Results 1-2of 2 Reviews
Orchard Park, New York
January 13, 2009
From journal Week-long Winter Break in Marco Island, FL
January 8, 2006
We took the 10:30am tour, and it was almost 45 minutes from Marco Island. Our captain was Captain Pico. First he waved his hand, and two pelicans came and sat on the boat. The no-wake zone was long and tedious. We passed the landmark Everglades City Rod & Gun Club, which had been open since 1864. It was in the movie "Gone Fishin’" with Danny Glover and Joe Pesci. Captain Pico even had a line in the movie. Finally out in open water, Captain Pico let the engine rip. In front of us was an island and Pico headed straight for it.
Just when we thought he was going to hit it, he cut the motor and the boat spun around. Captain Pico the eased the boat onto the shore. This was Totch’s Island. Totch was Loren Brown, who was raised in a family that was one of the first to settle the Everglades. Pico told us the story how Totch wanted to make money. He started at the age of 14, trapping for furs. He was a fisherman, decorated WWII veteran, tour boat captain of the rich and famous, and a marijuana smuggler. In the 1990’s someone told him he ought to write a book about his life, so he did.
The book was wildly successful (I bought one in the gift shop), and he finally made a lot of money. He began building a house on what is now called Totch’s Island. In 1996. While laying flooring, he had a heart attack and died at age 76. Pico said he spent his entire life trying to make money, and when he finally did he died before he could enjoy it. His eldest daughter, Lorna, bought the island and kept the house just the way Totch had it when he died. She was there and Pico introduced us. She told us that Hurricane Wilma blew off the thatch that covered the frame so she was there with workers who were applying a new wood siding. She said they couldn't restore the original thatch work because the next hurricane would simply strip it again.
Captain Pico said we needed to get going so we said goodbye to Lorna. Again Captain Pico let it rip, until we arrived back at the no wake area. Pico turned the boat into a cove of mangrove trees. In the various coves, Pico introduced us to several of his friends, including Speedbump the alligator, Albert the alligator, and a family of wild pigs that Albert was hoping would get close enough for dinner. After the tour, we had a chance to hold a live alligator. OK, it was a baby alligator, only 3 feet. It was kept in a chilled tank to make it more docile. We were slightly uncomfortable with that. The airboat ride was terrific, but if we had taken the shorter tour we'd still be in the no wake zone.
From journal Marco Island and the Florida Everglades