Mar 26, 2019

HARRY S TRUMAN LITTLE WHITE HOUSE VISIT

Yes !! We visited the only Presidential Museum in Florida. I am referring to President Harry S Truman's Little White House. From 1946-1952 President Harry used this house for 175 days as a retreat and a functioning White House. It has also served as a Presidential retreat for 6 US Presidents.


The entrance to the house is from the Gates Entrance from Whitehead St and Front St..Parking garages are located nearby. Tours are conducted to see the house from 9 - 4.30. The Museum is located on the first floor. If you do get a chance you might want to check out the house tour.



The above picture is President Truman's shirt. When he visited Key West, his staff would leave the formalities of the White House behind and would change into a uniform that was casual. This came to be known as the "Key West Uniform" The uniform consisted of colorful tropical shirts, khaki slacks, and long brimmed gold hats. The shirts were worn to presidential meetings and dinners.


Presidential Podium

The Executive Order that was signed by President Truman.


If your planning a visit here, the Truman House is located at
111 Front Street, Key West.
https://www.trumanlittlewhitehouse.com/

Key West Butterfly & Nature Observatory


One of the attractions in Key West that lured me to visit was the Key West Butterfly and Nature Observatory. I had never been to one before so knowing that in Key West I had the opportunity to visit one was exciting. People who know me know I am a lover of rainbows, butterflies, fish and flowers.

After we finished taking family pictures at the Iconic Southernmost Point, we walked for less than 5 mins and we were at the entrance. I got to know much later that there are coupons you can use in addition to avail of discounts. I didn't have any so paid in full. For the amount of time you spend here, ( not more than an hour ) unless you have kids who want to be here forever, it was a tad but pricey. Once you enter you will see loads of butterflies, birds and I think 2 flamingos. Butterflies roam freely and some even landed on my sons tshirt. There were a few on the pathway too. Keep a look out you will not know when one may land on you.

As you complete your tour, at the exit you get a butterfly sticker that you can put on your top. I have preserved it as a memento. Below are some pictures we took. For more information visit Key West Butterfly & Nature Observatory


As you enter there is a glass case of cocoons and caterpillars and a history of how they transform into butterflies. So interesting. I had never seen a cocoon before and this was certainly a lot of learning. There was a seat with butterfly wings that we took pictures on. Once inside, butterflies roamed freely. There were butterflies of different hues and the best part was seeing them at a close range.











2 Days in Key West, Florida


The road trip to from Miami to the Keys was an experience altogether. Having seen the Travel Channel some years back it was my silent wish to come here and experience driving on the 7 mile bridge for myself one day. Well I got that and more on this vacation. Key West is just another beautiful getaway when visiting Florida. Noted for its location miles into the ocean with the peninsula surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, it is a fantastic tropical stopover via cruise or a drive for the weekend from Miami. The color of the deep blue green ocean with massive cruise ships, coconut trees hugging beaches and the high energy from walking down Duval street, lip smacking key lime pies and more made our tropical holiday even more memorable.

When would be a good time to visit Key West? We are always asked this question. We visited in the month of November. Being a shoulder season for the tropics, November weather could have some rain and sunshine. The best months would be between December and May. We stayed at the Fairfield Inn and Suites by the Marriott, Key West which had good breakfast to start the day and was just about a 10-15 drive to downtown. It was conveniently located. 
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

Key West is about 6 miles in length and 2 miles in width. If you have two days you can cover almost all of the must see spots here. While we stayed on the east. It was just a 15 min drive downtown Key West. There are many parking spots for about 15-20 bucks. We parked in a lot that was off Duval street and was midway. That way we could walk up and down the street and enjoy the evening and a little bit of the night life if we could. Remember having kids in tow, it is best to move around their schedule and call it a day if you have to. Chickens roam around freely and a couple of roosters and hens with their chicks were seen enjoying the warmth of the day.
So in brief here is what you can see and do. 1. Fort Zachary State Park. 2. Duval Street 3. Mallory Square 4. Old Town Harbor Walk Seaside 5. Southernmost Point 6. South KeyWest 1.) FORT ZACHARY TAYLOR STATE PARK: This park is so pretty and the entrance is from the Truman Annex residential neighborhood. Once you enter the neighborhood you need to turn left and the park entrance is just there. This park is good for a picnic, snorkeling and viewing cruise ships coming into Key West or just relaxing and getting and getting a great tan for all to envy.
Fort Zachary beach


It is highly recommended to use water shoes as the beach is initially sandy but as you get into the water there are rocks that kind of cut into your feet and it is not a great feeling and is quite uncomfortable. I could call it a stony beach to be exact. It is a popular spot for snorkeling. There is a takeout place right near the parking lot. The sandwiches were delicious. Restrooms and shower heads to rinse off are also available. Slather on sunscreen and enjoy the views while getting a nice tan.

2.) DUVAL ST: Duval St. runs from north to south. We were able to visit every place on our schedule. Parking mid way near Duval St made sure if we were tired we could always go to the South by car, park and enjoy the rest of the place instead of doing all the walking specially when walking with kids as they tired too fast. Having a good pair of walking shoes really helped. There are hop on hop off trolleys, I also saw 2 wheeler bikes for rent, cute colorful fancy 2 seater cars and cycle rides for 2 or 4 people. Here are some pictures.

Duval Street

Willie T's Pub Leave your mark Currency

Artistically painted car with shells with shells and an ocean theme
Rental Cars
 
Smallest Bar


Old Customs House Inn
Oldest house on Duval St.

3.) MALLORY SQUARE: - Naval Kiss located at 281 Front St., Key West, FL It is located in front of the Custom House Museum and across from the Mel Fisher Museum. - Mallory Square - Old Town Clock - Visit HARRY S TRUMAN LITTLE WHITE HOUSE. The winter white house is a working museum. - Sunset Pier Pic. At sundown there are street performers performing for the crowd who come to enjoy the sunset. Cruise ships docked sparkle against the setting sun. - Visit the market here, so many pretty gifts to choose from.
- Midway off Duval St is MILE MARKER 0: Exact Location: Corner of Fleming Street and Whitehead Street.

Statue of the Iconic Kiss

Mallory Square 

Mallory Square 

Sunset at the Pier.

Street dancers at the Pier
4.) OLD TOWN / HARBOR WALK SEASIDE:
Old Town is quite close to Mallory Square. I accidentally found the Cuban Coffee Queen while researching online for our trip. I loved the postcard and the giant coffee mug and made sure it was on my must see list. While we ending up visiting after sundown it wasn't a bad idea after all. Though we didn't get a chance to fully explore harbor walk seaside, at least I can say I was here for the pic.



5.) SOUTHERNMOST POINT:
Everything on the southern end of Duval Street begins with Southernmost - Oldest house, Oldest beach resort, smoothie house, southernmost pier. Here you will find Southernmost Point. People wait patiently between 30-60 mins for a picture against the famous iconic buoy structure. Keywest Butterfly Obervatory is located just a few steps from here.

South beach, KeyWest
5.) SOUTH KEYWEST:
Smather’s Beach. This beach is quite secluded and a bit further from the busy touristic town. We stopped here for some pictures while on our way out. While we were there it was practically empty with just about two families enjoying the beach. That morning was a cloudy day and periodic heavy showers were expected. There is a parking lot just opposite the beach. You can rent beach chairs and kayaks. There is hardly any shade and it can get very hot.

A capsized boat after the hurricane


Smathers Beach

This was our last stop in Key West. We headed out back north for another 4 hour drive to Everglades National Park.

Mar 23, 2019

Robbie's Marina, Islamorada, Florida

Before our Florida trip we told our son he would be feeding tarpon. He was so excited and could not wait to get there. It was a long drive and after our stop at Turtle Hospital, this was definitely what he was looking out for. Florida weather was perfect for November and it was a great decision to get here.

Robbie's Marina had so many ratings we could not pass by to Key West without stopping by. And we are glad we did. This is a little colorful village which has a few stores to pick up memorabilia . Once we cross that you either head over to the waterfront restaurant or if your just looking to feed the large tarpon then stop by the counter and for a few $s you get a bucket of fish.




Tip: Do not feed the hungry pelicans or the egrets. They wait eagerly to snatch it from the bucket and are not afraid of humans since there are so many people who visit this place. If you need help ask the attendant how to feed the tarpons. She will demonstrate and its worth noting that as much as it seems easy, the tarpon do jump out of the water and try to snatch the fish from your hand. You have to get on your knees and dangle the bait a little over the water if the tarpon are not nearby. This will attract them and they literally pounce out of the water to snatch it. Its a lot of fun specially for kids. However do keep them within arms reach as it is a little pier.

Hand sanitizer is available after you finish feeding the fish.

Time to allocate: about 20-30 mins.
Restrooms available.
Picture spot: Village, Tarpon feeding and the cute little manatee mailbox that is available just on the right when you head out back onto the overseas highway.
Free parking.


Turtle Hospital, Marathon, Florida

While we were driving to Key West, we planned to stop for 90 mins at the Turtle Hospital. Visiting the Turtle Hospital was a great educational experience for the entire family. We called them the previous day and reserved seats for the family. Since this is an active hospital, it was mandatory to be part of a guided educational tour to visit the grounds.


It is a 90 min visit start to finish. After signing the liability form, there is a short 20 min video and a few details on the survival and rehabilitation program . There is a room adjacent to the video room where actual operations on turtles take place. There was a small play area at the back where they can be ket entertained whilst you still are present for the presentation.


Next we headed into an enclosed area which has all the turtles that were injured have been rescued and are permanent residents. You cannot touch or feed the turtles. Video and photography was encouraged without the flash. The permanent residents are unable to return to the waters and hence are given names to identify: Bubblebutt, Bender, Montel, Rebel and April, Coastie, Sekoi, Kent, George, Chance, Bernie, Corrie. You can see them here.


We were introduced to large turtles and baby turtles that have been rescued. Many turtles bounce back after their capture \ injury and can be returned back to the ocean. Turtle Hospital updates release dates on their Facebook page. We missed this by a day :(


If your going and would like to be part of the rescue effort contact The Turtle Hospital. It is a wonderful experience, oodles of learning specially for school going kids and adults alike.


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