Monday, January 14, 2013

Atsena Otie Key and back ... and more

Saturday was a great day here at Cedar Key!  It was a day full of activity, friends, and food. My only regret was that Mary wasn't here to share the day with me. But she is in a special place too and doing something special to help people every day in her Red Cross deployment.

My next door neighbors, Tom and Mary Stevens, mentioned on Friday that they were planning to take a kayak trip on Saturday and asked if I'd like to join them. Of course, I was ready! The plan was to kayak across the channel west of Cedar Key to the old island of Atsena Otie. This key was the original site of the settlement that today is named the village of Cedar Key and is located on the next island inland in the chain. Atsena Otie is an interesting island and is today a part of the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge operated by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

This kayak trip wasn't nearly as long as our first trip of the week when we had traveled quite a few miles going all the way around the islands from the RV park back to the RV park coming in on the other side of the watery route. Saturday's trip was maybe five miles, which is a good day on the water. The plan was to leave about half way into the rising tide and to arrive home by about half way through the ebbing tide (a plan that worked well, by the way).

We were able to find the right channels to get out of the mud flats around our RV park and to cross the main channel and skirt the northern side of the island to get to channel no. 2 and go under the bridge which put us on the south side of the island. From there we swung around the southwest corner, paddled up along the town and then crossed to the west to the island of Atsena Otie Key.

Visiting Atsena Otie Key was interesting. There are a few ruins of the original settlement, an old pencil factory, and a cemetary. Trails are in place, beaches are white sand, and it was an enjoyable hour or so with Tom and Mary on the island. While we were there, two young men swam across the channel from the town of Cedar Key. They seemed to have made the trip across in fine fettle. But it also seemed to be dawning on them that now they had to make the swim back across. I assume that they made it since there has been no local news story about two young men being missing or perishing in an effort to swim back from Atsena Otie to Cedar Key. I sure hope everything went well on their trip home.

On the trip back, we were blessed by sighting a pod of dolpins! As we headed out, we noticed a sail boat with its sails down just sitting still in the water and the occupants were staring intently at the water. It was clear that there was no problem and that they were very interested in something going on around them. It was a pod of dolphins they were watching. There were at least three or four of them and we could see the graceful arches of their backs as they swam along the surface of the water, undulating up and down. At one point a pair of them surfaced half way between Mary Stevens and me no more than 15-20 feet away! It was beautiful and delightful! The pod of dolphins stayed in the general area where we were paddling for most of the trip across the channel. In the channel around the islands, Tom was able to help a woman who had been out fishing who had snagged a crab trap in her propeller. She was grateful for the assistance.

If you are wondering where the pictures are, I did not take a camera. When I am on the water, I don't trust myself with Mary's camera, so I just decided to record the scene with my eyes and to enjoy what I could see for the moment. Maybe I'll get a waterproof camera sometime to take on our kayaking excursions. That would be good, wouldn't it?

As we were returning from our outing, someone shouted at me from the dock at Low-Key Hideaway. Even though the motel was closed for the week so the owners could take a cruise, a group had gathered there with the people watching over the property in the owners' absence and they were awaiting the arrival of the spectacular sunset that is one of the features of the area. So, after I brought the kayak back to our camping site, I hoofed it over to Low-Key Hideaway and joined the party.

Just after another beautiful sundown, Clarke Hochwald, his wife Elaine, Pace and Kylie Smith, Cherie Ve Ard and Chris Dunphy came walking up. They were on the way to the Blue Desert Cafe for supper. So Bill and Debbie Kasson and I joined them and walked on up to the cafe. I had heard that service was slow. It was. But the food was good and the companions were fun, so the night was very, very enjoyable. I had a chicken burrito and some cajun shrimp. Mmmm. Tasty. All of it.

We came home just in time for my (almost) nightly call to Mary at 9 p.m. It gives us a chance to touch base on how our days have been and to help ease the loneliness a little bit. I certainly look forward to a few minutes of time together and I know she does too!

Sunday morning, I went into the Cedar Key United Methodist Church and enjoyed worshiping with them.  After that I went down to the Big Deck grill and had a black and blue burger for lunch. It was deliciously messy but I think the blue cheese might have been a little too rich for my system. The rest of the day was spent quietly watching football. I'm sure there will be more from Cedar Key in the days to come. Our month here just about half over and there is a lot yet to experience.


Anonymous said...

I am so jealous! Looks like ou are having a ball. I'm enjoying your stories and the photos are awesome! 4 degrees above zero here in Wisconsin...


Dad said...

Hi Forest, I just discovered your blog via a link on Mali Mish.

We are back in Michigan for a few days, sitting here in rain, fog, 37 degree mush and wishing we were back in Cedar Key.

We will,be back, in Fl at least, in late Feb. hope we cross paths again.

Denny and Sue

Forrest Clark said...

Hi, Denny and Sue! Glad to hear from you. In late Feb., we'll down at Pine Island near Ft. Myers. Give me a holler when you get back down!