Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Greetings From Cedar Key

I am in beautiful Cedar Key, Florida, Saturday, September 4, 2010. At my accommodations for the next 3 nights, Park Place. Taking a late afternoon break after paddling two new rivers on the way here. The Wekiva, right, and Waccasassa, left, above. Whoa, Dave, I hear you saying, you kayak the Wekiva all the time. I do, this is another river with the same name. It can be confusing being a Florida paddler. Two Wekiva Rivers, (not to mention two Wekiwa/ Wekiva springs, the one near the Gulf spelled the same way as its river, two Withlacoochee Rivers, two Juniper Creeks, and more Blue Springs than I can count. Just one Cedar Key, as far as I know.

Located on the Gulf of Mexico 15 miles or so south of the mouth of the Suwanee River, this area's history goes back thosands of years. A 28 foot high midden, made from disposed shells, is a few miles north of here. Like other Florida sea side locations, names that later would become known across the country and to later generations were instrumental in Cedar Key's beginngs. Zachary Taylor established a supply depot on what today is known as Atsena Otie Key, 3/4 of a mile across the water from Cedar Key- the town. Cedar Key is on Way Key, the largest of the small group of islands. George Meade construced a lighthouse on Sea Horse Key in 1854. A lighthouse remains to this day. Ok, enough history. Here is the view from my second floor balcony.

I'm across from City Park and Beach. Which is where I launched my kayak when I made a day trip to Cedar Key last summer. Can't ask for a better location. Price is good too. $105 for tonight and Sunday, $58 Monday. Full size fridg, 4 burner stove, microwave, toaster. Bed, couch, padded rocking chair, four top kitchen table were I compose this Tale, college football on the TV over the top of the computer, glance right to see the Gulf of Mexico. Where I will put the yak in a bit later. For now, back to the Waccasassa and Wekiva. There is not a lot of information on internet about the Waccasassa River. Information useful to me, that is. Most links are to the Wacasassa State Preserve, along the Gulf. I finally found this.

http://www.floridadayadventures.blogspot.com/2010/02/waccasassa-winter.html A good report, with a link to another. And hey ! it has Dave's Yak Tales as a favorite. I'm touched.

As I drove on Levy County Road 326 to the launch site, three turkeys, walked along the edge of the forest. A sign, No Shooting From the Road By County Ordinance. You know you are out of the city when (1) Folks hunt. (2) They hunt from their cars. (3) Signs need to be erected to remind folks this is illegal. The launch site is at the end of the road. County park, restrooms, benches and picnic tables, concrete ramp. Mostly dirt parking area. I parked on asphalt, as the dirt seemed to be the trailer area. I was the only vehicle without a trailer

I was on my way at 9:00 am. Went upstream. Which was the right choice as I saw just one power boat. The boats from the empty trailers in the lot must have gone to the Gulf. On the subject of little information, when I came to the confluence of the Waccasassa and Wekiva, and headed right, I thought I was on the Waccasassa. I later found out I was on the Wekiva.

I turned back at the log above. I could have gone under it, but I had gone up River for an hour twenty minutes, and I still wanted to paddle up the Wekiva. Or, as it turned out, the Waccasassa.

Time for a kayaking break. The Gulf is calling. I'll be back.
I'm back from a outstanding late afternoon of dolphin watching in the waters between Cedar Key and Atsena Otie Key. More on that in due course. For now, back to the Wekiva River.

. There were a few homes on the part of the Wekiva I paddled. Nothing to fancy.
There are places suitable for living, but they don't make for good pictures. The area has a few impressive old cypress trees. In spots, the limestone where springs are born rises to the surface.

The Waccasassa and Wekiva both originate from springs, Levy Blue and Wekiva springs (not to be confused with Wekiwa Springs) respectively. Where I was, you would not know the rivers are spring fed. Dark water.

A hint of fall in North Florida.

I came to the confluence of the Wekiva and Waccasassa, and saw the only paddlers I saw during my morning paddle. A family, mom and dad in canoe, 2 boys in kayaks. I headed up the Waccasassa.

Which I finally realized might be the Waccasassa and not the Wekiva when I passed under the bridge I crossed on the way to the launch.

The banana spider reminded me of the Wekiva River close to home.

When I came to the bridge on the down river trip, I took a look at the pilings. The Florida Adventures report (or maybe a link in that blog, mentioned, and had a photo of a deteriorating bridge support.

Now I was 99% sure I had paddled the Wekiva first, Waccasassa second.

Flowers and fruit.

This abandoned trawler is just upstream of the launch. Wonder if it has been there since 1995, when gill nets were banned in Florida.

Boat launch. Note the graduated dock. For tide changes. I went beyond the landing for a bit.

I saw about 5 alligators. The pics here are of the same one.

I landed just before 1. Almost 4 hours on the Wekiva and Waccasassa. In that order. Confirmed by the paddling family who landed shortly after I did. Another view of the Waccasassa River, from the 326 bridge.
I stopped at the Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve, on the mainland just before the Cedar Keys. Tried to ride my bike. I should know better. "Scrub" means sandy soil.

A group leaving as I was coming in said they saw three scrub jays. I did not, as I biked and walked about a mile and a half.

Easy to see deer tracks in the sand, but I did not see any deer.

Settled in at Park Place 3;30, 4 o'clock.

That bed is looking very inviting, so I will have to finish this Tale tommorrow. If only I got the photo of the dolophin leaping entirely out of the water.

Good Morning. A few pics and commments as I eat breakfast. Seems odd to be eating at a table, off china. Usually its a bagel on a napkin on my lap ion the car. But with the kayak launch across the street, no need to save time with a mobile breakfast. I drove acrosss the street. The launch area is next to a small swimmming beach. No swimming when I arrived. Low tide. A good walk to floatable water.


Breakfast is done. Gotta go kayak- The islands off Cedar Key await.

Back from the Sunday morning yak. And into the afternoon. More dolphins. Manatees. The first roosting magnificent frigate birds I have seen. I need to find a memory card for the camera. Filled the one I have. But first, I need to finish Saturday's Tale.

The kayak launch area is next to the City Marina and the waterfront bars, restraunts and condos of Dock Street. I paddled past, and headined towards Atsena Otie Key. 3/4 of a mile away. My trip was interupted by several active dolphins.

"Interupted" is the wrong word. "Madeinterestinger" is better.

I was unable to capture the one that lept all the way out of the water. Straight up, perpendicular to the water. Wow. I did get three in one shot.
Thata a tour boat. The captain was telling his passengers the activity was mating related. Could be, I did not see any fish.
Late afternoon sun and sea. Dock Street from water seat.
Approaching the beach at 7:30 pm. think my unit is the one on the 2nd floor with the curtains drawn. No sense letting the sun heat it up if I'm not there. And that concludes Satuday's activity.


The Florida Blogger said...

Dave, you've picked a great place to do some yaking. Stay safe on that Gulf. Watch out for the wind.

Buford Nature said...

Dave, contact Brack for more info on that trawler hulk. As my failing memory recalls, it is owned by an 80+ yo man who just simply abandoned it.

Oddly, he has apparently never been required by the US Coast Guard or Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to remove it even though those agencies are charged with enforcing such laws - your gubmint hardly at work with your tax dollars!

This is another example of the Gulf of Petroleum enduring thousands of condoned oil spills. Boo! Hiss!

Dave said...

Thanks, I think, for the info, Mr. Nature.

ptittle said...

Hey Dave, I'm planning on renting a place in Cedar Key Feb 2015, taking my kayak and dog (who sits on the prow like a little hood ornament). The owner tells me there are no real dangers, but there are ALLIGATORS??? WTF?? She goes overboard occasionally - leave her home to be safe??