Despite the high temps and humidity making me an indoor coach mole, our 13 day stay at Riverbend was a productive one. We met with our landscaper to discuss some changes we wanted made to improve our line of sight to the lake, accomplished a few minor projects, purchased and installed new batteries for our golf cart, watched sunsets each evening and enjoyed getting together with friends.
And of course, there were visits to our favorite restaurants in the area – breakfast and a take out order of their delicious broasted chicken at the Alva Country Diner and breakfast at The Log Cabin in Labelle with our next door neighbors, John and Bobbie and a very enjoyable visit with our friends, Chris and Bob, who brought a delicious pizza for lunch (thanks again, guys!).
Thanks to an invite from friends, Gerry and Gay, we enjoyed a late lunch at a new restaurant for us, the Boathouse Tiki Bar and Grill in Fort Myers. Although the weather forecast was not the greatest, the showers held off so we were able to sit out on the deck which was quite pleasant. Nice ambiance and good food!
After our lunch, Gerry and Gay took us on a tour of nearby Babcock Ranch Community, a master planned sustainable community occupying approximately 17,000 acres in Fort Myers and built on eight core initiatives – environment, health, education, energy, technology, transportation, storm safety and fun. Babcock Ranch is the first greenest city in America.
Within the community, there is a focus on solar energy with the installation of over 340,000 solar panels as well as solar trees which serve as charging stations for residents to power up their handheld devices. Self driving electric shuttles can be scheduled through an app on your phone which helps to eliminate the need to use a vehicle within the community. Water conservation is practiced by planting less thirsty native vegetation over grass and using gray water for irrigation.
For those who enjoy the outdoors, there are over 5 miles of hiking/walking trails (50 miles are planned), kayaking and canoeing, free 1/2 hour boat tours through Lake Babcock every day at noon and 2 pm, catch and release fishing, biking, dog parks, kid’s playgrounds and community gardens.
Speaking of sustainability, as soon as we arrived there Gerry decided we needed a bit of sugar to keep us energized during our tour so we stopped at Square Scoops to indulge in a scoop of their homemade ice cream. Great idea, Gerry!
Although it is still under development with a lot of homes being constructed by three different builders in a variety of styles, it currently features four restaurants, a lakeside boardwalk area, a band shell for live entertainment, outfitters and equipment rental store, marketplace, co-working office space, Healthy Life Center and a splash pad fountain. More commercial endeavors are planned for the future.
The community is adjacent to the 73,000 acre Babcock Ranch Preserve which was part of a 91,361-acre working ranch known as Crescent B Ranch purchased in 1914 by Edward Babcock, a Pittsburgh lumber magnate and politician. The ranch produced timber, cattle, row crops, and sod, and provided recreation opportunities such as hunting and ecotourism. The Babcock family sold the land to Kitson & Partners, the current developers of the community, who fortunately wanted to preserve much of the land so they sold 80% of it to the State of Florida in 2006, keeping the other 20% for the development of the Babson Ranch Community. Swamp buggy 90 minute eco-tours of the working cattle ranch are offered seven days a week (adults – $24, seniors – $23, children ages 3-12 – $16, children ages 2 & under: free).
After a very enjoyable afternoon, back at the coach, we watched our “tiger” watching “The Tiger” win the Masters Golf Tournament. Of course, he watched it intently for about 5 minutes but as soon as I pointed my camera at him, he stopped watching. What a brat!
Speaking of Sparky, he loved staying at Riverbend because he was allowed outside for supervised play/hunting time – the privacy of the landscaping created a safe haven for him. Chasing lizards was his favorite past time but being the aging old guy (almost 15), they were much too fast for him. But he didn’t seem to care – it was the thrill of the hunt that captivated him, not the final outcome.
Invariably he would head under the coach making it difficult for us to watch him at least until my favorite geek (aka Rob) had a brilliant idea – let’s buy another inexpensive Wyze camera from Amazon. BTW, this is an awesome camera for the price – wireless with HD image quality, pan/tilt/zoom, motion detection and a free cloud server. We already had one inside the coach to monitor activity when we are away. Placing another underneath the coach, powered by a portable USB power pack, allowed us to watch the Sparkmeister from our phones or a tablet without constantly getting up to check on him. Very cool indeed!
Mom and Dad even invited him to partake in one of their favorite things to do, cruising around the resort at the end of the day in the golf cart.
Speaking of touring in the golf cart, we decided to supplement our dash cam video of the resort with one from the vantage point of the golf cart, figuring this would provide a lot of “Behind The Scenes” content like the live oak grove, Gazebo by the river, boat docks, racetrack, etc. not possible with the dash cam. We didn’t get a chance to finish the editing just yet but we’ll let you know when it’s ready.
But finally it was the day before our departure and it was a busy one, putting all the patio furniture and the golf cart away in the coach house in prep for the forthcoming hurricane season, saying goodbye to friends and getting ready to hit the road the next day.
It would be an interesting drive to our next destination. Stay tuned!