Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cedar Key and Naples

Members of the welcoming committee.

Cedar Key is a neat little town on the central Gulf of Mexico with an old-fashioned main street and lots of good fish.  We stayed at an RV park several miles out but easy access into the town.  At one end of the town is a fishing pier where dozens of pelicans hang out hoping the fishermen will drop some fish or fish parts for them.  You can walk up to them and take pictures at close range. They seem to almost pose for you.....or are they really checking you out to see if you have something to eat?

The town of Cedar Key has several restaurants on the water where you can sit at second floor outdoor tables to enjoy the food and watch a variety of sea birds beg.  They will sit on the rail alongside your table hoping you will throw them a crumb.  When you do, several dozen will swoop down trying to catch a piece.  We didn't see a single piece of food hit the water.  The restaurant asks patrons to not feed the birds and they have even put up nylon wiring in front of the tables to keep the birds away but to no avail.  

Enjoying a drink over the water.

The backside of the restaurant we were sitting in.

The mad dash when a bit of food is tossed out.

The area has kayaking and boat trips but the weather was cool so only the hardy went out.

Enjoying the water.

We rode our bikes all over town which is several keys connected by small bridges.

An old wharf left in the harbor that is a topic for many photographers. 

A view of one of the bays on the keys.

Living on the water.

Cedar Key also has a small airport.  Note the sign above.

We saw several planes land and take off while we rode our bikes along the side street.

This tree was covered with gulls.  They were after berries on the tree and there were clusters of 20-30 birds flapping their wings and fighting for the food.

Historic hotel in Cedar Key.

Yard art in someones yard.

One of the shops/restaurants on main street.

Another view of main street.

While in Cedar Key we had dinner at a funky little restaurant called the Blue Desert Cafe with new found friends, Vic and Kathy Dilling, who are RV travelers from Maryland.  The restaurant only has ten tables and the meals were prepared to order so the eating was slow and easy.  Since it was Valentine's Day it was even nicer to not have to be rushed through our meal. 

The pier with the pelicans.

Note the cat in the road on main street.  There were several of them hanging around and this cat did not move even when a car drove by.

We took the pups for a walk in one of the state parks which is known for a Shell Mound Archaeological Site.  It is the largest remaining shell mound on the central Gulf Coast covering five acres and rising 28 feet tall.  The site was built with the remains of oyster, fish, turtle and deer bones.  It was used to provide a summer breeze and refuge from storm surges.  The Shell Mound is over 6,000 years old and was constructed over a 3,500 year period by unnamed cultures referred to as "Shell Cultures". 

Walking the trail you can see the shells underfoot.
This is a side view showing the soil consists of shells and bones.

Another view of the shell mound.

Plants and grasses grow above the shell strata.

We also spent some time in Naples and enjoyed a wonderful lunch on the Isle of Capri with fellow Rvers, Betty and Dave Wittwer.  While in Naples we visited Marco Island, which I loved, and Sanibel Island which is renowned for its sea shells.  There is also a dog beach near Naples in Bonita Springs so we had to take the pups there several times for an outing.  

Lucy retrieving her frisbee on Bonita Beach.

This was a great dog beach and our two were enjoying themselves along with many other dogs.

Coming on to Sanibel Island.

A view from the beach. 

The beach surface consisted of mostly shells.

There were many strange 'things' washed ashore like this.  It looks almost like an eel skeleton but we think it is some type of plant. It was all over the beach.

More detritus.
The dolphins were out and they are always a captivating site.

This is their hunting area and they were very active.

We have one other cute story to share with you.  During our stay in Waveland, MS, we met Mike and Liz Carrico from Washington.  We were enjoying wine together when they mentioned a wine called Two Buck Chuck sold exclusively at a store called Trader Joe's.  The actual wine name is Charles Shaw and costs only two dollars a bottle on the West Coast.  According to the story, during a blind taste testing of California wines it beat out all the other more well known wines as the favorite overall.  Mike and Liz were kind enough to give us a bottle of Chardonnay and said that they had heard Trader Joe's was expanding to the East coast so we might be able to find a store in Florida.  The wine was delicious so we decided to seek out a store and found there was a Trader Joe's in Naples, in fact, it was the only Trader Joe's in all of Florida.  We drove to the store on Monday morning expecting to get in and out quickly.  When we got there we could barely find a place to park. Trader Joe's also sells fruits and vegetables and other sundry eating items although it is not a full grocery store.  We entered the store and  spent over 15 minutes trying to work our way through the fruit and vegetable section.  There were hundreds of senior citizens everywhere, mulling around, talking on cell phones, talking to each other, blocking the aisles, and just taking their time.  We noticed most of the fruits and vegetables were sold piece meal, e.g., bananas were 19 cents each, 29 cents each for organic.  The store is pricey but has a nice variety of upscale products.  We finally got through the senior roadblock and made it to the wine section and found our wine except that in Florida it is Three Buck Chuck, but still a bargain, and the wine was going fast!  While checking out they told us the store had only opened a week earlier so it was still quite the novelty.  Departing for our car we saw a police officer directing traffic in the parking lot so I guess we got in and out at a fortunate time. 

On to Key West!  Peace to all!

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