After a totally relaxing and enjoyable week being spoiled by our hosts at Fort Myers Beach, it was time yesterday to pack up and move on. Across the water is the view of Carlos Pointe condos (long building in the middle), where we stayed for the week. This view was taken from one of the beaches on nearby Lover’s Key State Park.
The first stop after leaving FMB was at the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on nearby Sanibel Island. Lee and I had spent time there on a previous visit to Florida, but we had a special reason yesterday for going there. Our friends, the Marshall’s, from northern Virginia were vacationing there. Over the years we have shared many hikes and bike rides with the Marshall’s. How nice to see some familiar faces.
After spending the morning riding our bikes through the refuge to observe the many birds, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at a local restaurant. Lee was thrilled that he got an opportunity to taste a new dish–conch soup.
Today we attended services at Fort Myers First Assembly of God church and then hit the highway. Our destination was Everglades National Park. We made a stop along the way at Collier-Seminole State Park. The Royal Palm Hammock Trail provided informative signs that described the plant species, many of which we have seen elsewhere, but some that were unique to this area. Behind Lee are some of the Royal Palms that are unique to this part of Florida.
A tree we have seen many other times is the Gumbo Limbo. Besides the interesting name, it has an amusing nickname used by the locals. Fortunately, Lee and I are not part of the red, peeling skin crowd, but are, instead, getting nice Florida tans.
This photo is not a close-up where you are able to see our tans. But we were pleased when a fellow walker on the trail offered to take a picture of both of us under a Live Oak that was branched across the trail.
One of my favorite exhibits at Collier-Seminole was something that you don’t expect to see at a state park. The park is the site of a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. Who would ever have thought there was such a thing. This towering black machine is the last existing Bay City (that’s Bay City, Michigan) Walking Dredge. It was built in 1924 and used to build the Tamiami Trail Highway (US 41, that we were driving on to get to the Everglades). It was an engineering marvel of its day and helped accomplish the monumental task of building a road through the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp, linking Tampa and Miami and opening southwest Florida to travelers like us.
So thanks to the Walking Dredge and the labors of many men and women over the years, we were able to reach our destination of Everglades City in enough time to watch a short film at the Everglades National Park Gulf Coast Visitor Center. There is much more to explore and learn in the Everglades and it was closing time at the Visitor Center. We are spending the night In Everglades City and will have time for more exploration tomorrow.
Sunset this evening over Chokoloskee Bay.