We made the nine-hour drive down from middle Tennessee to Cedar Key on Friday and then drove back home Sunday afternoon/evening. Our party of four (two couples) arrived on Cedar Key at the Island Place, http://www.islandplace-ck.com/home/ around 6 PM on Friday, Oct 8. A month earlier we had made reservations for unit 315, which is a third floor, two-bedroom/two bath condo in a great location. The condo was reasonably priced and nicer than we had expected. Although carrying our luggage up two flights of stairs was not wonderful, the beautiful condo and the great view made us quickly forget the effort.
After most of the luggage was in our condo, I walked the two blocks to Cedar Key Island Hopper, www.cedarkeyislandhopper.com/Welcome.html , and talked with Brian about our boat rental for all day Saturday and Sunday morning. Brian is laid-back and very accommodating/helpful. We rented the 20-foot pontoon boat, which we picked up early and used for 9-10 hours on Saturday and for 4-5 hours on Sunday. The close proximity of the Island Place to the Island Hopper was convenient. As we were coming and going in our boat, it was very easy to pick up and drop off people/equipment at our condo. During the middle of the day on Saturday, we returned to our condo for food, drink and bathroom. For the brief time we were there, we tied the pontoon boat to a pole on the beach. That was nice.
Friday night we ate dinner at the Pickled Pelican (TA restaurant #10), which is above the Black Dog Bar & Tables (TA restaurant #1). Because of its TA rating, we initially went to the Black Dog Bar, but were told that it was just a bar and did not serve food (except pretzels, etc.). (Kinda misleading information from Trip Advisor) At the Black Dog Bar we were advised to try Tony’s Seafood Restaurant (TA restaurant #3). Since we were already on Dock Street, we decided just to go upstairs to the Pickled Pelican and have dinner outside on the balcony, while we looked out on the water. As the sun set, the mosquitoes became problematic, and we migrated inside. The food was O.K., but nothing to get overly excited about.
Saturday morning we were up and ready to go at the butt crack of dawn (favorite expression of our 26 year-old daughter). As some of you shell collectors probably know, this was the best weekend low tides of October. We enjoyed minus low tides at about 9:30 AM Saturday and about 10:20 AM on Sunday. Both days we took our pontoon boat out to Sea Horse Key and had a wonderful time walking the exposed sand/grass flats and poking around the mussel beds. We found lots of nice shells, including olives, baby ears, lightening whelks, pear whelks, true and banded tulips, shark eyes, augers, crown conchs, Florida rock shells, Florida horse conchs, Tampa drills, dove shells, angel wings, heart cockles, prickly cockles, sunray clams, etc. We even found a lucine that is a new species for our collection. It was great to see all the live mollusks. There was no sign of any oil from the spill further west in the Gulf of Mexico. We saw lots of water birds, including brown and white pelicans, ibis, egrets, herons, cormorants, etc. (probably many more, but I am more knowledgeable concerning mollusks than birds).
Saturday evening we enjoyed a nice swim in the pool at the Island Place. Some nice white wine made the pool experience even more enjoyable. Afterwards, we had dinner at Tony’s Seafood Restaurant, http://tonyschowder.com/ (TA Restaurant #3) and enjoyed some excellent clam chowder and other nice entrees. Good choice for dinner!
The Island Place permitted us to have a late check out on Sunday at no additional cost. This enabled us to take showers and pack after a full morning of shell collecting during the low tide. Patti and the other people at the Island Place could not have been more pleasant and helpful.
During our 44 hours on Cedar Key, the weather was wonderful. The sky was light blue, cloudless. The temperatures were in the mid 80’s during the day and in the 60’s at night. The wind was less than five knots so that the Gulf of Mexico was flat as a lake. Even an inexperienced captain like myself had no problem getting around on the water with the small map provided with the boat. Since we enjoy going into shallow water to collect seashells, the pontoon boat was a perfect choice for us.
Although our relatively brief trip to Cedar Key required some driving, the fun and productive time shell collecting made it worth the effort. Traveling with good friends is always fun. We are still cleaning seashells and eating some of Tony’s clam chowder, which we brought home with us. Although we also enjoy spending time on Sanibel Island and in the Florida Keys, we are already planning to return to Cedar Key and will definitely stay at the Island Place again and rent our boat from Island Hopper.Edited: 14 October 2010, 04:23