One of my last stops on the Gulf coast of Florida was Cedar Key. I had picked up copy of Doug Alderson's book, Waters Less Traveled earlier in the winter and was curious about the area he describes. Cedar Key is actually at the southeast end of the coast he writes about and would be a good jumping off point. Doug may be better known to paddlers for his books on Vancouver Island as well as his Savvy Paddler and Rescue and Safety the latter written together with Michael Pardy.
Unfortunately for me, I was beginning to feel the effects of being on the road too long and I didn't give Cedar Key a fair chance to show itself off. The town itself is artistic, quirky and fun - like some very cool electric mini-cars for getting about - as these photos suggest. There are numerous offshore islands to explore and as I mentioned, one can easily head north and west along the shallow coastline and discover the seagrass shallows and marshes that stretch 'round the bend' of Florida. There is a paddling trail in this area, all set up with camping spots and so on. Permission to camp is required, which can discourage the spontaneous paddler like me. Check out the Florida Fish and Wildlife site for details if this interests you. I think had I not been a solo paddler, I might have gone to the trouble of getting a permit in advance of leaving. The area has lots of paddling appeal for many reasons.
While I was there the tides were extremely low during the day and the winds were high. The results were extensive mud-flats nearly everywhere and beside the town dock, short, steep waves dumping on the only available launching beach. Both these factors discouraged me from getting out on the water for any serious paddling. The $10 launch fee at the town dock didn't help either, although I found a free site nearby just as I was leaving. I'll know more next time! On the positive side, camping was cheap and friendly. One night we were all entertained by a very professional bluegrass group in the camp clubhouse by a huge fire-place. Nice!