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Mixed Blessings

After a nice breakfast in downtown Key West we made our way the few blocks to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, one of the most beautiful parks I've ever had to pleasure to visit in Florida. Not to mention it is the Southernmost park in the United States. That's kind of a weird thing to think about--the very edge of our great big beautiful country. Just in case you missed it in my last post, I'm re-posting the view one has as they drive into the parking lot.
Beautiful trees, bent from years and years of strong winds, shade most of the park making your time spent sitting at a picnic table comfortable while you view the gorgeous water surrounding you on two sides. We explored the park with Bruce walking out on the jetties:
Cuba is only 90 miles from where he is standing! A fisherman offered to take our picture:
And, of course, what is a park with fort in the name without a fort? As we made our way through a little nature path we were surprised to see the fort is surrounded by a moat.
Why we were surprised I don't know--just being honest. The sandy path on the left side and in the foreground is a biking and walking path. The link I provided in the first paragraph tells you a bit about the history of the fort, built in the middle 1800's to protect the shoreline.
You roam around a bit, wondering how life was back in the days that a fort seemed like a good idea, and if you're the curious types like we are, you make your way up the winding staircase to stand on top.
Pretty darn thick those walls. I can't remember exactly when, which to long time readers is no surprise, but at some point they took down several stories of the fort. All very interesting.

Earlier Bruce used his handy tire gauge discovering that the air fill up he'd performed the night before was not the fix he needed. So...after consulting Siri we found the few tire dealers on the island. Bruce dropped me off at the butterfly conservancy while he went in search of a tire. Make that four. Because his car was equipped with run-flat tires, of which there were none within 100 miles, he had to replace all of them--this time with conventional tires. The mixed blessing is that although he had been thinking of doing just that for a while, he sure didn't plan to buy four tires while on vacation in Key West!

Meanwhile, back with the butterflies, your favorite blogger was struggling with her camera lens not focusing. Because of my sketchy battery situation I'd brought the Olympus with the Panasonic zoom which is good for some things, but not for butterflies and darling little birds which were flitting about.
Walking back to the hotel about five blocks or so I switched to the Nikon, hoping I'd have enough battery to last the visit. I did, however, most of the photos were terrible, and my mixed blessing is that I now don't have hundreds of worthless butterfly photos clogging up my photo library! How's that for looking on the bright side of life?
See what I mean? Not much but I'm including it because it is a rare butterfly from New Guinea--lovely in person. There was a lot of mating going on
and then there were birds of all colors. Wouldn't you know it--the one with the least color came out, while the bright blue with orange feet, yellow, turquoise, and I've forgotten the other color birds, but trust me, they all were terrible photographs.
How about those claws? Impressive for a small bird like this one.

Eventually Bruce was done, picking me up and the first thing I said was I'm famished!!! No lunch will do that to a thin person. An early dinner at an Irish pub on Duvall, part of the Casablanca Hotel, and it was back to the park for sunset. I know most people do the Mallory Square thing, but I'd had enough of crowds. We chose a bench and settled in, joining others who were doing the same. If you look closely in the next photo you will see a young woman who stood on the bench while her boyfriend sang and played the guitar. All the while she kept the hoola hoop going.
Just as the park was closing after sunset she threw flowers, one by one, into the ocean. From our vantage point we saw all the sunset cruise boats going out and there were a bunch:
Although I've heard many times how brilliant the sunsets are in Key West, I've yet to see one that knocked my socks off.
Although I told Bruce that oftentimes after the sun falls is when the color begins, he doubted my assertion and on this night he had every reason to!

No wild night followed for this middle aged couple--back to the hotel and not much later sleep.

We left the next morning and headed back on US 1 the way we came. Or sort of. I'd read before we left about a place in Miami where street art is encouraged. Because I'm anxious to get back into the present I won't go into all the scary details of our search for the Wynwood Art District except to say that there was more traffic in Miami than we'd hoped, the neighborhood is not the kind you want to be in at night, and time will tell if any of the amazing pieces I saw will work:
Without the help of a local we might have gotten here even later!
The part you are seeing has had the gentrification treatment.
Oh how I wish we'd gotten here in the daylight. But we didn't. Without a hotel reservation anywhere we made our way out of Miami and headed North. Not a good plan. All the hotels were booked for miles and miles. Eventually, at 10PM, we found a place to stay. As you can imagine, we were more than tired and hungry.

A stop at Biscayne National Park on Friday for kayaking, as well as one at Jonathan Dickinson State Park on Saturday for the same, and finally we were home Saturday evening around 6. I needn't tell you our little Baxter was happy to see us.

So that was our little vacation. A lovely time was had by all.

Once home things have been going full steam ahead which I won't go into in this post. More to come!

Thanks for sharing in our road trip,
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