Key West and Dry Tortugas, Part I

On Friday we headed off on our first kid-free vacation since baby Finn joined our family! We were so thankful for Jordan’s parents and brother and sister-in-law for taking care of the kiddos for the weekend.

Our trip almost began with disaster, as our flight out of Austin was delayed by 45 minutes, making our already tight connection in Dallas nearly impossible. As we watched the minutes tick by and spoke with the gate agent, they promised we had time to make our connection. Yet as we boarded our plane I received a text from American Airlines saying that we were likely to miss our connection and needed to rebook. We quickly secured seats on the 6:45pm flight as our plane was taxiing down the runway for takeoff.

As we arrived in Dallas-Fort Worth thirteen minutes prior to the doors for our original flight closing, we decided to run for it and hoped they would let us on. We made it with less than two minutes to spare, the gate agents quickly switched our tickets back, and we made our way to Key West!

What I’m Reading Right Now: The Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews

We arrived in Key West at about 4:30pm, and took a nice 20 minute walk along the seawall from the airport to our hotel. Hotwire gave us a good deal on the DoubleTree near the airport, which was more than serviceable for our trip.

After dropping off our belongings, we took an Uber into town, stopping at the infamous Duval street.

Wandering north along the famous road, we headed out to the harbor walk for some sightseeing and scouting for where to eat dinner. After checking out the selection we settled on the White Tarpon, a bar restaurant right on the harbor.

We made it just in time for happy hour, so we enjoyed our half priced beer, wine (Camelot Pinot Noir) and appetizer of spinach artichoke dip.

For dinner we split a delicious Caesar salad and the FishMonster fish and shrimp tacos. We finished off with a slice of almond cake soaked in amaretto, which is one of my favorites. Jordan also enjoyed a Key Lime Martini to celebrate.

After dinner we wandered around, seeing the sights.

There were roosters and chickens all over the island! We enjoyed them, although apparently they are regarded as pests by some of Key West’s residents.

We stopped to have after dinner drinks at a speakeasy called Berlin’s.

I am still nursing the baby, so one of the weird complications of this trip was figuring out how to pump and pack breastmilk while we were out of town. I have the Willow hands-free pumps, which although convenient, are not very subtle when I have them in. I also have to pump every 2-3 hours to keep my supply up, as well as to keep from becoming uncomfortable. I carried a cooler bag with me on the trip to help keep the milk chilled while we were out and about. Most of the restaurants we went to were really nice about giving me bags of ice to help keep things cold.

The speakeasy was a nice dark, relaxing place for us to unwind a bit after dinner where I was also able to pop the pumps in and not feel really self conscious.

After we finished our drinks we headed back down to the street. Our hotel had a free shuttle, so we caught that out of town and turned in for an early night.

Saturday

Saturday morning we were up bright and early to catch our ferry, the Yankee Freedom, at 7am.

We were provided with some reading material.

The ride out to Dry Tortugas is about two hours, and we enjoyed the gorgeous ocean views along the way. We even saw some dolphins just as we were reaching the park!

Once we reached Dry Tortugas National Park we were ready to go exploring. Dry Tortugas is known for Fort Jefferson, and its snorkeling and reefs nearby.

We started by exploring the fort, eschewing the guided tour for our own adventuring.

We wandered the fort, learning its history, before heading back to the ferry for a quick lunch. We beat the lunch rush on the boat, and then grabbed some snorkel gear to go check out the sights.

Although we weren’t able to take any photos while snorkeling, we had a great time seeing the parrot fish, grouper, barracuda, and tons of striped sergeant major fish, along with brain and purple fan corals.

After spending a good amount of time snorkeling from the north beach, we headed back to rinse off.

We enjoyed watching the seaplanes taking off and landing.

After rinsing off most of the salt water and retuning our snorkel gear, we headed back into the fort to finish exploring and purchase gifts for our two oldest kids. Parker got a junior park ranger vest, and we bought a sea turtle puppet for Charlie.

Heading back to the boat, we enjoyed an incredibly cheap happy hour before the ferry headed back to Key West.

Final glimpses of the island.

Jordan enjoyed a nap on the ferry.

The ferry arrived back around 5:30pm, and we took a walk to stretch our legs before dinner. We walked south down the island, passing Truman’s Little White House and then making our way to the park that houses Fort Zachary Taylor.

The fort was closed by the time we walked down, but we were able to take some photos of the exterior as well as see some iguanas.

We strolled down to the beach to catch a glimpse of the actual southernmost point of the United States, located inside the naval base but visible from the beach.

We enjoyed seeing more of the gorgeous scenery on our way back to find some food.

We ate dinner at Bagatelle, a restaurant located inside an 1800s house on the island.

We were seated in the bar area which meant we were able to watch the amazing upset during the running of the Kentucky Derby, in which Rich Strike crushed the competition with 80-1 odds.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep for the long day ahead.

We’ll share Part II of our Key West trip soon, hope you’re enjoying reading about it so far!

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