Dry Tortugas National Park (NP #11), Florida



11:50 AM – 3/13/15


I just met my hero!


We unloaded from the ferry, and I headed straight to the visitors center to get the Dry Tortugas stamp. While waiting in line a woman mentioned, in passing, how she was excited to finally visit all of the national parks. That hooked my attention. I prodded a little. “You mean all of the US National Parks? The ones you can only fly to in Alaska?”


“All 59” Carol replied.


(**I must have misheard her because when we talked later she said she still had to go to Arcadia, Maine.. but Dang! she’s so close!)


We talked for just a minute about her plan to visit all the National Parks, Seashores, Landmarks, Historic Sites, Battlefields, etc. Every affiliate of the National Park system. More than 400 sites altogether! I stammered out my 50 state / 50 parks plans in an attempt to anchor a little rapport with her.


“Find me on the ferry ride back” she said.

Entrance draw bridge


Inner courtyard


For kicks


Looks fun, right?.




3:45 pm   The Boat Ride Back


Alright! I talked with Carol “Kiwi” Donovan over lunch, and she was super helpful and supportive.


We discussed the things you learn while traveling that you wouldn’t otherwise. Logistics, for example -> finding campsites, reserving excursions like this one, social skills with strangers, and generally looking out for yourself in terms of health, hygiene, safety and sanity.


Dry Tortugas National Park (map / wiki) is great. You pay $170 for the whole package, transportation, meals, activities. Breakfast was filling, same with lunch (both were buffet style).


Fort Jefferson is rad. It’s a three leveled fortress with a grassy courtyard in the middle. The moat and breakwater wall around the perimeter sealed its legitimacy in my mind.


The snorkeling was just ok. There were  some neat shapes and colors of fish, but not in great numbers. The coral was lacking in the location I went. I liked watching the ‘Sea Fans‘ though. Surfs up, so everything flowed in and out with the waves. A silent dance step that takes no effort to learn. The beaches are corse with rounded coral and brick pieces.


I built a tribute to the Fort Jefferson out of the rubble and sea glass.


pew pew

There was a little girl playing with her screwball brother in the wet sand. She had an absolutely amazing voice, and she sung for 20 minutes or more while I was building my fort. I thought to compliment her, or say something to her dad, who I had talked to for a minute earlier, but I didn’t. I think I thought that if I did anything more than appreciate it, she would stop.


It’s a sleepy cruise back. People are nodding off disguised as moving with the motion of the boat. I should be tired. I have developed a bad habit of looking at my watch every time I wake up at night. I can’t remember sleeping 3 hours straight since Fort Pickens. However, I’m bobbing high for now. Latest plan is to drive to Miami tonight and live it up with the spring breakers.


The search continues.”






Monitor background for ya

4 Comments on “Dry Tortugas National Park (NP #11), Florida

  1. Kai Ora Jay,
    Nice blog, keep it up !!
    Just to clarify my comments in the visitors center. I said it was my last ” offshore-difficult to get to NPS site ” having now completed ALL in Alaska, the Pacific and the Caribbean,. The rest I can drive to. So far, I have visited 315 National Park Service sites and affiliates out of the approx. 500+. Even though I’m on-the-road-full-time it will still take me approx. 8 more years to complete the challenge as I like to stay awhile. It’s certainly not an easy task as new sites are being added each year. Visiting all the 59 NP’s is challenging enough, but I’m always taking the ” road-less-traveled ” and ‘that-has-made-all-the-difference”. You are young, you have plenty of time to complete to 500+ if you wish to do so. The NP’s are truly fantastic but add all the other sites that the NPS manages and are affiliated with and it’s an amazing journey through history, geology, and culture. I’m glad to be able to share the passion and logistics along the way with anyone who says ‘ hello “. EXPLORE-LEARN-PROTECT.
    Hope our paths cross again in the field, Aloha Kiwi

  2. Hey Kiwi,
    Greg and I talked to you at length aboard the Yankee Freedom about your excursions. If I remember correctly, you are planning to visit the New England states. No better time than to visit Greenville Maine during your sojourn.
    Love your website. Keep truckin’. Hope to meet you again.
    Carol and Greg

    1. Thanks! Yeah I’d like to visit you when I’m up there. I expect to be in Maine in late April or early May. I’ll keep you posted.

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