A Lost Beach Cemetery

Happy New Year’s Day 2020!

Officially called Pioneer Cemetery, this oceanside burial site has seen its share of hurricanes, tides & water upon its plots over the years. As you can see in the photos, it sits only 30′-40′ from the oceans waves on a good day… you can imagine the waterline during a Florida hurricane.

This cemetery memorializes the determination of 50 of this towns former pioneers & homesteaders with 3 families headstones present today. Oh yeah, the land was deeded to one of the families by President Chester A. Arthur! How’s that for a historical tidbit. 🙂

I first heard of this site but couldn’t find it. My next attempt found the site but was refused entrance by a new employee at the resorts main entrance. My third time was a charm walking right in with a visitor pass directly to the sacred sand procuring these photos.

I saw no one else remotely interested in the cemetery as people walked on the beach just feet away passing the sign with so much history information about the settlers to this area and their families lives. What a shame! I on the other hand loved doing this for you and happy to report that you too can come see Florida’s “Lost Cemetery By The Sea”!

You can find the forgotten little-seen cemetery on the grounds of the Cheeca Lodge at Mile Marker 82 oceanside of US-1. Stop at the main gate and simply ask for a visitor pass to see the Pioneer Beach Cemetery. It’s FREE to both park & visit the hallowed ground.

              

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Key West’s Official Above Sea Level Government Marker

Most U.S. citizens have NEVER seen one of these in their entire lives… now you can!

A little known United States federal agency called National Geodetic Survey, formerly (U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey), defines and manages a national coordinate system, providing the foundation for transportation and communication; mapping and charting. Survey markers are the foundation for todays must have electronic navigational device called GPS.

Survey markers, also called geodetic marks or benchmarks, are objects placed to mark key survey points on the Earth’s surface. Today, the most common survey marks are cast metal disks stamped with legends on their face (seen above) set in rock ledges, sunken into the tops of concrete pillars (seen below), or affixed to the tops of pipes. The front of the faded concrete marker below reads “United States Coast And Geodetic Survey Basic Benchmark”.

This particular survey marker states that this Key West location is exactly 14.524 feet above sea level. It also reads that you can be fined up to $250 for tampering with or defacing this marker. You can find this geodetic marker directly in front of the Monroe County Courthouse beside this picnic table in the heart of Old Town.

PS – Just wait until you see where one is located at further up the Keys… it’s the ONLY one in the entire USA in such a location, so stay tuned! 🙂

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Kayaks And More Kayaks!

If you’ve been trying to find a place in the Keys that rents kayaks then I’ve found it for you! This rainbow of fiberglass flotation devices comes in many shapes, sizes and colors for all ages and experience levels. Though I would rent one if asked by my spouse, I’ve been known to pass on arm strength paddle powered modes of transportation before! 🙂 Then again this might be your cup of tea or right up your alley!

Now let me tell you where this photo-op and kayak rentals can be found. Travel on US-1 to Mile Marker 81.4 bayside and pull into the World Wide Sportsman’s  stores parking lot. Just behind the store you’ll find the marina that can’t be missed. While here, go inside the store and you’ll see the Key’s LARGEST FISH TANK on display for the amazing price of FREE! This exhibit and walking around the store will take you about 30 minutes or so ONLY because of all of the other things to see. Oh yeah… NO FISHING ALLOWED INSIDE THE TANK! :-)

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Mosquito… Florida’s State Bird! :-)

Some people jokingly say that the mosquito is Florida’s State Bird! 🙂 OK, not officially but definitely unofficially! Depending on what time of the year (summer being worse than winter) and what location you choose (city -vs- out in the sticks) the tourist-loving mosquitoes of the Florida Keys are always uninvited quests.

Being from the Keys, I had more than my fair share of mosquito bites… in fact they love me! In a crowd of people I’m the one that gets bit, they somehow hunt me down and relentlessly attack… why is it always me! Let me tell you, this sign needs to be moved to Lignumvitae Key, the home of Mosquitoes! 🙂 I’ve NEVER seen so many mosquitoes in my life than our last trip to Lignumvitae Key where an endless barrage of swarms kept coming and coming no matter how many times we swatted successfully reducing the population by one!

See how the Florida Keys combats these in-flight pests by reading ‘Mobile Mosquito Control‘ blogged on earlier.

Though I’m sure there’s more, this particular sign can be found at the corner of Pine Street & White Street in Key West. Happy Mosquito Hunting! 🙂 You won’t have to look far, in fact they’ll find you!

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Florida Key’s Poisonwood Tree

6787222424_cde7fc5a7b_bHere’s a BLAST from the PAST blog that you really need to know exists here in the Keys!

This beautiful multi-colored pealing bark tree can be enticing to the eye but needs to be left alone for firewood or shelter lean-to’s.

Poisonwood is a species of flowering tree in the sumac family. It produces the irritant urushiol much like its close relatives poison sumac and poison oak. The tree grows abundantly in the Florida Keys and extends its reach to the Bahamas and throughout portions of the Caribbean.

My friend Scott (former Indian Key guide) and this park ranger have told me some horrifying stories about poor souls that have come in contact with this venomous-type tree. Be aware, this toxin eats through clothes and attacks your skin like no other leaving severe lifetime scars in some cases.

Seen here is a ranger from Lignumvitae Key explaining its effects. Also pictured is a stand-alone tree properly marked on Indian Key. The posted sign is from John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo alerting its patrons. Most maintained paths mark these trees so stay on the trails or pick your own poison if chosing not to!

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Quit Your Job And Move To Key West!

Is this a great ad campaign or is it a marketing ploy? It’s neither! Sometimes you see something unexpected and instantly smile or snicker… this one did both! “Quit Your Job And Move To Key West, The Complete Guide” although it’s a book that I’ve never read or intend to read it struck me as an awesome title for a blog whose time has come.

As a child I lived in Key West with my parents on White Street and other locations throughout Key West and have always wanted to retire here. Those dreams of retiring seem to fade each year as the price of real estate increases annually already reaching the absurd. Simultaneously as land prices soar, its wages per person has been going down due to higher paying jobs driven out of town to locations further up the Keys. Key West is rapidly becoming a tourist driven economy with low paying service oriented jobs like shop clerks, waiters, & hotel staff. This as you know is a place that I love so dearly and still hope that somehow, someway that dream will materialize into fruition. After all, they do say that dreams sometime come true!

You can find this one-of-kind poster on Fleming Street in a book store window just 1 block north of Duval Street in Key West. I’m sure the poster has changed since the photo but the mindset of ‘Quit Your Job And Move To Key West’ I promise never will change! 🙂

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Islamorada’s FREE Tarpon Pool

What a great FREE attraction! You can spend 30 minutes to an hour here just looking around never realizing time was marching on.

Islamorada Fish Company’s tarpon pool is open to the ocean at one corner allowing wild Gulf Of Mexico & Atlantic Ocean tarpon to enter freely. Though the tarpon are wild, they’ve been conditioned to arrive at pre-arrange feeding times over years and years of repetitive hand-fed rituals.

The pool, as you can see is very large measuring a good 100 feet on all sides with a pedestrian walk bridge diagonally cutting across the open ocean side (as seen below). The absolute best time for viewing is at its evening feeding just before sunset to watch the frenzy for yourself.

There’s so much here to see that you may underestimate your time allotment needed… that my friends is OK… it’s worth every extra minute of it! OH YEAH… the food here is GREAT TOO! 🙂

You can find the Islamorada Fish Company’s FREE tarpon pool by traveling on US-1 to Mile Marker 81.4 bayside. While here, go next door to the Worldwide Sportsman store where you’ll see the Key’s LARGEST FISH TANK on display also for the amazing price of FREE.

         

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State Park Tour Boat Landing

This sign has intrigued me for years, once you turn right as the arrow indicates there’s absolutely nothing showing where to go next. Why don’t they have enough signs!

I quickly parked the car at a flea-market and began searching on my own to no avail. I returned discouraged and vowed that the next trip I’ll break the mysterious code… and I did. Here it is, the State Park Service hasn’t operated a tour boat from this location for approximately seven years. The tour boat shuttles going to Lignumvitae Key & Indian Key State Parks are now privately operated by individual boat captains out of Robbie’s Marina. Oh yeah, there’s still NO signs telling you where to go after exiting the main road! 😦

You can find this sign referring to a State Park Tour Boat Landing at Mile Marker 77.5 bayside. Sadly you must ask around on your own near the waterfront for more information… or do you? In weeks to come I’ll be spotlighting the two islands, their tours and where to sign up! Your friendly helpful Florida Keys guide, Mr. 365 Days 🙂

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Undying Love – A True Horror Story!

Count Carl Von CoselI assure you, you’ll be hard pressed to EVER find a more morbid love story than this TRUE tale from the crypt!

Doctor, Necrophiliac. Born Karl Tanzler in Dresden, Germany abandoned his family in 1927 to move to Key West, where he changed his name to Count Carl Von Cosel. He claimed to have 19 different degrees, none were substantiated. Von Cosel worked for years in a hospital full of sick and dying tuberculosis patients (which was then incurable). In 1933 one of his patients was 22-year-old Elena Hoyos whom he fell in love with and did everything he could trying to save her. Not long after her funeral he got permission from her family to place Elena’s body in a casket full of formaldehyde. His daily visits to her crypt made people take notice, then one day he stopped coming by. That was until he turned up in another part of town buying a small house near the sea. Keeping to himself and only being seen carrying large packages and heard singing and playing his organ late into the night. Elena’s sister grew suspicious and sought out Von Cosel when the cemetery reported that her casket was missing. Confronting the doctor at his house she demanded to know what happened to her sister and Von Cosel showed her, THE BODY WAS UPSTAIRS IN HIS BED. He was arrested and released since the statute of limitations on molesting a grave was only 2-years (it had been 7-yrs). In 1972 it was made public that Von Cosel had stolen Elena’s body and taken it home where he treated it with oil and wax and attempted to rebuild her body as it decomposed, even giving her glass eyes and making her a wig out of her hair. He made a puppet-like death mask of Elena to preserve her beauty and was put on display in a local museum when the case became local folklore. It was stolen some time later and turned up in 1952 on the floor of Von Cosel’s home lying next to his dead body. Elena’s body was buried and encased in cement in an undisclosed, unmarked grave in the Key West Cemetery where Von Cosel couldn’t find her again. Von Cosel is buried in Zephyr Hills, Florida.

I’ve included a photo of Von Cosel along with before and after photos of Elena seen below. Nothing remains of Elena’s original grave in Key West but you can find this historical replica at the West Martello Tower Museum for a FEE $5-$7 on the northeast part of Key West beside the airport. Creepy isn’t it!

              

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Bikes Not On Rack Will Be Impounded

8353960579_25c3973809_mThere’s a TINY 4″ x 6″ sign mounted on the pavement in the pedestrian friendly Harbor Walk that goes totally unseen by most (but not me)! It reads: “BIKES NOT ON RACK WILL BE IMPOUNDED”. Though I’ve NEVER seen one city worker enforce the sign, I wouldn’t press your luck. In Harbor Walk there are many bike racks for the multitudes that flock to this ocean front destination part of Key West on their two-wheeled pedal-powered mode of transportation.

I’ve included a photo of our bikes with the sign on the ground behind to give you a proportion of size.

You can find the sign that everyone walks over yet NEVER sees or reads in-between the Eat It Raw Bar Restaurant & Turtle Kraals Restaurant in the Harbor Walk section of northwest Key West.

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