Monday, February 13, 2012

Key West - We Visit the Tropical Forest & Botanical Gardens

Notice how the yellow butterfly selected a yellow part of the plant to land on
Key West has its own Tropical Forest & Botanical Gardens so today we explored the area. It's an oasis of greenery in the middle of civilization. It used to be municipal buildings for the town of Key West but they discovered that it was sitting on a "fresh water lens" which was just a few feet below the surface. The term refers to the way rain water collects in the porous ground and forms a shallow, fresh water source over the top of salt water underneath. The fresh water, being lighter than salt water, floats on top of the heavier salt water. After this discovery, the area was cleared of all buildings and returned to the way it was 100 years ago and replanted with native varieties. In the preserve, it's possible to pretend you're out in the wilderness since your views are screened from the nearby parking lots and playgrounds.
A rare Key West loop tree...

It's now a haven for local birds, insects such as butterflies and small animals. The entrance fee is only $5, a bargain and it's a nice nature walk for both adults and kids. Along the way we saw turtles sunning themselves, many butterflies of all kinds, lots of ducks and a great variety of palm trees as we walked through the shaded path, very pretty. At one spot they had musical xylophones set up and the kids had a great time making use of them! Throughout all this there were no mosquitoes or noseeums, not one.
Want to cross the Gulf Stream in one of these?

At the end of the walk they had a display of "Cuban Chugs" which are the water going "vehicles" used by Cubans to escape Cuba on the way to the Florida. Thinking of being in any of them for 90 miles of open ocean is pretty scary! Of course, the exhibit only had the Cuban Chugs that successfully made the trip!! Who knows what sank?

The weather is turning warmer and I'm sure we'll hit the beach Tuesday!