Thursday, June 2, 2016

Key West - Day 4

Day 4 was devoted almost entirely to our trip to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson.  I have wanted to visit the Dry Tortugas National Park for forever, so we were not making a trip to Key West and missing that.  Did I mention that it is accessible only by boat or seaplane?  This was a rare opportunity to see something truly unique.   It was the most expensive day of our trip, but worth every penny in my opinion.

We booked a ride on the Yankee Freedom and the cost is  $ 175.00 per adult, cheaper for children.  You leave at 8:00 am and it takes just over 2 hours to go the 70 miles west to the Dry Tortugas.



The outfit that runs this transport is extremely well organized and knowledgeable.  There's both inside (air conditioned) and outside seating and they have several bathrooms on board.  Once the ship is underway, they serve a buffet breakfast that's included in the price and you can choose cereals, fresh fruits, breads and bagels, meats, juices and coffee.


We sat both inside and outside.  It was quite windy out on the deck but the views are wonderful...


It's thrilling to see the fort slowly rise in the distance and take shape....


Once you reach the island your ticket includes the price of the park admission.  You can join one of the ranger led tours of the fort or feel free to wander around the fort at your leisure.  The history of the fort is very interesting - it's the largest masonry structure in America and building it was quite an undertaking.  You can read more about it here.  We chose to walk around and explore on our own....


There is a moat around the entire outside of the fort....






The fort is huge and the brickwork is amazing and intricate....



Just close your eyes and imagine a fort full of soldiers here....




We climbed the stairs and walked around on the upper level, which is also the roof...

 



Actually it was very cool walking around up top and the views were amazing...


Check out the colors of the water....


Cannons are still scattered about....






The lighthouse was open and we were able to go inside...


Lunch (also included in your ticket price) is then served on the ship after 12:00 noon and consisted of all the fixings for making a wide variety of sandwiches, plus fresh fruit and cheeses, salads, cookies, chips, water and sodas.



If you'd like to go snorkeling, they provide all the equipment if you don't have your own to use.  We brought our own equipment so after lunch we headed over to the metal pilings off in the distance....


I couldn't believe that nobody else was snorkeling over there - it was amazing!!  It was about 20 feet deep around the pilings and we saw all kinds of sea fans, corals, fish and sea shells...  Huge sea shells!  Unfortunately this is a "no take" area and you can't take anything - no shells, sand or coral.  I was so disappointed because we saw some of the largest shells I have ever seen in my life and I wanted one!

We spent about 2 hours snorkeling there and it was easily my favorite snorkeling adventure of the whole trip to Key West.  It was fun because I enjoyed swimming in and out of the pilings and the amount of fish we saw was unbelievable....


At 3:00 pm they head back to Key West.  At that time they have an open snack bar and mixed drinks available, altho you do have to pay extra for any of that.  Goodbye Dry Tortugas - you were even more wonderful than I imagined.


Now, here's a tip - we needed to drive to the wharf in the morning to board the Yankee Freedom and you have to park at a parking garage.  We chose one at Grinnell and James streets.  It costs $ 12.00 for the whole day and you put your parking sticker on your dashboard.  So when we got back from the Dry Tortugas trip we got our car, drove back to the hotel and took showers, and then drove back to the parking garage where we were able to re-use our pass that we bought that morning.   Good tip - right?  Then we walked down to The Schooner Wharf  for dinner...


I liked it because it was outside seating but I was disappointed in the place.  Our server seemed distracted and he got my drink order wrong and my meal order wrong.  I had fried shrimp and Chablis had fried grouper.  They were both just ok, nothing special.  It was our least favorite meal and restaurant of the whole trip.  I know other people love this place and recommend it, but for us, it was just ok.



By the time we were finished with dinner we were exhausted so we just headed back to the hotel and called it a night.

Next up - more fun in Key West but you're going to have to wait until Monday for my Day 5 post.  I'm off to the 400 mile across Kentucky yard sale!

Link to day 5 here.

13 comments:

  1. Nice recap of a relatively (at least to me) unknown National Park. The blue water is beautiful!

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    1. I think you'd enjoy this - so much history here.

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  2. OMGosh!!! what an amazing place! and the snorkeling sounds awesome!! you never cease to amaze me, Kim! you live life to the fullest, and enjoy each day given you. You are remarkable! I hope the weather stays good for the rest of your trip. Have the best time ever!
    Love to you.
    Debbie
    xo

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    1. Thanks Debbie - we sure enjoyed this trip and we certainly packed a lot in! Have a great weekend. xo

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  3. AAAmazing! I don't know if I could go snorkeling and not be able to take some or at least one of those shells!! It would be really hard for me to do, though it sounds like so much fun! ....and thanks for the tip!! I have heard about the dry tortugas, but what were the soldiers doing there? Who were they to fight? These trips reports or awesome Kim....it feels like we were there with you! Thank You for being our guide!!

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    1. We were tempted to take a small shell but didn't. I think it a big offense to do so.

      The fort was built as a line of defense for the US. Then during the Civil War it was used to house prisoners.

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  4. Wow, cool! I would love to see that. It really doesn't seem that expensive since breakfast, lunch, etc. were included.

    Tania

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    1. I thought it was a good value since so much was included and it's really a once in a lifetime experience.

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  5. Replies
    1. Thanks John - it was a great experience.

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  6. Fun trip, Kim! We enjoyed that excursion also, but went via seaplane. We were also the only ones who snorkeled - what a waste of the amenities to NOT do so! This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Key West. Enjoy the KY yard sale!

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    1. We thought about doing the seaplane - that sounded like so much fun and of course, we've never been in a seaplane. In the end we thought it would be nice to enjoy the slower ship ride and get all the other amenities like the meals and such. A Seaplane ride will have to be a future adventure. :-)

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  7. I've gotten behind on your trip reports and need to catch up now! Wow, had heard of the Dry Tortugas, but really didn't know what it was. What a fascinating and beautiful place! It really stinks about not being able to take a shell when you snorkeled, though..bummer!

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