Up in the Air
It’s a beautiful day in the Airport Neighborhood!
I love going to visit George’s brother and sister-in-law, Sherrill and Quinn. They live in North Fort Myers, Florida in an airport community.What, you may ask, is an airport community? Well, after you go through the gate and pass the community hangars and drive along the private airstrip, you realize that all the roads in this neighborhood are runways. Street signs are low on the ground, no higher than two or three feet. Instead of a two or three car garage, every home has a two- or three-plane hangar. Really.
The fun part of knowing someone who lives in an airport community is that you pretty much always get an air tour of the local area in at least one small plane. So cool! Here’s the drill: after breakfast, you go out to the garage, open the big door, and roll your plane out into the driveway and look it over for a safety check. That done, then we hop in and taxi down the street to the airstrip. There’s gas there, so you top off the tank. We then circle around, watch for gators or cranes on the runway, and take off.
Fort Myers is on the Gulf side, down toward the Everglades part of Florida. From the air you can see the Caloosahatchee River, which comes from Lake Okeechobee (I did not make those names up!) then up the coast to Sanibel and Captiva, long, narrow islands famous for the high quantity and quality of seashells that wash up along the beach. We fly up the coast to Pine Island, where Sherrill and Quinn lived before they moved to the Airport Community.
Pine Island is a truly lovely and very quiet place to live or visit. There’s one resort on the island, but it’s mostly private homes. There’s no bridge to the island, so you have to either have your own boat (and a place to park it on the island) or take the ferry. Here’s one of the reasons the island is so quiet: the ferry, which takes about 5 – 10 minutes to cross a piece of water about the length of the parking lot at the local library, costs $55.00. No, that’s not a typo. $55.00 per car. I think they only charge you going over, not coming back. So you can imagine that there are few sightseers to crowd up the place.
On the way home, we touch down at the Charlotte County airport. Sherrill is really great about explaining the protocol of landing in an airport without a tower. Up again, we look at all the developed, but empty lots in Cape Coral below. Florida was hit hard by the recession, and many people lost a bunch of money if they invested in property. They’re saying that you can get some really great deals on some nice homes and land down there. Time to go shopping!
As we circle around, heading back to our private airport, I can see below just how much of Florida is just swamp and wetlands. Lots of development along the coast, sure, but the homes and businesses just line the shore, leaving the center of the state, at least down there, wide open for nature.
We get a glimpse of that nature when we taxi back to the house. There’s a lake in the backyard that’s home to gators, egrets, ducks, ibis, eagles, sandhill cranes, and tons of frogs and bugs. We enjoy the sunset as we eat dinner on the patio. Up in the air is fun, but it’s nice to be back down on the ground.