"The Wise Gardener!"
The Sensual Pulse of the Tropics!

 

Paul & Brad Make The Ultimate US National Parks System Visit:
A 3 Hour Hi-Speed Ferry Journey To North America's "Last Outpost":

Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida!

Our journey to Dry Tortugas National Park, and Ft. Jefferson in particular, was a very long time in the planning stages (you don't just "drop in there") as you would, say The Great Smokies National Park, or The Lincoln Memorial.  No, this remote National Park sits half way between Cuba & Key West far out in the Gulf Of Mexico!  The location makes one just think to one's self, "what's it like over there?" 

When the ferry boards (very early in the morning), for its sea-west destination, one can feel that this voyage IS different.  There are not tourists on board, no these are true "adventurers!"   They are a hearty and "salty" lot; loving the sea and loving the opportunity to travel where few venture...Our kind of people! 

Leaving the Key West dock, one first passes Sunset Island, a bastion of enclaved $3,000,000 (and way up!!), yacht-accessed-only estate homes, that are the antithesis of the rough-hewn "pirate-like" adventure we were all about the experience over the next eight hours, but it was an excellent final reference point of comparison between the hedonistic civilisation we were leaving and the austere beauty we were about to enjoy "out at sea!"

Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida Aerial View!

The blue-green Gulf waters that appeared before our bow, successfully erased the memory of Florida's all-to-typical contemporary "treasure": many over-priced cement-stucco homes that successfully closes one off from their outdoor environment (in air conditioned comfort, of course!) rather than "embracing" the Technicolour©-hued water "scenery" that abounds all around these manmade "oases!"  Pity, many people never see the Florida Keys from water level!  This October day, we would be free of cement and walls, and allow the tropical Gulf breezes guide us to a wonderfully isolated and unspoiled Port Of Call:  Ft. Jefferson on Garden Key at Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida!

What follows is our own photographic "essay" where the pictures WILL be worth those often-mentioned "thousand words!"  (I think that our pictures are worth way more in word count as far as conveying, & capturing the atmospheric feeling that we experienced that lovely, warm day this past October!


  "A'hoy, Mates!" 
Get Onboard And Enjoy This Nautical Experience With Us!

The Dry Tortugas island "chain" lie about 75 miles due west of Key West, Florida.  There is no fresh water to be found here, hence the Spanish explorers deemed them "dry" AKA worthless!

Paul & Brad arrive at Ft. Jefferson National Park, and embark on a Caribbean discovery adventure!

This American Civil War fort is the only fort that has a moat surrounding it...not that there was anything for prison inmates to escape to!!

Another Ft. Jefferson moat view!  Starfish inhabit this moat now!

Ft. Jefferson National Park is always a  great environment to chart as a sailing destination!

The liberal tolerance of the Florida Keys is depicted onto this Key West downtown mural.  The Keys have always attracted the offbeat, down-trodden, bizarre and rejected of humankind. They still do!

Fort Jefferson lighthouse that was used to direct marine traffic into the Gulf of Mexico during the Civil War era.

The entrance to Fort Jefferson greets visitors upon their arrival to this remote island.

Brad posing by lighthouse on the Fort's upper level.

Interesting architectural design is a hallmark of this masonry fort as seen by the symmetry of the arches.

View of Fort Jefferson National Park's moat with the Gulf of Mexico shimmering in the distance.

Plaque commemorating heroic efforts by physicians serving at the Fort during the Yellow Fever epedemic.

Your Wise Gardener posing on the second level of the Fort with the lighthouse behind his shoulder.

Informational sign describing some of the building design techniques of Fort Jefferson.  Over 2 million bricks were imported from Massachusetts and Alabama to build the Fort.

Yankee Freedom II's engine churing billows of foam in the Gulf of Mexico as we left Fort Jefferson behind in the distance.

Tourist admiring the emerald-like Gulf of Mexico in all its' glory.

A view of the bridge area of our intrepid ferry, the Yankee Freedom II.

Seaplanes also are a way to arrive at Fort Jefferson on Dry Tortugas National Park.

Panoramic view of Fort Jefferson on Garden Island, Dry Tortugas National Park.

A closer view of the Fort as taken from the ferry that departed Key West.

A different view of the Fort as seen from the Gulf of Mexico.

Our ferry docked right at the front entrance of Fort Jefferson located on Dry Tortugas National Park finally up close.

The moat surrounding Fort Jefferson as seen from the second level of the Fort and the Gulf of Mexico beyond.

A veiw of the ferry landing area at Dry Tortugas National Park.

Our hisorical guide, Richard, describing some of the interesting aspects of this little known National Park's history.

Close-up view of the dependable lighthouse taken from within the walls of Fort Jefferson that has guided many a sailor over the years.

An impressive and breath-taking view of the moat and supporting network at Fort Jefferson.

Brad admiring the intricate architecture at Fort Jefferson on Dry Tortugas National Park.

Paul enjoying a libation at the end of U. S. Highway 1, also known as Federal Highway in Florida which begins in Maine and ends here at Key West.

Brad horsing around with Sea Captain statute at Mallory Square in Key West, Florida.

As expected, the vegetation on Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas is notably cactus and succulents due to its' scant annual rainfall.

A very, very colorful Gulf of Mexico surrounds Fort Jefferson on Garden Key, Dry Tortugas.

A  large panorama showing up close the incredible detail that went into constructing Fort Jefferson.

The architectural symmetry of the interior walls of Fort Jefferson constructed by Irish immigrant masons around 1849.

A close up panorama of the visitors entry into the archaic Fort Jefferson on Garden Key of Dry Tortugas National Park.

The beaches on Garden Key are some of the most magnificent beaches in the carribean region.  The waters are ideal for snorkeling and seeing Sea Turtle and Porpoises frollicking.

The boat slip and surrounding beautiful tropical gulf beaches of  the Dry Tortugas.

Sea Turtle hatching ground that is often off limits to tourists at Dry Tortugas National Park.

Returning back to Key West after a memory-filled adventure at Fort Jefferson.

The cruise ships docked at Mallory Square in Key West were an impressive sight indeed.

We were close enough we could have almost touched this imposing Carnival Cruiselines' floating city.

Sailing is always a pleasure near Mallory Square, especially during sunset.

The President Harry S. Truman winter White House complex.

One of the street mimes entertaining the crowd during the daily Mallory Square sunset ceremony.

        Mallory Square has been dressed up for the cruise line visitors.

A typical residence in old Key West.  Real estate is expensive on this 3 mile (1.8 km) by 8 mile (4.8 km)  fantasy island.

Brad watching the sunset ceremony at Mallory Square in Key West.

As the sun sets into the west, and night falls upon Duval Street, an day of adventure ends but an evening of entertainment begins when Key West's assorted characters come alive.

These Memories Will Last Our Entire Lifetime...

Perhaps You Are Now Feeling That Dormant
Adventurer's Spirit Welling Up Within You, Too?

To find more information on this remote yet fascinating National Park, I recommend visiting the official Website at Dry Tortugas National Park