Published: December 1st 2007December 1st 2007
I took a short trip to south Florida over the thanksgiving weekend. It is usually a 4 days holiday in most offices in US. And it is a busy travel time in the airports and on the roads. It was a last moment decision to go that far. I mean, from DC to Key West, in a car guzzling the over $3 per gallon gas for a round trip of over 2800 miles! Flight tickets become a little costly just before the holidays and sometimes it is difficult to find agreeable flight times. Driving through Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, I finally reached my motel in Palm Bay.
Next day I started early for Key West, which was about 6 hrs drive from Palm Bay. I had a seaplane flight scheduled for 12pm. On the way, a light came on in my rental corolla saying Maint Reqd. Hertz told me to get an oil change. It is their job to do the maintenance but I did an oil change in Key West anyway. They gave me a $30 discount for the trouble!
The Seaplane took off from Key West airport. The destination was Dry Tortugas National Park. It is in
an island about 60 miles west of Key West. Flight time is about 30-40 min. You get to see turquoise water, a few islands, some turtles, a couple of ship wrecks on the way. It is a little surprising to see a fort in an remote island and thats what you will see in Dry Tortugas.
I have no idea about the fort's history. This is an excerpt from Wikipedia.
The islands were discovered in 1513 by the Spanish Explorer Ponce De Leon. They were then given the name Las Tortugas (The Turtles) due to the abundance of sea turtles found on the islands and shoals. Soon afterword, the word 'Dry' was added to the name to indicate to mariners of the islands lack of fresh water.
Fort Jefferson on Garden Key, from northeastIn 1742 HMS Tyger wrecked in the Dry Tortugas. The stranded crew lived on Garden Key for 56 days, and fought a battle with a Spanish sloop, before sailing to Jamaica in several boats.
In 1861, the United States government completed Fort Jefferson on Garden Key, and this bastion remained in Union hands throughout the Civil War. It later was used as a prison until abandoned in 1874. During the 1880s, the Navy established a base at Tortuga; and it subsequently set up a coaling (refueling) and a wireless (radio) station there as well. During World War I, a seaplane base was established on the islet, but it was abandoned soon thereafter.
The seaplane landed on water and I had about 2 hrs to spend in the island and the fort. The island is known for its marine life. I don't snorkel (I wish I could) but I could see the colorful fish from the walkway around the fort.
After returning from the fort, I spent the evening in the colorful Key West.
More full size photos at http://picasaweb.google.com/hemtripathi/FloridaKeysAndEverglades/
There are more photos below