The Florida Keys are a chain of islands surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. It’s a three-hour drive that is most spectacular when crossing the water on the numerous bridges that connect the islands. The drive over the famous Seven Mile Bridge was the highlight. Although a new bridge has replaced the historic bridge, the original is still standing to the west.
|On the Seven Mile Bridge - The Historic Bridge Is on the Right|
|The Historic Seven Mile Bridge Arches|
|Pilots in Key West Wear Shorts and Fly Barefoot|
|Sarah on the Seaplane|
|Over Key West|
Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the most inaccessible national parks in the country. Located in the Gulf of Mexico, seventy miles due west of Key West, the islands were discovered by Ponce de Leon and named for the sea turtles that were so abundant there.
Seeing Fort Jefferson from the air for the first time was incredible. It’s immense and occupies almost the entire island. It was so cool to land on the water adjacent to the fort and step out onto the sandy shore. Fort Jefferson was just as big on the ground as it appeared from the air. Since the ferry was leaving as we arrived, we practically had the fort to ourselves. We wandered in and out and climbed the circular stairs to the upper tier. The views were gorgeous.
|Approaching Fort Jefferson|
|Fort Jefferson Is Huge|
|What a Place to Land|
|Tim on the Edge of the Moat|
|On the Upper Tier Looking at the Lighthouse and the Interior of the Fort|
|The Cannonball Oven on the Left and the Primary Magazine on the Right|
Fort Jefferson was built to control navigation to the Gulf of Mexico and protect Atlantic-bound Mississippi River trade. Construction began in 1846 and continued for thirty years, but was never finished. The fort served as a military prison during the Civil War. Its most famous prisoner was Dr. Samuel Mudd, who was convicted in conspiring to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. Dr. Mudd’s cell is a place that everyone who visits wants to see.
|The Doorway to Dr. Mudd's Cell|
Tim and I marveled at the fortitude of the National Park Service employees who work and live at Fort Jefferson. The park housing is actually in the fort, and about ten employees and their families live here. It’s a beautiful place, but I’m not sure it would be my favorite place to live for any length of time.
|Beautiful Brick Arches|
|Let's Hope that Fort Jefferson Can Withstand the Forces of Nature and Time|
The flight back to Key West was just as beautiful, and the sun was beginning to set as we landed. It was an amazing afternoon, and I would highly recommend a seaplane ride to anyone.