In English, there's a slang expression which is "Kick The Bucket". For those who read this blog where English is not your first language, to kick the bucket means to die. The origin dates way, way back, with the theory that if someone were to hang themselves, get up on a bucket with a rope around their neck, then they would kick the bucket away and that would be the end of things. Here's Shakespeare in Henry IV Part II, 1597: "Swifter then he that gibbets on the Brewers Bucket." "gibbets" is an Od English word meaning hang. However, it must be noted that in today's use, "Kick the bucket" only means to die, it doesn't mean suicide.
The "Bucket List" is derived from the aforementioned phrase. It's widely viewed as a phrase that the movie "The Bucket List" may very well have coined itself in 2007 when it was made and today has become part of the English lexicon.
What the bucket list is, is a list of things one wants to do before they die. For many, death could very well be fifty years away, but they still have a bucket list. As for myself, I've never actually sat down and written the things I want to do before I go, but I do have them in my head.
One has always been to go to The Dry Tortugas!
The Dry Tortugas are a cluster of key islands, the furthest west of the Keys archipelago. Today it is a National Park. They lie seventy miles (113km) west of Key West. Discovered in 1513 by Ponce de Leon, he named them Las Tortugas. or translated into English, The Turtles, because of the abundance of turtles in and around the islands. Many years later the word "Dry" was added, as there is no fresh water on the islands. Today there are seven islets, which are actually an atol. In the past there have been as many as eleven at one time. However these islets have come and gone, then come back again over the centuries. It's a common thing in the Keys actually. Shifting sands are always a common occurrence down here, be it in the Dry Tortugas, or Key West. The islands they come and they go.
My girlfriend Dani and I were up early and checked into the Yankee Freedom III catamaran around 7:15 am and before we knew it, we were off. The Yankee Freedom runs quite fast and the seventy mile trip to The Dry Tortugas was about 2 1/2 hours'
About nine miles out we passed Ballast Key, which is the southernmost point of the contiguous United States. It's owned by a man named David Walkowski, a Key West resident, known for wise real estate investments and developments. He also has a house he built on Ballast Key, which is currently on the market for $15,000,000.00. Regretfully, I'm a few bucks short.
The entire day was a bit overcast. Every now and then a few drops would blow by, but never warranted a rain coat or shelter. On the way there we passed other un-inhabited clusters of the Keys, including the Marquesas Keys, which I named in my song "Sailing".
The main Island of the Dry Tortugas is named Garden Key and is the sight of Fort Jefferson, which began construction in 1846. This was about the same time that Fort Zachery Taylor (Fort Zach) and both East and West Martello towers were built in Key West, by the U.S. government. Consequently, their styles are quite similar. The biggest difference is size. Just a guess here, but you could most likely fit five or six Fort Zacks inside Fort Jefferson!
It turns out that Ft. Jefferson is the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere! sixteen million bricks were used in the construction. It actually takes up virtually the entire island!
(picture from Wikipedia)
The fort was actually never completed, although it was put into service. Like Key West's installations, it remained in Union hands during the American Civil War.
Dani rented gear and went snorkeling while I explored the fort further. She reported later that the snorkeling was fantastic! All kinds of fish and coral. I saw her from the top of the fort and snapped a few pictures of her with the zoom lens!
I love historic things and history itself. I recall going to the Coliseum and the Forum in Rome, Italy and I was just astonished! While this was not the Coliseum or the Forum, it did strike that same chord in my for my love of history. I loved every minute of it and I highly recommend the trip for anyone visiting the Keys!
It even has a mote!
The day we went, the water was amazing! It had a silver look to it, quite unlike the water in Key West.
Most of the guns were sold for scrap in the early 1900's, after they were obsolete. Several remain however. The biggest guns at the time could fire about three miles (5km).
View from the top of the fort. The Yankee Freedom III is at the dock.
Okay! So I achieved knocking one off of my bucket list! While I do have others to go on that fun list of things to do, one thing is for certain, I will return to the Dry Tortugas!
Again, I highly recommend the trip to the Dry Torguas! We took the Yankee Freedom III there and the entire crew were nothing short of first rate! You catch Yankee Freedom III at the beginning of Grinnell St. right at the dock.
You can also fly there via seaplane that leaves fron the airport in Key West.
For those who like camping, camping overnight is available also. Bear in mind two things here however. As it is a national park, alcohol of any kind is not permitted. Also, it is not called the Dry Tortugas for nothing, so be sure you bring enough drinking water with you for your stay!
Thanks again for taking the time and interest in reading my blog!
Key West Chris Rehm
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