Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

From Cedar Key.   I checked out of Park Place, drove across the street, and was on the water at 9:40.  Like Sunday, the forecast was a moderate chop, but Monday's waves were nothing like Sunday's.
But, too choppy for me to head out to Seahorse Key.  Heading out would have been ok, I could surf the waves, back, a different story.  So, I decided to paddle west, along the road from where I watched the sunset Sunday, go under a bridge and paddle an area I paddled on my very first visit to Cedar Key.  I did that at low tide, so did not get far, today, high tide was at 11 am.
 The Pickled Pelican, my dinner spot, the blue, second level.
 Waterfront views of the cottages, some for rent, that I showed from the street, Sunday.
A gap in the riprap to launch the kayak.

Bench at my sunset spot.

Airport Road bridge. I biked across Sunday, Monday, I paddled beneath.

 If not for the windsock, you'd never know an airfield was back there.

On a map, at least this one  I was in a wide open area.  In reality it is a series of smaller openings, channels, and coves.  Salt marsh and pine tree edges. I paddle about, exploring. One other kayaker on the water. Perhaps a local, I later saw her kayak pulled up in front of a house.  Saw a dorsal fin.  Shark?  Yup, about a three footer. Got a pretty good view as it shot past the yak.  I paddled through an opening, into the Gulf.

The seas had calmed, if I had started now, I would have gone out to Seahorse Key.  Instead, I made my way around Piney Point, back towards City Park Beach.

Royal Terns. Also saw two more Kemps Ridley turtles. I saw more sea turtles this trip than in my entire 6 years of kayaking.

Paddled past the beach, thinking of going into the Number 2/Main channel.  Never got there.  Watched dolphins instead.

I got a lot of water photos. The three pics above are of a dolphin with a damaged dorsal fin.  Split, and lying flat.  It stayed in the area for about 20 minutes.  Maybe because it could not move as fast as its non-crippled mates in the water.

I landed around 1:15, got the yak on the car, rinsed in the outdoor shower, changed, gotta love a large, handicap restroom with a baby changing table- nice to put the dry clothes on, and headed home.  Saw two swallow tail kites on the drive.  Left early enough to miss Holiday traffic.

For me, Cedar Key is the best place for a weekend kayaking, and more, excursion.  I may head back for the 4th of July.   Unless I get a Key West invitation. ;)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cedar Key, Day 2 (Memorial Day Weekend, 2011)

High waves kept me off the Gulf, but plenty to see in the protected waters of Cedar Key on a 4.5 hour paddle, Sunday.  Not sure exactly when I launched, 9:15-20.   I did not take any pictures from the launch site at the Park across the street until I entered the Number 2 Channel.  Had  to concentrate on paddling.

One of many things I like about Cedar Key is its compactness. If that's a word.  Everything is on, or near water.  A look at the business district from the kayak.

Headless cormorant.

I paddled through the Number 2 Bridge, past the Marina, to Cemetery Point Park.
Here is a Map so you, and I, have some idea where I paddled.  On this map, what I call the "Number 2 Channel", is the "Main Channel" 

I saw a dolphin, and a manatee, near this great egret, but was unable to photograph either one.
I like this house.

Osprey house.  There were chicks,  or maybe just one, but I never got a picture when it poked its head up.
Through the Number 3 Bridge.
I wonder what the pelicans did before the concrete span replaced the wood one.  Once under the bridge, I was in an open expanse of water, with several keys in the distance.  One was higher than the others, a midden?  I paddled across the water to investigate.
When I got close, I saw the shells. Definitely an Indian mound.  In the winter, you'd get a better view of the shells and slope between the trees.
The Wildlife Refuge sign also was a hint this is a historic site.

Looking at the map, this has to be Scale Key.  I paddled around the north end, to see if I could get a better view of the shells that make it higher than the surrounding islands.

Nope.  Took a peak at the Gulf. Still to rough.
I paddled back the way I came, towards the Number 3 Bridge, when a dolphin surfaced a few yards from me.

Three in all. 

Saw another Kemp's Ridley turtle, prior to seeing the dolphins. Or maybe two. Two surfacing. Wonder if dolphins eat them?  Speaking of predators, I did see a small shark earlier in the paddle.
I took a break at Cemetery Point, landing at the one opening unoccupied by anglers.

The covered picnic shelter was perfect for a lunch/sun break. As I walked back to the yak, "Dolphins"

I don't think the above pic is it, only one fin visible, but I had a pair charge me head on.  "Hope the sonar is working".  It was, they dove under the yak.  I've had a single dolphin under the kayak, this was the first pair.

I observed this pod for twenty minutes.

If not for the chop, I would have been out in the Gulf of Mexico and Waccasassa Bay. Who knows if I would have seen any dolphins.   In the inner waters of Way Key (remember, Cedar Keys, plural are the islands, Cedar Key, singular, is the town on Way Key) I saw eight dolphins.

I paddled into the channel that leads to the Nature's Landings condos. And the side channel where the black crowned night herons hang out. Two took flight as soon as they sensed me.

Back into the Gulf for the short paddle back to the launch site.

Landed at 2:05. That's Park Place, my weekend headquarters.  Which I visited for awhile, then went for a bike ride.

I took a photo of the other side of the Third Street sign, in the morning, from the kayak
Best nest location in town.

I pedaled to Cemetery Point. I had been thinking, if I have the money, I want to retire to Cedar Key. Looks like they are ready for me.
I always thought the Cannon family plot at Calvary in Milwaukee as a great spot.  Near County Stadium, now Miller Park.  But, a view of the water in Cedar Key isn't bad.

The graveyard is a nice spot for a ride.  Add to that, a boardwalk over a marsh just outside the cemetery.

 This won't be my retirement home.
 But, I could buy a unit, like the one I stayed in, for $100K

Sorry about the poor quality, I need to check the lens more often.   I left Cemetery Point and biked to the air field.


"Only Aircraft Allowed On Runway"

My Dad would have loved Cedar Key.

Back to Park Place.  By bike, not car.

Atsena Otie

Took the camera out of the case.

I think the humidity was fogging it up.  Back in the case as I biked.

This is not the road, just a view down a dirt driveway.
I looked at the 5:20 PM sun from this area, and thought, could be a good sunset spot.   Perhaps I would visit after dinner.  Dinner was at my usual spot, the Pickled Pelican.  On Dock Street.  After being outside all day, I have no desire to eat outdoors.  The views from my table.

View on my table.
 As usual, I supported the local aquaculture.  Crab bisque, above.  I'm a chowder guy, but thought I'd try it.  At $2 more than chowder, I'll stay with chowder, which I like better anyway.
The PP's version of surf and turf. Clams and chorizo sausage.  There is spaghetti, underneath.  I'll order this again, despite a few of the clams being a little gritty.  Sand.  I like it when the pasta is gone long before the clams and sausage. It was a while sausage, I saw both end pieces. Good food, and good people.  The guy who sat me claimed he remembered me.  Now he could say that to everyone who answers "Yes" to the "Have you been here before" question, but I don't think that is the case in Cedar Key.  As mentioned in previous Tales, the people are very friendly.

The spot I had scooped out for the sunset was maybe a half mile from the Dock Street area, and the fishing pier where the view the night before was nowhere near as nice as it had been Labor Day Weekend.
My unit has an artist's rendering map of Cedar Key, circa 1985, with above broken down boat house on it. Looking about the same as it does today.  I am looking to the east.

Fiddled with the camera settings. "Super Vivid" is the way to go for flowering bushes. 

And sunset.

A few folks were out, must know this is the place to be.

 I walked along the road, looking for the perfect spot.

Found it, a bench and memorial plaque.

The view got better minute by minute.

I walked back towards Dock Street, shooting more pics from a different spot.


With apologies to my Key West and Sanibel family and friends, I think Cedar Key sunsets are the best in Florida.

I recognized some of these cottages from online lodging searches. May check them out in the future.

Another great day in Cedar Key.  But, anything beats getting towed in by the Coast Guard.