Cedar Key Cemetery

How can I be expected to ride my bike past a cemetery without stopping? Especially a cemetery with graves from the 1800s.

IMG_7118So less than a half mile from the Cedar Key Museum State Park, the start of a bike ride around the three keys that make up Cedar Key, I’d stopped riding and started walking through the cemetery looking for interesting markers under the oaks.

I read the markers of the young children and babies curious about their short lives.

I searched for tombstones from the 1800s and found a few, as well as interesting markers like the large anchor and one elaborately decorated with doves. And I who are the families with the fenced areas in the cemetery?

I could have spent much longer, but this was a day for a bike ride. A long cemetery visit will have to wait for another day.

Biking Cedar Key

When looking for a different place for a bike ride, I discovered a post on the Bike Florida website with their list of Florida’s Top 10 bike rides. Listed as the best small town bike ride was Cedar Key. The site offered a list of things to see along a thirteen mile path through the area’s three keys.

We started at the Cedar Key Museum State Park, a perfect place to park, touring the grounds before our ride.

IMG_7118Of course, I had to stop at the historic Cedar Key cemetery and bordering the cemetery is Cemetery Point Park with a boardwalk providing views of the salt marsh.

Back on the bikes, we rode on the bike path and streets along the water and through neighborhoods eventually ending up at the airport where you could take a short flight for $25 per person.

IMG_7127While at the airport a man and two children boarded one of the small planes for a flight over the islands. I’m not sure I’d have wanted to be the pilot since the boy kept saying he didn’t want to get in the plane or go flying. I wonder if he screamed and cried the whole time they were in the air.

We hit most of the suggested destinations on the Bike Florida guide…Beachside, Main Street, Dock Street, the Town of Cedar Key. Of course, no ride would be complete without a stop at a restaurant so we ate at Tony’s, home of World Famous Clam Chowder, and then walked along Main Street before riding back to the museum.

Since we didn’t bike the Suwanee River portion, our ride fell short of the thirteen miles listed, but we’ve already made plans for a return visit.

Celebrate Florida

magThe arrival of Florida Travel + Life magazine inspired lots of reading and reminiscing about previous travel throughout the state. This month’s edition focused on the 500th Anniversary of the founding of Florida and it motivated me to make plans to visit sites in the state that I’ve overlooked and revisit places I haven’t been for years.

What a great way to spend a cold, holiday weekend. We gathered all the Florida books we could find in the house…I was amazed at how many we own. Then we started reading. We recalled previous trips and started planning future ones.

books

The best find of the weekend was the WPA Guide to Florida. I haven’t read this book for years. It’s a Federal Writer’s Project Guide to Florida in the 1930s, but this is the revised, 1985 edition, with an introduction written by John’s dad. The first portion of the book provides information about Florida’s background with articles about the culture, history, and folklore of the state. Part two highlights the “principal” cities, but the real treasure lies in the final section called “The Florida Loop”. Detailed descriptions of twenty-two tours round out this final part of the book. Tours cross every region of the state and provide a terrific travel plan for exploring all of Florida.

Tour 6 starts in Thomasville, Georgia with stops in Monticello, Williston, Brooksville, Tarpon Springs, Clearwater, ending in St. Petersburg. While we would look at this as a single day’s drive, the tour provides details on must-see spots in each of the stops along the path. From the introduction:

The real heart of Florida, and thus the real heart of the guide, is in the countryside and the hundreds of little towns described in Part Three, “The Florida Loop”. Here is a series of toursĀ  from town to town, crisscrossing the state following the old highway routes, many of which retrace Spanish and Indian trails.

Here in the innumerable asides, interruptions, verbal stopovers, side glances down silent, infrequently traveled roads, we hear whispers of adventures long forgotten, of mystery and magic, of earlier scandals and misdemeanors, or fears and hopes, and of minor tragedies and, sometimes, huge successes.

We are warned to watch out for redbugs, snakes, and gnats and not to eat poisonous plants. We are told of speed laws and somewhat reproachfully informed that some motorists habitually drive faster than the 45 mph than legally allowed. – John I. McCollum

wpaThe highlight for me, Tour 3, FernandinaBeach to Cedar Key. This tour plots the path we’ll take on our quest for seeing the sunrise over the Atlantic in the morning and the sunset over the Gulf in the evening. We’ll wake in Fernandina and then travel the route detailed through Baldwin, Starke, Gainesville, and finally to Cedar Key in time for the sunset. While I don’t anticipate encountering any cattle on the roadway which the book warns may be a problem near Baldwin, I do plan to look for landmarks and historical places outlined in the tour; and yes, we’ll take SR 13 and US 90 and US 301 as well as the other roads from the tour as we complete this 159.8 mile trek.

After reading this book over the weekend, I’m encouraged to drive many of “The Florida Loops”…looks like a good way to get reacquainted with Florida.