Monday, February 23, 2015

Florida Keys Ragnar - Part III - Key West and the Dry Tortugas!

Another early morning trying to pack it all in.

In December my bishop and his family went to Florida for a vacation. They told me about the Dry Tortugas and how much they loved their trip there. I emailed my Ragnar team and told them I was planning to day trip out after the race, and they all decided to join me, even though it's a bit expensive. Totally worth it!

We had to get to the boat by 7:15 or so, and figuring out how to park a van is not easy. We gave ourselves some extra time. Walked out of the hotel that morning to see this van parked near us. Umm...

Drove into Key West, found a garage that we barely, barely fit into (like maybe an inch of clearance on top), and got to the ferry station for the morning briefing.

Left promptly at 8. They had breakfast for us on the boat, and we settled inside. I managed to get in a little nap. Two and a half hours later we were pulling up to the island.

It was just a gorgeous day. Couldn't have asked for better weather.

Rad, right?!

Boat or sea plane? We took the cheaper option.

Interesting history of Fort Jefferson - you can read about it here.

We took a walk around first, out to a part of the island that was closed off. Lots of birds had just come in and settled. They were so loud and obnoxious. Hundreds and hundreds of them.  I think it was the Sooty Terns.

Next up, a walk around the moat around the fort. We looked so hard for Carlos the Crocodile. He usually hangs out around the moat, said our guide. Sadly, we didn't see him. 

We started looking for fish - we'd be snorkeling later.

Into the fort next. It's huge! Doesn't look so big from the outside, but it's a force.

View from the top level of the fort. 

Apparently they made weaponry in this little building, but it kinda looked like a long pizza oven to me. The had cannon balls they could shoot at targets 3 miles away. 

Drippings from the ceiling.

So difficult to go up and down stairs after you've been running for two days. On the way down I needed arm railings, but there were none. I went with a more wide leg straddle waddle approach to get down. Very, very slowly with lots of 'ouch'es in there.

We didn't have a selfie stick, but Dan had a tripod stick!

We'd worked up an appetite by then. Back to the boat for our lunch. 

Then it was snorkel time! Got our gear.

It really did look just like that. Amazing. But cold! I don't do cold water, and neither does Jesse, but I sucked it up and got in. Figured I wasn't coming back any time soon. Jesse opted for more time at the fort. We swam over to the moat and found some purple coral, other reefs, bright fish, big fish, little fish and lots of seaweed.

At 3pm, back on the boat and headed out. Took us about 6 tries to get this photo - Dan kept getting caught by the timer trying to run and get in the photo. Tripod > asking people to click the shutter for us, I guess. 

Bye bye, Dry Tortugas!

We got back to the hotel and had a little time to chill. 

Then we hopped on the hotel shuttle (no more parking that van) to Duvall Street and took a stroll to take in Key West. Like New Orleans, but with a beach.

These smelled so good. But we went across the street for more key lime pie. Had a piece before dinner and after dinner.


I led us to Firefly for dinner. I don't think everyone was happy about that, but whatever. Fried chicken! Delicious.

Then we hurried out of there for more key lime.

Then we walked over to Van 1's apartment. That crew was staying in Key West for a few days. We said hello, then wandered on our merry way. Lots of crazy root systems down there. 

Our last Key West spot! We found the hotel shuttle back and went to bed. Another early morning the next day. We planned to give ourselves 5 hours to drive the 130 miles back to Miami. And guess what? It took 5 hours. Crazy traffic and low speed limits. Be aware if you go to southern Florida! Also, Florida decidedly has the worst drivers we had ever seen. Glad we got the extra insurance on that van.

Another pretty morning.

We stopped back by the Grassy Key Outpost for breakfast, since we knew it'd be good. Mr. Alabama was our waiter, and we had the best time with him! We told him we were the Drug Runners that had been in a couple days before, and he remembered us. Super nice guy.

I mean, look at these notes he left for us!

We took a photo with him. He's auditioning for America's Next Top Model.

Google him and vote for him! He's been on some interesting journeys. Currently living in a boat in the Keys.

We got to Miami just in time for Julie, Jesse, and Kim to catch their flights. Mine was a couple hours later. Jason and Dan had a few hours to explore the city. Bye, awesome van! Sorry we left you all smelly.

And there I go, back to SLC.

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