Top 10 (plus) things I will miss about the Keys

1. Old Bridge Fishing Peer- many days and nights I spent fishing on this peer. I caught lots of fish and threw most of them them back. Kept what I could. Saw lots of beautiful sunsets. Caught a 2 foot hammerhead or bonnet-head shark and a 16 incher. Tried yellow jack for the first time. Yummy.

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2. Salty’s Tiki bar. Saw Jersey Slim there. A night of awesome blues.

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3. Kayaking around 2 small islands: A small island off the shores of Big Pine Key  and Sunshine (Ohio) Key

4. Relaxed , kick back attitude

5. Bicycles and scooters everywhere: They had bicycle paths and it seemed like everyone had a bicycle or scooter. These people peddled all the way from Miami to Key West and back!

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6. Chickens everywhere- They roam free here. You might even get a visit from one at a local restaurant or a Walgreens.

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7. Sunny, breezy and warm mostly (with some rain).

8. Alligator free waters- We will be heading north to Gator country.

9. Snorkeling in Dry Tortugas an awesome experience. The coal pilings were the best. Swam away from the 2 biggest barracuda I have ever seen and towards the biggest grouper I have ever seen. The corals were fabulous with big purple fans but stay away form the pink coral it can sting…. Next time  I would like to Snorkel Looes Key.

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10. Wild Kingdom- SeaTurtles (Greens and Hawks), Spotted eagle Sting rays, Iguanas, biggest fish and variety of fish I’ve ever seen, Great Heron, pelicans, ibis, egrets , cormorants…I never saw so many different wild animals that close up except in a zoo or safari.

11. Deer preserve- we stayed in Big pine key right in the middle of the deer preserve. The deer would just walk right up to you. The first day we saw a lady walking down the roadway and she just walked right past the deer and patted his nose. Moment when you wish you had a camera.

12. Smathers beach- our Wedding place. A small public beach where many weddings take place. A beautiful sunset was included. Did you know Key west imports their sands from The Bahamas?smathers

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Dry Tortuga facts

Tortuga facts

1. These islands are the gateway to the Gulf.
2. Founded by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513 but were not occupied until the nineteenth century.
3. They were named Tortugas because it is the spanish name for turtles. These islands are a national preserve and have the most migratory amount of species that come here (in the US) to nest. Many birds and turtles come here throughout the year. It is a national marine biology center. Dry because there is no fresh water.
4. There were originally 13 keys 4 of which were lost in hurricanes.
5. Even though it was unfinished Fort Jefferson is the Largest Masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere. It is composed of more than 16 million bricks. It has 2 types of bricks because the original bricks were from Florida but when the civil war broke out they had to ship them in from Main.
6. About 2-3 times a year a boat of cubans immigrants land on either Fort Jefferson shores or the shores of the lighthouse (Loggerhead Key).
7. Many small fisherman boats rest along it’s northern and eastern shores at night due to it’s the relatively calm waters.
8. The Dry Tortugas were acquired from Spain by the US in 1822.
9. All park police/rangers are also EMT,s. They rotate living in this remote area every 10 days.
10. There is a helicopter pad on the premises for emergencies.
11. You can only get here by boat or seaplane.
12. Best time to visit is in the April when spring migration is in full bloom.
13. The Islands and the furthest South west end of the coral reefs. wonderful snorkeling is found here.

14. I think it has the largest population of Hermit crabs I have ever seen. You really had to watch your step.

Dr Mudd released

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In 1867, After 4 years of imprisonment Mudd was finally pardoned released by President Johnson. He had spent most of his years shackled in a dark damp cell until yellow fever broke out. There was no fresh water supply and not enough rain to collect for drinking water. The collection wells cracked form settlement and so they kept water in barrels which bred misquotes. Yellow fever decimated the Fort including the medial staff and so Mudd was released from his shackles to care for the survivors. It was his service that sparked a letter for his release. It never reached the President because the messenger died of Yellow Fever, but somehow the President got word. Due to his service during crisis and the problems with the trial President Andrew Johnson ordered his release. He spent the remainder of his 13 year at his Farm where he died at eh age of 49 of pneumonia. He was survived by 18 children. His grandson tried to clear his name but was denied several times.

More secrets

More secrets

Dr Samuel Mudd was an infamous prisoner at for Jefferson for it was alleged that he aided John Wilkes Booth in his escape after assassinating President Abraham Lincoln. The story goes is that Booth arrived at his house injured and he had splint his broken leg. He had made his acquaintance at His Catholic Church prior to this incidence. He came under suspicion, because he did not report the discovery of the boot with J Wilkes carved in the boot until the next day. He said he feared for his families safety and wanted to make sure He was long gone before it was reported. They still convicted him of a hanging offense. He was sentance to life in prison.