Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Visitors to Cedar Key!!

We've been raving about Cedar Key for over a year now and our friends, Pam and Derrel, from Hamlin, Texas, decided to come out and join us for a long weekend. Derrel,Pam and Bill were all in the Phillipines together in their twenties. They planned the trip several months ago and made reservations at the Low-Key Hideaway, home of the infamous Tiki Bar, where we spend quite a bit of time.  They arrived on Thursday and we drove into Gainesville, where they flew in – it’s just over an hour away and a great little college town. They have a few natural food stores and a couple of vegan-friendly restaurants. We took them to The Jones, Eastside – a little cafĂ© that specializes in fresh, local food and has quite a few options for us plant-based foodies. We had a great lunch and then headed out to the grocery store so they could stock their little kitchen at the motel.

Bill had made a pot of the Crazy, Sexy, Chili we adore and had it on low in the crock pot back at the house, so dinner was a no brainer. This just happens to be our favorite plant-based dish and Bill has made it his own, substituting beer for the water, and a couple of other delicious twists! We took a quick drive around town to let them get the “lay of the land” and then dropped them off to get settled in.

I was so excited I could barely stand it! We have had several of our friends tell us to let them know when we were at some place spectacular and they would come join us. Well, after almost 3 years on the road, this was finally happening. For me, there is nothing better than sharing things with friends – whether it is a meal, a conversation or a place and here we were!
All bundled up! The orange door behind them is their room.
We had a cozy dinner in their room and aside from occasionally wandering in the back, checking out the sunset and enjoying the beautiful night we kind of just huddled in and caught up.

Friday I picked up Pam and we went to yoga, great way to start the day, almost as good as the bloodies that Bill was cooking up for us when we got back!

Maria and Brian had come back to town and were parked right across from us. Maria was set up in her hammock working and Brian was inside becoming increasingly frustrated trying to download some humongous file that kept timing out after many hours. Without too much of a struggle we got Maria to come over and get the day started right!

Last year Maria and Brian had done a tour of the SouthernCross Clam Farm and raved about it. We had always wanted to go check it out – we pass it daily as its right next door to the tiki bar. We thought this might be a fun way to pass the time on a cold, blustery day and something pretty unique to Cedar Key. We fortified ourselves as only this debaucherous crowd could do and walked on over for the 1pm tour. There was another couple that joined us and our tour guide was a fast-talking, passionate, knowledgeable salesman. I can’t even begin to describe to you all of the information he was trying to impart to us with a very specific agenda, once I could catch up! He had given this tour a billion times and was very dramatic and we all looked at each other in amazement because he was quite “fired up” or as Bill said, full of spit and vinegar! It was an interesting tour, especially because clamming is the main industry here.  He was giving a very one-sided picture of how clamming is good for the environment and Bill, having the environmental background that he does, had some problems with a few of the things he was saying. Nobody could get a word in, though, and even when he asked if anyone had any questions, once they were asked, he didn't answer them but just continued on with his rhetoric. I finally couldn't stand in the cold wind anymore and was going to quietly walk away and sit in the sun and wait, when I turned around everyone in the group was following me and leaving him standing there! It was kind of embarrassing, but whatever, enough was enough!
We laughed all the way home and then crashed…resting up for a fun night at the tiki bar. Pam had seen so many of our pictures, months and months of them, all taken right where they were staying and she wanted the “tiki bar experience” so we planned a night of just hanging out and ordering from Island Pizzeria - delivery right to your bar stool.

It was a good night, the gang was all there. Bill had roasted up a few heads of garlic and olive oil, Pam and Derrel had a loaf of bread and some oranges, Heath had brought dozens and dozens of oysters and then he bbq’ed up his venison sausage. Pam and Derrel were amazed and couldn't believe all of the “free” shares. Just part of the tiki bar community, we bring, we share, we laugh and drink. It was a most excellent night and we were even graced with a beautiful sunset.

Saturday we had booked a pontoon boat for the afternoon (through Groupon) and the weather thoughtfully cooperated. Maria and Brian joined us for our “four hour tour”. We basically just drove around the keys and did a lot of bird watching. Maria had brought a huge bag of blue crabs to share, Derrel and Pam picked up some mullet dip and I brought my broccoli, mandarin orange salad along with a ton of other munchies. We had several coolers of beer and off we went. 
Bottom right, Maria is cracking her crabs with the only tool around - an old paddle!
That night we had a campfire at our place and just hung out. Sunday the six of us rode bikes downtown and we had lunch at the Big Deck, where they also had a band playing. Then we wandered over to the Black Dog to sample a few from their fabulous bottled beer collection. We ended the day hanging out at the motel with Maria and Brian's dogs, Ernie and Buddha. I think we had worn Pam & Derrel out by then and we had an early start back to Gainesville in the morning, so we all crashed.

What a fantastic time we all had – and thanks so much, Pam and Derrel, for coming out to play!!
Thanks to Pat, from the Low-Key Hideway, for taking this great shot of the four of us!


  1. Awesome post and glad to hear that Pam & Derrel enjoyed themselves!!

  2. We also camped in Cedar Key this past weekend and spent some time at the Tiki Bar on Friday and Saturday evening. What a fun place!!

    Too bad we didn't get a chance to meet you. Maybe next time!!