CEDAR KEY FLORIDA – JACQUI’S BOATING EXPERIENCE – WILL THEY ALLOW US BACK?

Deck at Harbor Master Inn Over the Cedar Key Bay Enjoying a Cohiba and a glass of Chianti wine

Jacqui and Max Fly just returned from a short vacation in Cedar Key, Florida, named after the Eastern Red Cedar trees that once were abundant in the area until they started using them to make pencils. In fact, from 1866 until the early 1900’s, Cedar Key was a major center for pencil manufacturing.

We posted some of the great pictures we took so you would have an idea of how idyllic the area is. Kids would be bored after about 5 minutes time spent on the key and that is one of its enduring features. They built this Key for fishing and that’s just what they do.

And restaurants? Well, let me say this, the drinks are good and the establishments open and close when they darn well please. Immediately to the left and across the water from the room we stayed in, is the back deck of the Black Dog Beer-Wine-Cigar Bar. As I was sitting on the deck, enjoying my morning coffee and watching the dolphins swimming about in a feeding frenzy, the guy who owns the bar stepped out on his deck for a smoke and I started up a conversation with him.

Black Dog Beer-Wine-Cigar Bar

“You normally won’t catch me up at this time of day, but I have some work I’m finishing up inside and I wanted to get it done,” he told me.

I asked him if his place was open now. The last time we were in Cedar Key it wasn’t.

“Yeah, it’s open, stop by between 4:30 or 5:00ish.”

Back Deck of the Black Dog Beer-Wine-Cigar Bar

We found out that all restaurants and bars on the key operate on “ish” time, or according to Jimmy Buffet, they are on island time. In fact, our bartender at Steamers said that most of these guys don’t even open the next day if they brought in enough money the previous night. They don’t care about the money, it’s the fish.

We stayed in the Harbor Master Inn, a place that features rooms built over the Cedar Key Bay. We were virtually surrounded by water with windows that gave us a fantastic view of the sunrise. When we sat outside on the deck, we were virtually over the water and the launching area for all the boats was right next to us so we were able to watch all the fishing boats as they came and went each day.

As mentioned, Cedar Key is a small fishing village. The population is about 750 people and all the residents know each other. By the time we left, they all knew Jacqui as well.

While there we rented a pontoon boat for a day. I thought I finally found a place where Jacqui could drive without having to worry about hitting something – the ocean; however, I was soon to find out that wasn’t so, as she barely missed a couple of the channel markers before getting hung up in some crab traps in a restricted area of Cedar Key Bay. We knew it was a restricted area because the guy standing on his deck, blowing a whistle and yelling at Jacqui to get out of there, let us know so – in a not too friendly voice, I might add.

The lovely Jacqui Hesse, a Pirate’s Mistress
Former Pirate Captain Max Fly

 We were in about 1.5 feet of water. We knew that because of the map of Cedar Key Bay, that the boat rental people kindly provided, indicated this. The problem was,  Jacqui ignored the map.

It was at this moment that she relinquished her captainship to Ol’ Max Fly, noted Private Eye and an old sea captain in his younger days. After trimming the motor and jockeying around all the crab traps, he was able to get the boat into the deeper water and out of shooting range of the irate man on his deck.

Big Deck Bar & Grill

 

Big Deck Coconuts

After our sea adventure, we needed some refreshment and Max decided to treat his lady to some island drinks at the Big Deck, a little bar and grill across the street from the Harbor Master Inn. The Big Deck features a picture of two big coconuts in a bikini top painted on the ceiling over the bar. It was placed there for all the old salty dogs who fall off their bar stools.

We spent the evening jawing with some of the locals, who still hadn’t heard about Jacqui’s little seafaring misadventure. Evidently, rumors don’t travel fast on Cedar Key.

 

Federal Public Lands Under Assault

You may not be aware of this, but you own six hundred and forty million acres of land in the western United States, which is about one-fifth the land area of the U.S. It is managed by the Forest Service, The Bureau of Land Management and the National Parks Service, all part of the Department of Interior established in 1849, as the fourth cabinet of our federal government.
It has a spotted past of corruption dating back to the 1870’s when then Secretary Columbus Delano, a relative to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was forced to resign due to incompetence, nepotism and other shady deals, such as paying non-existent employees salaries. He was convicted of taking bribes for fraudulent land grants and was forced to resign from office. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Granted, for the most part, in my opinion, I feel the Department of Interior does a very poor job as many employees succumb to the temptation of wine, women and song and a lot, I mean a lot of corrupt money that is put in front of them by special interest groups, mainly, mining and forestry concerns, and of course the cattlemen’s association, but the Department is a necessary evil. It just needs fixing.
What is on this land you own is worth a great deal of money and the money grubbers are always trying to find ways to grab it and they are getting close to doing so unless every American voice their concern and stop what some are trying to accomplish.
There is a movement afoot in the swamp of Washington D. C. to transfer these federal lands to state and local government. At first blush, one might think this is a good idea but if you stop and think about it for a moment, you just might come to a different conclusion. Notice what is written above, this land is located in the western United States, where most of these special interest groups who have been lusting for a piece of our national treasure, thrive.
Recreational land users, such as hikers, bikers, campers and horsemen and women, are worried, and rightfully so. In the last issue of Back Country Horsemen of America, they dedicated two pages to the assault on Federal Public Lands and as an organization is pushing against selling off federal lands to the states.
If you aren’t aware of what has been going on in Washington regarding this, perhaps you might want to find out.
A group named, Federal Land Action Group, organized by two Utah congressmen, are identifying ways Congress could push a transfer of lands to state and local governments.
This past January, Jason Chaffetz, another one from Utah, introduced House Resolution, H.R.621, calling for the sale of 3.3 million acres of land in 10 western states. Luckily, conservation and sportsmen’s groups went ballistic and Mr. Chaffetz rescinded his bill in just over a week, proving that this type of outrage by the public is what is needed to keep the swamp in line.
But it isn’t over yet. Rob Bishop, another Utah Representative, requested that $50 million be set aside to account for the costs of transferring federal land to states or local governments. So far, there has been no response from the House Budget Committee, but I think you are beginning to get the picture.
Then there is H.R. 232, State and National Forest Management Act of 2017, introduced by Don Young of Alaska to both the House Committees on Natural Resources and on Agriculture to authorize States to select and acquire certain National Forest System lands to be managed and operated by the State for timber production and other purposes under the laws of the State.
Then in February, in the State House of Representatives in Oregon House Bill 2365 was introduced to establish a task force to study the feasibility of transferring federally managed lands to the State of Oregon.
As bad as the Department of Interior is, I think this transfer of lands that some are attempting is a terrible idea. I believe our federal public lands should remain federally owned and if you are like minded, you must tell your elected officials exactly how you feel. We may have won a battle or two but the war wages on and there are politicians whose palms are being greased with some serious money and we all know how politicians react to money.