Audubon Society Wildlife Pond

6748993737_d7d870a41d_bWelcome to a GREAT FREE family attraction for those who love the outdoors and nature! This is the wonderful Florida Keys Audubon Society Wildlife Pond.

Escape the crowds of Key West’s Duval Street and beaches with a super less-traveled path to a site seen by few. You may see 2 or 3 other people during your entire visit… I said maybe! 🙂 This secluded off-road wildlife pond is full of dozens of species of birds, iguanas, turtles, fish, pelicans and many other of nature’s incredible creatures. Don’t miss seeing all of the local entertainment from the observation deck pictured here so bring your binoculars, camera & zoom lens!

The National Audubon Society is a non-profit, environmental organization dedicated to conservation. Audubon is one of the oldest such organizations in the world founded in 1905 and uses science & education to advance its mission. Named in honor of John James Audubon, American ornithologist and naturalist who painted and cataloged the birds of North America in his famous book Birds of America in 1827.

You can find this great getaway attraction within the Wildlife Center at 1801 White Street beside the Key’s largest bocce ball courts and across from the more famous White Street Pier.

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Hidden Bocce Ball Courts

IMG_0430In taking my uncle out for his birthday dinner, I saw what appeared to me as outdoor bowling lanes from the corner of my eye. Being the inquisitive person I am, I approached a couple leisurely playing. My first question was “What the H#@% kind of game is this?” 🙂 “Bocce Ball” he said, which meant absolutely nothing to me!

Yes, there’s actually a Key West Bocce Ball League that plays some of their games here. I’ll try to explain the rules during the next Bocce Ball blog on the leagues. I convinced this guy (pictured to the left) to hold the ‘Bocce Courts CLOSED For League Play’ sign… it’s amazing what some people will do for a FREE beer! 🙂

You can find these hidden Bocce Ball courts at the Turtle Kraals Restaurant inside the area of town called Harbor Walk. It’s FREE to play even if you don’t know what you’re doing. So get off your duff and give it a try, we did and had some great laughs! Oh yeah, of course she beat me… I’m not stupid! 🙂

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Monkeying Around In Paradise!

IMG_0027What a GREAT way to begin the weekend by monkeying around in paradise!

I’m constantly looking inside, outside & around buildings for anything unique that may interest a tourist. Here’s a monkey hanging from the rafters of this tropical tiki hut that just hit me as pure vacation mode with a sign at his feet that says “Just Another Day In Paradise”. Oh how right it is, the Florida Keys is indeed a different type of atmosphere than it’s closest metropolis Miami. Simply put, it’s a slower more relaxing pace of life and that’s why I LOVE the Keys… and you will too!

You too can find this ‘Paradise Monkey Tiki Hut’ at Mile Marker 99.5 bayside within the Sunset Cove Resort.

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A One Cent Aircraft Carrier!

Sticking out like a sore thumb among other street names is what appears at first glance to be nothing more than a reference to the city of Saratoga, NY. Oh how wrong you’d be! Being an incredible history buff I’m seizing the opportunity to pass along a bit of our nations great fighting past during trying times.

USS Saratoga, was one of four Forrestal-class supercarriers built for the United States Navy in the 1950s. Saratoga was the sixth U.S. Navy ship, and the second aircraft carrier, to be named for the Battles of Saratoga in the American Revolutionary War.

Commissioned in 1956, she spent most of her career in the Mediterranean, but also participated during the Vietnam War, receiving one battle star for her service. One of her last operational duties was to participate in Operation Desert Storm.

Saratoga was decommissioned in 1994, and had been stored at Naval Station Newport in Newport, Rhode Island. Multiple unsuccessful attempts were made to preserve her as a museum ship. The Navy is payed by ESCO Marine of Brownsville, Texas, one cent to take the ship for dismantling and recycling. On September 15, 2014, she arrived in Texas to be scrapped.

How do I know this street name was meant directly for this particular Navy ship, It’s located in a neighborhood whose main road is named Ships Row! You can find the proud ‘Saratoga’ wedged in-between other better known vessels at Mile Marker 29.7 bayside Big Pine Key.

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Snorkeling The Keys

7175549388_8d8a883db9_bSnorkeling is the practice of swimming through the water while equipped with a diving mask, a shaped tube called a snorkel, and usually fins. Use of this equipment (pictured below) allows the snorkeler to observe underwater attractions for extended periods of time with relatively little effort and to breathe while face-down. It’s appeal is the opportunity to observe underwater life in a natural setting without the complicated equipment or training and appeals to all ages.

Some evidence suggests that snorkeling may have originated in Crete some 5,000 years ago as sea sponge farmers used hollowed out reeds to submerge and retrieve natural sponge for use in trade and commerce.

You can find this particular snorkel rental center along with a dozen other day-long activities at the John Pennekamp State Park on US-1 at Mile Marker 102.3 oceanside. The park does change an entrance fee per car’s occupants… if I recall, maybe the $3 to $4 range. The park is so worth the price, you might as well bring a picnic lunch and make a day of it… there’s that much here to do!

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LARGEST Mouth In The South!

IMG_0422Yes, this is indeed the largest mouth in the south! No guys, I don’t mean your mother-in-law, although some may say “Yes it is!” 🙂 Mother-in-law or not, this makes for a GREAT vacation photo titled “I stuck my head in a shark’s mouth and survived”.

This is a replica of a Megalodon Shark jaw, Megalodon meaning “big tooth” is an extinct species of shark that lived about 1.5 million years ago during the Cenozoic Era. These sharks were known to grow 52 to 67 feet long and hunted whales as their main source of food. The Megalodon teeth are similar to those of the great white shark, but are much bigger, thicker and with finer serrations. If you’re wondering, great white sharks grow up to only approximately 20 feet long… you do the math! OK, I’ll do it for you, a Megalodon was THREE TIMES as large!

You can find the ‘Largest Mouth In The South’ on display in front of the Key West Seaquarium located in the World-Famous Mallory Square.

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Have Yourself A Jellyfish Picnic!

IMG_2222You never know what you might see swimming by during a relaxing oceanside picnic! In the past we’ve seen a shark, stingray, barracuda, multitudes of different types of fish and now a jellyfish! (as seen below)

Most jellyfish live in salt water where they eat small sea animals like plankton and little fish. They have soft bodies and long, stinging, venomous tentacles used to catch their prey. A jellyfish believe it or not is 97% water! They move by contracting their bodies, but have little control over where they go usually drifting with the current.

Many animals eat jellyfish, including sea turtles and some fish. Humans eat jellyfish too; especially in Asia jellyfish are considered a delicacy often eaten in a kind of salad, with soy sauce or vinegar. Now I’m getting hungry… hey, thinking back on my bag lunch that day I’m pretty sure I had a peanut butter & jelly sandwich… or was it a peanut butter & jellyfish sandwich! 🙂

You can find your jellyfish picnic anywhere along the oceans edge, we found ours just past the Stock Island Marina Village. Go to Mile Marker 5.0 oceanside turning at Burger King onto 5th Street, down 5 blocks taking a left on 5th Avenue, down 1 block to Shrimp Road and turn right. Once on Shrimp Road drive down a half mile down on your left just past the Stock Island Marina Village and keep driving till the map turns blue.

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