Dry Tortugas

Dry Tortugas, or island with lots of turtles and no water, is about 70 miles West of Key West, FL. There are about 10 camp sites on the island and if you book really far in advance you can get a spot on this remote little gem. Each day a large ferry boat comes in and visitors spill off to hurriedly take in the sights for 4 hours until the ferry leaves again. The lucky campers then have the island peacefully to themselves, that is unless at 2am 3 dozen Cuban immigrants landing on the beach cause a big ruckus, which happened our first night there! Brandi was terrified it was an invasion or something! I alerted the park ranger and soon after it became apparent this was a common occurrence and no threat. 

Before arriving on the island we first enjoyed a scenic flight down to Key West with beautiful distant clouds spotting the sky. We caught up with friends for dinner and rose very early the next morning (around 5am) to load our gear onto the ferry boat. The ferry was way more pleasant than I think any of us were expecting. It was large and had comfy seats/tables/air conditioning/food, so the 2 hour ride went by quickly over smooth waters. The girls even got a special tour of the ship controls from the Captain. 

It was blistering hot around noon while we were setting up camp, but after that first shock of heat I think we adapted pretty quick and cooled off in the ocean. Fort Jefferson was magnificent and the scale was incredible! We crawled all over it that first evening and then later got the official tour when the ferry came back. It was fascinating to learn about the history of this fort,  how it was made, the challenges it faced, and the importance it had. The park rangers on site were very friendly and most of them were delighted to see young children on the island, which we gathered was a rarity. 

We did all the usual camping stuff like exploring, relaxing, smores at the campfire, etc. Hermit crabs were everywhere and sounded like rain as they rustled through the leaves. There was a pile of Cuban "boats" called chugs that they pushed ashore before hauling them away as junk every so often. It was interesting to learn about the wet feet dry feet policy and see it in action with apparently very high frequency here and in many other places in the Florida Keys.  

We had to leave a day earlier than planned due to the looming hurricane, which turned out to be a Cat 4, so I'm glad we noped out! We enjoyed a tastey dinner then had a peaceful night flight up the keys and stayed the night at our friends house near Orlando. We were all happy to have hot showers and real beds! We headed home the next day, concluding another epic adventure!

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