Weeks 21 and 22: St Petersburg and Cedar Key, Florida

St Petersburg

We drove west on Hwy 70 most of the way to the Fort Desoto Park just a little south of St Petersburg. The park sits on a couple of Keys at the far west side of Tampa Bay. I was anxious to explore the area. My former Johnson sisters-in-law all lived in the area for many years. Beth is the only one still in St Petersburg. They are former sisters-in-laws and now current sisters! I am very fond of Beth, Mary and Judy and hope we remain life-long friends. The Bay Area (Tampa Bay, that is) is beautiful, with water everywhere you look. And so many bridges! If you have a bridge phobia this is not the place for you. It’s very crowded too. A little too much so for my taste, at least at this stage of my life.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge from our beach

Sunshine Skyway Bridge from our beach

We weren’t able to get a waterfront site because this is a very popular park for camping. As with all the waterfront sites in Florida parks you need to reserve your site six months in advance. I was happy to get a site here at all! It’s a mile walk or a short drive to get to the two beaches in the park. Both have views of the Bay and the Sunshine Bridge.

One day I went to Passé de Grille on the southern tip of St Petersburg Beach to walk the beach and have lunch. It was a chilly, windy, overcast day so I was bundled up for my walk along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline. Quite frankly, it’s hard to tell the difference between the Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean. Both are vast bodies of water! I went to the Sea Critter Grille for lunch and had a delicious lobster roll.

I met Beth for dinner at the Stillwaters Tavern on Beach Drive. Delicious cocktails and food. Downtown St Petersburg is full of neighborhoods with shops, restaurants, galleries, etc. and bustling with people.

I also met a childhood neighborhood friend that contacted me on Facebook. I hadn’t seen Debbie for at least 25+ years. She and her sister Patsy both live in Florida now. What a great time catching up. And shucks!  I forgot to take photos.  😦

We finally had a beach day. The weather was perfect: about 73 degrees and very little wind. We look a lunch and spent the entire afternoon just sitting watching the water and birds. The seagulls and egrets were very friendly. They stood about 3 feet from us, watching and waiting for food. We’ve been in Florida for six weeks and this was our first beach day. That will tell you a little something about the weather we’ve had since arriving.

Our lunch companion-only about three feet from us

Our lunch companion-only about three feet from us


Our neighbors in the canal behind our campsite

Our neighbors in the canal behind our campsite


On the sunset side of Florida now

On the sunset side of Florida now

Cedar Key

We headed north from St Petersburg about 180 miles to Cedar Key, a place highly recommended by fellow RVers. Cedar Key is a small town with 11 outer islands just south of the Suwannee River National Wildlife Refuge.

We pulled into the Sunset Isle RV park and looked at each other with that “WTF” look on our faces. It was a very small, crowded RV park with rigs parked in every direction. But there we were and there we’d stay.

Sunset Isle RV Park

Sunset Isle RV Park


Colorful Bathhouse

Colorful Bathhouse

So I proceeded to back us into our spot and we started to go through our setup routine when our neighbor said, “Would you like to have some bread pudding with rum sauce?”. Me,”Seriously?” Neighbor, “Yes!”. So we joined two other couples at a small picnic table and ate delicious, just out of the oven, bread pudding with rum sauce. One couple, Mark and Carol, were from Quebec and the other, Steve and Karen (Karen made the pudding) were from Georgia. Wonderful friendly people and only the beginning to what turned out to be a very fun time in Cedar Key. I was very sorry that we weren’t staying longer than three days.

Mark (from Quebec) made walking sticks to sell. What a great past time. He collects the right type of sticks, then removes the outside bark, carves a logo and inserts a stone, if you want one. Even though I already have two aluminum, collapsing walking sticks (as Ralph reminded me), I still had to have one made by Mark. It’s a beauty. I will have some awesome photos and my new walking stick to remember our great time at Cedar Key.

When we were pulling in we were delayed a little by a rig that was at the dump station located right on the road near our campsite. She was blocking the road so we had to wait for her to finish. I was very surprised when an old woman with a cane walked around the corner and apologized for the delay. I asked if she was traveling alone and she was! her rig was at least as long as our rig and she was towing a trailer too! I have thoughts of traveling solo and thought, “If she can do it, I can do it!”

The weather was very chilly; 46 at night and 57-60 during the day. It finally stopped raining and was sunny most of the time. Not exactly the Florida weather we expected, but it’s better than the rain and high humidity we had in Ft Pierce.

The campground has activities everyday and I participated in one that started out as crafts and ended up being a game of charades. It was just us gals and was a hoot! I got to know a few more of the women. A woman named Pat was a teacher from Michigan and a very funny lady. As it turned out, this would not be the last time I would see Pat.

Right next door to our campground was a little Tiki Bar.  I love Tiki Bars for some reason.  Very friendly place indeed!

The Tiki Bar

The Tiki Bar

Cedar Key is a small, funky, colorful, Old Florida town with a very rich history.  Cedar Key was part of the Florida Railroad which was chartered in 1853. Construction began in Fernandina Beach 1855 and the first train arrived in Cedar Key in 1861, a distance of 155.5 miles. The railroad was built so that ships did not have to go around the tip of Florida in order to reach northern ports. When further development of the port was prevented by the local property owners and politicians, a railroad was built to Tampa and Cedar Key began to decline. The last train was in 1932. We learned about the railroad when we were in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island (Our first stop in Florida). Now we were seeing the other end. We went to the small historical museum in town and they had quite a bit of information on the railroad. They even had a conductors uniform on a manikin and Ralph commented on how short it was. That uniform would come up again a little later in the trip.

Welcome to Cedar Key

Welcome to Cedar Key


Local Art

Local Art


Now I know what to do with all the picks I have!

Now I know what to do with all the picks I have!


Local Art

Local Art


Doorway

Doorway


The Florida Railway

The Florida Railway

The city has turned part of the railroad trestle into a nature trail that we hiked as part of a geocash search.

Many RVers geocach and I’ve wanted to try geocaching for a long time. Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity in which participants use a GPS device to hide and seek containers, called geocaches anywhere in the world. There are 2 million geocaches worldwide. A typical cach is a small waterproof container containing a logbook. Containers can hold items for trading, tracking or just viewing. It began in 2000 and the first geocache was placed in Beavercreek, Oregon. You go online to see where the cashes are in your area, enter the GPS coordinates in your phone or GPS and take off for the great outdoors. They are located in places you may not know about or have never been and it’s fun trying to track them down. We were not successful in locating the first one in a small park in Cedar Key. Neither of us was very happy about that! We decided to try the one on the Railroad Trestle Nature Trail. We walked the trail and looked for about 15 minutes and finally gave up. We started back down the trail and I found it stuck in a palm tree. Now we’re batting 500! We’ll probably try it again; at least the easy ones! Go to Geocashing.com to learn more.

Me and my stash...no not that kind...my geostash!

Me and my stash…no not that kind…my geostash!


First Geocashe found

First Geocashe found-can you see it?


Florida State Butterfly The Zebra longwing Heliconius charitonia

Florida State Butterfly spotted on the trail – The Zebra longwing Heliconius charitonia

When visiting “downtown” Cedar Key we went through a few art studios and had lunch at a little donut shop. I stopped in to see the Island Hotel, an historic hotel, and found out they had live music on Wednesday evenings from 7-9 pm. I decided to go the next day and what a wonderful time I had.

The Donut Shop

The Donut Shop

At the Island Hotel I was placed at a table with some locals and ordered my fish tacos and waited for the music to begin.  When the band cameo out I saw Pat from the campground! She was the lead singer with a wonderful sense of humor.  Henry and Brenda were seated next to me and were both born and lived in Cedar Key their entire lives! Henry told me the conductor’s uniform belonged to his grandfather!

The James Band

The James Band


Cedar Key Sunset

Cedar Key Sunset

It’s a very small, beautiful world in Cedar Key!

Next stop Apalachicola.

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