Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hello, everyone!  Welcome to the second part of yesterday's post about Key West.  When last I left you, Lara and myself had large tropical birds perched on our arms.  This is the very elaborate toy store on the other side of the third floor of the mall:

 Lara got very excited while we explored this toy store and says that we will be going back there before we leave.  I'm looking forward to taking photos of her buying toys and having a moment with her inner child.
 Outside we saw a mother chicken and a chick perched on some bicycles.
 We then went to the local aquarium just in time for a scheduled feeding and tour.  This is the inside of the main room.
 And this is a conch, with it's weird mollusk-y foot contraption.  I should note here that marine biology is not one of my strong suits, so keep that in mind please.
 This is a large female turtle that was rescued from the sea.  One of her flippers was damaged too badly to allow for her to return to the wild.  I like her grumpy turtle face.
 And this is a sting ray jumping up for some food.  They're sort-of like very hungry amphibious living floor mats.
 This is when things really got good: the feeding of the nurse sharks.
 The nurse sharks were also very excited about this point of the tour as well.
 Nurse sharks can be taken out of water for longer periods of time because they have strong breathing apparatuses (remember my disclaimer from up above!)  We were actually able to pet this baby nurse shark's tail.  It felt a bit like sand paper.

 The nurse shark's mouth and wee flippers.
 This is a bonnet head shark.  Thank you to Lara for identifying the kind of shark this is!

Next, we went outside for the feeding of some of the larger turtles and sharks that they have here.  You may notice a bird stealing a fish out of the cooler in this photo.  This bird followed this lady and her cooler everywhere she went, always looking for an opportunity to steal a fish.
 He will be back.
 Here is a large turtle that was also injured badly enough to not be able to return to the wild.  She is petting the turtle's shell because, as she told us, turtles have feeling in their shells and it is much like petting a dog or cat.

 The turtle eats a fish.
 This is a particularly gigantic turtle that was not interested in feeding.

Edit: Lara says this is a loggerhead turtle.
 Here, our tour guide prepares to feed a squid to more sharks.
 The bird was once again present and keenly interested.
 Here is one of the sharks, "tasting" the squid, as she put it.  He liked it.

Edit: Lara says this is a large nurse shark.  She knows a lot more about sharks than I do.

Edit: Lara says this is a sandbar shark.  He is less orange than the other sharks (that last observation was mine.)
 After the outdoor shark feeding, I took several more photos of some fish on the way to the last part of the tour.

 The last part of the tour consisted of an area with a large saltwater pond filled with a variety of fish.  There was also an area set off to the side with some baby alligators, such as this little guy.
 There was also an albino python.  Though snakes usually make me squeamish, I thought this little guy was quite cute.  The plexiglass between us also helped!
 Here he is sticking his tongue out at me.
 An iguana in full-on relax mode.

Now, things are going to abruptly switch from cute to creepy, because the last part of this post will tell you about the Key West ghost tour that Lara and I went on that night!
 These are some pictures of Duval Street that I took on our way.
 A flute player and his sunglasses-wearing dog.
 An extremely well-behaved dog sitting outside a bar with a cup of water.
 Duval Street at night.
 Here we are with John, our tour guide, at the start of the tour.
 One of the first stops of the tour was the La Concha hotel, as you can see in the background.  It is the highest building in Key West.  Apparently, Key West has a very high suicide rate, and something like Twenty-One people have jumped off of this building and landed on the street behind where the tour guide is standing.  I didn't think the building necessarily looked high enough (it's only about six floors), but twenty-one people would say otherwise, I suppose.
 Although not haunted, this tree apparently needs to be actively trimmed every so often.  Left to its own devices, it would grow and grow until it took over the island.  Which, as the guide said, is just plain creepy.

 Here is a house that was used as a quarantine during the Yellow Fever plague in the 1850's.  Several children died in the top right room of the house, and people who now stay in the room sometimes feel people tugging on their pants and the hems of their skirts.
This is Captain Tony's bar, formerly a city morgue.  There are bodies buried below it, and a tree grows through the middle of it that became known as the 'hanging tree' after a woman was hung from it for killing her son and her husband with an axe.  She apparently now haunts the women's rest room, occasionally whispering things in various occupants' ears such as 'get out!', and even holding the door shut and trapping women inside until their cries for help result in someone from the bar opening the door from the outside.  You can still see bottles embedded in the concrete walls on Captain Tony's that once contained holy water, and were put there to promote a peaceful afterlife for the dead bodies below this place.

Well, that all got a bit heavy!  Hey, it's a ghost tour, how many ghosts have you heard of who led a happy, peaceful life?  I will end this entry with a bit of levity: here is a chicken with her baby chicks, milling around and looking for some food.  Thanks for reading!

-The Blog Tech