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Exploring Florida: Visiting the Edison & Ford Winter Estates

 

 

 

The more I live, the more I realize that humans, in general, have the tendency to only appreciate what they have once it is gone and that includes myself!

 

To prove my point, let me tell you where I live. My home sits less than a block away from a river where you can see the most beautiful sunsets in the world, my neighborhood is covered with exotic and beautiful trees and plants that were brought here from all over the world and still is cultivated by the residents today.

 

However, our daily lives makes us forget to observe and to enjoy what we have at hands. I often joke around with people whom don't live here that I live where they vacation but truth of the matter is, I don't really enjoy it like the vacationers do.

 

Well, I decided  to do something only visitors would do, a place I didn't have to go too far to see and it could make me fall in love with where I live all over again; that place is the Edison and Ford Winter Estates!

 

I hadn't been there since I was 11 years old and was just visiting Fort Myers from Brazil then. I don't remember much to be quite honest, and I am kind of glad about that because I heard many of the big trees and other monuments have been destroyed by the several amount of hurricanes we have had ever since.

 

Now, let's start with parking, which is free and plenty so you can schedule your trip based on your wants and needs. My suggestion is to go in the morning if you do not enjoy Florida Summer heats as there will be a lot of walking in the sun. They are opened from 9 am to 5 pm, so choose wisely!

 

Tickets can be purchased from the museum store and you can choose between the guided tour and the audio tour, here are the prices:

 

Guided Tour

Adult - $30

Teen - $25

Child - $18

Member - $5

 

Audio Tour

Adult - $25

Teen - $20

Child - $15

Member - Free

 

The audio tour is available in English, German, Spanish and French. 

 

I opted for the audio tour and couldn't be more satisfied. If you like to stop and record and take multiple pictures, and cannot keep up with a tour guide, then audio will give you the flexibility to do the things that you want to do and still be able to enjoy the same information given by a tour guide.  

 

For the audio tour, you will receive a device along with a map, which you will use to plug in the location number of each area of the home. Each location has its own unique number and story, the other great thing about it is that you can repeat it as many times as you need in case you missed something you'd like to hear again.

 

Before crossing the streets to enter the actual homes of Edison and Henry, I stopped by what is used to be Mr Edison's Botanical Laboratory. It is full of gigantic trees that were he used for experiments just like the other 17,000 species of plants scattered throughout the property. 

 

Along side the lab, is the beautiful garden, where butterflies are a constant attraction. As you sit on the white bench and enjoy the flowers and the birds chirping, you can understand why  Fort Myers was such a special place for the inventor and his family.

 

I will be honest and say that I spent so much time in the garden, enjoying the butterflies, and then deciding which plants I was going to purchase for my home, that I run out of time and I had to save the actual visit to the homes for the following day.

 

Nevertheless, that also brings me to the point that you can also purchase many of the plants, herbs and flowers that you see throughout Edison and Ford's Estates  right from the museum store. I ended up buying lavender, lemongrass and tomatoes and they have been a great addition to my garden!

 

When I returned the following day for the tour of the homes, the day was even more beautiful than the day before but then again that's pretty common on our side of town.

 

As you approach the homes, you can already see the Caloosahatchee river from afar. This same river was the primary means of transportation until the railroad arrived in Fort Myers back in 1904. 

 

You may not know this but pools weren't always common in Florida and Thomas Edison was one of the first residents in Southwest Florida to own a pool and it is quite large to say the least.

 

Honestly, everything at Edison's home was either large or very unique for the time in which it was being used. From the home, to the garden to the garage which is today the museum store, when you listen to the story and all of the history that sits there, more and more you appreciate all of the efforts that were put into building everything we are able to enjoy today with minimum effort.

 

It is without a doubt that Thomas Edison was a remarkable man whom attracted the friendship of other remarkable people like himself, man such as Henry Ford were one of his great friends.

 

So much that Henry Ford decided to purchase the home right next to the inventor in an attempt to spend the ladder's birthday with him. Once a year, mr. Ford came to Fort Myers, to spend one week along side his best friend and celebrate another year of his life.

 

Now, not only the two celebrated birthdays together but they also came together to build new inventions. It is because of such friendship that America no longer relies on foreign countries for rubber resources. Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone formed the Edison's Botanic Corporation which its primary focus was  to find a rubber source that could be quickly grown and produced right here in the United States.

 

One of these sources sits right in Ford's back yard and it is also one of the biggest trees in the entire property. The mysore or brown woolly fig tree was brought here from China, its massive roots are so large that they basically form an island around the tree. 

 

As my tour approached an end, I almost felt sad, I didn't want to leave this serene and harmonious place and then I realized; I am not leaving, I only live a mile away, this is after all my town! 

 

Lastly, I would like to encourage you to take the time to explore your own town as a tourist, appreciate the little things in your environment, whether it is a tall building, the ocean or nature, take the time to be grateful for where you at now as one day you may be somewhere else wishing you've done more, enjoyed more.

 

 

 

 

 

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