Florida Keys

Florida Keys
Florida Keys September 2014

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Low Key Hideaway

Location: Cedar Key, Fl
GPS Coordinates: 29.152640, -83.030890
Date: 3/17/2013
Julie and my original choice of a place to camp in Cedar Key was at the Low Key Hideaway which is located on SR-24 about a mile from the “downtown” area. Unfortunately, the word is out about this special place and all of their four RV sites were full for the weekend. We are definitely going to try again sometime in the future and reserve a stay here. We were able to find an opening at the Sunset Isles RV park which is nearby (see entry here).
Low Key Hideaway had such a great vibe that it deserved its’ own blog entry. It’s such a gem of a place (ok, a little quirky!) and owners, Pat and Cindy Bonish, have done such an awesome job of changing this motel and RV park into a warm and welcoming place. Since we didn’t stay at the motel and couldn’t get an RV spot, I can’t really cover those areas, but we did spend a few evenings at the Tiki bar which is between the motel and campsites and we had a fantastic time.
I didn’t catch the name of the bartender who served us on Friday evening, but he welcomed us as soon as we walked in and quickly served us a cold beer. You’re free to take your drink and sit at some of the Adirondack chairs that are located around their gardens and watch the sunset over the water or walk out onto the dock and chat with some of the others who were here to relax and have a good time. It was fairly cool the time that we were there, but they had a warm fire in the wood stove in the tiki bar which made for a nice atmosphere.
The owners, Pat and Cindy, were hanging out at the bar with all of their customers and we enjoyed talking with them and hearing their travel stories and how it lead them to settle in Cedar Key and take on the challenge of building a successful business. 
Below are a few pictures of the Low Key Hideaway and the Tiki Bar. If you are ever in this area of Florida, do yourself a favor and spend some time at this place. I think you will be glad you did!


The Tiki bar overlooking the bay.
I found this sign amusing. It made me laugh every time I saw it. I’ll keep this in mind when the next big storm makes it way through Florida.

The dock at the Low Key Hideaway. It make for a nice place to sip your beverage and take in the surroundings.
The four RV sites. All are right on the water and have a great view.
Not many clouds to help the sunset color, but not too shabby, A good way to end the day.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hiking Cedar Key

Location: Cedar Key, Fl
Date: 3/16/2013
When spending the weekend camping in Cedar Key, Julie and I rode our bikes around the island trying to find a few places to hike and take some nature photos. Maybe classifying what we found as “hiking” would be a stretch as the longest trail we found was a little over a half a mile, so maybe I should call it some nice “walks” through the woods and marshes around the island.
The first place we found was about a half mile from the campground. This trail, called the Railroad Trestle Trail” followed the old railroad line and dead ended at one of the many channels that cut through the island. They did a very nice job with this trail as they had information posted along the way listing all the native plants that are native to this area.
This is all the remains of the old railroad bridge that used to cross the channel.


The second trail that we found was called the “Cemetery Point Trail, which kind of makes sense as it is located right next to the Cedar Key cemetery. The majority of this trail was on an elevated boardwalk that made its’ way through the salt marsh and ended at a point of land where there way a nice playground for kids and a series of workout stations. This was a great place to check out the local birds and they were plentiful in and around the wetlands that border this park.
The boardwalk that leads through the salt marshes.
Below are some of the bird pictures I took wild walking this relatively short trail.

There was a lot of Osprey activity in this area (actually all over Cedar Key). They were very vocal and seemed like a little competition between some of them for this nest. We stopped and watched them for awhile and they put on quit a show,
The last trail that we found was the Whitman Trail at the Cedar Key Museum State Park. This is a nice little park that houses a museum showing the history of Cedar Key, an old homestead of the Whitman family, and a short trail out to the bay and though the tall pines that grow in this area. 
This is the Whitman home that was moved to this park and reconstructed,
This osprey had some “issues” and screeched the entire time we walked this trail. We weren’t sure what the problem was, but he (she?) sure did make a racket. 

This was a display on the trail that showed some of the wildlife that inhabit the area.
Here are the GPS tracks for the three “hikes” that we did while visiting Cedar Key.
Cedar Key Trestle Trail at EveryTrail

Cemetery Point Trail at EveryTrail
Cedar Key Museum State Park - Whitman Trail at EveryTrail

Friday, March 15, 2013

Weekend camping trip to Cedar Key

Location: Cedar Key, Fl
GPS Coordinates: 29.154790, -83.030698
Date: 3/15/2013 – 3/17/2013
It had been a few months since we had gone camping and we really needed to get out and enjoy this great Florida winter weather. With most of the Florida State campgrounds full and reservations hard to come by, we decided to give Cedar Key a try. We had first tried to get into one of the four RV sites at the Low Key Hideaway, but we couldn’t find a weekend that had an opening and work with our schedule. We did get a spot at the Sunset Isle RV park which is about a mile from downtown Cedar Key. This isn’t normally the type of place that we like to camp as we are not the “RV Park” type of people. We try to get away from it all and get out in nature, usually going to places like the Florida State campgrounds.
With that said, we found that we did enjoy our time at this park. We did get a spot on the water and there were several docks where you could sit and enjoy the surroundings. The people we met here were very friendly and although the sites were very close together, the park was very quiet and we had no problems with the close proximity of our RV neighbors.
Over the weekend we did a lot of bike riding around the island and found several hiking trails. There was also a lot of good areas for birding and taking some pictures. One of the highlights was the time we spent at the Tiki Bar at the Low Key hideaway, which was a fun place to spend a few hours.
Here’s some info on this park:
Site Number: 11
Rating (1 = low, 5 = high)
Campsite size: 2
Campsite space between sites: 1
Campsite privacy between sites: 1
Campsite level: 4
Campsite parking: 2
Campfire permitted: yes , but bring your own fire pit.
Campsite picnic table: small wood table on a concrete pad
Campground Facilities: 4. Very clean, private bathrooms, There’s also a small cafĂ© on site which was doing a good business.
Campground access to hiking: 3
Campground access to water (kayaking, fishing, swimming, etc): 4.5
Campground access to biking: 4
Overall Campground rating: 3.5

The entrance to the park

Here’s our site, number 11 on the water.
A frequent visitor walking by our campsite
The many docks available for use by any of the campers staying in the park.
This little guys was coming in for a landing on the mangroves near our site
The bay behind the Sunset Isles Campground.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Barr Hammock Preserve Hike – Take Two

Location: Gainesville, Fl
GPS Coordinates: 29.655667, -82.276076
Date: 3/3/2013
It was Sunday afternoon and Julie and I were sitting around the house like a few lazy slugs. Our college aged daughter had just departed after she just made a short pit stop home to do laundry and pick up some items needed for her Spring Break cruise. Why is it that these kids have more exciting lives than their parents?!
The temperature was in the mid 40’s and being two Florida wimps, we were hesitant to do anything outdoors. It was cold, windy and cloudy. However, the Weather Channel assured us that the skies would clear, so we figured we should get off our derriere and do something.
Julie wanted to do a hike that had the chance of being in the sun and giving us the chance to stay warm. So we decided to do the Barr Hammock Hike again. This is the same hike that we had done a few weeks ago, but to mix things up a little we decided to do the loop walking clockwise as opposed to counter clockwise as we had done it previously.  I know, we are wild and crazy. 
The first few miles of the hike was cold, with a brisk (cold) north wind. But as time went on the clouds moved on and it became sunny. Nearing the end of the 6+ miles I actually got warm enough to take off my sweatshirt. I think it had warmed up into the low 50’s.
Being cold, we didn’t see much wildlife today, but there were a few birds here and there. It was good to get outside, but we’re ready for a little warmer weather to make its’ way into the area.
The dike on the south end of the prairie. There is  water/wetlands on both sides of the trail. 
When walking this trail, just follow the rules. “Deep mud like pudding”!!??
And interesting weed with purple flowers.
A couple Sandhill Cranes. They didn’t cooperate and had their butts towards the camera. Most of the Sandhill Cranes in the area had already started their migration north. Don’t know if these two are late in leaving or are some that spend the entire year in Florida.
Here are a few pictures of a few warblers we saw along the way. There’s many of these birds darting among the brush that line the trail.
Here is the GPS track of the hike we did today.
Barr Hammock Preserve - Levy Loop Trail #2 at EveryTrail
I borrowed (stole!) this picture from Karen’s Blog at “Rving: The USA Is Our Big Backyard”. Julie and I bought a Heartland Edge trailer a few years ago and that is what we use when camping. We’ve never seen another one in a campground during our travels  So, when reading blogs this morning I was surprised to see this picture of an Edge. I guess when the wheels or axles wear out, we can just plop it on a flatbed truck and continue on.
Our Future?                                                                      Our current look, but I guess wheels are optional!