July 6th, 2016

Dear Friends,

The past few days have been full of firsts for me!

Florida Keys 1        Florida Keys 2

We spent the Fourth of July camping in Key West, and for dinner we grilled burgers (one of my favorites!). It was a nice change of pace from the ramen and trail mix that have sustained us while living outdoors, so we were pretty excited! In the evening we went to a place called “Duvall Street” and I had a lot of fun talking to all kinds of people and sniffing around to my heart’s content.

Yesterday we visited Dry Tortugas National Park, and I’ve never seen water so clear! The park was built as a fort during the Civil War and then converted to a prison; this prison was abandoned and eventually the land was designated as a National Park. The fort is still there, and in addition to some really breathtaking views, the park boasts the 4th largest barrier reef in the world!

Dry Tortugas 2

While we were at Dry Tortugas, we had the opportunity to snorkel. And you would never believe this, knowing my old fear of water but…even I snorkeled! I’ve come such a long way, and it was worth it to see the multitudes of colorful fish. I tried to catch a few but I’m not the fastest swimmer… Still, getting to see so many different kinds was really cool!

Dry Tortugas 1

Unfortunately my Bus friends all got very sunburned! We were so worn out that we slept through the entire 2-hour ferry ride home.

Earlier today while in the Keys we interviewed our adventurous tour guide, Libbie. She’s a character! In her free time she likes to go free diving and spear fishing, and her house was actually donated to its owners by Ernest Hemingway! We also learned that Key West used to be its own country called “The Conch Republic.” How neat is that?

After exploring the Keys we drove back to the Everglades for an airboat tour. We saw a ton of alligators, many of which were more than twice my size! I’d never seen one before – I’ll have to tell all of my dog buddies about them when I come back to Chapel Hill!

Everglades 2nd Visit

(Can you spot the alligator in this picture?)

It’s been a busy and exciting time in Florida and we’re not done yet! Tomorrow we’re heading to Biscayne National Park and I can’t wait to show you what we’re doing!

Wish you were here,

Bing

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