Journey to the End of the NEW World!
Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
150Trip End May 16, 2008
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I have made it to the southernmost spot in the USA. It also happens to be the spot furthest from Calgary that you could drive to in the continental USA (Hawaii doesn't count)
I drove to Key West this morning. The first 50 kms I drove through the Keys yesterday were disappointing. The next 100 kms I drove this morning were mostly disappointing. I think to really appreciate the Keys you have to be on a boat...or in an airplane. The drive did dispel my assumption about what I thought the Florida Keys were. I thought there were a bunch of individual islands with a bridge (a very, very, very long bridge connecting them all). What I found was mostly roadway and narrow land with a lot of water nearby. A lot of the "Islands" are larger than I expected. What I found extremely interesting is that the largest "Island" is the one at the end...Key West. I haven't done any research on how much of the roadway has been created by dumping fill to allow the road to exist. I'm writing (most of) this while I'm still in Fiesta Key and without internet access I can't do any research. Most of the "bridge" parts had a smaller, older "twin" next to it. I found this odd as it didn't seem wide enough for 2 lanes of traffic (even by '50s standards). Most of this "twinned" part is falling apart and is used as a bike path and fishing pier. My research (later) has confirmed what I believed in that the original connection to Key West was a railroad line. This rail line operated from 1912 to 1935 when a hurricane destroyed a large part of it. The railroad company could not afford the repair costs and so sold the right of ways to the government who then built a roadway. In 1980 a large portion was rebuilt..which explains the "twinning".
I get to Key West and head south towards the beaches. I quickly find the East Martello Museum. I figure that's a good place to start. I have no history on Key West...let's get some. The Martello was built during the Civil war to thwart any southern attacks on the mainland. Key West was a thriving metropolis...at one time being the largest city in the Union. I read about the history of Key West...industry....shipbuilding....sponges....Military connection...Cuban connection...etc. When I walked in the lady at the front desk asked me if I knew about Robert from the Ghost Tours TV show. I had heard of the show in Charleston and Savannah but didn't know anything else. I get to the first hallway and take a picture down it. I read some posters and examine some artefacts. Midway down the hallway I find Robert. Robert the doll...locked inside a glass case. There's a write-up about Robert's history and also there are letters written from past visitors. Robert seems to not like having his picture taken. Behind the display case, on the wall, are quite a few of letters written by past visitors who have made fun of Robert and have also taken his picture (without asking his permission).
Robert is a doll that was given to Gene Otto when he was a child. The history is a little sketchy, but it seems like Gene blamed Robert for everything that went wrong in Gene's life
Within the Martello are various local artist displays. One are pieces of "junk" welded in various forms. Check out a few of the pictures.
From the Martello I stopped at the main beach. Then drove and parked by the southernmost spot in the USA. I walked around a while, then came back and had lunch. I drove to the other end of town, parked and walked around some more. I came across St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church. I've seen a lot of Churches during my travels. From all denominations. I've taken a lot of pictures of these Churches. I found St. Mary's intriguing by its design. There were numerous doors down each side that were open to let the air flow through
"Sister Louis Gabriel designed this artistic structure, made of natural rock gathered on school grounds. Sister Gabriel had survived three major storms since her arrival in Key West on August 25, 1897, the 11 October 1909 and the 17 October 1910 hurricanes and finally the 12 September 1919 storm. Because of the devastation and heartache she had witnessed as a result of these terrible storms, she had a deep desire to keep Key West and its residents safe from future storms; thus her passion to build the grotto to seek protection from Our Blessed Mother Mary. Tradition tells us that Sister Louis Gabriel is said to have remarked that day, that as long as the grotto stood, "Key West would never experience the full brunt of a hurricane." And as all residents can attest, there has not been a severe storm on the island since the erection of the grotto in 1922."
From the Church I continued meandering around the streets of Key West
I was getting tired from walking and headed back to my truck. Now where was my truck? I had parked it down a certain street and checked the street names to make sure I could find it again. I remember the main street I had started walking down because it ended up at the Church. So I walked up that street....no Truck! Then I remembered I had started by walking up the street I had parked on by one block to get to the uppermost point of those streets. I find the truck.
I wanted to get to a certain point on the route back to the trailer to try and get some good sunset pictures. That happened about 30 miles out
That was my day at the End of the NEW World!