DryTortugas, Key West
Bring a hammock, find two trees, and loll away the afternoon.
Fondest memory: My friend David (far left, beside Dallas and Miranda) worked as a Grounds Keeper on Garden Key.(He has a lot of unpleasant cleaning-up-toilets-after-tourists stories. A lot of ghost stories, too, the two types unrelated.) Here we are in the brick alcove adjoining his apartment, which was located inside the Fort. I think we'd just had a stove cooked meal of red beans and rice--the only time we took advantage of his kitchen.
I have so many fond memories of this trip. I suppose what stands out the most are the hours I spent fishing from the pier.(Check out my travelogue picture of the pelican who kept me company!) Here's an excerpt from my journal about my Garden Key fishing experience:
'Last night I went out to the dock with my can of beans for bait (all afternoon had been an unsuccessful attempt to fashion a makeshift net from a scuba gear mesh bag and a stick--couldn't even catch one damn minnow)when an old man, very brown, Buddha belly, beer in hand, smell of alcohol and sweat, offered me his entire bag of bait. He said his name was Armando. Of course he had to see the inadequacy of my pole, but offered to help anyway. He said I needed to give more line so the fish could run, even though my line kept breaking. David traded our beer with him for yellow-tailed snapper. I asked Armando how big a fish I could catch with such a weak line and he answered 'as big as your heart desires.' His Cuban accent made it believable. Gary, his assistant--thin, Virgin mary necklace, rotten teeth--kept cutting his hands on fish fins but said he couldn't wipe the blood with a cloth because of fish poisoning. A squall blew in around nine so I left Armando and Gary on the landing. Armando had gone back to his boat for another reel and bucket. I thought they were for him, but he intended to keep at teaching me. 'Where are you going? I catch big fish for you.' Gary and I reeled in a few red snappers but none were large enough to keep. He said that underneath the pier lived a Jewfish the size of me. The storm was all wind. We sheltered in the tent for five minutes of rain and smoked. No fish that night that I caught.'
Take the whole day and tour Fort Jefferson aboard the high speed Catamarans. The price is steep ($80/per person), but the diving is superb off the fort walls and the feeling of being in paradise is well worth the money.
Fondest memory: Conch fritters, frozen margaritas (with salt) and George at Fat Tuesday's on Duval Street.
Favorite thing: West of Key West almost 70 miles lies a cluster of seven island called the Dry Tortugas.These islands,make up Dry Tortugas National Park.