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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Entries Tagged as 'Florida'

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

February 17th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Since we have the Butterfly Pavilion in Colorado that I have visited several times, why should I visit the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory? Not just because it is here, but because butterflies are beautiful wherever they are.

Here are four different butterflies. I don’t have my butterfly guide books here so I can’t identify them. Maybe some butterfly experts will help out:

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But the butterfly conservatory also conserves birds, and I can identify them:

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Posted in: Florida, Photography

Ernest Hemingway’s Key West Home

February 17th, 2011 · 1 Comment

This morning I walked the three short blocks from my lodging in Key West to Ernest Hemingway’s home when he lived here from 1931 to 1939. As a writer myself — albeit not quite as famous yet as Papa Hemingway — I considered the visit mandatory.

In fact, I enjoyed it a lot. The Hemingway Home is right across the street from the Key West Lighthouse that I had climbed two days ago.

The Key West Lighthouse from the Hemingway Yard

The Key West Lighthouse from the Hemingway Yard

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Asa Tift built the house in 1851, and Papa bought it 80 years later. It sits on one beautiful tropically landscaped acre and is the largest private lot in Key West.

Papa Probably Planted this African Tulip Tree in His Front Yard

Papa Probably Planted this African Tulip Tree in His Front Yard

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Papa loved cats, and the ones I saw today are descendants of the cats that he kept when he lived here. Many of them have extra toes, which he particularly loved.

The Cat Slept on the Master Bed

The Cat Slept on the Master Bed

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Papa may have been a tough man. But he had a slow spot in his heart for cats.

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Posted in: Florida, Photography

Dry Tortugas

February 16th, 2011 · No Comments

Visiting Dry Tortugas National Park has been the high point of my trip to Florida so far. It may also be the furthest south — about 24°37′N latitude — although Key West, where I am staying, is at almost the same latitude.

Dry Tortugas is 70 miles west of Key West — so far west in fact that it is in the Central Time Zone. It is literally the end of Florida and is the most isolated American national park.

While I was able to drive from key to key over many bridges en route from Miami, the road, U.S. 1, stops a few feet from my lodging. To proceed the rest of the way to Dry Tortugas I had the choice of a ship or an airplane. I chose to fly on a 10-seater DHC-31 DeHavilland Turbine Otter that in 35 minutes took me from Key West International Airport to the water at the edge of Garden Key.

Arriving at Dry Tortugas

Arriving at Dry Tortugas

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Fort Jefferson occupies 11 of Garden Key’s 16 acres, which together with Bush Key is better known as Dry Tortugas.

Fort Jefferson on Garden Key with Bush Key in the Foreground and the Lighthouse in the Background

Fort Jefferson on Garden Key with Bush Key in the Foreground and the Lighthouse in the Background

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When Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon discovered these keys in 1513, he named them Las Tortugas, because of all the turtles he found there. Later mariners renamed them the Dry Tortugas, because of the lack of fresh water there.

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Posted in: Florida, Photography

Key West

February 15th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Beauty was everywhere I looked on Key West today. And I looked lots of places.

My morning started with a walk from my lodging to Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, America’s southernmost state park. The U.S. Army started building it in 1845, and amazingly it stayed under federal control through the Civil War. Here is the view from the park at the end of the key:

The End of Key West

The End of Key West

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On my way back to where I am staying I spotted the Key West Lighthouse and couldn’t resist climbing the approximately 100 steps to the top. After all, the main problem with Florida is that it’s totally flat — except for things like lighthouses.

My lodging in Key West is the Caribbean House in the old town. In fact, Key West does feel a lot like I imagine the Caribbean to be, although I have previously seen it only in pictures. This area certainly doesn’t look like the rest of Florida that I’ve seen. Key West is closer to Cuba — just 90 miles away — than it is to Miami.

In the afternoon I visited the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden where I saw a greater variety of birds and wildlife than anyplace else here. I knew that I was in the Caribbean when I saw this lizard:

An Iguana in the Sun

An Iguana in the Sun

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Posted in: Florida, Photography

Key Largo

February 14th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Key Largo today isn’t anything like I remember it from the 1948 film of that name staring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Today the weather was perfect — in the mid 70s — and I didn’t see any gangsters that looked like Edward G. Robinson. Instead I saw birds.

Like this one that I saw at the John D. Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on Key Largo:

A White Ibis

A White Ibis

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At Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park I saw turkey vultures overhead:

A Turkey Vulture

A Turkey Vulture

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I stopped on Key Largo to see birds and eat dinner in a fish restaurant en route from home in Boulder to Key West, Florida, where I will be staying for a few days. I flew from Denver to Miami, where I rented a car. The day started well before sunrise for me, but I saw it at Denver’s airport.

Sunrise at Denver International Airport This Morning

Sunrise at Denver International Airport This Morning

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Posted in: Florida, Photography