Hi friends. Last summer we took our vacation to Cedar Key Florida located on the west coast.
It is about a 8-9 hour drive from the Florida Keys. We stayed for one week and even brought the dogs along with us. I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I was found amazing. Here are a few blogs I wrote with a ton of pictures of the quaint town.
What I liked about the town.
Beautiful weeping willows everywhere. Palms of all sorts. Lots of trees and greenery.
Clams being sold on the side of the road. 100 little necks for 10 bucks no joke.
The pink roseate spoonbills flying overhead. The 12 blue crabs we caught in 4 hours off of our dock. The storms rolling in over the tidal flats. The enormous scallop shells lying in the water just waiting to be plucked and added to the shell collection. Wanna get around? Do it by bike, foot, or the best option– golf cart. Yes. The island is so small it can be traversed by golf cart in about 15 minutes tops. There are not many tourist attractions. There is dock street of course. A fancy fishing pier where everyone comes together to try to snatch the biggest fish. Along dock street you will find some authentic restaurants, a few touristy restaurants, a few tacky shops selling Cedar Key keepsakes, and a few boat rental places. It’s really small. Probably 1/4 a mile long.
The outer ring of the island leading up to dock street is blue water with gentle waves. The famous honeymoon cottage can be seen. It’s dilapidated stilts are hauntingly beautiful. Once a popular bungalow, now crumbling into the sea bit by bit due to a tropical storm.
Some parts of cedar key are very muddy and brown. It reminds me of the dirty brown water back home on the Eastern shore of Md. It brought back a lot of memories.
The beaches a mixture of tan, white sand littered in oyster shells and rock. Some mud. Depends on what part of the island you are on. I wouldn’t consider it a “beachy” town and that is just fine with me.
A total of area of 2.1 square miles which equals out to 1.4 miles by 1.4 miles, Cedar Key is super small. During the summer the population has about 700 folks. During the winter months it can climb to 1200. I have lived in tourist towns my whole life. Easton Md, Orlando Fl, Key West Fl. I am no stranger to sharing with greedy tourists who use and abuse our beautiful area/home. This place is different though. It’s old Florida. The way Florida used to be. The people who come here aren’t coming to get loaded at Sloppy Joe’s down on Duval Street. They are coming to Cedar Key for peace and quiet. Kayaking. Bird watching. Scallop hunting. Fishing. Eating clams. Air boat rides. A little r and r.
We immediately fell in love with the whole concept of moving north. We made a pro vs con list– The Florida Keys vs Cedar Key. Cedar Key won out every single time. This would mean a few things. Cheaper rent, cheaper gas, cheaper food, access to a big city only 60 minutes away, access to a smaller city 30 minutes away, and of course life on a tiny island. A quiet island. We searched desperately to try to find a lease. There was nothing. We even looked at areas outside of Cedar Key. There are a ton of wildlife preserves and acreage in the area but still couldn’t find anything. We had to put off our dreams and ended up having to sign another lease in the lower keys, when all along our hearts were still up north.
Begrudgingly we have spent the past year here in “paradise” Our animosity towards the whole joint was/is growing by the day. After Thailand we found ourselves asking what is next? What do we do? We aren’t happy here anymore. Why leave paradise you ask? Do you want me to answer that? I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I have had some of the best times of my life here in this place. It’s beautiful. It’s an escape. It’s where the dreamers go. I am a dreamer. I have done and experienced so much here. From sailing 70 miles, to snorkeling with sharks, learning how to powerboat, finding blue crabs, wrestling with 2 pound spider crabs, all the sunsets and sunrises, all the hidden trails. It’s something I will never ever forget. Not to mention the beautiful turquoise, emerald-green, light blue, royal blue shades of water that you are completely surrounded and dumbfounded by. The clear water, the bright white sand, the parrot fish. Oh my. Over the years though our beautiful paradise has started to slip away. Summers that once were sleepy and quiet, where you could make a left hand turn onto US 1 with no problems stopped coming. Lobster mobsters invading our islands, trashing our coral reefs, robbing our precious fisheries, littering our streets, screaming and hollering on work nights. Our precious summers slipped away piece by piece with every year. Don’t get me started on the winters. The nasty entitled snow-birds who think they own the joint even though they live here for 3 months. The traffic, the building of tacky pastel resorts, the drunk tourists, the ever rising costs of rent. Greedy, greedy, greedy people. I know they exist everywhere, but in the Keys it’s blatant.
With all that being said…It’s official. We decided we had to get out of the Keys no matter what it took. Where would we go? Obviously we wanted Cedar Key but there were little to no options. Would we move to the surrounding areas of LALA land in California? I fell in absolute love with the ocean and cliffs and my two very best friends live there. Not to mention my husband’s company is located in LA which would mean a lot more face time with his coworkers and perhaps would lead to more contracts. It was all very up in the air. Well this week we found our answer.
If you haven’t heard or guessed by now it’s Cedar Key! Christopher managed to find a vacation rental house that would be willing to rent yearly. It’s on the north end of the island, furnished, over 1000 square feet, on stilts, and with a view of the bay. Our new landlords made us a great deal and gave us a price even lower than we were expecting. I am excited to be able to purge basically all of our furniture and not having to haul 6 tons of things 9 hours north. We will sell some things, junk some things, and the rest we will pack up along with the furry kids and settle in for a new adventure. Our lease officially begins on December 1st, and our lease here in the Keys ends on December 15th. I want to be out of the Keys ASAP! Wish us luck!
I have made some good friends here and lost some not so good friends here. I know the good ones I will be in touch with forever. You know who you are. <3
I am excited for this next chapter in my life. This move to me signifies lots of things. Change. Not staying stagnant. Not sitting on an island, watching my boat rot, and watching my life drift away. Not staying in a place simply because I was too proud to give up the zip code. The “paradise” zip code. I want to travel. ALL over. I want to continue to get healthy and STAY healthy. I want to grow. I want to experience everything and not be afraid. Who knows what lies ahead for us. California in a year or two? Building a house on a 5 acre piece of property in Cedar Key? Who is to say. I am buckled in and ready for this new ride though.
To the lower Florida Keys-
The old man said to me
Long before these crowded streets
Here stood my dreaming tree
Below it he would sit
For hours at a time
Now progress takes away
What forever took to find
Now he’s falling hard
He feels the falling dark
How he longs to be
Beneath his dreaming tree
Conquered fear to climb
A moment froze in time”
Thanks for the memories.
“And me? I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not some place you can look for. Because it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something. And if you find that moment… It lasts forever”.