Day 9 – Dry Tortugas NP

So I spent the day at Fort Jefferson which is the main, OK really the only attraction besides birds, of Dry Tortugas NP.  It’s a pretty amazing place.  The fort was constructed from 1845-1874 and is the largest masonry fort in the world,  It consists of over 16 million bricks.  Most brought in from Pensacola, FL, but the upper courses (due to the Civil War), along with the granite all the way from New England.

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Today, it’s just a 2 hour boat ride in air conditioned comfort, but would still be a monumental undertaking to construct.  This was built in the mid 19th century when it took a sailing ship nearly a full day to reach this place, 70 miles west of Key West.  Can’t imagine how difficult it would have been to live here – and at its peak there were over 2,000 men, women and children living here.  Amazing!

STS-127 is now on track for a Wednesday morning launch.  So tomorrow, I’m heading back up the coast of Florida to KSC and will hopefully see a launch at the crack of dawn on Wednesday.  Keeping my fingers crossed!

Day 8 – Key West & Dry Tortugas, NP

So with the delay of the launch until Wednesday at the earliest, and there is a conflict that day with the launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), I have a few days to kill. Driving up to D.C. was out of the question given the distance, so I decided to head as far south as I could.

So, I’m in Key West – OK, not quite, as the campground is about 20 miles short of there.  But I’ll be heading over there bright and early tomorrow morning in order to catch the ferry for the day tour of Dry Tortugas NP.  It’s a small island group about 70 miles beyond Key West.  There was a fort there at one time and a tour is included with the trip.  I may do a little snorkeling as well.

I got here about 4:30 and wouldn’t you know as soon as I laid out my tent to set it up, a nice little thundershower passed through.  It only lasted about 10 minutes, but it was enough to soak the tent through since it was laying on the ground already.  Oh well, it’s nearly dry already, so it’s not the end of the world.  It’s also hot, of course, but there’s a fairly nice breeze blowing through occasionally, so hopefully it won’t be too bad.  I’m also hoping that being just 50 yards or so from the water will moderate the heat…