We hope all is well with you. We are doing great down here in Punta Gorda. The weather has been absolutely unbelievable. I mean -- I've worn white twice and it's only February 12. :) Seriously though, there is just something so uplifting about a palm tree. I am not sure what it is, but every time that I look at one, I just get this great sense of relaxation and peace. Click here for a picture of a palm tree and tell me if you get that same feeling.
We started our week with a visit to the summer homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford in Fort Myers. WOW. Talk about a beautiful place. First, you are greeted with the country's second-largest banyan tree, which was absolutely cool. If you haven't seen a banyan tree, it is the weirdest thing to look at. The branches of the trees emit these vine-like root systems that hang down from the branch and make their way to the ground. When they reach the ground, they start to form a new tree trunk. Steve and I saw the largest one in the U.S. when we visited Hawaii with our parents a few years ago. These trees are a great source of rubber and grow very fast. It is for these two reasons that Edison had imported this tree from India. He was doing experiments in his Florida lab to find a domestic source for rubber. This banyan tree was four feet tall when it was planted in 1925. As it stands today, it takes up nearly 3/4 of an acre of space.
We toured the homes of these two great gentlemen and they were as you would expect - - quite grand. The surprising thing was that they were not huge homes. Each was slightly more than 3,000 square feet, but the furnishings and surrounding landscape were befitting of these two champions of industry. And the view - - yeah, you can imagine they had the best money could buy. I found the birdhouses very interesting. Mina Edison loved birds and Thomas Edison loved cats. The only way Mina could enjoy her birds without the cats of their household having a total feast on a daily basis, was to put the houses on the tops of poles out in the water. This way, she could enjoy the birds without the birds having to worry about being lunch plate special #5.
Later that day we met up with our very dear friends and former neighbors - - Dave and Deane. We just love these people. They are a total blast and we have been anxiously awaiting our time with them. Our first meeting was dinner at the Village Oyster Bar down on Fisherman's Village in the Port Charlotte bay. What a cool place. It has great restaurants and a ton of really cool shops. The food here is great but the service that night left a lot to be desired. It took forever to be served and even longer to get our check so we could pay the bill, and when she finally brought it, she acted as though she was doing us a favor. Has anyone besides me noticed that service in this country has gone downhill? It seems that more often than not I am disappointed with the attitude I experience from the service person I am dealing with - - and don't get me started with those automated customer service phone things (Press 1 for sales, Press 2 for Customer Support, Press 3 if you mistakenly think you're actually going to be serviced by a human being, Press 4 if you want to wait on hold FOREVER - - you know the drill). Anyway, I am determined to stem the tide of this and return the sour expressions I receive with smiles and kind words. Maybe in some small way, I can make a difference. I don't know. But I'm off topic so . . .
Next, Steve and I played golf for the first time in ages. Dave and Deane are snow birds and live in a golf community during the winter months so they are pretty decent golfers. The four of us had a great time because we played a scrambles - - girls against the boys - - and the loser had to do the dinner dishes. So, while Steve and Dave were doing the dishes (meaning, Deane and I won our scrambles - - and by three strokes I might add) Deane and I cruised around their neighborhood checking out all the other houses. Steve and I are thinking about possibly settling down somewhere south and Florida is one of the places we have on our list of possibilities. We really do enjoy not having to deal with winter. I mean seriously, I wore white already this year . . . . Anyway,
While here in Punta Gorda, we also are spending time with my Aunt Bonnie, who is also a snow bird down here in the winter. Her and my Uncle Bob have a house up in Gladwin where the extended Klott family hangs out in the warmer Michigan months. My Uncle Bob passed away last June and this is Bonnie's first trip to Florida without him, so we were happy to see that she's doing pretty well adjusting to her new life here. Bonnie, Steve and I spent the day together by first attending the Southwest Florida Heritage Festival. We had a great time watching a civil war re-enactment, tasting freshly churned butter and eating elephant ears (with cherry topping) and learning about what it means to be a "cracker". After the festival, we visited a wildlife refuge and saw animals that were injured and being nursed back to health. It was really sad to see some of these animals with broken wings and missing legs trying desperately to move around inside their cages. The saddest thing to see were the two bald eagles that each had a wing missing. Seeing these majestic birds reduced to hopping around in a cage was very hard to see, but it's nice to know that there are people in this world who dedicate their lives to help them recover and lead a somewhat decent life. This wildlife rescue organization is funded completely by donations, so needless to say, we made a contribution.
Our last wildlife encounter for the week was going to Manatee Park and seeing the manatees swimming in the discharge waters of the Florida Power & Light facility down in Fort Myers. Apparently, when it is cold, these wonderful animals head to this spillway because the water coming from FP&L is very warm. It was sad to see that some of these manatees had propeller scars on their backs. I can believe that this would be a frequent occurrence, though,because of the number of waterfront homes in the area and the incredible number of boats in the area.
Lastly, Deane taught Steve and I how to play the game Mexican Train. Man, is that fun. We had a great time playing that game and look forward to playing it again soon. This coming week Steve and I are playing golf again. You fellow golfers know how this is - - you have a good game and you get so excited that you want to play again, mistakenly thinking your golf game is actually decent until you play again, and your game goes back to sucking wind. Also, we are heading to the Keys for a couple of days with Dave and Deane, so look for some great pictures next week. We will also be spending some more time with Bonnie before we head to our next destination - - THE DAYTONA 500. Oh man, I just cannot wait for that. For those of you in the northern climes, the Daytona 500 always means Spring is just around the corner - - so hang in their folks.
Thanks everyone. Please know that you are always on our hearts and in our minds. Especially those family members who are struggling right now. I ask that you keep my Uncle Arnie Klott and his family in your prayers. He is suffering from cancer and some difficult heart issues right now and every prayer on his behalf would be very much appreciated.
Take care all.
P.S. We have another mystery picture. If you can guess what this is, contact either Steve or I and you will receive a prize.