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.


  1. Your photography is SUPURB! DW and I were to Key West a few years ago. Drove from Miami like you. Saw the sunset, except for a sailboater who zig-zagged in front of all of us so we couldn't get pics. You should have heard the swearing! He did it on purpose and said to "Come back next year." Jerk.

    Did you go to the Little White House? Pres. Truman went there for a retreat, just south of Mallory Square. It was a Navy base about 1950. We took the tour. He started every morning with a shot of bourbon. HE LOVED POKER. Played all the time with his buddies. When his not-so-DW and her mother visited the president, he had a formal mahogany top put on the poker table to make it look like a dining table! When she left, out came the bourbon and off came the table top. LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD!

    Anyway, great shots, MOJO, (magic.)

  2. Those photos are so good!

    "Believe it or not,I took it through the window of a tour bus."

    I believe it, there's a giveaway reflection :-D


  3. Nice pics, Mojo. Thanks for sharing.

    Yep, I'm jealous. I've only been to Key West on business. A lost opportunity.

  4. Real, real, nice. I haven't been there in over 30 years. We spent most of our time in Marathon / Key Sunshine at some bar where all the boaters hung out.

    I'm sure it's changed a whole lot since them days.

  5. @Crash: Yes, I visited the Little White House, as it's called. I took some photos, but they were only so-so.

    There are lots of other photos I could share, but don't want to bore people. I have a couple of roosters, yes roosters! They run wild there and will definitely wake you up early in the morning with their crowing. We ate at a place called Blue Heaven. There were roosters prancing around (the tables are outside) and nobody seemed to care or notice!

    Ooookaaay, whatever.

  6. Absolutely beautiful pics! I would love to see Hemingway's house.

  7. Ahh - this is so cool since I was just there with my wife on a cruise a month ago. Great pictures, Mojo!

    We opted not to go inside the Little White House or Hemingway's home. We did walk a whole bunch, however, which was great -- and did get to see all those butterflies in the conservatory, of course.

  8. Once again. Great Photos. I love Mallory Square.

  9. I visited the Little White House grounds, but didn't take the tour. You had to go with a group and they left every hour and I didn't want to wait. I also didn't go inside Hemingway's house, but some friends did and they said it was worth it.

  10. Did you see that a day or two ago there was a big fire that closed Duval Street? Jimmy Buffett's place was heavily damaged.

  11. 1. We ate at Blue Heaven with the roosters, too.

    2. How do you get such rich color in your photos, such as the southernmost house and marker pics?

  12. I bought a fancy (i.e. expensive) Canon camera and most of the good photos are taken with it.

    The ones with my point-and-shoot (a cheap Nikon Cool pix) are:
    1. group at mallory sq and I used the sunset/dusk preset and the camera gave me the colors without doing anything further.

    2. the southernmose house -- I cheated on it. It was overcast and the pic came out a little blah, so I used some software to add some color esp. to the leaves, notice how green they are.
    3. the southernmost point - it was overcast so the photo wasn't too hot, so I used software on it too.
    The rest are not "touched up."
    4. the lighthouses
    5. hemingway's house
    6. the museum

    The rich sunsets on this blog piece are both from my good camera -- it's amazing. Also the bridges are with my Canon.

  13. Crash: Thanks for your interest and your kind words. Here are some more thoughts/details.

    I used my cheap camera on Sunday because it was overcast and I didn't want to bring my good one and then have it rain on it.

    The sun occasionally would come out. Compare the two lighthouse photos. One has nice blue sky and clouds. The other (bigger) is grayish and overcast.

    The (back of the) museum photo looks like the sun was out. It's sharp and colorful, but not by the software.

    You'd think the crowd at Mallory SQ was touched up, but it wasn't. The camera did that (made it bluish), I guess because the preset told it to expect colors like that or something.

    Hey, I just like to take photos. I go to an online place (Digital Photography School) and I've bought three books and studied them. Also, a friend took a correspondence photography course and she loaned me the books and tapes (I've finished three of the workbooks).

    I have a big book on Adobe PhotoShop, but haven't had time to study it -- it's quite detailed actually. One of these years I'll retire and do some of the fun projects that I'd like to be able to do now.