Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dry Tortugas National Park

We'd already hit two national parks on a vacation that was supposed to be mainly about beaches, pools and umbrella drinks. I thought convincing Danelle to squeeze in a third might be tough, especially considering it was 70 miles by either boat or seaplane to get to it. But when I approached her about a possible day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park she was all about it. And I'm glad she was!

Some morning fog delayed our departure a bit, and incoming weather actually caused the cancellation of the afternoon trip.  But fortunately we were able to get out.

Conditions in the park when we arrived after a 30-minute flight were gorgeous.  Just enough clouds to add some visual texture to the sky while still allowing the sun to shine through.

Not too many places can get away with using a huge, rusted anchor for a lawn ornament.  Fort Jefferson can.

The fort's architect was clearly a big believer in simplicity and function.  Not a lot of variety in the interior, but the repetition was mesmerizingly beautiful in its own way.

Hard to imagine anything resembling a military threat emanating from the tranquil, tropical scene visible through the fort's windows.

Danelle's always on the lookout for good places to set up camp in the event of a zombie apocalypse.  With some desalination equipment, this would have to be high on the list.

I applaud the ingenuity of whatever military official convinced the government that we needed to build a fort in this little slice of paradise.  Reminds me of the logic I tried to use on Danelle when I worked for the Broncos to convince her that watching ESPNews non-stop was essential to my career.

The tower staircases felt more like something out of a medieval castle than a late-19th century structure.  I could envision Errol Flynn rushing up these stairs with a drawn sword.

The incongruity of palm fronds, emerald waters and bright blue skies framing utilitarian brickwork created an odd sort of visual harmony, like the optical equivalent of KLF and Tammy Wynette.

Long after the fort was officially retired, armored patrols still walk the perimeter.

Royal Terns lined a seawall by the southern wharf ruins, looking appropriately bored as only royalty can.

Brown Pelicans like this juvenile topped most of the pilings, which I had to agree looked like good spots for preening.

Two hours might seem like plenty of time to enjoy a relatively small place, but it seemed horribly rushed.  I saw a photographer's blog where the author said he had camped in the park for two nights to see everything he wanted to, and I can understand why.  Between exploring the fort and taking in the natural beauty above and below the water (I didn't manage to make time for any of the latter), at least a full day would seem to be in order.  I don't know if my own travels will ever bring me back, but I'm still grateful that I got to spend at least a little time here!


AKA Sivle Yelserp said...

Loved the pictures,just a note on the spiral stairs, they were built that way for defensive purposes you could draw a sword easily going down the stairs, but coming up it would be almost impossible, unless of course you were left handed.

Ruth Ann said...

Absolutely love Dry Tortugas. We spent 2 nights when we went in 2011 and are returning in a couple weeks for a three night stay. I am sooo glad we opted for the overnight stay on our first visit, and someone told us if you might not ever go again, why not stay 2 nights. Needless to say our 'once in a lifetime trip' is to be repeated.

SteveHarbula said...

Thanks for the info on the defensive purpose behind the staircase design! And I agree that if we're fortunate enough to visit again, I'll want to make it an overnight stay. :)