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Bahia Honda Park and Bridge

Back to Miami


View Summer, 9-11-2001 - and then the 2nd time down the ICW & 2005 Migrating by Mercedes & Bermuda on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

Feb 12th - I went over to Sigsbee by myself to do internet. After I finished, we contacted Jack and Mary and went over to see their RV and
meet their dog.
Jack and Mary

Jack and Mary

Their RV and our car

Their RV and our car

Sunset over the trailer park

Sunset over the trailer park


For dinner, we went out to Stock Island (again in search of the Rusty Anchor which we never found until 2014) and went to Oceanside Marina. Then we ate at Hickory House which is just outside the marina.
Hickory House flyer

Hickory House flyer


I had a jerk shrimp salad with sourdough bread, and Bob had a half rack of ribs appetizer. Before tip $28.92. They had seating outside with the big palm tree heaters, but we ate inside.
Hickory House outdoors

Hickory House outdoors

Looking out at the heaters

Looking out at the heaters


There was a jazz ensemble playing, and some people danced on the dance floor.

Feb 13th, we packed up and dropped the key through the box (Sunday and the office not open), went to Sigsbee to do email. The computer
started to download virus definitions or updates so it took me longer than it should have. We drove out as far as Bahia Honda,
Old highway on top  railroad from current highway in 2002

Old highway on top railroad from current highway in 2002


and we went there for the first time ever ($6 entry fee for car and two people). Bahia Honda State Park is at MM 37. There are 80 camp sites available and they can be reserved in advance. Bahai Honda is noted for a very nice beach area and for snorkeling. There are equipment rentals for boats, dive and snorkel gear,fishing rods, kayaks, bicycles, and even beach chairs. But we have never been - our boat is too big for the marina and we aren't really beach people.
State park entrance

State park entrance


Park closing

Park closing


Entrance sign with schedule board listing tours

Entrance sign with schedule board listing tours

Entrance to the butterfly garden

Entrance to the butterfly garden


First we walked the butterfly garden although there weren't many butterflies because not much was in bloom.
Handicapped beach access

Handicapped beach access

Best beach in the keys

Best beach in the keys


Other direction on the Atlantic  beach

Other direction on the Atlantic beach

Bob on the trail

Bob on the trail

Butterfly decoration

Butterfly decoration

Butterfly bulletin board for IDing Butterflies

Butterfly bulletin board for IDing Butterflies

Trail looking through trees to ocean

Trail looking through trees to ocean


Bob said that we could continue on to the bridge,
Amphitheatre for ranger talks

Amphitheatre for ranger talks

pigeon?

pigeon?

Helicopter

Helicopter

Bob ahead of me

Bob ahead of me


but when we got there, we had taken the wrong branch of the trail and were down under the bridge instead of on top of it.
Caution Dangers Currents - No Swimming Beyond This Point

Caution Dangers Currents - No Swimming Beyond This Point


The tides on the Gulf side are on a different schedule than the ones on the Atlantic Ocean side. This means that the gaps in the islands between the two sides will have considerable current as the tides and currents equalize. The current under the bridge can be as much as 2.5 knots which is a little less than 3 mph. Michael Phelps can swim about twice that fast, but most of us would be carried away by this current. So swimming is prohibited in the area of the bridge.The different current speeds are also important for some boats. Most medium or large size power boats will have no difficulty with this current but a rowboat or a dinghy would have more difficulty and so would some sailboats. A boat with a maximum speed of 6 knots would be advised to pass under the bridge at slack current.
Park Boundary - Fee Required for use of Facilities (at the end of the bridge)

Park Boundary - Fee Required for use of Facilities (at the end of the bridge)

Looking down from the old bridge at the channel

Looking down from the old bridge at the channel

Motor boat approaching the bridge

Motor boat approaching the bridge


Speedboat going under the old bridge

Speedboat going under the old bridge


Looking up at the bridge

Looking up at the bridge

Looking up at the trees

Looking up at the trees


Bob on the path

Bob on the path


We walked back to where the car was parked, but I detoured into the area where the marina is (not much room for bigger boats as the controlling depth is only 3.5 feet).
Dockmaster, Dive Shop and Snack Bar

Dockmaster, Dive Shop and Snack Bar


I'd also seen a sign there which had information on rare plants found only in Bahia Honda.
Bahia Honda Key sign

Bahia Honda Key sign


Bob thought he'd meet me on the road, so he drove out of the parking lot and down the road as I came around the corner, which meant I had to walk all the way around and to the parking lot where he had now parked. I was annoyed, and he was annoyed that I was annoyed. We walked out to the old bridge, and I took some pictures.
100_7167.JPGBayside Beach inside park from old bridge

Bayside Beach inside park from old bridge


Mangroves taking hold

Mangroves taking hold


When they build the Bahia Honda Bridge, it was even more of an engineering problem than the Seven Mile Bridge because of the depth of the channel and the current. So this bridge was a swing bridge with the typical erector set construction, and high because of the possibility of tidal surge through the channel. It had to cross water thirty feet deep. Steel spans, resting on concrete piers, supported the railway bed of the 5,055 foot (1.541 m) long bridge. There is a picture of the railroad bridge from the railroad tracks on this sign
Overseas Railroad

Overseas Railroad


Sign on the end of the bridge

Sign on the end of the bridge


large_100_7164.JPG
When it was converted to a highway bridge, therefore, they couldn't just stick the sides of the highway over the side like they did for 7 mile bridge because the girders were in the way. SO.... They put the new highway on TOP of the old railroad bridge. The sign on the end of the old bridge says: "Old Bahia Honda Bridge. This bridge spanning the 5055 foot Bahia Honda Channel was constructed over the old East Coast Railway which was built by oil mogul Henry Flagler. Sometimes called Flagler's Folly the railway was started in 1905 and completed in 1912."
large_100_7165.JPG
If you were driving on it back then, you totally didn't know that the highway was up there on top of the girders - at least we didn't.
National Register of Historic Places Bahia Honda Bridge

National Register of Historic Places Bahia Honda Bridge


Looking through the trees at the new bridge

Looking through the trees at the new bridge


Path

Path


Then we had lunch at the 7 Mile Grill for old times sake.
Pigeon Key from 7 Mile Bridge

Pigeon Key from 7 Mile Bridge

large_100_7177.JPGSigns at 7 Mile Grill

Signs at 7 Mile Grill


He had
Tuna Salad Sandwich

Tuna Salad Sandwich

,
and I had
Chicken salad pita

Chicken salad pita

Potato salad

Potato salad


It was really too much for me to eat. I wanted a root beer float, but they were out of ice cream. Bob thought that they should have just sent someone out to get some. Traffic was pretty bad at the top end of the Keys,
Draw bridge

Draw bridge


From Route 1

From Route 1

3 minutes to passing zone

3 minutes to passing zone


but we were at our daughter's before 3 pm.

Feb 14th - I had several objectives to accomplish in Miami. I wanted to see our granddaughter play baseball, I wanted to send the excess luggage home, I wanted to trade in my phone and get one that would hold a charge, and I wanted to get walking shoes. So we did almost all of
that on the 14th.
Bob and granddaughter

Bob and granddaughter


I unpacked everything I had left here and consolidated it into one 69 lb. box, and we took it to Mailboxes etc, and sent it to our oldest daughter. Cost about $50. Then we went to the phone store which was in the same shopping center, and I got a new Verizon phone which was almost the same style as the old one. I made the mistake of erasing all the old numbers out of my old phone thinking they would take it in trade, but they did not. That meant that I had to look in my address book to get all the phone numbers to program them into the new phone. I took only the minimum number of minutes and that means that unless I call on weekends or after 9 pm I have to watch how long I talk.
Local paper prints pictures of people reading their paper in different locations

Local paper prints pictures of people reading their paper in different locations


Then we went to JC Pennys, and I got a nice pair of light tan pants -cotton and very comfortable, and a pair of lace up shoes. We ate lunch at Applebees - I had
Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup


Apple chimicheesecake

Apple chimicheesecake


and Bob had a half chicken salad again.
Half chicken salad

Half chicken salad


Then we went to KMart and I got a pair of velcro sneakers on sale.

In the evening after dinner (our daughter got rotisserie chicken) we saw a baseball game of our grandson's, which they won. He could only pitch two innings because he is limited to 10 innings per week,
Grandson pitching

Grandson pitching

Granddaughter in pink cowboy boots petting a dog

Granddaughter in pink cowboy boots petting a dog


and they'd already had two games where he pitched 4 innings. The rest of the time he was catcher. He had a good hit - almost out of the park, and also turned a double play at 2nd.

Feb 15th, Our daughter took Ted to be fixed, and we went to our granddaughter's game which was in the afternoon after school.
Granddaughter's team

Granddaughter's team


Granddaughter in the field

Granddaughter in the field


She got onto base each time, and they won by a big margin.
Granddaughter at bat

Granddaughter at bat

Granddaughter running to 2nd

Granddaughter running to 2nd


She's the only girl, and she looked really cute with her hair in two pigtails but the boys on the other team gave her a lot of strange looks.
Granddaughter on base getting a strange look

Granddaughter on base getting a strange look


Our son-in-law bought a pop-up camper which we watched while he unpacked it. They are going camping down to Stock Island this weekend.
Camper set up

Camper set up

Inside camper

Inside camper

Posted by greatgrandmaR 12:17 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Tram to Shark Valley

Heading across the Tamiami Trail


View Summer, 9-11-2001 - and then the 2nd time down the ICW & 2005 Migrating by Mercedes & Bermuda on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

There are really no Sharks, and there is not really a Valley either.

February 16th

After Bob picked up our daughter where she had left the Excursion to have the brakes done, we packed up and left to come north again. We headed out across the Tamiami Trail, because I really wanted to do the Shark Valley tram trip.
Tigertails airboat tours

Tigertails airboat tours


I remembered the tram trip we took from Flamingo when we visited the Everglades in the late 60's. This tram trip was not like that one at all, but it was worth stopping for.

Shark Valley is located on the northern edge of the park 35 miles west of Miami on U.S. Highway 41 (the Tamiami Trail (Tampa to Miami). It is a section of the Everglades which is isolated from the rest of the park. You cannot drive to Shark Valley from the main Everglades. It features the sawgrass expanse of the Shark River Slough with islands of tropical hardwood hammocks dotting the landscape. The Shark River Slough is an extensive freshwater slough that flows from Lake Okeechobee (north of the park) to the southwestern coast of Florida. The Ten Thousand Islands in this area can be explored only by boat, canoe, or kayak. A concessionaire downstairs from the ranger station offers interpretive boat tours through the islands.
Tram Tour Times

Tram Tour Times

Shark Byte (Naturalist Program)

Shark Byte (Naturalist Program)


This area is perhaps what most visitors think of when they think of the everglades, as it is surrounded by a seemingly eternity of sawgrass in all directions. Alligators and wading birds often come within feet of visitors, and occasionally, a lazy alligator will block the road. Stay at least 15 feet from the alligators, and do not shout at them to try to get them to open their eyes. Also do not get near the baby alligators or you may incur the wrath of the momma.

You can walk, bicycle, or do as we did and take a two-hour tram ride to a 65-foot-tall observation tower that can be climbed to get a vulture's-eye view overlooking the sawgrass marsh midway around a paved loop trail.

The tram road is a nice fairly flat, paved 15 mile (round trip) trail which serves for both the tram and the bike/hike trail. The first half of this trail was built in 1946 by Mobil Oil when they were exploring the possibilities of finding oil in the Everglades - fortunately for us there was none. If you do not have your own bicycle, one may be rented at the tram office. Rentals are available from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and must be returned by 4:00 p.m.I was not fit enough to do the bike ride, besides which I wanted to hear the narration that is given on the tram. But you probably will see much more in the way of wildlife if you go by bike.

The park service warns: There are no short cuts. If you become tired or are unable to complete the entire 15 mile trip, turn around and return on the same road. Be aware of vehicles coming up behind you. (These will all be trams or park service vehicles - no private vehiles are allowed on the road). Bicycling the road takes an average of 2 to 3 hours, but varies with physical stamina and personal interests. The parking lot closes at 6:00 p.m., so be sure to allow enough time.

Along the road are four artificial ponds. These "borrow pits" are areas where limestone has been quarried, crushed into gravel, and then used to raise the level of the tram road. In the winter months, when the sawgrass prairie is dry, the borrow pits serve as water holes that attract a variety of wildlife. Look for alligators, wading birds, anhingas, and turtles around these human-made "gator holes."

First we looked at the waterhole next to the visitor's center which was much like the Anhinga Trail, although I did not have the energy to walk the whole half mile. We saw lots more egrets and great blue herons and alligators...anhinga, turtles, a green heron, etc.
Great blue heron

Great blue heron


Alligators

Alligators

Alligator's Grin

Alligator's Grin

Fish by the VIsitor's Center

Fish by the VIsitor's Center


One of the great blue herons walked right across the path in front of me, and because I had a telephoto lens on the camera, I couldn't get far enough away from him to get all of him in the photo.
Great Blue Heron crosses the path

Great Blue Heron crosses the path

Snowy Egret showing off his yellow feet and 2 alligaters

Snowy Egret showing off his yellow feet and 2 alligaters

Little blue heron

Little blue heron

Green heron (head behind the branch)

Green heron (head behind the branch)

Anhinga on the roof top

Anhinga on the roof top

Turtle convention

Turtle convention

Anhinga

Anhinga


Then we got on the tram.
Shark Valley Tour ticket

Shark Valley Tour ticket


Here we saw more wood storks, a couple of glossy ibis, and lots of rosette spoonbills.
Great White heron

Great White heron


Two wood storks

Two wood storks

Wood storks and a duck

Wood storks and a duck

Glossy ibis

Glossy ibis

large_100_7285.JPGPark ranger explaining the geology of the region (A Shark Byte)

Park ranger explaining the geology of the region (A Shark Byte)


Sawgrass flats with birds flying

Sawgrass flats with birds flying

Bike riders

Bike riders

Rosette spoonbill and egret

Rosette spoonbill and egret

Rosette Spoonbills

Rosette Spoonbills

Rosette Spoonbille -took off as I snapped photo

Rosette Spoonbille -took off as I snapped photo


We saw an alligator up on all fours (not just sliding on his belly) walking across the swamp. I have been told that an alligator can run fast for a short distance, although they can go much faster in the water.
Rosette spoonbills on the right and alligator exiting stage left

Rosette spoonbills on the right and alligator exiting stage left

Alligator walking on all fours

Alligator walking on all fours


On the other side of the trail we saw some alligator babies.
Black and gold striped Alligator babies

Black and gold striped Alligator babies

Please stop and move to the side of th road when a vehicle is approaching

Please stop and move to the side of th road when a vehicle is approaching

Hurricane Andrew in the Everglades

Hurricane Andrew in the Everglades

Cormorants on top of tower

Cormorants on top of tower


We got to the tower, and walked up the ramp to the first level
From the top of the tower

From the top of the tower


and could look down on the slough.
From the observation tower

From the observation tower

Looking down on a turtle from the tower

Looking down on a turtle from the tower

Waterlilies at the Overlook

Waterlilies at the Overlook

American purple gallinule

American purple gallinule

Black vulture

Black vulture


After 17 minutes, (when we could go up and down the tower and go to the bathroom), we came back along the old canal. I had sat on the left side of the tram, and the left side was next to most of the wildlife and also was right next to the canal. So if you go - sit on the left. We saw anhinga nests with babies of various sizes but the only one I got a good photo of was the babies that were about a month old.
Male anhinga and babies on nest

Male anhinga and babies on nest


Everglades black bird in the rafters of the visitor's center

Everglades black bird in the rafters of the visitor's center


After we left here, I wanted to stop and eat lunch, but the next restaurant didn't have any parking, so we drove on.
Miccosukee Indian reservation restaurant and gas station

Miccosukee Indian reservation restaurant and gas station


Bob was convinced that there would be another place nearby. WRONG. The road, which had been along a canal, was now between trees.
US Route 41 (Tamiami Trail) through Big Cypress

US Route 41 (Tamiami Trail) through Big Cypress


We stopped at the Big Cypress National Preserve.
Big Cypress National Preserve map

Big Cypress National Preserve map


We walked around the visitor's center and looked at the stuffed animals and got a stamp in our passport.
Stuffed Florida Panther at the visitor's center

Stuffed Florida Panther at the visitor's center

Big Cypress Florida Panther sign

Big Cypress Florida Panther sign

Stuffed animals

Stuffed animals


We went in to see the 15 minute movie, and about 5 minutes from the end a whole bunch of old people on a tour bus came in and made such a commotion finding seats (holding the door open so they could see) that we totally could not see the rest of the presentation. We were POed. We went out and looked at the boardwalk and canal in the front of the visitor's center where there were some animals, but this would be one place that you could easily skip IMHO.
Ditch in front of Big Cypress Visitor's Center

Ditch in front of Big Cypress Visitor's Center

Other side of ditch

Other side of ditch


We stopped at JoAnn's Blue Crab Cafe to try to get something to eat, but she said she was remodeling and wasn't open.
Joanie's Blue Crab Cafe

Joanie's Blue Crab Cafe


We had to go all the way to the turnoff for Everglades City and there we found a Subway. The girls behind the counter were eating lunch, and talking on the phone so it took us awhile before we got waited on, and then there were yellow jackets around the only places to sit (which were outside) so we ate in the car which Bob hates to do.

We continued on to Ft. Myers. I had looked all over the internet and the cheapest place I could find that had spaces in the Ft. Myers Naples area was the Quality Inn which was $102 plus tax. We checked in about 5. The hotel had a nice pool (which I didn't get to use), and also free wireless internet. We thought about going out to dinner but decided to eat at the hotel.
Restaurant specials menu

Restaurant specials menu


I had coconut shrimp with orange marmalade dipping sauce - it came with a large baked potato and vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower). Bob had a steak. It was a little less than $26 before tip.
Boston Red Sox park at dusk

Boston Red Sox park at dusk


We could see a ball game - presumably Little League across the street. There was a Red Sox banner on the field - the Red Sox and the Twins
have Spring Training in Ft. Myers.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 13:35 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Stymied by Termites and Fog

Ford, Edison and Boca Grande


View Summer, 9-11-2001 - and then the 2nd time down the ICW & 2005 Migrating by Mercedes & Bermuda on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

On the trail to revisit the places we had been back in the 60s, was Edison's house. I had photos from our visit in August of 1967. Some of them I could match up with photos I took this year, and some were just of the various kinds of vegetation around Edison's house.

left - Our oldest two girls by the Edison's home sign in 1967 (Put up only 5 years before our visit 1967) and on the right - same sign in 2005

left - Our oldest two girls by the Edison's home sign in 1967 (Put up only 5 years before our visit 1967) and on the right - same sign in 2005


Original light bulbs in Edison's house - 1961 which I had hoped to see again.

Original light bulbs in Edison's house - 1961 which I had hoped to see again.


February 17th
I had thought the hotel had a continental breakfast, and they had some muffins and coffee in the lobby when we checked in, but the restaurant serves breakfast, so they had disappeared by morning. Bob had some hot tea in the room (using the coffee pot) and I ate a bagel and we left to get to Edison's house ASAP.

One of the best things about this hotel was that it was so close to the Edison Ford winter homes. We were one of the first ones in the parking lot. This is the way to see Edison's house as otherwise you will have to wait in a long line. We were there right when they opened and thus save ourselves a lot of time and aggravation
Edison and Ford Winter Estates banner

Edison and Ford Winter Estates banner


The weather guys were reporting fog, and we saw some down by the river.
Dock with fog - you can't see the opposite shore of the river

Dock with fog - you can't see the opposite shore of the river


We happened to be in Fort Myers at about the same time as they were celebrating Thomas Edison's birthday. They had dedicated the statue under the Banyon Tree in the parking lot the day before.This Banyan Tree is in the parking lot area in front of the ticket office, and one does not need to have a ticket to look at it.
Banyon tree 1967 and 2005

Banyon tree 1967 and 2005


It has a statue of Edison underneath of it.
large_x100_7355.JPG
The tree was given to Edison by Harvey Firestone after he saw one on a trip to India. When it was planted in 1925 it was only 4 feet tall and two inches around. It is now the largest one of its kind in Florida with a circumferance of over 400 feet. It was here when we visited in 1967. It was designated a state champion tree in 1980. It grows out horizontally by putting down prop roots to support the branches. The beginning prop roots have to be pruned in order to keep it from taking over all the buildings and the parking lot.

I thought it would be nice to have a cruise on the replica of Edison's electric boat, so we got a ticket for "The Works" which included the lab, the grounds, the museum, and the Edison house and Ford house in addition to the boat trip. The tickets were $20 each, but I had a coupon out of the local area map for $2 reduction on any adult admission which made them $18 each.

The boat was scheduled for 9:40 and we were to be at the front at 9:30. So first we went through the museum, which had a lot of the old gramophones, old photos,
gramophones 1967 and 2005

gramophones 1967 and 2005

1967 photo of cars in the museum

1967 photo of cars in the museum

Edison system ampere meter

Edison system ampere meter

Edison talking doll

Edison talking doll

model of a moving assembly line at Ford

model of a moving assembly line at Ford

Edison stock ticker

Edison stock ticker


and the story of the reconstruction of Edison's house.
furniture from Edison's house while they renovated it

furniture from Edison's house while they renovated it


We weren't going to be able to go into Edison's house because it was being renovated - both termite and hurricane damage. They gave us a ticket for us to come back when the house was open again - so we have two free adult tickets which we thought maybe our daughter and SIL could use.
Sialia

Sialia


There was a photo of the Sialia which was a steamer built in 1914 - used by the US Navy and the Coast and Geodetic Survey until it was bought by Henry Ford in 1920 and renamed the Yankee Clipper. When it came to 9:30, it was still too foggy,
Still too foggy

Still too foggy


We went by the lab that was constructed so that the original lab could be moved, but Edison would still have someplace to go.
Temporary lab

Temporary lab

Desk

Desk


Ford's house wasn't on the tour when we went before so that was all new. We went back across the street and I wanted to check with the tour desk about boat ride times, but Bob persuaded me to go to the lab first.
Laboratory

Laboratory

Lab ceiling

Lab ceiling


McGregor Blvd (left 1967-Right 2005)

McGregor Blvd (left 1967-Right 2005)


They had a special 'crossing guard' to get us across the street from the visitor's center to the houses.
Crossing guard

Crossing guard

House through the trees

House through the trees

1967 photo of Edison's garden

1967 photo of Edison's garden


Chenille plant 1967

Chenille plant 1967

Christmas cactus - 1967

Christmas cactus - 1967

Strange Tree

Strange Tree

Royal Palms

Royal Palms

Sausage tree (left 1967-right 2005)

Sausage tree (left 1967-right 2005)

Edison's dock - Top 1967: Bottom 2005

Edison's dock - Top 1967: Bottom 2005

Edison arrives in Ft Myers.  He was particularly interested in the bamboo he found growing here

Edison arrives in Ft Myers. He was particularly interested in the bamboo he found growing here


100_7402.JPGBamboo

Bamboo

Edison's sketch of how he wanted the house and grounds to look

Edison's sketch of how he wanted the house and grounds to look

Bench in the garden

Bench in the garden


The pool was in much better shape than I remembered from the 60's - not all full of algae.
Pool - top 1967: bottom 2005

Pool - top 1967: bottom 2005


Water lily pond

Water lily pond

Water lilies

Water lilies


Walk toward Edison's house - left 1967: right 2005

Walk toward Edison's house - left 1967: right 2005

xh100_7426.JPGEdison's house with scaffolding

Edison's house with scaffolding

Porch

Porch

Fireplace

Fireplace


Henry Ford's house wasn't on the tour when we went before so that was all new. I took over 80 photos
Stainless sink

Stainless sink


crib

crib

Fireplace

Fireplace

Window seat in the dining room

Window seat in the dining room

Grandfather clock

Grandfather clock


Antique high chair

Antique high chair

Stove

Stove

Old typewriter in Ford house

Old typewriter in Ford house

Porch

Porch

Edison's walk - friends donated stones.  (Sign says not to walk on it)

Edison's walk - friends donated stones. (Sign says not to walk on it)


We got finished with the tour around 11:45, but they said our first chance to go was about 2 pm, so we declined. They refunded that part of the ticket. They couldn't figure out how to pro-rate the $2 off part. So they refunded the whole $5.50 each, making our total $12.50 each.

We left and went north toward Tampa/St. Pete where we were spending the night. We stopped in Murdock at a Taco Bell for lunch.

There were quite a lot of places that I would have liked to revisit on the west coast - the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, for instance. And one of the CSY folks was in the Tampa area and I was anxious to see what they'd done to their boat since I saw it last in Bald Head. But it was getting late. So we only went to Gasparilla Island,
Toll booth

Toll booth


and down to the north side of Port Charlotte to visit the Boca Grande lighthouse.
Boca Grande Lighthouse

Boca Grande Lighthouse


The lighthouse is down on the end of a peninsula and we had a little trouble finding it, although you can't really get lost.
Boca Grande lighthouse sign

Boca Grande lighthouse sign


Beach on the inlet

Beach on the inlet


This is one lighthouse that I am able to climb because it is only a one-story dwelling with a square tower in the center of the hipped roof.
large_100_7474.JPGExhibits inside the lighthouse

Exhibits inside the lighthouse

Lighthouse from the side

Lighthouse from the side


I didn't go up in the tower, which had a circular lantern room protecting a third-and-a-half-order Fresnel lens. We also saw the Rear Range Light.
Wooden Cleat from the old Phosphate Dock

Wooden Cleat from the old Phosphate Dock


In the 17th century, phosphate was discovered several miles up the Peace River, and the mining and transport of this material through the port resulted in Congress appropriating $35,000 for the construction of a lighthouse at the southern tip of Gasparilla Island in 1888. The lighthouse was activated on December 31, 1890 by keeper Francis McNulty. In 1907, a rail line was built from the mines to Boca Grande. This made it more economical to ship the phosphate. It was not until 1958 that a bridge and road was built so people could drive to the island. In 1966, the lighthouse was abandoned by the Coast Guard, and the 58-foot tall steel skeleton Rear Range Light tower was established further inland.
Rear Range Light

Rear Range Light

Gasparilla Island Church

Gasparilla Island Church


By 1970, erosion was threatening the old lighthouse. In 1971, so a 265-foot granite jetty was built near the lighthouse to protect the island. Florida Power and Light, which had storage facilities at Port Boca Grande, then pumped 100,000 cubic yards of fill into the area, much of it around the lighthouse itself. The lighthouse has been restored and is in the Gasparilla Island State Park. According to the Florida State Parks page, it is open to the public 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. daily from November through April. From May through July and September it is open Wednesday through Sunday. The lighthouse will be closed during the month of August.

We drove over the Skyway to St. Petersburg,
x100_7499.JPGSunshine Skyway Bridge

Sunshine Skyway Bridge


and found our way to the Sleep Inn in Clearwater right by the airport. I have usually been quite happy with the Sleep Inn. It is less expensive than the Hampton in and has the free breakfast, the pool and the free local calls. The pool looked good and there was also a hot tub. (I didn't try either of them) We were right at the end of the runway (overlooking the pool and hot tub), but we didn't hear any noise - possibly because the wind was such that planes weren't taking off or landing towards us.
Pool and hot tub - runway in background

Pool and hot tub - runway in background


Good things - free DSL line in the room, and an awesome shower which I took advantage of in the morning. There is no tub but I like a shower much better when I don't have to step over the edge of the tub.

Bad things - an anemic breakfast and so much traffic on the road that it was impossible to get out of the driveway. We could not get across the street to eat at any of the restaurants there, because of traffic, which was heavy and unremitting (The front rooms were probably noisier than the back rooms.) I suspect this is primarily a business hotel.
Bascomb's Chop House sign

Bascomb's Chop House sign


For dinner we went to Bascom's Chop House (which is not listed as a nearby restaurant on the Sleep Inn website and neither was the Chinese restaurant next door) . This was a very fancy restaurant with cloth napkins and multiple waiters.
Bascom's door

Bascom's door


It also appeared to cater mostly to business travelers and meeting groups.The website says:When the original Bascom came to Florida at the turn of the last century to help Henry Flagler build the Key West Railroad, he brought with him his love for thick cut chops and juicy steaks. During his travels he also discovered the bounties of fresh native Florida seafood. Bob had a dozen raw oysters
Bob's oysters

Bob's oysters


(and complained that they weren't opened properly because they weren't cut free of their shells - he had to operate on them to eat them) for $7.95, and a cup of lobster bisque for $3.95. I had a lobster tail dinner for $15.95.
Lobster tail dinner

Lobster tail dinner

Posted by greatgrandmaR 14:16 Archived in USA Comments (4)

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