W.B. Franklin Lock Park – Army Corps of Engineers
We called Jay and Lynn Karsch who have a home in North Fort Myers to see about getting together and they reminded us about an Army Corps of Engineers Park near them with a nice campground. Since we really didn’t care for the Peace River RV park (not so much the park, just the location in the middle of nowhere), we decided to call W.B. Franklin Lock campground to see if they had space and as luck would have it, we were able to get a spot. Not only did we get one of the 38 spots there, but, because one of the campers was leaving earlier than planned, we got the best site in the entire park. The park ranger(Tony) was really nice and held the spot for us while we drove the 70 miles south. Yes, it was out of the way given that we were heading north to Daytona, but it was absolutely worth it for so many reasons.
First, the campground was awesome. We had a large concrete pad on which to park and because the Army corps of engineers built the park alongside of one of the locks on the Caloosahatchie River, the site was actually level. The park is situated on a peninsula right in the middle of the Caloosahatchie River; a beautiful, large river that runs between Lake Ochechobee to the east and the Gulf of Mexico in the West. The lock itself is impressive and we watched several large yachts go through the lock. Our site was on a point so we had water on two sides. The sun set right behind the RV so we made drinks and just watched the sun go down while the birds flew to the west for their nightly roost.
Second, we got to see Lynn and Jay Karsch. We had dinner with them one night and then, met them to go kayaking near Bonita Springs in Cocohatchee River Park. The park had many mangrove islands to explore and the channel led to the Gulf of Mexico and Barefoot Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the U.S. apparently. It did look lovely but, we didn’t get to see much of it because after braving the surf and getting into the Gulf, we turned around and went back to the safety of the mangroves because the waves were very high and breaking all around us. We stayed in the channel and avoided the breakers but it was a close call.
Still, the mangroves were filled with a treasure of birds. Sorry, but more bird pictures; probably the best I have taken. Seriously, I had my good 300 mm lens and Nikon camera (as opposed to my waterproof point and shoot) and was able to get the kayak almost close enough to touch the birds that were perched in the trees or flying at kayak level. It was an incredible experience. To my brother- no, I did not get them to pose for me.
I got up today, November 1st, and took the sunrise photos. Absolutely a beautiful spot and we will definitely come back to the Ft. Myers area. There are so many nice places to kayak, hike and bike and out in the country, it seems very rural even though you are near a large metropolitan area. The homes are lovely, though; quite a change from Wauchula.