DRY TORTUGAS NATIONAL PARK AND KEY WEST, FLORIDA

Following our time in the Everglades, and some in between time in Miami, we drove three hours down to Key West, Florida.  We had planned to do the drive in the morning before school, but because of our delay and needing to hit a repair shop, we set off with the kids doing school from the road as we made our way down the Keys.  WHAT A GORGEOUS DRIVE!  I had never been down to that part of Florida before, and was truly blown away by all of these little keys connected by the highway.  Incredible!  We arrived in Key West in the late afternoon, and settled into our spot right on the water.  It was gorgeous!  

Driving down the Keys...

Our spot for a few nights while in the Keys.,,

TONS of pelicans!
Schooling...



Taking in the sunset from the roof of the RV...

The next morning, we had a cab pick us up bright and early (6am!) for our trip to Dry Tortugas for the day.  What an incredible day it was!  From the cab ride to the marina, we boarded a ferry boat, the Yankee Freedom II, for the two hour trip from Key West out to the Island Dry Tortugas.  Breakfast was served on the boat during our trip, and the kids had fun filling our their Junior Ranger Books and learning about the National Park...

Gorgeous views on our way...





Approaching the Island..





Fort Jefferson








Upon arrival, we first headed to the Visitor Center to get some more information, and so the kids could get their Junior Ranger pins.  The Island was breathtaking...











After our trip to the Visitor Center, we headed to our boat to get our snorkeling gear for the day, and to pick up our picnic lunch provided by the ferry.  We then headed over to the calmer side of the island (recommended with kids) for snorkeling.  This really was Quinn's first time snorkeling, and I knew that it might be frustrating for him. Initially, he was struggling, but I was able to work through it with him, and we all hit the water together.  AMAZING!  To see the kids literally coming out of their skin seeing these amazing things under water was a time I will never forget!  We saw tons of gorgeous fish, the beautiful coral reef, HUGE barracuda, and even a baby shark.  It was amazing, and I was so proud of the fact that we were all able to do it, and do it together.  We took turns heading out a few times after our lunch as well.




















Hayden, Grace, and I...
Justin and Hayden

After snorkeling, we walked along the moat of Fort Jefferson, which also had some amazing views of the fish...

Justin and Hayden
Grace














At the end of the day, we hiked up into Fort Jefferson, once a bustling community of 400(!), and enjoyed learning about this fort that was once a prison (the kids loved learning that its most famous prisoner was Henry Mudd, the doctor that aided John Wilkes Booth after his assassination of Abraham Lincoln!).  The views of the Island of Dry Tortugas from the top of Fort Jefferson were spectacular!!!





















Ferry ride back to Key West..
Key West wandering...
Our final stop for the night was the Southernmost Point of the Continental US.  We drove pretty far in the RV to get there!!!!





































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