Saturday, January 31, 2015


The Dry Tortugas are incredible. Jim and I were talking tonight about our National Park adventures. We discussed which parks surprised us, which ones we'd return to in a heartbeat, and which ones we don't feel a need to revisit. I have to say this one surprised me. I love love loved it. Going into it all I really hoped for was to see a sea turtle (we didn't) but it ended up being mesmerizing.

This is not a park that many people visit (relatively speaking) because of the difficulty in getting there. It's the most southern point in the USA - outside of Hawaii that is. I don't even think you can call it part of the contiguous US since it is an island, though it is part of Florida so that kind of becomes an issue of semantics.

Gosh, I love this man. We have so much fun and go on the best adventures.

Squirt had a bit of a rough time on the boat. We were prepared and took Dramamine beforehand but it still shook her up a little. She loves being big enough to reach things now and wanted to stand even though it was a bit of an awkward grab for her.

The boys passed the travel time quite efficiently.

I didn't know anything about Fort Jefferson before this. On the ride over, the guides shared a bit of information and showed some informative films which was really helpful. What impressed me the most was how utterly enormous it is. That, and the gorgeous water. I was in awe of the water.

The lighthouse on top of the fort was really charming.

Inside the fort it is easy to be impressed with the masonry. It seems that a building of this size that needed all the building materials transported in by boat and took thirty years to build would justify basic, quickly built designs. Instead there were innovative features (for the time) incredible arches, and an absolutely astonishing number of bricks (16+ million). I wouldn't doubt that many of the builders spent the better part of their lives on this one project.

The canons have been restored with cradles built to replicate the originals that had been sold and removed from the key shortly after the Fort stopped being used. The only reason the canons remained behind was that their sheer size and weight made transporting them impossible. Even the restoration team employed by the park service struggled with how to move them.

I really wanted to explore the lighthouse and it was the last thing on our agenda before we were going to get gear and go snorkeling. Aeryn just wanted to go snorkeling and found the historical appeal to be lacking. She tried to be patient in {mostly} good spirit, but by this point just wanted to be done. I found it hilarious and took a picture. In other words, I was totally a mom right here.

Once again I made her wait. Jim and Aeryn took off to go snorkeling and I yelled after them to wait until I took their picture first. That's the price of having me in your family... As a result they gave me their most patient faces.

Meanwhile, Tate was in the middle of a faceplant and greeted me with squeals of disappointment and discomfort. White coral sands may be beautiful, but they are not soft. Once again I made him wait until I took a picture before I rinsed him off in the ocean, which was also super {not} fun for him.

I had told Aeryn that the Atlantic is super warm compared to the Pacific - completely forgetting that it's actually still January and the water would not be the delightful hot tub I'd prepared her for. It's still warmer than the Oregon coast so she endured it well. Jim helped her know what to do snorkeling and she saw angel fish, needle fish, a gray fish with black dots that we have not identified. Jim and I later found conch too, but she was done by that time and stayed on the shore.

Evidently snorkeling is hard work. Lucky for Tate as her siesta provided the jungle gym he was looking for.

Old iron shutters at the canon openings are expanding and causing the brick to crumble. Extensive restoration is ongoing, but frankly I like seeing it weathering and wearing just the way it is. The post-restoration areas feel more like a museum than a historical site to me. It's got to be a difficult decision when to restore and when to let things age naturally.

This was a spectacular day. As we were returning on the boat I lamented the fact that I took hardly any photos. Then when I imported images there were actually 186 of them. I suppose I was on top of things after all.

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