Archive for April, 2009

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Dry Tortugas National Park

April 5, 2009

We boarded the Fast Cat II at 7:30am in Key West for our 2.5 hour trip (70 miles) to Dry Tortugas National Park.  Ponce De Leon named these islands “Las Tortugas” – Spanish for “the turtles.”  The cluster of seven islands, composed of coral reefs and sand, became known as Dry Tortugas on mariners’ charts because they offered no fresh water.  They are the western most of the Florida Keys.  Fort Jefferson on Garden Key was started in 1846 to protect shipping through the Gulf of Mexico to the Mississippi.  It is the largest brick structure in the US and was used as a Union military prison during the Civil War.  Perhaps its most famous resident was Dr. Samuel Mudd who was convicted of complicity in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  There were many Frigate birds hovering over the fort – some with 6-7 foot wingspans.

 

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We took a tour of the fort, had lunch on the boat, and then went snorkeling.  Mike and I snorkeled almost entirely around the fort (island) keeping close to the walls where there were many corals, sea fans, anemones and fish.  I had a little excitement when I almost ran into a Portuguese Man or War and then noticed a three foot Barracuda following me.

 

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After returning to Key West and showering, we went to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant.  Of course we had to have the mandatory margarita and chose to share the Volcano Nachos for dinner.  This is considered a “starter” but we were unable to finish the whole thing.  However, after taking an hour walk along Duval Street, we returned to share a piece of key lime pie!

 

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Everglades Canoe Trail, Sunset Key West

April 4, 2009

We met ranger Dan at 8:15am at Nine Mile Pond in Everglades NP for our guided tour of the Canoe Trail.   

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It was great fun canoeing by the alligators on the pond and then through the mangroves.

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 Afterward, we drove to downtown Key West and walked to Mallory Square to watch the performers and sunset.

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Everglade City

April 3, 2009

We stayed with Mike and Bev in Fort Meyers for the AAHPERD convention.  The day after we finished, we drove to Everglades City and did the 1.5 hour boat tour through the Thousand Islands.  It was an enjoyable ride, saw a number of birds (e.g. osprey, egrets, pelicans and a great white heron) and dolphins.  

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Afterwards we visited the Smallwood Store/Ole Indian Trading Post (established 1906) and Museum in Chokoloskee.  A magazine add behind the counter states that “More Doctors Smoke Camels Than any Other Cigarette.”  Also, the cash register only went up to $3.99!

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We had fresh grouper sandwiches with a side of caramelized onions for lunch at Camellia Street Grill in Everglades City and then headed east on the Tamiami Trail (US 41).

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We stopped at the H. P. Williams Roadside Park then took the scenic Loop Road (dirt) stopping many times to view the alligators.  

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