One way in and one way out on Florida State Road 24 will bring you to Cedar Key, Florida, a small town four miles out into the Gulf of Mexico. Arriving on a very cold and blustery day in January, I wondered if this is what they meant by tropical breezes. We were dressed for winter!
We stayed at Low-Key Hideaway Motel, RV Resort and Tiki Bar, which is unique to say the least! There were only five motel rooms, each different from the next, and three motorhome sites (we were lucky to have made reservations way in advance). Every room, RV site, and the Tiki Bar were on water’s edge giving you a panoramic view of the fabulous sunsets! The entire décor of the property makes you think you just might see Jimmy Buffet come out and sing “Cheeseburger in Paradise” at any second.
Cedar Key is known for being the largest producer of farm-raised clams in the United States. Knowing this information, and loving clams, my humans’ next stop was Tony’s Seafood Restaurant, to have some of his famous clam chowder. After entering the Clam Chowder cook-off in Newport, N.J. and earning his third consecutive win in 2011, he is now in the “Great Chowder Cook-Off Hall of Fame” and can longer participate in the competition. It was worth every morsel and my humans even bought some frozen to take home with us.
Once we had seen the town and had Tony’s famous clam chowder, we decided to get off the beaten path. We headed back out of town and turned left, onto County Road 347 for six miles to reach Shell Mound State Park. As a dog, this is exactly where I wanted to be! It was the perfect place for hiking, exploring the trails, and sniffing around the 28-foot high oyster shell mound, created thousands of years ago by natives who used them to fortify the mud flats and make the ground more stable.
When entering the state park you might not even notice the sign that says “Shell Mound County Park”, but this place was so interesting that our planned one night stay ended up being five nights! This place was truly off the beaten path and well worth the stay: it truly embodies the backwaters of the Gulf and beginning of the Suwannee River. Yes, I did spell it right; here they spell it Suwannee but you might know it from Stephen Foster’s “Swanee River”.
My family set up our “Wheelhouse” at site #12 right on the waterfront and after having dinner and a campfire we settled in for the night.
I was awakened early the next morning by a sound that my dog brain thought was an airplane headed for us and crashing. Naturally, I jumped up and barked my way to the bedroom window and landed right on the human (who was sound asleep and didn’t appreciate my belly flop)!
This is where I discovered my love for a very strange contraption! It looked like a big rowboat with a huge house fan on it! Now, in my eight years of life I have ridden vehicles of all shapes and sizes, and even a ski lift, but this was the granddaddy of them all! I said, “C’mon dad, get dressed and take me out! We have to go investigate!”
Every day of the week, these amazing airboats are for hire to do fishing day trips. They are so powerful they make birds take flight and waves ripple as they unload. The noise is unbelievable and special ear protection gear has to be worn when nearby them. I was so lucky to be given permission to come aboard and experience the power of riding in one.
Cedar Key, and the surrounding Gulf of Mexico, hold so much to see that you can spend a week there and probably still not see everything there is to see. It is truly a laid back setting where everyone is friendly. I wish we could have stayed even longer but the next adventure awaits me. Safe travels motorhomers!
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