Horse Ties In Key West

IMG_1615Unnoticed by the masses, this post with a loop stood out like a sore thumb to me as I walked by. Commonly called horse ties, in reality their main purpose today is chaining up bikes. I’ve found at least two of them each on different sides of the same street. Though horses are less frequent than earlier years, Key West still employs four quarter horse geldings for its Mounted Police force today… believe it or not! Giddy-up there partner! ūüôā

Seen below is an authentic horse tie I found in front of the famous western themed Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota.

You can find both of these modern-day horse ties along the World-Famous Duval Street in Key West.

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Civil War Cannons In A Wall

4400925953_12407b6024_bThese are REAL Civil War cannons set into the side of  a wall to reinforce it against attack. As old cannons cracked or were damaged in battle they were moved several feet from their prior position and built directly into the wall providing an even stronger fortress.

Welcome back to the Civil War Fort Zachary Taylor used by the Northern Yankee Troops during the entire war. Most find it hard to believe that the southernmost city in the United States was a Yankee stronghold instead of held by the Rebel south.

This blog will concentrate on the upper portions of the fort where the cannons once stood ready in defense of this nation. The upper deck is very wide in parts to accommodate the massive size and number of cannons needed to repel unwanted advances on its sovereignty. Pictured are a number of those former cannon positions, notice the half-moon oval-shaped iron plates built into the floor. These enabled the back of the cannon to be pushed into position in either direction by wheels that sat horizontally beneath it. The large square metal plates on the other hand served as the central pivot point for each cannon. You can also see that these cannons were side-by-side and two rows deep in some places.

4401713276_ecfc61799c_bYou might ask, “How could they have seen or shot the opposition¬†forces through the trees?”. Well, I assure you it was added later as landfill as the forts need diminished¬†and the city needed more land. Also shown¬†below are large iron rings commonly known as knockers that were¬†used to tie off & move equipment around the upper deck. And YES, I’ve heard all of the “Big Knocker” jokes before! ūüôā Lastly¬†are several manually hand cranked elevators used to bring up munitions from a lower safe storage area.

This fort is AWESOME and nearly NO ONE ever makes it here staying most of their trip centralized around Duval Street. So get out and see this historic Civil War Fort Zachary Taylor… you won’t regret it! You can find the fort in the area of town known as the Old Navy Pier and cost¬†approx. $4 (1 person) or $7.50 (2 people)¬†for an all day pass that can again be used at sunset.

         

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Saving Bambi!

Welcome to Big Pine Key!¬†This is home¬†to Bambi, Bambi’s mom, dad, sister, brother¬†and thousands¬†of Bambi look-a-likes aptly named Key Deer!

Before you see the¬†first deer you’ll notice the many signs around¬†town¬†set out to protect them. This¬†is nature’s playground gone wild for its four-legged¬†furry friends. This town is SERIOUS about protecting their livelihood¬†revenue generating¬†silent spokespersons. The city has erected tall chain link fences¬†lining BOTH sides of the road as their first line of defense¬†in protecting the endangered¬†Key Deer.

Take¬†note that the speed limits are lower here than normal¬†producing much of the islands additional revenue in speeding tickets! No matter how much prevention is enforced there’s always unfortunate instances resulting in Key Deer fatalities. One of the photos below depicts 108 killed last year with 35 already meeting their demise so far this year.

You can find this Key Deer friendly refuge on Big Pine Key from Mile Marker 33.0 thru 28.8 on US-1 in the beautiful Florida Keys.

         

         

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A Private Residence In A Strip Mall

IMG_1685Does your local strip mall have a private home in it? I kid you not, this one does! Sometimes fact is better than fiction, I’d have a hard time making up a story like this!¬†Key West never ceases to amaze me… and I love it! ūüôā

I’d bet a¬†Cuban Sandwich & curly fries¬†that many Key West locals have NEVER noticed¬†there’s a private residence wedged between¬†the coffee shop and Five Guys Hamburger restaurant in this¬†strip mall. Look close at the photo below, upon the glass door it reads: ‘Private Residence’.

How convenient is this, you can take your date out to dinner at Five Guys, an after-dinner cup of Cuban coffee at the coffee shop, and then up to your room for a nightcap all within 10 feet of your front door.¬†WOW, what a great idea, this guy’s a dating genius! ūüôā

You can find this ‘Private Residence’ in a strip mall at the¬†corner of Truman Avenue & Duval Street exactly beside the Five Guys burger joint.

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New York Firefighter’s 9/11 Memorial In Key West

IMG_1569Did you know that Key West has a memorial honoring the 9/11 New York firefighters who died on that tragic day? The memorial stands about 5′ tall upon an 8 pointed fireman’s cross complete¬†9-11-01¬†and FDNY cut into it.¬†This incredible moving memorial is¬†made from a piece of steel recovered from the World Trade Center’s Twin Tower’s debris. Look close and you’ll actually see dents along with nuts & bolts imbedded into the steel¬†due to¬†extreme heat and pressure.

Have you ever wondered where the term ‘Firefighters’ came from? History lesson part#1: During the Holy Crusades¬†defenders of a walled city¬†were struck by glass bombs containing a highly flammable liquid.¬†When they became saturated, the¬†attackers would hurl a¬†torch into their midst. Hundreds¬†were burned alive; others risked their lives to save their brothers-in-arms from dying painful, fiery deaths. These first heroic ‘Firefighters’ were awarded a cross similar to the one shown below! And now you know the rest of the story! ūüôā

History lesson part#2: The cross is eight-pointed and has the form of four “V”-shaped elements joined together at their tips, so that each arm has two points. Its design is based on crosses used since the First Crusade and is a¬†symbol of protection. It means that the firefighter who wears this cross is willing to lay down his life for you just as the crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow-man. Since the Knights¬†lived¬†on a tiny island in the Mediterranean Sea named Malta, the cross came to be known as the Maltese Cross.

History lesson part#3: Notice that memorial is broken off at an angle at the top, this represents lives cut short… an unfinished life. Pictured below is an aviator’s grave stone with a broken propeller symbolizing the same meaning of his life being¬†cut short before his time.

You can come and pay your respects to this¬†touching symbol of our Country’s most horrific tragedy located¬†at 1600 N. Roosevelt¬†Boulevard in front of the entrance to the Key West Fire Department main office.

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Key West Police Caught Red Handed Horsing Around! :-)

pride07_500Yes, Key West has 6′ tall four-legged crime fighters on the payroll. At the time of this photo ALL¬†of the horses¬†were quarter horse geldings named Texas Tea, Leo, Frechkles, &¬†Mr. Peppy Rio! I like the name ‘Mr. Peppy Rio’ the best, he gets respect with ‘Mr.’ and a ‘Peppy’ in his steppy to boot!

Commonly known as Mounted Police, the official name is Mounted Patrol as seen written on the pickup truck & horse trailer below.¬†A warm and friendly site, the Mounted Patrol is the ultimate in Community Policing. While patrolling on¬†horse,¬†they don’t¬†have to approach the citizens, they come to them.¬†Ideal for patrolling¬†parks, beaches, shopping center parking lots and neighborhoods. Patrolling¬†the small lanes and other areas less accessible by conventional vehicle patrols is also a plus. From their height, Mounted Officers can more easily detect crime that may not be seen by ground Officers.

For those of you that don’t know, a quarter horse gets its name since its sprinting ability peaks at 1/4 mile at speeds up to 55 mph!. A gelding on the other hand is no fun becoming, it’s a castrated horse resulting in a calmer better-behavior.

You can find these four-legged crime fighters when not in action beside Key West’s boxing complex located at DeKalb Avenue. The building is sandwiched between the main entrance to Fort Zachary Taylor and the rear entrance to the Naval Air Station Truman Annex.

    

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Key Largo’s TINY TINY Beach!

7175529710_c83ff179ae_bThe sign reads: “Pets Are Not Allowed On Beach”…¬†they should also add “Neither Are A Lot Of People!” ūüôā Welcome to one of the Florida Key’s Smallest Beaches! Though not the smallest, that title so far belongs to one in Key West nicknamed ‘Dog Beach’.

Located at the end of a dead-end road (shown here), this beach is indeed tiny! Talk about disparity,¬†the roped off swimming area¬†this side of the paddling canoes is large enough for a thousand patrons while the sandy beach portion¬†can accommodate a mere¬†ten¬†neatly laid out beach towels!¬†*Beach estimates based on three double-blind taste tests conducted by¬†the prestigious institute of UUG (University Of Useless Guesses). ūüôā

In all fairness, this is only one of the beaches here, the larger one is about a mile away and is always packed with people holding thousands of sun-worshipers and picnickers with no problems. If solitude is on your list while soaking up sun rays then this beach is for you!

Though your beach visit itself is FREE, the park does charge an entrance fee per car’s occupants… if I recall, maybe the $3 to $4 range. The park is so well worth the price, bring a picnic and make a day of it, there’s that much here to do!

You can find one of the Florida Key’s Smallest Beaches along with dozens of day-long activities¬†at John Pennekamp State Park on US-1 at Mile Marker 102.3 oceanside.

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