Turning a Corner

In January 2018, we drove drove drove to the tip of the Florida Keys and then took a 153-minute boat ride — not that I was counting — to Fort Jefferson, at the tip of a string of tiny islands and lumps of rocks.

The spot is called the Dry Tortugas: dry because there’s no fresh water; tortugas because someone thought the lumps looked like turtles. Spanish turtles, I guess.

Fort Jefferson, the largest all-masonry fort in the United States,
was built between 1846 and 1875
to protect the nation’s gateway to the Gulf of Mexico.
Supply and subsidence problems and the Civil War delayed construction.

Delayed indeed. Although it was finished enough to be used, it was never finished finished.

It’s not the easiest place to get to – drive drive drive and then take a 153-minute boat ride not that I was counting – but it’s kinda neat when you get there.

I posted about it earlier, but happened across my raw photos of it again yesterday when going through SD cards recovered from old cameras. This on the pretext of cleaning my office as part of a reset urged by an excellent article in the Harvard Business Review.

From combat psychology in particular, we know that regression is the most dangerous phase for teams. The most stressful events for soldiers don’t actually involve dangerous missions that require courage and action. They actually involve waiting: being in the middle of nowhere on a post, repairing equipment and handling administrative tasks, not being able to use their particular skills. It turns out that boredom, lack of new experiences, and monotony can be much more stressful than combat.

Not to compare what I’m doing to combat of any sort, but the bits about hitting reset did sort of resonate for me. Hence the effort to dig out the office.

Anyway, provenance aside, this photo is also from that trip that now seems so long ago. It perhaps shows me something about how I like to take photos of buildings, which are not my forte. I admire those who can capture the sense of a built place with the panoramic shots but do not number myself among them. But this, I like.

And all that brick? None of it was made on site; it all came in by boat. And I bet each trip took longer than 153 minutes.

Fort Jefferson, window detail


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8 Responses to Turning a Corner

  1. Tom Watson says:

    Until this very minute, I had not heard of the Dry Tortugas. But what an interesting trip to this historic site it must have been…even if it did require a 153-minute boat ride.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – From the historical perspective it was fascinating. Our boat host/guide was an accomplished presenter and made the history come alive, to not-coin a phrase. I was hoping to see migrating birds. Just two problems: it was bit early in the year, and they fly in/out at dusk/dawn, so our mid-morning to mid-afternoon sojourn wouldn’t have cut it at any time of year. Apparently you have to camp overnight. Without running water . . .

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    I think it was Rafael Sabatini, in Beau Sabreur, who wrote about the interminable nothingness of staffing a French Foreign Legion fort in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the Sahara desert.Of course, eventually they got attacked, which gave them a reason for being there, but in the meantime it was all cleaning and polishing.

    SD cards? And you call those “old” cameras? My problem is old-roll-film paper-roll negatives….

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – Considering how hard it is to get rid of stuff, you’d think we’d be a tad more circumspect about acquiring it in the first place. Maybe we should campaign for labelling laws: “Caution! Disposal too-damned-difficult.”

      • barbara says:

        If the world’s economy runs on consumerism, what will 3 months of limited access and changing buying habits — as in, the realization we don’t need another “X” — do to it? (on-line buying notwithstanding). Add to that the hoarding of money for the next wave of the pandemic to further restrict the normal wide river of money that flows, allowing us to add to it and dip into it… recessions and depressions dry it up to trickle. The worry that it MAY happen can cause recessions, but 40,000,000 unemployed as of this week surely will cause a depression…

  3. Isabel Gibson says:

    Barbara – Well, you can trust me. And my parents would have told you I have an impeccable memory. Not.

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