Tag Archives: florida keys

Spanish Treasure Fleet Of 1733

Twenty out of twenty-one Spanish Navy ships went down right here on Saturday July 14th, 1733! Here’s what the historical marker (pictured to the left) states happened on that fateful day: “On Friday, July 13th, 1733 the Spanish treasure fleet under the command of General Don Rodrigo de Torres Morrales, sailed from Havana Harbor for Spain. The fleet of 21 ships were loaded with gold and silver from the mint at Cartagena, Peruvian gold and artifacts from Porta Bello and those from the Pacific at Vera Cruz. On the 14th, the armada found itself in a severe hurricane just off the Florida Keys. By the next morning the fleet was scattered from Duck Key to just above Key Largo. Only one ship was still afloat. The remains of four of these galleons, the San Pedro, Lerrie, San Fransisco and Almirance, can be seen today off Lower Matecumbe. This disaster killed hundreds of people and wrecked the Spanish Navy although most of the treasure was recovered.” Wow, 20 out of 21 ships gone within a day of turmoil at sea. Yes, this historical marker looks similar to others found in the Keys but upon its face is the difference that matters written in life lasting bronze.

You can find this historical marker on the left side of US-1 South at Mile Marker 78.5 beside the Ponce de Leon Stood Here one I blogged about last month.

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Conch Tour Train Round House

The Conch Train is a true rolling icon down every highway & byway in Key West… OK, that’s pushing it, 🙂 down every narrow street & alleyway! Anyone and everyone that has ever been to Key West has seen these sightseeing tour staples crisscrossing town with passengers in seat and cameras in hand. But do you have any idea where these tourist-carrying trains are serviced? I bet not, that all changes today.

Welcome to the Conch Tour Train Round House, a maintenance building for the insanely popular tourist trams. The first thing you’ll notice is the building type as row-after-row of doorways give way to train-after-train of visual eye-candy for kids and enthusiasts alike. The trains are sent there with passenger cars intact giving the building its standard depth. The facility works on, changes and maintains everything from flat tires, loose bolts, engine pings & sheet metal dings, to complete engine overhauls. On the outside of the building you can see several painted railroad crossing signs with the acronym CTTHTA upon them standing for Conch Tour Train Historic Tours of America.

You can find this out-of-the-way, off the beaten path unique attraction that most others will never ever see at 1802 Staples Avenue here in the tourist wonderland of Key West.

         

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Food-Stealing Seagulls

6975613209_ddcf66a39b_b“Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?” No I’m not talking about Sidney Poitier’s 1967 classic Hollywood movie either! 🙂

Talk about a talent, these guys have it down pat! This spectacular show is 100% FREE available to all throughout the entire Florida Keys! These seagulls did it so much that I was able to catch one in flight the second he swooped down to grab a french fry out of the service tray.

The first time seeing this I thought it was a rare occurrence, the second time was at a different location further down the Keys realizing that this is happening everywhere. We were sitting at a table drinking cocktails when a brazen seagull seemingly came out of nowhere snatching up the neighboring tables main course recently delivered meal! Oh so TRUE, so keep your cameras out!

To find this not so uncommon activity, go to Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill Tiki Bar at Mile Marker 104.0 bayside or any other waterfront restaurant along the Keys! It’s a hoot to see in person! 🙂

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Modern-Day Ferry Service

Welcome to the modern-day version of Key West’s Ferry. A while back I wrote a blog about the historic Bight Ferry Terminal At Flagler Station and now will update you on its current resident.

Pictured to the left is the Key West Express, the last remnant of a vast array of ferrys that once traveled up and down the Keys. Now relegated to duties shuttling customers back and forth from Marco Island, Naples & Key West. On the outside is a loading platform/ramp that rivals no other, it’s a double-decker three-tiered covered walkway that is a site of wonder all on its own. The ferry terminal on the inside is exactly like an airport complete with security check points, those blue connected cushioned seats, a ticket counter complete with arrival and departure times.

You can find this last standing dinosaur in the area of town known as Harbor Walk. I assure you that this is indeed a beautiful site with or without a docked ferry.

 

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Smokey Bear

Wow, when was the last time you’ve seen a Smokey The Bear used in an advertisement? Well I found one on Big Pine Key, but first a little history lesson on the bears name and origin. He’s been called Smokey Bear, Smokey The Bear and simply Smokey. Smokey was created in 1944 by the U.S. Forestry Service as their mascot to educate the public about the dangers of forest fires. He thrived for decades and then faded into relative obscurity till being brought back in 2001 with an updated message and look that evidently didn’t woo the kids as much as Pokémon or Dragon Ball Z. 🙂 No matter what you call him I’m sure it brings back Saturday morning cartoon commercials telling us with that stern look and pointing at you saying: “ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FOREST FIRES!”.

So take a few minutes and find Smokey The Bear on your next trip down with the children and ask your granddaughter to take a picture of you beside Smokey… because frankly they won’t know who he is! 🙂 Smokey Bear is recognized by nearly 95% of adults my age… and I’m not telling 🙂 and only 70% of younger generations.

You can find this icon of the past no matter if you call him Smokey, Smokey Bear or Smokey The Bear in front of the Big Pine Key Forestry Station located just 0.4 miles down Key Deer Blvd. on the left after turning at Mile Marker 30.4 bayside off of US-1.

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License To Chill

IMG_0149Do you have a “License To Chill” in the Florida Keys? This person does! 🙂 What a GREAT fitting name for a boat in the Florida Keys. Other notable ones I’ve seen both good and bad are: “Hope Floats”, “Big Pecker” & “None Of Your Business” to mention a few. (All are 100% true boat names) I can see a conversation now: So Bob “What’s the name of your boat?”. “None Of Your Business” Tom! 🙂

Though I found this boat at Mile Marker 84.1 at the Holiday Isle Marina, you can find any number of boats with similar humorous names anywhere along the Keys. All you have to do is look… and looking my friends is FREE.

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Key West’s Starving Artists

Key West has long been known as an artists haven of all types including literature, poetry & painting dating way back to Ernest Hemingway & Tennessee Williams. Here we’ll focus on the canvas connoisseurs, the purveyors of paint and the tainters of tint.

I’m sure the reference “Starving Artist” doesn’t apply fully to all of Key West’s street vendors. I’ve noticed a lot of these maintain a brisk business and constantly have crowds gathered around as seen in the photo to the left. I’ve been amazed at the speed, quality & ability that these so-called starving artists possess.

Seen here is one of the MANY artist that can be found throughout the “Old Town” area with a heavy concentration setting up shop on Duval Street or Mallory Square. These Picasso wannabes are happiest when selling their wares and are always excited when passers-by show interest in their work asking related questions. I’ve seen these finished ‘street-side brush strokes upon canvas’ run anywhere from $10 to the upper hundreds. Who knows, you just might purchase a future Rembrandt… then again, PROBABLY NOT! 🙂

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