Edison, Manatees, & Sponges

Trip Start Dec 31, 2009
1
5
Trip End Jan 23, 2010


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Flag of United States  , Florida
Friday, January 22, 2010

On the way out of Fort Myers, we stopped off to visit the site of the summer estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.  They were neighbours on beautiful properties along the Caloosahatchee River, where Edison built a laboratory to test 3000 different plants to determine their rubber content.  As it turned out, he and a botonist improved a type of goldenrod plant to grow to a height of three metres.  It produced a surprising amount of rubber, but it wasn't enough to replace rubber trees. 

We were surprised by the number of inventions Edison produced.  He had at least one patent per year for sixty-five years!.  We toured the extensive grounds to see some of the hundreds of plants he and his wife picked up on their trips.  They were both avid plant lovers.  Edison even had a swimming pool installed on the property, the first private pool in the area.  The museum was filled with examples of Edison's numerous inventions, some rather surprising, like a waffle iron, talking doll, and high chair!

Although we had seen manatees on our previous Florida trip, we stopped off at a State Park near Fort Myers where warm water is released from a power plant.  The manatees congregate there in the winter, so we saw many snouts and tails as they surfaced to get air.  This water was very deep, so we didn't get a good view of their whole bodies.

We moved up the coast to spend two nights in Tarpon Springs.  It is an interesting community that had a huge sponge industry develop in 1890, as it has one of the prime sponge-growing areas in the world.  Many Greek people moved here to harvest sponges, and after a period of downturn when disease affected the sponges around 1920, the industry is in full swing again.  An area along the sponge docks looked a little like Greece, and was lined with touristy shops selling sponges and souvenirs.  There were a number of restaurants, too, so we had a nice supper of dolomades (meat and rice wrapped in grape leaves) and chicken souvlaki.  I guess its the next best thing to going to Greece. 

The downtown has a quaint charm of its own, with a main street lined with historic buildings.  The number of antique shops was astounding!  We stopped in at the old railroad station, that has been updated to hold some museum items, and received personal tour information from two volunteers who loved to share their knowledge.
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Comments

Emmy Okazawa-Bortolin on

Hey, not that I'm asking for more things to do, but isn't there going to be a test on this trip??? I'm starting to feel rather lazy just enjoying your posts and photos and not feeling the pressure of doing further research!!! haha..... =)

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