The 'Southernmost Point' in the so-called continental United States.
We have a few issues here, without even getting into the tacky nun
buoy marker in need of a paint job. First of all, we're not sure
why islands connected by bridges to the mainland become part of the
continental US, secondly this isn't really even the southernmost
point on Key West as there are peninsulas jutting out on either side
of this point. As near as we can tell this should be called the
'Southernmost publically available land in Key West at the time we
decided to make this a tourist attraction'. Notice the 'Conch
Republic' insignia at the top which is Key West's nickname for
itself not some secret militia organization. On the roads arriving
at this point you get to pass the southernmost everything in the U.S.
We're not kidding about this it even includes the southernmost dog
groomer and the southernmost barber shop. We waited around about
ten minutes to get our picture taken here with no other people in
the photo and then we fled.
We next visited Big Pine Key - home of the Key Deer, an elusive
minature deer species. Fully grown bucks are only a about three feet
(one meter) tall. They proved to be too elusive for our cameras,
though we did see a few lurking in the palmettos. Farther up the
keys in Key Largo we visited John Pennekamp State Park. Here is
Melanie (in an otter shirt of course) searching for interesting sea
life. Either that or she's just practicing standing on one leg
like flamingos do it's hard to tell which.
The next day in Miami (not technically part of the Keys but close
enough), we visited the Vizcaya estate. It was owned by industrialist
John Deering back in the days when you could go around with a title
like 'industrialist'. This is the back of the villa sitting prettily
on Biscayne Bay.
The grounds are extensive and contain a variety of formal gardens.
At the time Vizcaya was built this was all pretty much mangrove swamp
and sub-tropical forest. Nowadays, downtown Miami is fairly close
at hand, and so it doesn't quite have the same feeling of remoteness
it once did. This gazebo for instance overlooks the port of Miami
across the bay. Melanie however, has chosen the direction still
facing the mangroves.
Also on the grounds is a circular hedge maze. Here Melanie is
considerably closer to the center (the goal) than I am, but
probably just because I had to stop to take this picture.
One can also find this fountain (and many others). It was clearly
time to take Melanie home as she was now climbing about in the
fountains. If you look closely you'll see the odd birdbath-like
structure at the top of this waterfall. That's the foreground in
the next picture...
The house is a classic villa-style, a hollow square that was
originally open but now the central courtyard is covered by a glass
roof. The tall windows on the first floor overlooking the garden
lead into the 'breakfast room' which has some lovely Venetian murals
on the walls. Photography is not permitted inside, so you'll just
have to go see that part for yourself.