Sunshine and blue water...
We finally got to Key West in the late afternoon. We went down to the tourist area and walked around. Each night at sunset, Key West has the Sunset Festival. It is filled with vendors and street performers. We watched a beautiful sunset and then headed off for some dinner at a Cuban restaurant. I have actually started to acquire a taste for Cuban coffee. I have had one each day, but one so far. Key West has some beautiful buildings. In the old section most of the homes are over 100 years old. Another neat thing about Key West are the wild cats and chickens that roam the city. At dinner (we sat outside) we saw three different cats and a baby chicken at the restaurant. The animals just hang out. We went to bed late and were woke up by the crowing of a wild chicken some time around 3:00am. This sucked, because we had to be up at 5:00am to catch the ferry to go out to the Dry Tortugas.
We got to the ferry at about 6:15am. We were going to camp overnight out on the Dry Tortugas, so we had to be there early. The boat did not leave until around 8:00am. For those of you who don't know about the Dry Tortugas, here is a brief discription. The Dry Tortugas are located about 70 miles west of Key West. The are a 19th century fort and two lighthouses located there. The only way to reach the islands is by boat or seaplane. The islands are home to many different kinds of birds and fish.
We arrived at about 10:30am and were greeted by the official greeters of the Dry Tortugas. It was great to see these pelicans when we arrived. I have never seen a pelican up so close before.
We spent a good part of the day snorkeling and setting up camp. Here is the view from our campsite.
As I have already stated, there is a 19th century fort on the island. This was great fun to explore. We had fun walking around and taking pictures. This is actually the biggest fort I have ever seen. It was never comepletely finished, so there are some areas that seem to be in ruins. Here is a photo from the top of the fort looking down on Bush and Long Keys (the fort sits on Garden Key).
Garden Key is only 16 acres in size and 11 of those acres is occupied by the fort. So needless to say the fort is everywhere. Here is a view of the fort from the beach that was out in front of our camp site.
There is a moat that goes all the way around the fort. The top of the moat is as wide as an ordinary sidewalk. This is a great way to explore around the fort. Inside the moat is off limits for swimming, so the water in there stays very clear and calm. We saw several different kinds of sea life there. We saw many fish, conchs, sea slugs, a nurse shark and some starfish. I have never seen a starfish in the wild before, so this was really awesome. He/she was probably about eight inches across.
After walking the moat, we started to make dinner and then waited for the sun to set. One of the main reasons why we decided to go here was to see the two lighthouses. One is on Garden Key and is part of the fort. The other is on Loggerhead Key, which is about 2.5 miles away. Since we did not have our own boat we had to enjoy it from a distance. Here is a picture of the sunset with the Dry Tortugas lighthouse off to the left of the sun.
After the sunset we went back to our campsite and noticed that there were tons of hermit crabs crawling around. The largest we saw was about 4-5 inches across. So Bob and I went around the camp ground with a flash light looking at hermit crabs. It was a great way to end a fantastic day.
Unfortunately at about 2:00am it started to rain and rain and rain. It rained until about 11:00am or so the next day. When the sun finally came back out Bob went snorkeling again. I did not, because I thought the water was too rough. Bob said he saw better fish than the day before. I sat by the beach and just looked out at the water. I was thinking about how great it will be to take Sophia there some day. The ferry left the Dry Tortugas at 3:00pm. I really hated to leave. Next time I want to stay for a few more days. Let me know if you want to go, too! The boat ride back was pretty rough. I am sitting here right now feeling the waves that we felt on the boat. It was the worst boat ride I have ever encountered, but if I could go back now I would do it again.
After we got off the ferry at about 5:00 we went to our car and drove back to Miami. It took about four hours, but we did make a few stops along the way. It is now about 1:00am on Thursday and I am beat. It has been a whirlwind tour of south Florida. I think we are going out to Miami beach in the morning to hang out for awhile.
I hope you are all well.
Have pleasant tropical dreams!