Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cedar Key Museum State Park and Suwannee River Boat Tour

Posted from Clermont, FL   (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

I'm still playing catch-up with our blog postings.  As I looked back at our pictures, I didn't realize how many fun things we had a chance to do while visiting Cedar Key, FL.

On one particular day we wandered over to the Cedar Key Museum State Park. Remember, Cedar Key is geographically pretty small, so it's easy to get everywhere in just a few minutes.

The State Park is pretty small compared to other Florida State Parks and it mainly houses articles and documents collected over time by St. Clair Whitman. Mr. Whitman had a very nice collection of Florida mollusks, as well.

Mr. Whitman's house is on display at the museum. After his death, the property on which the house sat was sold and the house was due to be demolished.  The people of Cedar Key banded together and moved the house to the present site in 1990.  Since that time, it has been restored to the 1920's and 1930's period.

There was literally no one at the museum on the day of our visit. Here's a few pictures of the inside of the Whitman House.


Cedar Key's first museum

The museum can be fully visited in about an hour and the price is right at $2 per person.
To view more pictures about the Cedar Key Museum State Park visit my Google+ Album.

On another day we signed up to take a boat tour from Cedar Key to the Suwannee River.  We decided to use Tidewater Tours as online recommendations looked pretty good.  Here's the description from the Tidewater Tours website:

The Suwannee River Tour travels northward along the shallow coastline for approximately 13 miles before entering the world famous Suwannee River.  At this point the ecosystem changes rapidly from a primarily salt water/estuarine environment to a primarily fresh water river/swamp ecosystem.  The route then extends approximately six miles up the river, including excursions into some seemingly enchanted waterways which narrow and run off the main channel.  Plant and animal sightings vary according to the season.  The shallow, near-shore route to the Suwannee River is tide dependant and not always available.  This tour takes approximately 3-to-4 hours.  The cost is $45.00 + tax per person.

We are generally fans of boat tours, but we left somewhat disappointed in this one. It began ok, but engine troubles made for a long, slow trip up to, and back from, the Suwannee River. I belief the entire tour was about 5 1/2 hours by the time we finished.

Fortunately, it was a beautiful day. Here we are leaving from the marina at Cedar Key.

These guys are everywhere in this area. I guess he's not too superstitious about the channel marker number. 

After a lengthy ride to the mouth of the Suwannee River we finally saw a few osprey nests.

We took on fuel at Miller's Marina near the little town of Suwannee.  There were no snacks or drinks onboard, so folks were anxious to see what what available in the little store.  Answer: not much!

This smart couple was prepared and brought along their own little cooler. They could have paid for their tour had they decided to sell a few of their items.

Here's our little group preparing to shove off and head up some of the small tributaries leading into the Suwannee River.

Once you get into the smaller branches of the river it is very quiet and serene.  The entire area is protected, so no commercial or residential development will destroy this fragile area (at least for now).

We did run across this group who were having a nice day of paddle boarding (until we showed up, that is).

Don't let me give you the impression that we didn't enjoy the tour, however.  It turned out to be much longer than anticipated, but that was due to engine problems with the boat. Certainly the scenery was beautiful!

To view more pictures about the Suwannee River tour visit my Google+ Album.

Just one more blog dealing with our Cedar Key visit.  That involved kayaking over to Atsena Otie Key, but I'll save that for the next blog.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Taking Our Time in Cedar Key

Posted from Orlando TT near Clermont, FL
 (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

We stayed in Cedar Key, FL for a week, but there are so many things to do and see that we'll make a return trip someday.  That's one of the really great things about the fulltime lifestyle.  If you see something you like, you can always re-visit.

As the docent at the Cedar Key Historical Museum told us, Cedar Key really is some a place that you have to want to visit as there is only 1 road in and out, and there isn't a whole lot at the end of that road other than Cedar Key.

Our first day we just wandered around a bit getting a lay of the town.  (Not too hard, because it isn't that big!)  The public beach at 2nd and A Street is a nice place for sunning, playing in the water, or launching a kayak or canoe to do some exploring by water.

Right down from this beach are companies who offer boat tours, watercraft rental, and this one where fresh fish is brought in for a local restaurant.

The pelicans think that this is the buffet line, I believe.

The Atlantic to Gulf Railroad ran along this stretch and ended on Dock Street not too far from here.  The railroad was completed in 1861 and the last train ran in 1932.  All that's left in this area today is this sign to commemorate this.

The entire downtown area can literally be walked after parking on any of the streets.  I didn't see any parking meters anywhere.  Island Hotel on 2nd Street was established in 1859 and still operates today.  (Notice that it opened just prior to the completion of the cross-state railroad line.)

A really good place to begin to understand Cedar Key and its' history is at the Cedar Key Historical Society Museum on the corner of 2nd Street and D Street.  The entrance fee is only $3 per person and the exhibits do a nice job of showing the evolution of the area.

Present-day Cedar Key was first called Way Key and the first plat of the area was issued by the Railroad in 1859. The area has been a home to many different industries throughout the years. The Faber and Eagle Pencil Companies established cedar saw mills here.  It's interesting to note that no pencil were ever produced here, but rather the slats were shipped out via railroad to northern companies.  The hurricane of 1896 caused all operations to cease.

The Standard Manufacturing Company was the first manufacturing company in Cedar Key. It operated from 1910-1952 and produced several fiber-related products, with Donax Brushes being one of its' better known products.

Fishing activities, of course, have always been important to a town on the water such as Cedar Key.  A ban on net fishing in 1995 by the State legislature all but put an end to commercial fishing in the area.  Area fisherman were resilient, however, and turned to clam farming.  In 1997, clam farming produced a record 100 million clams.

It would be well worth a visit to the museum if you travel to Cedar Key.

One of the things that you will notice very quickly is that there are no chain restaurants in Cedar Key.  The restaurants come and go down on Dock Street, but are all locally run.

Dock Street is a short and easy walk in the evening hours. A great place to drop in for a drink or grab a bite.  The scenery isn't too shabby at that time of day either.

You can view many more pictures of Cedar Key not included in this blog post by going to my Google+ Album. 

Thanks for dropping by to take a look!