St. Marks, Steinhatchee, and Cedar Key, Florida

Sightings of alligators, bears, and the local artist: Mary Ellen

I arrived in St. Marks thanks to directions from a local at a gas station after about two or three hours lost on the road. It’s once again late at night so I take advantage of the opportunity to sneak into a local campground while the fee collector is off duty. I rise at four thirty (or maybe about ten minutes prior..) to steal a free shower before heading off to St. Marks Wildlife Refugee for the day, arriving before the fee collector returns here as well. If you ever find yourself near the panhandle of Florida and your a nature lover, I highly recommend visiting this refugee. I saw alligators, wild turkeys, a wide array of birds, and even spotted a bear cub crossing the road on my way out. The scenery is beautiful as well.

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If you look closely here you can see the alligator on the sand bar.

Before hitting Cedar Key I drove through Steinhatchee, both recommended to me by Captain Jerry. Steinhatchee was another small marina town. It was quite a bit bigger than Apalachicola however it still kept its small town feel. I didn’t stop or get any pictures in this town, however I mention it here because it is the epitome of southern hospitality. EVERY SINGLE PERSON that I passed said hello and had a huge smile on their face. It was the most welcoming town I have ever visited.

Cedar Key is an artsy-fartsy island not far off the mainland filled with shops, bars, and hotels. There are murals, sculptures, and other art forms plastered all over the island. Most of the population during the day seemed to be middle aged and older folks however more and more people Β in their twenties and thirties emerged for the nightlife. All the bars had live music and outdoor seating. An odd note on this town, it has been seriously invaded with stray cats.

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Before leaving the next morning I happened to meet a local artist who had spent time boondocking in an RV in her past. She told me all about the projects shes worked on, her travels, and gave me a bunch of advice as well as directions to some cool attractions in Homosassa Springs. She was bursting with energy and optimism and was clearly very passionate about her work. I could have stayed and talked with her all day. She was generous enough to give me a bandanna promoting safe tactics for hiking the Rubicon Trail in California. Check out Mary Ellen’s artwork at http://www.flyingfrog.com.

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And from there I began my drive to Homosassa Springs in hopes of finding a giant fishbowl I could climb inside and watch manatees swim around my head.

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