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Civil War, Fort Zachary Taylor (part#1)

I’ll start out this blog by saying that 99% of tourists have NO IDEA that Key West has a Civil War Fort… and WOW are they missing a great attraction! I’ll tell you right now to dig deep in your pocket and splurge by paying the $3 or $4 a car load price, it’s worth more than that I assure you.

This blog, part 1 will be on its history and exterior only, which in itself is a marvel of wonder for your eyes and cameras as you can see by the top photo. Below you can see different angles of all sides of the fort walls and moat… yes I said MOAT! Here’s a portion of the historical marker posted just outside of the fortress walls: Fort Zachary Taylor – Constructed in 1845 as part of the Third Tier System of Defense which called for the establishment of masonry fortresses constructed along America’s coastline to prevent sea attacks upon the United States. This fort was an important defensive structure for the United States because of its command over the waters of the Straits of Florida & Gulf of Mexico. When completed, the fort was three stories tall, held 140 cannons and home to almost 450 soldiers. Fort Taylor remained under federal control (Northern Army, Blue Coats, Yankees) during the Civil War. Fort Taylor continued to defend the United States during the Spanish-American War, World War I (WWI), and World War II (WWII). The fort’s service to the nation ended in 1947.

As you can tell, this fort is rich with history and even more alluring to the eye. Wow, I told you it was awesome! This is one of our favorite places to go in Key West to get away from the crowds and enjoy a well-earned sunset and gorgeous views of a Civil War fort.

You can find the Civil War historical relic exactly beside the Old Navy Pier about 4 blocks west of Duval Street at the ocean’s edge. See you soon for part #2.

         

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Fun Facts About St. Patrick’s Day

Happy-St-Patricks-Day-Free-Clip-Art-23-5-465x251Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of you of Irish descent… and the billions of people who claim to be Irish one day a year! 🙂

As you know, today is all about shamrocks, leprechauns and pints of green beer! Here’s some little known fun facts that may end up wining you a bar bet of Irish Guinness! (PS – Multiple web-sites have several different variations on the list below so grin and drink up!)

1) It’s shortened nickname is St. Paddy’s Day NOT St. Patty’s Day.

2) It’s ONLY a public holiday in Ireland, Newfoundland, & Montserrat.

3) Eating corned beef and cabbage today is no big deal in Ireland… but Americans love it!

4) St. Patrick is believed to have been born in Wales or Scotland.

5) The color green was adopted ONLY after the Irish Rebellion, before that believe it or not it was BLUE.

6) The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was in the USA in 1737, not in Ireland, they didn’t have one until 1931.

7) St. Patrick was credited with banishing snakes from Ireland, truth is, there’s NEVER been snakes there.

8) One percent of the world’s annual beer consumption happens on St. Patrick’s Day. That’s about 528 million gallons or 4.2 billion pints! I’ll drink to that! 🙂

So, you might ask “What does this blog have to do with Key West and the Florida Keys?” Well, that’s easy “We’re Irish Too!” (that is, at least today we are) 🙂 And YES… that’s me in the photo below!

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Sugarloaf’s TINY Airport

IMG_1432This just might be the Florida Key’s smallest manned public airport! Yes, the tiny wooden A-frame shed is the airports office… I told you it was small! 🙂 If you’re lucky and time your visit just right you might be able to see a plane takeoff or land. On this day we were super lucky and saw a skydiver touch down! (That’s another blog!) 🙂

This is worth the 5-minute side trip it would take to find it. I’ve driven down this road many times never turning that last corner… I’ll call that “A lesson learned”. I found this from yet another tip from one of our many loyal readers James W., thanks James, keep em’ coming!

While here, check out one of ONLY three Bat Towers left in the WORLD on the same road to the right… you can’t miss it! It’s now laying on its side blown over by the last hurricane to pass through but it’s still AWESOME to see this rare structure!

You can find this tiny public airstrip located about 3/4 of a mile off US-1 at Mile Marker 16.9 bayside at the large Airplane Rides sign shown below.

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And That’s NO BULL!

4553996622_55f8093a9d_bWhere in Key West can you find a bull protruding halfway through a building’s outer wall? Don’t guess, I’m going to tell you! Hmm… I wonder what’s on the inside of the building behind this portion of the bull? That’s another tale (or is it tail) in this case it may not matter! 🙂

This is easily one of Key West’s most famous, beautiful and recognizable historic structures in ‘Old Town’. This architectural eye-candy consists of three totally different bars: The Bull, Whistle Stop, and the clothing optional Garden Of Eden. 🙂 I can’t wait to I write that blog having already been granted total access to its upper level and patrons! 🙂 Think baseball, think baseball… whew that was close, now back to this blog. 🙂

You can find this bull blasting its way through the lower level wall on the corner of Caroline Street & Duval Street… and that’s NO BULL!

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Key’s PINK Hammerhead Shark

IMG_0207OH Really… a PINK shark! In the Keys you’re guaranteed to see almost anything including a pink hammerhead shark hanging from the rafters in a bar’s outside tiki hut!

I make it a point to walk into and around bars, tiki huts, & restaurant’s dining areas hoping to find that unique oddity or feature giving the location a slice of the Florida Keys. I found such an animal here… literally! 🙂

You can find this pink one-of-a-kind killer of the deep at Snapper’s oceanfront tiki bar behind its famous Key Largo restaurant at Mile Marker 94.8 oceanside. Turn onto Ocean View boulevard about 1/4 mile to Seaside Avenue where you’ll see it directly in front of you. Parking is FREE and so are the astounding views!

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Key’s Historic Toll Booth

8591851758_1956556a8f_bIf you live in Florida you’re aware of the infamous toll booths that are now being phased out for an electronic method known as Sunpass.

A toll booth was erected in the Key’s to collect $1 for car and driver and 25 cents for each additional passenger. Given the incredible ocean views on both sides, each and every shiny quarter paid for tolls were considered “Silver Plated Memories”. Toll booths in those days were erected to pay for the construction and then removed once the roads and bridges were fully paid off (unlike todays lifetime tolls). The Toll Gate, as it was called, was removed in 1954. Notice the unpaved road, what a hoot! 🙂

It’s hard for us to fathom, the first car drove into Key West on January 25th 1928 via a ferry from here. It wasn’t until March 29th 1938 that a continuous road brought the first car to Key West without the use of a ferry!

You can find this FREE overlooked historical Toll Gate marker along with side roads named Toll Gate Boulevard, Toll Gate Lane, Toll Gate Shores Drive at Mile Marker 73.8 on US-1 bayside. The Toll Gate photo itself can be found inside the Island Grill at Mile Marker 88.5 oceanside.

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Key West’s Cruise Ship Port

The Key West tourist trade has steadily increased over the years becoming Florida’s 2nd favorite destination only behind Disney World in Orlando. With the addition of cruise ships, a relatively new way to arrive in Key West, this vacation playland has begun to bulge at its seams. Though Key West can hold limitless amounts of cruise ships anchored at sea and then shuttled a shore, its capacity sits around 4 ocean liners tied to its docks.

Its most prominent location (photo to the left) is at Mallory Square with another two slips available behind it at the old Navy docks along with a final one using the Navy’s current birth when needed. As you can see by the photo above, your souvenir photo does NOT have to centered dispelling the myth of the main subject always in the center. And to add to your collection of photo taken on vacation, take a creative shot of a cruise ship as seen below which also clears up another misconception of photos always having to have the entire subject in your photo.

You can find these cruise ship ports at and near Mallory Square just 3 blocks south of Duval Street in beautiful Key West. Enjoy your trip and take some uniquely angled photos in the process!

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