Cedar Key is one of those places like Cassadaga that we visit once a year. It’s an isolated island on Florida’s Gulf coast, fifty miles west of Gainesville, just one road in and out, through dense pine forests. Fishing and tourism are the main industries on the island. Years ago, back in the 1800s, Cedar Key was actually located on another island – Atsena Otie Key, which was covered with cedar trees that were used for pencils. Today, that island is abandoned, with just a spooky cemetery and lots of mosquitoes.
Usually, we stay at the Old Fenimore Mill, condos right on the water and salt marsh. But they charge a nonrefundable pet fee and last year, when Noah was still a pup, he chewed up a storm. So this year we decided to try something different – a pet-friendly house on stilts in the woods, on a different part of the island.
At various times over the years, we’ve imagined living on Cedar Key. We’ve looked at real estate, checked into the schools (no longer a factor), done all the things you do when you’re checking out an area. Things never quite worked out, partly because the housing market in Florida took such a precipitous dive. This time as we went in search for our rental house, we noticed so many for sale signs that it looked as if the entire island was up for grabs.
We entered a delightful neighborhood of wooden homes on pilings, with great views of the salt marsh. Our place was at the end of an unpaved road – and had a for sale sign in the front yard. We inquired about the price, too steep for us unless we sold our present house. But what fun we had imagining what would go where, redecorating it in our heads, talking about where all our books would possibly fit, and how much the cats and Noah would like it here. The sunsets were superb, the bird watching fantastic.
On the day we left, we put the key on the counter, just as the owner had asked us to do. Five hours later, Rob got out our house key, tried to fit it into lock. We realized we had left our house key on the counter in Cedar Key and still had the key to the rental. So maybe this story isn’t finished yet!