Wandering Wednesday: Cedar Key, Florida.
I wish I could tell you how long it took to get to certain places. From my house on the east side of Orlando it took us about 7 hours to get to Cedar Key. I believe it is probably less than a 3 hour drive. Such is the life of a meanderer.
You have to want to go to Cedar Key on purpose. It is quirky, natural, a little sleepy and out of the way. The interstate will only take you so far, after that you have a few backroad options for a while depending on the direction from which you are traveling, then it gets narrowed down to one choice. It’s through the woods – beautiful old Florida forests – and a quick pass by a lone store. Then another 20-30 minutes before “civilization.”
This was my first visit here. I had heard about it as being “remote” and “Old Florida” but really didn’t have too many expectations. I imagined a giant island campground feel, but the photos of accommodations betrayed that vision, instead offering brightly painted cabins and hotels. I knew it was on the water – the key part gave that away, also a quick glance at a map – but I wasn’t really expecting any beaches.
It was a puzzle we were excited to put together.
What we experienced was a small town full of friendly residents, most of whom abandoned their professional lives to mete out some sort of living here, just to be here. Or really just to be out of the rat race. I had long conversations with strangers who just up and shared why they were living here now. So many of the reasons appeared to be about escape on the surface but their roots were much deeper. They were choosing quality of life over quantity of stuff.
It’s the great paradox, the more you subtract from your life, the more you seem to have. Time, conversations, relationships, whatever you need. That is true wealth.
So much of Florida’s west coast is like this. Maybe it’s the gulf, lazier and warmer than the ocean of the east coast. Maybe it’s the sunsets, encouraging a peaceful end to each day as opposed to the urgency created by the sunrise on the eastern beaches. I don’t know. I love them both, but the small towns on the west side tug at the part of me that just wants to be. To sit and observe, to notice the incredible abundance surrounding all of us at all times.