Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Gators. Iowa. And Ding Darling.

20170119_130042I couldn’t wait to use this attention grabber to start today’s blog. The big old boy (girl? don’t know how to tell, yet) certainly grabbed our attention as we meandered along the pathway at the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island just off Florida’s west coast. We Iowa folks instantly recognize Ding Darling’s name; the Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist for the Des Moines Register for nearly 50 years. His biggest joy and contribution was doing wildlife and conservation work starting in the 1920s and continuing through out his life. This refuge is a great testament to that life work.


The rich and famous have been attracted to Florida’s climate and scenery for decades, going back to the 1880s. Two of the most recognizable names associated with this particular area are Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, both incredible pioneers in the technical advancement of the country and the world. Edison bought his first property here in the late 1890s from a cattle rancher and built his home and a working laboratory. He was joined not long after by his friend and fellow industrialist, Henry Ford. Ford had hired Edison to work on a generator for his Model T and the two become friends for life.



Thomas Edison home, left, and Henry Ford home, right. Edison’s laboratory and his poured concrete swimming pool (the first in Florida) are also on the site.All beautifully maintained and preserved, only feet from the ocean. Cathy is thrilled with the bird life of this area and is enjoying the camaraderie of being with her cousin, Paula Senger and her hubby, Ken. They have been incredible hosts!


This is ONE banyan tree (and only part of it is in the picture), billed as the largest of its species in North America. Edison was a great student of botany as well as inventor (1193 patents!) and imported trees for all of the world. He tested them all to see if they would possibly yield sap to produce rubber for automobile tires, so rubber would not have to be imported. However, none of them were successful for that purpose.

Tomorrow we part company with these wonderful hosts and head toward more “gator country”, the Magnificent Everglades.

6 thoughts on “Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Gators. Iowa. And Ding Darling.”

  1. So you are ‘out there’ exploring the American scene in your ‘paid for with green stamps’ camper. Chuck said I would find you here. And here you are. What’s it like and how long have you been on the road? Do you do all the driving or does you wife sit in? My wife would ever go because she wants nothing to do with the places you have to put up to stay in. She likes the Dorchester in London and the Grand Opera in Paris. That’s Mary’s idea of camping. Me, I’m a bit easier, and find the romance of what you are doing intriguing. Truthfully, after visiting 122 countries and many of them twice or more I have a better innate understanding of many countries than I do most of our states. What is you itinerary or are you simply wandering listlessly, attempting like in the television show Route 66, to find people to help and adventures to suck you in? Thanks for your extremely supportive comments on my site. I will check back to see where you are and what you are doing. I keep about ten thousand cash hidden away in the basement for adventurers like you. That one phone call….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can run but I can’t hide. Is that the deal? So nice to see your comment here on my blog 🙂 when you get 18 seconds out of your incredibly busy day scroll back to the first blog post and you will find what Cathy and I are up to.


  2. I’ve heard you called many things and some by me but never associated listless with you!! Glad you are enjoying Florida although it is 72 degrees here today! Keep on keepin’ on!


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