12/08/18 High Springs, FL

DAY #49

Woke up to a incessant banging sound, what the F*#! is that noise?  I took a moment to calm down so I didn’t make an ass out of myself by flying out of the trailer bellowing; what the hell’s going on!  Then, I nonchalantly (oh yeaI’m cool) opened the trailer door to see where the sound was coming from.  The people next to me had kids and they were banging a volleyball around, that’s what the noise was. 

OK, now that I was up (thanks kids) I thought,  might as well make the most of it.  It was another courageous day and with the campground full, I decided to head to the gulf,  Cedar Keys, FL to be specific. 

Cedar Keys is approx. 60 miles southwest of the park and to get there meant an 1 1/2 hour drive through a terrain of trees and fields.  This part of Florida remains very rural and undeveloped. 

Among all the trees, I didn’t see a lot of crops being grown (of course the growing season is over), but did see a number of fields and pastures with cattle (both dairy & beef).  I noticed driving along that quite a bit of land is up for sale around these parts.  A lot more than I’ve seen anywhere else so far on the trip.  I wonder, does it mean this is going to be the next big place to hang in Florida?

 I’m noticing the trees and undergrowth are changing.  There’s more native palms mixed in with the pines and other deciduous trees, and it looks like the palms people have planted have taken root quite well.  I’m starting to feel that I’m leaving the south and entering a new region.  The architecture of the houses are also beginning to change as well, and I’m noticing a whole lot more trailer houses.

After a mellow drive, made it to Cedar Keys and the Gulf…Ah, I really have a crush on the ocean.  Some history about the area.  Cedar Keys is the second oldest port in Florida, after St. Augustine.  The area for many decades supplied the cedar for those No 2 pencils we’ve all used.  It’s one of the largest providers of clams in the U.S. (or so I was told by the boat captain), and still produce’s a large number of oysters (now aqua-farmed).

Why are the photos always crooked?

Cedar Keys is an undiscovered gem.  It reminded me of a kinder, gentler Key West.  Other than the gas stations, there were no chain or corporate outlets.

A popular way of getting around town.

Some of the cool old buildings 

As I was walking around I noticed a number of stands on the pier that offered  tours of the keys, It was a quiet day and most of them were empty but I was fortunate enough to find a excursion.  It was a 1 1/2 hour cruise around the outer islands (keys) that cost $30.00 and afterwards thinking to myself, well worth it.

Look who’s back. 

The cruise left at 1:30 pm. According to the boat captain, the water in the bay is just a few feet deep (at high tide) and only drops one foot per mile. This makes staying in the channels imperative unless you have a boat with little draft.  Usually the water is quite clear but with the recent rains and lots of wind, the bottom which is mud/silt on top of limestone gets stirred up and hence, the water clarity decreases. Today though there was no wind when we first went out, it was so calm.

Looking at shore from the boat, it was so refreshing not to see high rise condos and resorts lined up and down the beachfront.

One of the keys (Island)

There’s six or seven islands during high tide, during low tide that number greatly increases as the water level recedes.

Got to see a dolphin which was super cool.  I think he/she was playing us. First it would come up on one side of the boat and you’d get ready with the camera, and as you’re waiting,  it would then come up on the other side.

Sighting confirmation. The best I can say about this photo.

There are a lot of birds around here.

Those are white pelicans.

One last look of the bay and then back to land.

After coming back in from the bay I walked around a little to see the houses in town.  I so like this style. Simple yet eloquent.

A bit more Florida than Southern style but the view.
The guys asked for one more photo.

A great day in the gem called Cedar Keys. Great weather, great time on the water, great time in town, hey, just a flat out great time.

Some views as I headed north away from the gulf, 

Continuing north, I came alongside the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge and decided to veer off route and take a loop through the refuge.  It took about an hour to complete the loop and it was so special, seeing Florida at its most natural.  Driving through the refuge was as exciting as it was scary.  It reminded me of the time spent in the refuge in Alabama.

The coolest thing happened driving through the refuge.  Running across the road was an armadillo, it ran into the underbrush before I could get a photo but man oh man, I got a good look at him, how cool was that!

Got back onto the main road and back to the campground.  Since it was after dark, I had to unlock and then re-lock the gate to the park, thankfully, they gave me the right combo.

It was a super solid day…

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