3:20am the alarm echos and I break out of bed like a bolt of lightning. Afraid of being late for my Dry Tortugas National Park adventure, I had packed my bag the night prior and was out the door in 11 mins flat.
Being a holiday weekend in the FL Keys, every dive motel is booked solid at outrageous prices so I opted to stay in the quiet haven of Coconut Grove (just south of Miami Beach). With the rooftop pool, big breakfast, super comfy king size bed, racquetball courts and a balcony, the last minute accommodation is an easy win.
However, on excursion Sunday, I had the insanely early wake up call to make the 3 hr drive to the southernmost point in the continental US. Loaded down with Mountain Dew and a killer 90s alternative playlist, it was a pleasant road trip without the hassle of tourist traffic. Added bonus….. I literally only hit 2 stop lights the entire stretch which is a nearly impossible feat.
I passed through numerous pockets of storms and started getting worried that my one shot at this bucket list destination might be in jeopardy. Despite the ominous skies and lightning cracking all around us, our ferry departed on time for the 70 mile jaunt to the most remote National Park in our system.
My vision of tanning on the sun deck was spoiled by more rainstorms, but half way through the voyage, the skies opened up for a bit to explore the fort via a self guided tour. Even with more storms passing through, I enjoyed snorkeling in the rain along the well developed reef hugging the fort moat walls.
Time flew by on this island paradise and, inevitably, we inched out of the small harbor to make the 2 hr 10 min trek back to reality on the mainland. And my slow ride over the famous Seven Mile Bridge back up all the keys was shared with a slew of other tourists signaling the end of another great holiday weekend in the sunshine state.