Monday, March 18, 2013

The Dry Tortugas

Our boat, as seen through a "window" in Fort Jefferson.
Who's calling me dry?!

So this trip to the Florida Keys is a working trip for me. I gotta do a lot of walking--most of my waking hours, in fact, is walking for However, to get Amanda to go and shuttle me to and from the trail each day, I needed to bribe her. Not only is this a vacation for her, but it was a birthday vacation. I once brought her to Alabama for her birthday. Not only did it not go well, but she reminds me of that horror every birthday.

So in case a visit to the Florida Keys wasn't enough to entice Amanda to the Florida Keys, I dangled a trip to the Dry Tortugas in front of her--a place she's always wanted to visit but never managed to do so. It's a little bit inaccessible--a tiny cluster of islands 70 miles from Key West in the middle of nowhere. It served as a fort, fueling station, and a prison over the years. The Alcatraz of the 1800s. (Several of the "Lincoln conspirators" served time there.) Now, it's a national park and bird sanctuary.

I took a day off from my walking, and we booked a boat on the Yankee Clipper II and headed off to the Dry Tortugas. The guy at the check-in station tried to talk us out of it--rough seas and choppy waters, he told us. But we woke up too early and drove too far to back out at the last minute. Nope, we were going--hell or high water.

Fort Jefferson, still standing proud more than a hundred
years after it was abandoned!
The trip out was rough, but I laid down and tried to nap. We woke up at 5:00 in the morning to make the trip and I needed my beauty sleep! So I tried to sleep through it, but I have to admit the severe rocking of the ship made that difficult. Amanda took a tour of the boat and reported back that "90% of the people on the top deck were throwing up." Oh, joy. Fortunately, both Amanda and myself seemed immune from the sea sickness.

Eventually, we reached the Dry Tortugas and immediately got off the boat and started exploring. For an 1800s fort that's been abandoned for over a hundred years, it's in remarkably good condition.

Very cool. But it's a tiny little island and after an hour or two, we pretty much saw everything there was to see.

Then we boarded again and headed back to Key West. It wasn't quite as rough on the way back, but not by much. Once again, I went back to sleep. Life was good....

You won't see any of these photos on Dry Tortugas are NOT walking distance from the rest of the Florida Keys that I'll be walking! This was my one non-working day. But not to worry--I've already taken over 2,000 photos for the "Florida Keys Trail," and I'm still not even done! You'll barely notice that this side trip to the Dry Tortugas is missing from the hike. =)

I have absolutely no idea what kind of spider this is, but he seemed
right at home at Fort Jefferson.

Lighthouse at Fort Jefferson.

This is a chug--one of the boats used by Cubans to escape to the United States.

This building was used to store explosives. =)
Looking down the perimeter of the 2nd floor of Fort Jefferson.

This jellyfish was seen floating around in the Dry Tortugas, but I'm a little
tempted to sneak him into somewhere. How
would anyone know I didn't see it while walking over the Seven Mile Bridge
or something? =) I'd use a jellyfish photo that I actually took on
my walk, but I haven't actually seen one ON my walk....


Amyrica said...

Looks like a Writer Spider based on his pose and his web but they are more yellow than white around my house. Glad you're having a nice trip!

RavenWolf said...

Your spider is most likely a Silver Argiope. =3

How fun! I love to travel vicariously through you. Enjoy the walking!

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog as i research taking my oldest three (of six) on the le puy route next year. I finished the frances route in october and we met actually...only once....i notice you from your pics here.

I remembered commenting to my walking companions i was suprised we had not met you before. We met i think day one or two out of santiago.

I think i will camp with my sons so i look forward to reading your blog and getting ideas.

Ryan said...

You'll have a great time on the Le Puy route! But you probably already know that having done the route in Spain already. Would I have remembered meeting you? =)

-- Ryan