And the most fun of any single day was our trip out to the Dry Tortugas National Park many miles off the coast of Key West. The Dry Tortugas NP is one of the least visited of our National Parks. It consists mainly of water and reefs with only a few islands where you can walk around. But the main reason it is so lightly visited is that you can only get there via boat or floatplane. Being working class folk, we chose the less expensive method of getting there by taking a fast catamaran from Key West to Fort Jefferson on the main island.
I didn’t really tell Carole and Andy what to expect, only that they would love the trip and that they would see something they’d enjoy immensely. So I stopped at the office and bought three tickets for the catamaran trip out to the Tortugas. As I recall, they ran $70 each, but this included a very nice lunch that was served on the big catamaran.
Carole and Andy thought that they were in for a boring day out to see yet another fort out in the middle of nowhere. Neither of them was very happy as we waited on the waterfront in Key West very early in the morning to board the ship.
But once we got there they were amazed. As with most people, they did not realize that you needn’t leave the States to see thriving coral reefs. The main island where one disembarks is surrounded by one of the finest living reef environments in the USA. The ocean is crystal clear and thriving with life. We spent most of the day swimming, snorkeling, and walking around the island (the pre-Civil War fort occupies almost all of the dry land), and bird-watching. When it was time to go they were sad to leave.
Following here are a number of photos I took, most of which I think I have never posted online. This was back in the days before underwater digital cameras. So what I did was stop at a shop where I bought an disposable underwater film camera. Surprisingly, it took fairly good images. Not the best quality, but better than I had expected before I snorkeled out into the ocean, eventually swimming out about 1/3 of a mile before turning back.
|I swam through a number of schools of these small fry. It was fun.|
|This was a section of brick wall that had tumbled off of the fort no telling how long ago. Long since coated in coral accretions.|
|Another curious fish. Note the coral-covered bricks behind him.|