Florida Keys

Florida Keys
Florida Keys September 2014

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A weekend at Low Key Hideaway in Cedar Key


Location: Cedar Key, Fl

Date: 10/25/2013 – 10/27/2013

A few months ago we were looking for a weekend getaway location where we could camp with our RV and our daughters could stay in a little more comfort but still be close by. Last spring we camped in Cedar Key, but were not able to get into one of the Low Key Hideaway’s RV sites because they were full. So, we stayed next door at the Sunset Isle RV park. This time we did a better job of planning ahead and were able to get two motel rooms and an RV site at Low Key Hideaway.

Low Key Hideaway is in a beautiful location on one of the keys leading into the big town of Cedar Key. It’s right on the water where you can sit on one of their decks or venture out onto their dock to take in the beautiful scenery, One of their decks was about 15 feet behind our camper and we spent a lot of time hanging out there with our family. We all found it very relaxing. 

Although Julie and I didn’t stay in the motel room, we did check out our kids rooms (4 & 5) and found them very nice and comfortable. The owners of Low Key, Pat and Cindy, have a very “interesting” way of decorating and it works well. The room and surrounding gardens have an eclectic collection of “things” and there’s pieces to look at and take in everywhere, including the wall of super hero figurines. The rooms also have an amazing collection of photos from areas around Cedar Key and I believe they were all taken by Pat.

It’s also interesting to visit the on-site Tiki bar which is open most every day from later afternoon into the evening. The Tiki bar is a fun place to have a few drinks and intermingle with others staying at Low Key as well as many of the locals who stop by. The Friday night that we were there, one lady was cooking food on the grill and then bringing it in to share with everyone in the bar. The Tiki bar definitely has a good vibe.

One of the bonuses of staying in Cedar Key was the night sky. Julie and I like to take in the stars and “try” to identify planets, constellations, etc. Cedar Key, being far away from any city lights, had some amazing star gazing. The nights we were there had extremely clear skies and we hadn’t see anything like that in a long time. The milky way was very easy to see and we had a great time taking in the heavens above.

Just a note about Low Key Hideaway. It is an adult only motel and RV park. So, only those that are over 21 can stay here. But they do allow well behaved pets!  So, bringing Fido is ok.

Here’s the front of Low Key Hideaway and the pathway leading to the Tiki Bar.



Looking towards the RV sites from the dock.



The Tiki Bar and the dock out to the water.



Me and my two girls enjoying some beautiful weather and Cedar Key surroundings!



My daughter and a college friend posing for a picture on one of Low Key’s decks.



Here’s a picture of my wife and two of her sisters from Colorado enjoying a walk out onto the deck to enjoy the view.



We didn’t do much besides hanging around and enjoying our family time, but we did venture out to Cemetery Point Park to walk on the boardwalk leading through the marsh and wetlands.



The area behind the Low Key Hideaway was prime location for bird watching. This area is very shallow, with mud flats being exposed during low tide. So, this was an area that really attracted a large variety of birds. 



And of course being right on the water allowed us to view some beautiful sunsets.



On Sunday we checked out of our RV site and headed the 60 minute trip back home. We had loaded up our kayaks and brought them to Cedar Key, but it was a little too windy and we were too busy to do any paddling. So, since we got home and unpacked early in the afternoon, we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and get the boats wet. We did our old stand by/go to paddle of the Santa Fe River to River Rise State Park. We usually don’t see any other boats on the water when we do this section of the river, but today we saw about 10 other people out there. I guess we weren’t the only ones who felt the need to get out and get a little exercise!


Here’s a short video of our time on the water today. Most of it shows Julie pulling away from me and leaving me in the dust. She had more paddling enthusiasm than I had today..

Monday, October 14, 2013

A weekend camping trip to Silver Springs State Park


Location: Silver Springs State Park, Ocala, Fl

Date: 10/12 – 10/14/2013

Well, after a five month break because of the hot and humid Florida summers, we finally had nice enough weather to get out and do some camping. With Monday being a holiday for some (Columbus Day) Julie and I decided to take a long weekend camping trip to Silver Springs State Park in Ocala. This is an easy hour drive from our home and we were able to get there, checked in and set up before it got dark on Friday.

This is a Florida State Park that we didn’t know existed until recently. We’ve lived in Gainesville for 30+ years, but had never heard of this park, which is too bad since it is a very nice campground and park. The sites are all very large, level and for the most part well spaced out. Although we don’t have a large RV, this campground is definitely big rig friendly with most of the sites being pull through.

Just in the past few week, Silver Springs State Park joined with the old and now closed Silver Springs Theme Park. So, with your entry fee you can get into both parks. Even though these two parks are adjacent to each other, there is currently no way to get from one park to the other (well unless you canoe or kayak). So, you have to exit one park and drive the few miles to the entrance to the other. The ranger we spoke with said there are plans to link the two parks with a trail or road sometime in the future.

One of the main draws for this park in the Silver River which is a clear spring fed river whose head spring is at the Silver Springs Theme park. The concessioner, who used to rent kayaks and canoes from the campground location has now moved to the theme park location. From here you can also pay $4 per canoe/kayak and launch you own boat. We wish we had brought our kayaks this time, but will definitely camp here again and make sure we bring them.

You can also launch your canoe or kayaks from the Silver River Campground. But be prepared to carry your boat a long way from the parking lot to the river as it is a .6 mile hike between the two.

A nice trip, if you have two vehicles, is to put in at the head spring or at the campground and float down to the Ray Wayside Park (SR 40 E of Silver Springs). This is an easy float down a very nice and scenic river. Julie and I did this trip a few years ago, putting in at the Way Side park, paddling upstream to the head spring and the floating back. The current is not too bad and paddling upstream is definitely doable.

Our camper at site #43 which was a large pull through site. Getting set up Friday evening was almost too easy with no backing into the site and no leveling required.


Silver Springs State Park has a lot of defined hiking trails that wind around this large area of land. Most of these trails a very nice and most do allow biking as well as hiking. We did some off road biking and enjoyed it, that is until we got to some sandy areas that were difficult to peddle through. There were also some areas (very few) that were torn up by wild hogs. It’s amazing how much destruction these animals can do to an area.

All of the trails a well marked and easy to follow. We find this is not always the case in some parks we visit.

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This is the canoe launch on the Silver River. It’s a beautiful launch area, but it is long haul with your gear from the parking lot.


The campground also has a natural history museum (we didn’t check it out) as wells as an old Florida Cracker Village that you can walk around. During the weekends they have volunteers, dressed I period clothes, giving talks about the life in old Florida.

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Here’s a short video of the campground and Silver River



Sunday, October 6, 2013

Barr Hammock Preserve Hike


Date: 10/6/2013

Location: Gainesville, Fl

We’ve hiked the 6+ mile loop trail at Barr Hammock Preserve several times. It was Sunday morning, we didn’t feel like loading up the kayaks for a paddle or going on any long road trip to a park, so we decided to do this hike once again. The weather had been teasing us with a few cooler morning recently, but unfortunately this morning was not one of those and it was a little warm for this walk. We decided to hike this loop going counter clockwise and get the sunny northern part of the trail out of the way first. The southern side is more wooded and shady and would be more comfortable as the day warmed even more.

Being a large wetland, there were many birds to be seen out on the preserve. We also came across several alligators soaking up the warmth of the sun. One large male (about 7+ feet long) caught us off guard as we didn’t see him near the edge of the water, but he saw us and made a mad dash and buried himself in the mud and brush. We also say several mom gators with their small babies and they also dove for cover as we approached.



The entire hike is on an old levee that surrounds the wetlands.




They have added several new covered benches along the trail. There’s now three for four locations where you can sit and take in the scenery.



With so much water around, I’d have thought that we would have seen more snakes, but this is the only one we came across. He (or she) wasn’t too concerned about us and just stayed in this sunny spot as we passed.



We’ve not had any cold weather to cause any color change in all the vegetation, but with all of the fall flowers that were blooming and some of the summer plants dying off, there was some nice colors around.


Here is the GPS track from our hike at Barr Hammock

Barr Hammock Preserve Hike at EveryTrail


And a short YouTube video taken a several spots on the trail