In trying to decide what to do for the day, we decided to experience the new Pure Fort Myers river excursion on the M/V Edison Explorer. Its mid-morning excursion on the great Caloosahatchee River was departing at 10:30am. Arriving in time to also check out the new changes to the once Royal Palm Yacht Club, we headed on down to The Marina at Edison Ford, which is also home to one of the newest Pinchers restaurants.
There was a gentle river breeze walking along the marina. As we boarded the vessel, Captain Marty Martino, historian Matt Andres from the Edison Ford Winter Estates and ships mate Joy Miller greeted us. Captain Marty began by explaining where the lifejackets were and other safety information. With the required sound of the horn, we set out from the marina.
Looking back at the vast gardens of the Edison and Ford homes, and then across to the distant shoreline we could understand why these two famous men chose to live here - and why they would build a pier that extended 500 feet out into the river. Matt did much to awaken our imaginations to the life and time of that era. The history of the area goes further back than the Edisons and Fords, to the Calusa Indians and the Seminoles and through the exciting times of the “Crackers”.
As we ventured out into the middle of the river, Marty took the microphone. We were soon greeted by Pelicans swooping over the water. It was not long before other birds that inhabit the area began to show themselves as we made our way up river. Marty pointed out the Purple Martin birds, the Anhinga with its snake like neck, the Double Crested Cormorant, Ibis, Osprey, and the federally endangered Wood Stork. Going past the bird rookeries was breathtaking with birds resting on these mangrove islands. We learned how birdlife had been threatened years ago by the desire for their beautiful plumes for the sake of fashion. Today, it is no longer legal to hunt birds for their feathers.
Our trip took us passed another rookery and up to the Seminole Bridge rising from the water like a great giant transformer toy, with its original cypress pilings from 1904 still evident today. From there we looked further up the river to the Orange River Power Plant and outflow, where the elusive Manatee like to stay and enjoy the warmer water.
On the return to the marina, Marty stopped at the rookery to observe the hundreds of birds resting there and to tell us about their habits and why the rookeries are so important. We had the joy of witnessing a pod of dolphins doing a search for their breakfast. During this time, our informative captain continued to enlighten us with the development of the river over the years, its inhabitants and its shores, Lake Okeechobee and the importance of this waterway to both the Gulf and the Eastern seaboard. The one and a half hours went by all to quickly ensuring that I for one will be doing the trip again.
So, then it was off to lunch at Pinchers and a visit to the Edison Ford Winter Estates – a rewarding day of pure family fun.