Dec. 15 Egmont Key (Ft. DeSoto yet again)

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We’d been horribly sick for the previous five weeks with a severe chest cold. It was similar in many ways to Pneumonia but without the fever. We decided we needed a trip to the beach and I’d been planning to reshoot the forts on Egmont key. So we went back to Ft. DeSoto. Click on any photo to see it full size. Many more on our website http://www.fishbourne.shutterfly.com

I brought Minnie from the trailer lot on Friday as we had to install an awning over the bump out. We’d had a leak during a rainstorm at Payne’s, seems that a stick the size of a pencil got stuck between the two wiper seals on top despite my being very careful to clean off the slideout before pulling it back in everytime. I also added another seal inside, hopefully this cures the problem.  I inflated the tires, cleaned the roof and replaced most of the incandescent bulbs with LEDs. Sunday we headed off to Ft. DeSoto and we had a site on the water for a change.

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I’d shot pictures of the forts on Egmont about eight years ago. using film, so I wanted to go back and do it digitally. You take a ferry over from Mullet Key (Ft. DeSoto) to Egmont Key (Ft. Dade). The two forts sit on either side of the main ship channel into Tampa. In 1898 when war with Spain broke out, the forts were built to protect Tampa. There are dozens of these forts across Florida, some dating back to the Spanish. Supposedly Spain had a huge modern navy and army to attack the US with, but they never came. So when the war with Spain seemed a possibility, we built huge forts to protect the country. Ft. DeSoto had eight 12″ mortars (four are still there, four were shipped to San Diego in 1917) they could fire an exploding shell out to 6 miles. Ft. Dade had five batteries, one with two 6″ guns (shipped to France in 1917 for WWI)  another with two 8″ guns and the rest with rapid firing high calibre cannons (most melted down for scrap). Two of these guns are over at Ft. DeSoto now. Additionally, Ft. Dade controlled a mine field that stretched across the channel to Ft. DeSoto. At one time there were 300 people living on Ft. Dade. A formidable defense that never fired a shot in anger. Ft. DeSoto has been kept in good repair, but Ft. Dade is crumbling into infinity. Egmont had a dark side, in the late 1850’s, captured Seminoles were held there until they could be shipped off to Oklahoma.

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The island is washing away, it’s only half as wide as it was in 1900. The indians and others have petitioned the state to save it but it would take millions to correct the damage. In another hundred years the island will be gone. One park ranger lives there, everyone else must be off by nightfall.

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So there are lots of crumbling concrete buildings to shoot. It took me about four trips the last time to get everything, but I knew where it all was now, so I figured a day or two. We packed up a lunch and a beach chair for Lynda and headed out. She would enjoy the unspoiled beach and I would roam the island. The ferry arrives at 11 AM and leaves at 2:30 PM so I had to work fast. Luckily it was a pleasant winter day, not too hot or too cold, just right for a long hike. I shot a bunch of panoramas with my Nikon P510 and tons of shots with my D5100. There were also lots of tortoises and Osprey. You can see them on my website http://www.fishbourne.shutterfly.com  Enjoy.

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