Unlike Florida’s overdeveloped Atlantic coast, the Gulf side of the state from Cedar Key up to and around the Big Bend is sparsely inhabited. Once you get to Dekle Beach, there is no other coastal town until you get into the Panhandle. You can drive for miles and see nothing but the great stands of pine that are the backbone of the timber industry, and if you don’t bump down at least one limerock road and get your car covered in dust then you haven’t really seen this part of the Sunshine State.
I decided to try to photograph the coastal towns before the inevitable happens and the beaches suffer the indignity of the oil spill. I’ve already blogged about Keaton and Dekle Beach. Today’s post features Cedar Key, an island at the western edge of Levy County. Cedar Key is a funky mix of local color, bikers, and the kind of tourist that enjoys simple pleasures like sunsets and fishing. The town comprises a main street with a handful of restaurants/bars and a stand of rental condominiums near the tiny beach. The beach vista is marred by plastic playground equipment and the new pier is an ugly concrete fortification, but remove these and Cedar Key is quaintly picturesque. There is a streak of the eclectic running through town and this collection of disparate stylistic elements might also be said to include the population of cats that lounge around on the docks like furry seaside pashas.
I liked the weathered look of the Old Fenimore Mill condos and their location at the edge of a briny marsh. We walked onto their pier and spoke to people who were filleting that day’s catch of speckled sea trout and sand sharks. It looked like the type of place where you could drink some beer and shoot the shit with your neighbors until long after the sun had sunk from the sky and maybe perfect your filleting skills in the bargain. And maybe a local could tell you how to avoid the nasty bite of an attack crab.