Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Blackwater Creek

Made it to the Wekiva River from the State Forest bridge for the first time since Easter. Not because toppled trees have been cut away.  The Creek is high enough to paddle around the worst roadblock.

A buck ran across Sand Road as I drove through the Seminole State Forest to the launch site.  Underway at 9:15.
First indication of the Creek's height was almost, but not quite, having to duck under the bridge.

I think this is the tree that has blocked the Creek for the last 5-6 weeks.  I was able to paddle around it, to the right, thanks to the deep water.

Plants cross the Creek near where there is a high bank on the left side.  But not very deep, the plants, not the water.  Easy to push through.
Illegal campsite on the high ground.

Into the Wekiva, 11:40.  I paddled down River to a little island, circled it, paddled back to Blackwater Creek.

Saw no wildlife during my short time on the Wekiva, this great egret is back on Blackwater Creek

Saw two deer. Heard them first, maybe they sensed me, as they dashed into the trees before I could get a photo.

Algae filled pond at my lunch spot.  Made a good background for the spider.
A fresh cut. Wonder if the guy, gal in the tent did it.  But, I did not see a boat, maybe it is a hiker camping. 

Had to duck under some trees.
Around others.

This is where I got around the tree that's been down since June.

New dead fall.  I power paddled through it.  Well, half way, then pulled on the branches to get over.

Landed at 2:35. 

It was hot. Florida in July. 96. I thought of not biking, but as I had not rode Saturday at Cedar Key, I had to do it today.  Besides,  I saw one deer from the car, two from the yak.  Surely I'd see three from the bike.

Do two deer, a rabbit, and a raccoon equal three deer?

Not bad for a 30 minute ride.  Back at the launch, I saw the first people of the day.  A father and his to young sons were fishing. On the way out, one car.  From the open waters of the Gulf around the Cedar Keys Saturday, to tree canopied Blackwater Creek Sunday, I had a fantastic weekend.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cedar Keys

2:30 PM Saturday, July 28, 2012.  I'm in a pavilion at Cedar Key City Park where the wifi signal from Park Place, where I often stay, crosses the street.   I'm just here for the day.
It is Open House Day at Seahorse Key. Got to go into, and up to the top of the lighthouse.  More later. Time to get back in the yak.

10:15. I'm home. On with the Tale.
On the water at 7:50, after a slower than usual drive with 2, maybe 3 stops. To re secure the kayak.  My front rack is in the shop.  With a problem no one at Travel Country Outdoors had ever seen.   I have a guess how it may have happened, but will be mum due to warranty issues.  As in, hopefully it will be covered.  So, this weekend, its foam blocks on the roof.  I was having major slideage.  On the way home, I realized I needed to move the front belly strap closer to the front.   That stopped the front end of the yak from sliding across the roof.

Dock Street.
Atsena Otie Key pier.
The pier is about a mile from the beach at City Park in  Cedar Key (Way Key) Remember, Cedar Key is the town on Way Key, which is one of the Cedar Keys.  Another 2.5-3 miles to Seahorse Key.
As the pelican flies.

Grassy Key.  Not always visible, depending on the tide.  The crossing was hard.  Wind in my face, foot, foot and a half high waves.  If not for the Open House, I may not have done it.

First lighthouse photo, 9:18.
From March 1 to June 30,  you have to be on the other side of the signs.  Birds nesting.

The first time I saw Seahorse Key, I thought, "shell mound".  Its a sandbar.

Until this Tale, there was very little information, or at least information  could find, about kayaking to Seahorse Key for the Open House.  I found a reference to a 2007 trip that http://www.wild-florida.com/index.shtml  this outfitter put together. I sent an email, got a response. I was told it is ok to climb up these steps, and, at the main docking area, there is a sloped area where kayaks can land. Also got some advice and support for Protect Gum Slough.  If you are not an FB, no excuse, I have a  petition as well. change.org
I also got the an answer from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday that it was ok to use the steps.  Seahorse Key is part of the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge.

Still, all the signs, and gate were a bit foreboding.  But then, a couple came through the gate.   I recognize them.  When I launched, they were waiting for a tour boat.  We chatted, and I headed up the hill.

The lighthouse.  No need for a tall tower when its on the highest point on the west coast of  Florida.

Sidewalk to the docks. I came up on the other side.

There was a wait to climb to the top.  As the "tower" is short, and stair case narrow, only two people at a time were allowed to go up.  They would come down, then the next pair climbed the steps. The Cedar Key Chamber, tour boat operators, and the FWS don't mention this.  Another Dave's Yak Tales exclusive.
Took pics to kill time.  Much better once on the shaded porch, then in the house. No AC, but classic "dog trot" cross ventilation. And a fan.

The lighthouse's current use is as a Marine Laboratory for the U. of Florida. This is the dorm.
Artifacts from earlier occupants.

I have now been to the top of 4, and seen an additional 6, of Florida's 30 lighthouses.

 Looking up.  A family was just ahead of me.  All five got to go at once.  Then, it was my turn.

The light has not been used since 1915. Kind of funny to see the compact florescent.
Down the stairs.
I asked the volunteer to put his cap on for the photo.  Not as breathable as modern materials.

At most Florida lighthouses, the palms are lower than the tower.  But, most, make that no other, Florida lighthouse starts out 52 feet above sea level.
This view, and the next two, are from a high dock.  A spotting scope was aimed to some roosting magnificent frigate birds.

There was lemonade with the re-enactors. A kayaker landed. Only one I saw.

Path to where it all ends.

Markers for U.S. sailors who died on the Key during the Civil War. 

I wonder if this is the "slope" where I was told kayaks can land. Glad I landed on the other side of the Key.

Lighthouse through a moss draped live oak. Can't get more Florida than that.
Down the hill to my kayak.

Back on the Gulf at 10 after 11.

These sandpipers weren't the only critters walking along the wrack line.  A group of people following a guide, who was telling them, and me as I listened off shore, about all the life in the washed up seaweed.

Great blue heron in flight.

Atsena Otie Key, left, Snake Key, right.


Magnificent frigate birds.

The red throat attracts the ladies.

Photos of each of the main keys before I began to paddle away from Seahorse Key.

Seahorse Key
Snake Key
Atsena Otie Key
Way Key
North Key
Last look at the lighthouse, 12:15. No photos from the crossing to Way Key.
Way Key, Cedar Key city limits, 1:19 PM
Nice place on the water. Better than in the water.

Landed at 2 PM.  I brought the lap top, thinking I sit on the deck at Park Place, across the street from  City Park.  But, that is uncovered, and it is hot.  So, I went to the pavilion in the Park, and as you know, was able to log on and post the first few pics of this Tale.
I ate the rest of my lunch, I had the first half while on Seahorse Key.  And got a free lesson on Florida Flora and Fauna.   The group I had seen on the beach at Seahorse Key, along the wrack line, were a class from Santa Fe Community College.  They were in the pavilion.

After an hour break, I was back in the kayak.

Into the Number 2 Channel

Low tide,  Two spoonbills and a wood stork flew overhead, headed towards an area where I often see spoonbills.  An area accessible only at high tide.  Would I see any more?

Great egret in front of the remains of the first cross state railroad.

Number Two Bridge.  Four bridges link Cedar Key to the mainland.

Number  Bridge in the distance.  I could not find the channel at low tide.  A local had no problem, crab boat going fast through the channel.  Not working, looked like a family pleasure trip with the family. I turned around.

Back to the Gulf, where sandbars revealed themselves far offshore.

Black skimmers. 

Dolphins! Nice way to end the day.

Landed at 5 after 5.  I had a bike, but I was to tired and hot for a ride.  Even though, the high in Cedar Key, 87 was 6 degrees cooler than it got in Orlando.  So, I put the yak on the car, showered under the beach shower, and headed home.  After a dinner stop.

Instead of eating at one of the Dock Street establishments, I decided to check out Robinson's Seafood. 7 miles out of town,

I looked at the menu, but went with the AYCE.
I just had one hush puppy.  Need to save room.
Seafood chowder. Described as "creamy"  Wasn't. Lots of potato, fish here and there.  The other choice was lima beans and rice.  I picture green lima beans on a bed of rice.  Not appealing to me.
I did not ask for a second crab cake, did get more shrimp and mullet.  I've been in Florida 23 years, and I think think this is the first time I've had mullet.  Other than in spread form. For my Wisconsin readers, mullet are a lot like chubs.  Bony bait fish.
Out of curiosity I asked for a sample of the lima beans and rice.
Boy, was it good.  I have a new favorite soup.  Much better than the seafood chowder.  And I love chowder.

No liquor, or even beer.  Probably  a good thing, or I would have driven off with the gas hose in my tank.  But that's a long story, and its time to end this Tale from my favorite place in Florida, Cedar Key.

But, I will say the mullet spread and clams I bought at the Fish Market have been very tasty.