Tuesday, May 24, 2022

"There is a special place, at the end of nowhere, but on the way to everywhere,

       a place of explorers, pirates, smugglers, soldiers, prisoners and scientists. This is a place where some men lost hope, and many died in despair. Though pain and suffering contributes to its fascinating history, it is also a place of beauty, vivid colors, peace, solitude and happiness."

We left Key Largo at 4:30 a.m. to reach the Key West terminal of the Yankee Freedom III, the National Park's ferry.  The longest bridge we crossed between keys was 7 miles long. Check-in was 7:00 a.m. for an 8:00 departure.  The boat ride was close to 2 1/2 hours, with 4 hours to check out Garden Keys in Dry Tortugas N. P..  We departed the island at 3:00.

Dry Tortugas is made up of 7 keys. It was designated a National Monument in 1935 and redesignated a National Park in 1992.  The only way to access Dry Tortugas is by boat or air. Many ships have sunk in this area along with their treasures. 

On the most famous of these 7 islands, Garden Keys, sits Fort Jefferson which covers most of the island.   Fort Jefferson was built over several years from 1846-1875 (when it was abandoned) and was never completely finished.  It was constructed with over 16 million bricks, 300 archways, and is the largest brick masonry Fort in the Americas. It was built primarily to protect a vital shipping channel. Although it never saw a battle, it housed prisoners during the Civil War.

We snorkled here, or attempted to.  We seemed to miss the coral, which I learned later was close to the walls.  Pat had trouble with his flippers which he abandoned, and he couldn't keep water out of his mask. He did not enjoy the experience. I gave up looking for the coral but I had a surprisingly positive experience, feeling very successful.  Once again my biggest problem was not being able to see without my glasses.  Before we leave the keys I want to take a snorkel tour to the Coral Reef at John Pennecamp Coral Reef State Park.  We'll see if we can remedy Pat's problems. 

Fort Jefferson

Top path around the majority of the Fort.

Notice the dark red brick at the top.  They used brick from Florida on the lower part.  During the Civil War they could not obtain brick locally and had the darker red brick shipped from New England.

Stalagmites on the floor of the fort from water leakage. 

Along the ceiling you could see where water had leaked to form stalactites.

They heated the cannonballs in the hot shot furnace.  Then they fired the hot cannonballs at the wooden ships to catch them on fire. 

Yankee Freedom III Ferry

The moat around Fort Jefferson protected it from the sea as well as its enemies. 

ร•ne of two small beaches. 
You can take the ferry over and camp overnight.

Looking over at the lighthouse on Logger Key.

Our tour provided us with a sack lunch from Jersey Mikes.


Texas bluebells are found in Florida too.

It's a bird, it's  a plane, no it's a blimp we saw on our ride home Monday night.

A cute restaraunt in Summerland Key.  Pat got the key lime pie for dessert.  It's my favorite but loaded with dairy.   I had 3 or 4 small tastes.  Then I got a piece of the double chocolate cake to take home.   It was so moist so I sadly finished it tonight.

We enjoyed the live entertainment with dinner. 
Where are the Piepers now?  Key Largo

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