W. P. Franklin North Campground

Three years ago the CurbCrusher clan decided that they’d start a new Thanksgiving tradition and go camping on Thanksgiving weekend. We piled the gang into the fifth-wheel, and went to Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park in Micanopy, Florida. We had a great dinner and then went bike riding around the park. Little CurbCrusher went over her handle bars and knocked out one of her brand new front permanent teeth. We spent the better part of Thanksgiving at Shand’s Emergency Room, and ruined Thanksgiving dinner for two pediatric dental interns. Little CurbCrusher has been adamantly opposed to going camping on Thanksgiving since that time.

So after staying home the past two years, we ventured out again on Thanksgiving, this time to W.P. Franklin North Campground near Ft. Myers, Florida. It was about a three hour drive from the CurbCrusher estate, and done on Thanksgiving morning. The traffic was lite and the driving easy. W. P. Franklin is a Corp of Engineers park, something we’d never stayed in. This campground is located on an island off the north bank of the Caloosahatchee river. Opposite the park is is the lock that raises and lowers boats that are moving up the river toward Lake Okeechobee. The campground has 30 sites with water and electricity, all are paved and all but three are right on the water. The three not on on the water are in the middle of the island, and still have a great view of the water, but they are close together. Each site has a fire ring, and a raised grill, and a picnic table with a cover. The sites are paved, and have gravel around the picnic tables, making for a dry site when it rains. There are two bath houses, and they were very clean and roomy. In addition, there are eight boat slips that have power and water. A single dump station serves the park.

After enjoying a nice Thanksgiving dinner, we awoke Friday ready to do some tourist stuff. We drove the fifteen miles or so to the Edison and Ford Winter Estates. Thomas Edison spent winters in Ft. Myers starting in 1886, and his home has been preserved. At some time, Henry Ford bought the place next door, and spent time in Ft. Myers also. The local preservation group has preserved both houses, and a laboratory that Edison worked in to try and determine a method of extracting rubber from plants that would grow in the U.S. Little CurbCrusher had been wanting to see something related to Edison after studying him last year in school, so this was a great opportunity to work in a field trip.

Following the tour of the Edison home, we wandered over to Sanibel Island, which is located a little further south. We had two reasons for wanting to visit Sanibel. One is that it has great beaches, and Little CurbCrusher likes to play on the beach. Secondly, Lady CurbCrusher wanted to check out the Periwinkle Trailer Park and Campground to see if it was a place that we’d like to camp in the future. We walked about a mile of so beach and collected shells and a slight sunburn. We then stopped at the Periwinkle campground and took a look around. This place is more of a permanent living location with lots of park models there, but there is a loop or two for camping. It is the only campground on Sanibel Island, but there is still a good walk to the beach. It might be a good place to stay if your destination was the beach, but we left not completely convinced that its a place we want to camp.

On Saturday we made a trip up to the Ortona lock. There is another campground run by the Corp of Engineers here. This campground has 51 sites, and is a bit larger than the one at the W. P. Franklin lock. They are a bit more relaxed at Ortona lock, and they let you walk across the damn and the locks to the other side of the river. While there we were able to see the lock in operation as a couple of boats came through headed east. It was pretty neat watching the lock in operation.

We then drove back down to the W.P. Franklin Lock and Recreation area. This is located across the river from the campground, but you have drive 12 miles to get to it. There is a beach, boat ramp, and observation deck to watch the lock in operation. When were there there was only about a two foot difference in the height of the river on each side of the damn, so it was not as impressive as watching the Ortona lock where there was more like a five foot difference in the river height.

Pictures from the trip are located here.

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