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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.