Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cedar Keys

Astute readers will note the title is plural.  That is because today I have been on Way Key, Seahorse Key, and Astena Otie Key. So far.

It was after 7PM Friday night when I called Park Place to inquire if a room was available.  Yes. I then did a search to see what was happening in Cedar Key-singular,the town, this weekend.  Open house at Seahorse Key.  Bango!  I arrived at sunrise. 7:24 AM

Overcast and choppy

Seahorse Key is the tallest point on the west coast of Florida.  52 feet. The Lighthouse is short, the tower where the light was is 72 feet. It has not been in operation since 1915. The Key and its buildings are used by the University of Florida as a Marine Laboratory.  The general public may only visit a few times a year.  Today was one of those days.


If not for the Open House, I would not have ventured out on the high seas. But, the wind was at my back, and the last marine forecast I looked at, 10pm, Friday said seas would be rough overnight, then a light to moderate chop, Saturday.  I would say they were choppy as I paddled to Seahorse Key.

Via Astena Otie Key

Fewer birds than usual on the dock

 Oyster catchers on oyster bars on the west side of Arsena Otie

Once past the oyster bar and Grassy Key, one has to rely on flying or swimming creatures for wildlife

Seahorse Key

Grassy Key is not on this map. Must have been made at high tide

I only saw one boat enter the channel to the main dock for the Lighthouse.  Had to be an official boat, as all occupants had orange life vests on.

I landed at the foot of a staircase around a point.  It was just past 9. The Open House was from 9-3.  Two ladies came through the gate at the top of the stairs, with small nets and buckets.  "Looking for life"   I asked if the Open House was today.  Yes. I headed up the steps and trail.
 When I visited the Lighthouse in July, 2012, there already was a line when I arrived.   Getting on the porch was welcome that day. Out of the sun.  Only two people at a time are allowed to climb the narrow staircase.  That day there was a bit of a wait to get to the top.  Today, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Officer, who had seen me kayaking, he was one of those in lifejackets, unlocked the door and I ascended the short, narrow, twisting staircase.

 Got to the top, and was a bit disappointed.   The stair case ended.   A three step ladder went to the very top.  I had to carefully step over a two foot gap to reach the ladder.  At the tip top, little room to move, and I was behind glass.  Last time, I was outside.  Was it a seasonal thing?   No, I had gone too far.  Looking down, I saw a door.  So, gingerly going down the ladder, stepping across the gap, avoiding falling down the shaft, I unlatched the door, ducked through, and was on the parapet.



 Bald eagle

 Through the looking glass.  Taken through the glass on the other side, outside.  This is where I was, earlier

About to go down but first, a look at the ladder to the top

Looking up from the bottom.  The shortest lighthouse you will climb.  The Key supplies most of the height.


I had an orange.  With the permission of a man who was knocking them off the trees.  Before they got too ripe and fell off.  I have never had a tastier orange.  I repaid him by picking up a few and putting them in his bucket.  Should have put some in my pockets.

Views from the dock area.


Spike on dock piling

 Could have landed here.  But, it is tide dependent. I do not recall seeing this beachy area before

This trail is a dead end.


 The Union occupied Seahorse Key during the Civil War.   Question. How can war be civil?



 Marine Laboratory




An engine like this one was used to power a pulley to bring supplies up the hill from the dock.  My private tour guide, aka a Fish and Wildlife officer, said this is not the original.  I was looking for Briggs and Straton

I did not see any

 Back to the beach
Took a short walk.  Had to pee, and people came down the trail just behind me.  They went the other way.

Nice when the only footprints are yours.

 Another artifact.
Underway at 10:30

 I like to paddle around Seahorse Key whenever I make it out here, but with the wind in my face, I set course back to Cedar Key.

Saw gulls diving to the surface, and thought, has to be a dolphin.. and there it was. Briefly, to windy and choppy for a photo.



Wood stork

I landed

 These signs are new since my last visit in early December
Cistern, I think

 Another new sign
List of names and dates in the cemetery.  This has been here, but a new, easier to read sheet has been inserted.


The flowery, 19th century tributes on some of the markers is wonderful



Out the back of the cemetery, a nice view.

But, what else would you expect?

Back to the kayak


Wood from the surrounding area was processed in slats which were made into pencils.

Unless you are a tern, gull, pelican, or cormorant

Shell midden detail
 Off the main trail
To the beach


To the water

 Landed at 1:35, walked into Room 330 at Park Place 22 minutes later

Ate lunch, began this Tale, then biked to Sandy's.




Back on the water at 4:20. I had left the kayak on the beach

 Black skimmers and more on the sandbar at the entrance to Channel Number 2

Spoonbill and pelican at Old Fenimore Mill



 Snowy egret
Young yellow crowned night heron








 Black skimmers









Cloudy, but still beautiful at sunset


 Blue winged teal


Landed at 5:50


It reads "Peace"

This cost $46.00 on Sandy's

The first of several meals. 4, so far.  Still have a lot of clams left as I end this Tale on New Year's Eve.

No comments: