Tampa/Fort Myers, Florida   Leave a comment

Day 8-11

We stopped at Steinbrenner Stadium and thought how nice of them to put out the red carpet for us.

but found it wasn’t for us. They were getting ready for a Red Sox game.

It was interested to check out the placards in the courtyard honoring famous Yankee Players.

I even recognized a few; Lou Gering, Reggie Jackson, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle. WOW

Our motor coach bus tour included highlights of Tampa Bay where we saw Tampa University Campus. Within the campus is a beautiful building that was once a hotel from the late 1800s, Tampa Bay Hotel. Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt and the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, known as the “Rough Riders.” They used this hotel as headquarters and came to organize an invasion force for Cuba. Colonel Roosevelt later became the 26th President of the United States.

After spending a few hours in Ybor City, the Cuban area which was a big cigar making area in its day,

we stopped at a wonderful Cuban bakery.

Cuban in the afternoon, Greek in the evening. Off to Tarpon Springs to learn about sponges.

We viewed a short film on how sponges are processed, and took a sponge boat tour where we witnessed a diver, dressed in “ancient” diving attire, dive for sponge.

The sponges are normally black or orange when they are gathered from the waters. Above right is a comparison. The sponge he is holding with his right hand was just harvest and the sponge in his left hand has been processed.

Pictured below is a restored sponge boat.

Dinner was at Dimitris on the Water. A wonderful Greek restaurant with a best manager ever, George.

He greeted and entertained us while we dined. Always making sure the guests are happy. He is a character!

And when they bring out the Saganaki, everyone yells OPA!

While shopping in Tarpon Springs, Gayle found a special soap. If you can’t read it, it says “Sex on the Beach.” So we expect her to bring that to our Beach Party.

On our free day, a few of us headed down to the TECO Manatee Viewing area. I think this is the first time that I’ve ever observed manatees. They are plant eaters, chewing with their teeth, which are all molars! A manatee will eat up to 10% of their weight in one day.

There is no predator of the manatee, except for watercrafts, debris in the waters,

The odor you smell from the manatee’s mouth (if you happen to get up close and personal) comes from the lungs and nose. They only breathe through their nose, not their mouth. The photo below shows a manatee surfacing to breathe.

At our driver’s meeting, we included a strawberry shortcake/ice cream social with Plant City strawberries. We were joined by Dave and Evie and Dick and Marsha who have been on MANY Adventure Caravan tours.

Not only is Lazy Days a beautiful park, it is interesting. Check out the unique café below.

On our way to Ft. Myers, we stopped at Thomas Edison/Henry Ford’s winter homes, located on the Caloosahatchee River. Edison purchased his property in 1885 and Ford purchased his property in 1916, pictured below. The Edison’s enjoyed their stays until 1947 when Mina deeded the Seminole Lodge to the City of Fort Myers for $1. (An interesting fact about all his patents – over 1,000 – he is the only person to have 1 patent per year for 65 consecutive years!) All of the original furnishings are on permanent loan. The city also had to plant the palm tree that she imported from Hawaii along McGregor Boulevard, hence Ft. Meyers is known as “Palm City.”

Edison was given a tree, Banyon tree, known as the “walking tree”, pictured below left. They call it a walking tree because as it grows, it seems to plant new roots and appears to be walking. Below right is the 7 foot deep swimming pool complete with a high and low dive. Yes, it was only 7 foot deep! Hope they didn’t dive into it.

Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone worked together in 1927 to form the Edison Botanic Research Corporation. The laboratory was completed in 1928 to support their endeavor of producing and manufacturing a quick growing, domestic source of natural rubber.

We had our first sighting of a banana tree in bloom. Have you ever seen one?

Sanibel Island was only a 20 minute drive from our campground. Sanibel is known as the shell capital of the world. What beautiful white beaches.

Our friends, Beth and Lee, own an orchid nursery, so we just had to see that. We were amazed that his little hobby grew into thousands of plants.

After our travel day with an en route stop, we wound down at “The Landings” in Fort Myers.

Our gracious hosts, Beth, Lee, John, Joan, Carol, John and Susie did a FANTASTIC job making us a WONDERFUL dinner.

We also had some guests, Teri and Jon, who have traveled with before stop in and enjoy the fun.

The following day, a few of us headed over to “Sundance Orchids,” Lee’s “hobby business.”

Ending our evening with a social and rock racing.

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Posted March 9, 2016 by carolnbill in Travel

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