers Leap" where ill-fated lovers from warring Indian tribes leaped to their deaths when they were kept apart.

A last view of Hannibal from Lover's Leap.

During the turn of the last century there were a lot of millionaires in Hannibal, including one who built Rockcliffe Mansion.  I'd show you pictures of the many times I've toured it but they don't let you take pictures inside the mansion. 

If you're looking for an interesting, and educational trip, historic Hannibal is a great place to visit - or even settle down!  I know of a house/business for sale!  Check out  I know the owners and can get you a good deal.