Day 18: The Dry Tortugas, Egg Farts, and Speedo Stan

Since the trip began, I have longed for the post-Disney camping in the Florida Keys. More specifically, I looked forward to the ferry out to Dry Tortugas National Park, the 3rd-farthest national park in the country. It is roughly 100 miles from Cuba, 70 miles from Key West, and 300 miles from Mexico.

Basically, we taxied out to the middle of nowhere. Just us and an old, crumbling Civil War-era fort with coral growing along the walls.

To begin a day in the Keys, you need the right shirt and a cup of fruity coffee. So, I finally got my Jimmy Buffet goin’. I’d been waiting for the right moment to wear that shirt.

We began the day with another bright and early wake-up — rise at 5:30, in the car by 6:00, to drive to Key West and board the Yankee Freedom III for a 2-hour ferry out to the islands.

The old fort was a fascinating sight in the middle of the ocean with nothing else in sight.

After a tour of the fort, we got our snorkel gear from the ferry company and added another new experience for our family. We snorkeled in the shallow reef around the island. It was interesting seeing all of the little fish in the area. When hiking the upper walls of the fort, we even saw a few large barracuda swimming in the reef below.

Addie was disappointed that we didn’t encounter any sharks or sea turtles on the trip.

Speedo Stan

We did, however, encounter a different living creature — Speedo Stan. At least, that’s the name I gave him.

On the ride out, he was as concealed as they come. Jeans, baggy shirt, cap. But, on the island, all bets were off — as were most of his clothes. Speedo Stan was there to make the most of the occasion in nothing besides a little blue Speedo and his — ahem — snorkel.

Libbie thought he was hilariously gross.

Egg Farts at Camp

Jumping back to our arrival in the Keys, we were struck by, of all things, the smell. It was an aroma we encountered last year in Yellowstone when we stood beside the sulfur pots. The girls regularly refer to the stench as “egg farts,” like when someone has eaten too many deviled eggs at a family reunion.

At first, the girls attempted to lay SBD blame on LaShera.

But, soon enough, we discovered that it is something specific to the shallow waters of the keys and the bacteria that live in the muds below them. When the wind turns just right, it smells a bit eggy.

I even turned the propane off during the night because I was concerned that if we did have a leak, I wouldn’t be able to detect it.

The stench doesn’t follow everywhere in the Keys. But, we haven’t quite figured out the differences in geography that cause it in key locations (pun intended).

Key Deer

The campground does have a healthy population of key deer. They aren’t the least bit shy. The girls walked outside our camper door to feed them some grapes.

Swimming

Even after a day in the hot sun, the girls were intent upon us going to the campground swimming pool. Since the grounds had just wrapped up happy hour, everyone else in camp when back to their campers. We had the pool to ourselves.

Then, one of those south Florida rain storms rolled through with a bit of lightning. So, we bounced out of the pool. After a change of clothes, we spent the event playing ping pong, pool, and cornhole in the campground clubhouse.

While I’m not the most enamored with our campsite at this campground, they do have great facilities. Plus, the ocean is about 30 yards from our back bunk.

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