Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Key West and More (Long Key, FL)

Our last couple of days at Long Key SP were full of sea life. On Tuesday, 7 Dec we went to the Turtle Hospital on Long Key.

It's the only certified turtle hospital in the country.  Their mission is to treat/rescue sea turtles that aren't doing well on their own.  They have an interesting visitor center plus multiple tanks and pools housing turtles that are awaiting treatment/surgery, recovering from surgery or are simply housed there because they can't be returned to the sea.

 The staff does a great job of bringing personality to the turtles and the place seems full of love.  If you love turtles, then the Turtle Hospital is a great outing.

Turtle Hospital Resident
The next day we went to the Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key. 

This was kind of like a behind the scenes tour at Sea World.  You can easily spend the day there.  Each half hour they have a new program.  The programs include small setting talks by staff members about all subjects related to Dolphins.  All these programs were well presented.  But the most exciting programs were those poolside.  These programs were conducted by the trainers so you had the opportunity to watch the dolphin's training up close.  This included all the Sea World tricks and maybe more.  Listening to the dolphins talk was delightful!  It was just another great day.

The dolphins loved to talk.........



And Jump....

And Jump....

 And just chill after all that jumping!

They splashed and played

And this guy even painted a t-shirt!

This fellow took a walk with his trainer

Waving goodbye (kind of)
9 December we traveled 30 miles to our next camping spot at Bahia Honda State Park.  The setting here also has us right on the water although our view is largely dominated by a bridge.  Again the road noise is significant but it's just so great to be here in the keys.  This park is much larger than Long Key so it's a great place to ride bikes and stroll the beach.  Also we're now only about 30 miles from Key West.

Beach at Bahia Honda State Park

The second night here we attended a mighty unique ranger program.  The subject was the Night Sky.  We assumed it was going to be about stars etc. To a small degree it was, but it was more about light pollution and enjoying the clarity of a dark sky. The program was held at a small outdoor "theater" by the sea. It was very dark!   The ranger was a very pleasant fellow and his presentation included a dude with a guitar.  The ranger would share some info, pause with a poetic quote and then the  guitar man would kick in with a song.  It was quite unique, very pleasant and  informative.

We've gone to Key West twice since we've been here.  On the 10th we went to the Zachery Taylor State Park which includes Fort Zachary Taylor.  Debbie loved the fort...not,  but she was a good sport.

Here's the history in case your interested

Inside the Fort

The view from the top of the fort was pleasant
We  had great lunch at a quirky fish place and wandered the main drag, Duval Street.

B.O.'s Fish Wagon

Unique and fun!
We capped off the outing with a visit to the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square.  For those unfamiliar, the community of Key West celebrates every sunset in grand style.  Of course the main attraction is the setting sun.  But in addition to standing there looking west, you are entertained by a wide variety of street performers.  Plus, there's lots of vendors selling stuff you can't live without.

Statues around Mallory Square.  The artist is a statue as is.........

the fellow lying under the statues.  Gotta love the Key West sense of humor!

This street performer was sooooo good (and funny)!  Loved him!

Sunset View at Mallory Square

12 December,  we went back to Key West.  This time we took our bikes and spent some time just riding through neighborhoods checking out the unique dwellings.  Many of these places we might call shacks but they call them hundreds of thousands of dollars.  We spent some time at the free Eco-Discovery Center.  Then cruised to the "other side" of Key West where we found some great beaches and another wonderful location to watch the sunset in a more sedate setting.  While there Debbie was endlessly entertained with some  pelicans diving for their dinner. 

Pelicans getting set up for their dive

We couldn't tell if they ever got anything

The day is ending

And the pelicans fly away into the sunset
Finally we eased on home.

Today is very windy!  We're  just "chillin" at our campsite.  Shortly we're headed for the post office to, imagine this, see if we have any mail.  Being on the move means that we (which means Debbie) must keep our mail forwarding service advised of our location so they can forward our mail to general delivery.

Happy Sunset,


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