|We got up at 0 dark 30 and drove the 60 miles to Key West to board the Yankee Freedom II boat to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson National Park. Dry because these islands have no source of fresh water.Tortugas was the name given these islands by Ponce De Leon. Built on the largest island is Fort Jefferson which was constructed just prior to the civil war and was manned by Union forces during the war. It was also used as a prison for Union deserters and also for one prisoner of note, Dr. Samuel Mudd who was convicted of being a conspirator in the Lincoln assassination when he set the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth. He was later pardoned but wrote home often of the deplorable conditions of Ft. Jefferson. The boat ride was 2 1/2 hours each way and was very nice. It was really a mini version of a cruise. We had breakfast, shore excursions including snorkeling which we both did (yes Shirley finally went in the water). We had a guided tour of the fort and they put on a very nice spread for lunch all included in the price of our tickets. On the trip back they had a bar which was open an hour before sailing and during the ride. All in all it was a VERY nice day. We walked the harbor area of Key West and had dinner on the water while listening to an excellent country/bluegrass group made up of family members from ages 23-13. We looked for a place to stay but the cheapest we could find was $199 plus tax so we headed back to Marathon and the camper. We may go back to Key West Monday. The weather continues to be outstanding. While early September is the best time to go to Alaska, April appears to be the best time to be in the Keys. PS Today is our son in law Scott's birthday, our daughter Collins' b'day is tomorrow so it is pretty hard to forget Scott's. Happy birthday. Enjoy the pics.