Sunday, March 8, 2009
Key (West) unlocks beauty
For my vacation last month, I flew to Fort Lauderdale before renting a car to drive to Key West. This is the skyline of Miami. I took it through the window of a tour bus and if you look closely you can see the reflection.
The road to Key West is U.S. Route 1 and it goes over these long bridges that link the different keys. I don't know if it is the longest, but above is an image of a section of one called Seven Mile Bridge. Left is a close-up showing the bridge supports near the shore.
The railroad to Key West (shown below) was built around 1912. A hurricane in 1935 destroyed parts of it and it wasn't repaired. Instead, the government built the 128-mile highway.
The railroad runs right alongside the highway. People walk out there and fish. I know bastin is jealous. It was originally called the Overseas Railroad, and you can read more about its history if you click here.
The Key West Lighthouse was constructed in 1825. A hurricane destroyed it in 1845 and it was rebuilt a few years later. Builders dug down into the coral and began laying brick several feet below ground level.
It took only 48 days to complete at a cost of $7,247. After 121 years, it was de-commishioned in 1969. The lighthouse is 86 feet tall, and is now an historical site/landmark that tourists visit. They are allowed to climb to the top and look out over Key West. If you click to enlarge, you can see visitors standing and admiring the terrific scenery.
Ernest Hemingway wrote many of his famous novels while living in Key West. Above is a photo of his home. It's directly across the street from the lighthouse.
Because Key West was an important trading port, they had what is called a Customs House. It is now the Museum of Art and History, and I took this shot (shown above) behind the building.
This is supposed to be southernmost house in the continental U.S. (Hawaii is further south, obviously.)
Above is the marker for the southernmost point in the continental U.S. and is a popular spot for tourists to have their photo taken. It's roughly 150 miles to Miami from here, but only 90 to Cuba!
If you enlarged the above, you may have seen the reference to the Conch Republic. In 1982, Key West (tongue-in-cheek) seceded from the U.S. and formed the Conch Republic. Immediately after, they asked for $1 million in foreign aid. (A conch, by the way, is a marine mollusk that is chopped up to make chowder. It's pronounced "konk.")
I took a daytrip by boat to the Dry Tortugas an island and a National Park that is 70 miles west of Key West. The many colors of the sea are amazing. Did you notice the bird flying across the purple and gray sky?
Above shows a rock formation on Dry Tortugas. I noticed that occasionally a wave would strike it just right and make a splash. I waited patiently and caught this shot.
Tourists come every day to Mallory Square to watch the sunset.
They call Key West the home of the sunset.
I don't have any text for this one, but, you know, a picture is worth, um, more than I have to say.