Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Shell Mound County Campground Site #12
Cedar Key, Florida

Up this morning and out running 5 miles for the last time in Manatee Springs.  Seems, I just about get the perfect run route developed by the time we leave.  And off we went but only about 40 miles away to spend some time in Cedar Key without having to drive down and back every day.

We chose the cost saving version of campgrounds in Cedar Key, well not in Cedar Key exactly but much closer than we were. I talked about both campgrounds in my Thursday October 21st post if you want details beyond what you learn here.

Shell Mound Campground is located in the National Wildlife Refuge on the road to Shell Mound which is rather narrow but our 34’ Winnebago had no trouble with it.  Nor did we have trouble with the short campground circlular drive or getting into the site.  We chose site #12 because it was the most level and had a GREAT view. 

It appears most of the campers use tents or pop ups here and the sites are in varying conditions of level.  It is pretty clear from driving in which are tent sites and which could be pop ups and there are probably 4 or 5 that would work for RVs.  We pulled into the site forwards rather than backwards.  And here’s why,

The view out our front windows.  Now if we had a 5th wheel with a picture window, we would have done just the opposite and backed in.  It is a lovely site over looking the water.

Here I sit working on the blog with my lovely view. Notice I'm inside looking out the window at the view, not outside in my chair or at the table and you'll learn why in a bit.

After getting set up, we went as usual, to check out the town.  Since we’d been there previously, we had seen most everything but the beaches and a couple of trails.  First stop, the town beach on 2nd Street

It’s at the corner of 2nd Street and Dock Street, the two commercial streets in town.  It’s a narrow beach all roped off for swimming and not the natural gulf setting that I prefer.

While I was taking these pictures of the beach, David was asking the kayak rental man about places to put in and good kayaks to take.  He, of course, thought the put in right in front of his stand and the trip over to the island was the best so we'll see, based on what the tide charts and weather predictions allow.

We then went in search of the two “secret” beaches marked on a map for us by the chamber of commerce ladies on the 21st.   The town is very small so we had no trouble following the map.  But one suggestion was a narrow strip of sand between the blacktop of the airport road and the water.  No doubt under water at high tide.  And the other, on the other side of the airport runway we could not find at all.  It was to be at the dead end of  133rd Street but the road dead ended into someone’s driveway and No Trespassing Sign.  We looked all around but the area on both sides of the road was wetlands and mud.  No sand, no beach in sight.   Well then………………one tiny beach in the commerical area makes things look a bit different in my eyes.

We scoped out a couple of other kayaking put-ins but decided we probably could not spend a week here let alone the month I had previously imagined.  

By that point we were tired and hungry so back to Winona we went.  We had planned to grille out but when we started to set up, the no-see-ums were impossible and forced us into the house for the remainder of the night.  If you have never had the no-see-um experience you are mighty lucky.  They are tiny biting flies that often live near the water and frequently swarm together in a cloud.  They are less than 1/16th of an inch long and can come in through your screens.  They followed us inside and were bothering us for some time even after we came in.   Here's a picture from the internet of this teeny tiny villain.

Because of the great window views we were able to see the beautiful sunset and went out to try to take some pictures but after only a very few minutes we were being eaten alive.  But the sunset was glorious so here are a couple of pictures I did get.

At that point, our desire to stay near Cedar Key was fading and our trust in the local "recommendations" was tainted.  But we had planned two kayak trips at a minimum that we wanted to do.  One on Monday through the salt marshes adjoining the campground and one on Tuesday to the island recommended,  We decided to shrink our visit in half from 5 days to 2.5 and planned to leave Wednesday morning. 

And then...............
We were awakened at 11pm by an air boat returning and coming in on the dock.  Apparently this dock, of all the many docks in the area,  is the air boat capital.  If you’ve ever been within a quarter mile of an airboat pulling itself onto a trailer, you know that this is a noise like no other.  So much for an early night.

I’m posting this on Monday and must report that the Air Boat fishermen are early risers.  Four of them were setting out with their ear shattering engines beginning at 6 am for the next 40 minutes.  Here is a picture for those of you who have never seen the boat driven by a fan.  Imagine the sound from a fan this size coupled with the engine which drives it.   Ear plugs are no defense I can tell you from experience.

So in sum, I would not recommend the Shell Mound County Campground as anything more than a marvelous view that one has to sit inside to enjoy.   The view is very very good,  the boaters are very bad and the midges are ugly and impossible.

Chock it up to "Experience is the best teacher" and "Live and Learn".   It is and we did.  But we are still going kayaking tomorrow.  :-)

1 comment:

  1. Those sunset pictures are really gorgeous! Glad I can share such beauty with you on this blog! Also glad that "no-see-um" picture was taken from the internet - although, if you had a camera that could take such a close up, that would be amazing. Travel on - I am enjoying keeping up with your adventures :)


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