Camping On The Fort

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Dry Tortugas, Key West, FL

Another 36 hour trip underway with our departure taking place on Friday evening en route to Key West. The dock where Yankee Ferry III departs for the Dry Tortugas looks more like an airport. A short sun leathered man enthusiastically shouts out history snippets and makes a few jokes about the on board bathroom. What must it be like to have the job of facilitating hundreds of people traveling on this boat every day?

A myth of a sea crocodile living inside of the mote was explained before we went on the island. Camping in the humidity and heat was no picnic, but after 10pm it was a bit easier. This was the pilot day of my new North Face tent from REI in Las Vegas.

The maximum capacity is around 150 so they recommended overnight campers to wait until guests left the island to snorkel. This was so true and evident when in the water. Almost no sea life was found around main areas. A thousand small fish were swimming in a school and if I was completely still with the GoPro they began to swim all around me.

A lesson I began to consider about nature. When I practiced stillness, the world around me sparked alive. Hermit crabs, birds and lizards came from every direction. In a life normally surrounded by technology and action I forget how delicate the environment can be. This was true inside of Fort Jefferson where I sat inside the brick building overlooking the cannon windows. I spent time there writing in silence.

The water here really is as beautiful as pictures. Shallow areas without sea shrubbery show up bright turquoise and is clear as a glass of water.

Something I consider now since traveling Europe is how restrictive the United States is on allowing civilians to travel among historic buildings. Here we have so many warnings, “Keep Out” signs and renovations that it begins to distort what the meaning of it was in the first place. The fort was not that restricted but remnants of construction and other issues prevented full exploration.

Not having access to technology is to best reminder that life has a grander purpose than spending it on a phone. Jon and I were often deep in conversation discussing connections with people and the definition of happiness. These trips have made me increasingly appreciative of nature and the people we share this planet with. Why strive to put happiness on the other side of a finish line when most of us have already raced past it, blindfolded looking for the next.