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Gracious Donation By John V. Howard

6140654434_8e7b980ef6_bA beautiful million dollar private home and luxury hotel sprawl the 137 acres of what use to be wetlands… OK, that’s what it would’ve been if not for a change of heart and gracious donation by developer John V. Howard back in June 1994. When you finally arrive at the sign please take a minute and visualize the home and hotel and then take a long look around ending your view with a resounding thank you. Now you know the rest of this fantastic story! Oh yeah, look to your right atop the telephone pole which now houses a roosting bird’s nest now calling the John V. Howard Tract their family home.

You can find this gracious donation of land and its wildlife at Mile Marker 32.8 oceanside on US-1 upon entering the Key Deer Habitat on Big Pine Key.

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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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Key West’s Civil War… Is It North or South?

Here’s what EVERYONE knows about the Civil War (April 12, 1861 – April 9, 1865). It was a war between the Northern and the Southern states that seceded from the Union. Northern forces were led by Abraham Lincoln while the Southern by Jefferson Davis.

Here’s what hardly ANYONE knows about the Civil War. Despite your first thought or what you learned in High School History class, Key West, Florida was the southernmost outpost for the Northern Yankees during the American Civil War! History books and teachers I’ve found seldom tell you the little known exceptions to the rule… in this case, it’s Key West! Florida seceded from the Union and joined the Confederate States of America while Key West remained in U.S. Union hands. However, most locals were sympathetic to the South, and many flew Confederate flags over their homes.

Key West’s stronghold consisted of four defensive forts; the larger two were Fort Zachary Taylor & Fort Jefferson along with two smaller defensive fortifications only half the size of the others named East & West Martello Towers. The Martello Towers (called Towers, though actually forts) served as side armories and batteries for the larger forts and were connected at the time to Fort Taylor by railroad tracks for movement of munitions. Fort Jefferson on the other hand which saw only minor skirmishes during the war is located about 68 miles west from Key West in the Dry Tortugas (Turtles in Spanish) which also served after the Civil War as the prison for Dr. Samuel Mudd & other convicted conspirators of the John Wilkes Booth assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on April 15th 1865 just 6 days after the END OF THE CIVIL WAR!

Your History Professor for this on-line course has been me…  Mr. 365 Days 🙂

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Mangroves… They’re Our Friends!

7175546648_ec56931d84_bBlending land and sea, mangroves form and interesting environment along our coastline. Hardy, tropical plants, mangroves are one of the few trees that thrive in salt water.

Once considered useless, the many values of mangroves are now evident. A variety of wildlife finds food and shelter in the mangroves. Their roots help stabilize the shoreline and also filter pollutants. Graceful long-legged wading birds build tree-top nests in their branches.

Seen below are a shoreline view along with a lone ocean view of a mangrove calling that local his home. Imagine, there are entire islands made up of thousands of those individual mangroves. So the next time you see what you think is an island… look closer, it just might be a large group of mangroves.

Oh yeah, don’t even think about cutting one down… that is unless you like paying fines! 🙂 I’ve heard stories of property owners going out under the cover of darkness and removing their own mangroves limb-by-limb over a period of time to not be reported by their neighbors. That my friends is 100% TRUE!

Let me see… you can find these mangrove trees throughout the entire Florida Keys from Mile Marker 127 to Zero… just look towards open water! 🙂

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John Pennekamp’s FREE Aquarium

Welcome to the John Pennekamp State Park, a smorgasbord of things to do are abound but I’ll be focusing on the FREE aquarium inside the visitor center.

Seen to the left is a photo of a portion of the many exhibits that can be found on the aquarium side of the dual purpose building. Children and adults alike will enjoy the cool AC confines on any hot Florida day watching nature’s sea creatures swim and frolic about totally oblivious to the scorching heat beneath the noon day sun. The aquarium’s self-guided tour can last as long as you like gazing in amazement at some of its unique species. One little creature featured below kept us laughing for 10 minutes as he’d continually look out of his sandy den to see if we were watching him or not!

Though the aquarium visit itself is FREE, the park does change 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 dozens of day-long activities along with the FREE aquarium all over the John Pennekamp State Park on US-1 at Mile Marker 102.3 oceanside.

    

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Street Mural Brightens Former Graffiti Wall

A street mural brightens up a rarely visited part of town. Here in Key West on the outskirts of the Bahama Village is the bright yellow and white painting adorning an otherwise graffiti sprayed side of a building.

You can find this rarely seen artwork at the corner of Geraldine & Fort Streets near the Bahama Village area on the western side of the island.

Be careful, it’s on a one way street! While giving a personal tour to our friends Crystal & Wayne, I was stopped by two policemen on horseback who said “This is a one way street!” to which I replied “I’m only going one way… I’m assuming it’s the wrong way then!” 🙂 (sad but true)

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Jolly Roger Estates

Ahoy mates, in my daily pursuit of something to see or do in the Florida Keys I’m always looking around corners, behind buildings and on the backside of signs. Shiver me timbers it paid off, look at what’s on the back of this cool sign.

Blimey, the front reads “Enter At Ye Own Risk” as if spoken by a pirate since the sub-division is named Jolly Roger. At the bottom it continues the pirate lingo theme by stating “Est.aarrr…lished in 1961″. On the back side, which largely goes unnoticed holds another booty of plunder consisting of the subdivisions location in Longitude N 24 degrees 39′ 55″ and Latitude W 81 degrees 23′ 16”. It continues to amuse by portraying the typical skull and cross-bones with a whimsical pony-tailed female adorned with a bow… cute I must say. It finishes off with a good-bye from a swashbuckler himself “Safe Travels Out There Mates”.

The bounty is worth it, now here’s ye treasure map worth a few doubloons… and remember, ‘X’ always marks the spot to where you can see this one-of-a-kind sub-division sign. It’s located at Mile Marker 28.3 oceanside near the entrance to Little Palm Island Ferry, you’ll see the subdivision sign on the right hand side of the road once turning onto the aptly named Pirates Road! “Don’t be searching here for Davey Jones’ Locker either or I’ll be glad to show you me cutlass… Arr!” 🙂

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