Big Cypress and The Chaz

From the forgotten coast to “Madagascar,” a.k.a. Suwannee River, for our next campsite. That evening I attempt to turn polenta into grits, for shrimp and grits. Don’t try this, it was a failure and no one is ever that desperate for shrimp and grits. On the bright side, a few of the sites furry residents kept me company while cooking. The next morning we launch the canoe and paddle board into a fog laden river and follow the pitch black water meandering through the cypress. Nothing catches my eyes at first and we continue to enjoy the solitude and nature. Suddenly, the cypress change and as if tended by giants go from an average 6 foot diameter base to 14 foot base and up. The largest one has around a 50 foot circumference. This is definitely worth lingering in as the fog lifts and exposes more of these colossal trees. We take a few pictures and I start noticing line tangled in some branches so we collect that as well. Also, beware of jumping sturgeon. These ancient armor plated fish can reach up to five feet and no one wants to take that to the face.


Next stop? Cedar Key. I’ve never heard of this either and would have guessed that it was down south with the other fun keys. A few notable things about this town: everyone gets around on decked out golf carts, the best place to grab breakfast is the Daily Grind and everything else you could ever need can be found at Bonish Studio. Ammo? Bonish. Whiskey? Bonish. Good conversation? Bonish. Our night was filled with exploring new whiskey’s and trading stories of travels. The next morning we visited Holey Moley Donuts which offered flavors like s’mores, almond joy and cookies and cream. We grabbed a few to get us by on our 100 foot walk to breakfast  at the Daily Grind where I was greeted by a smile, coffee and the most delicious breakfast menu out there. Some items included were: scotch egg, shrimp and crab crepe and oatmeal loaded with nuts and berries. The two cooks used to be vegan and then I suppose rediscovered bacon and never looked back. It shows in a lot of their menu items like chocolate covered bacon coated cheesecake on a stick, a little something for everyone.

We leave Cedar Key and head to the Chaz. At this point we remember it’s a holiday weekend and so far we have been going from place to place without a reservation. We cross our fingers as we call places asking about campground availability and are met with an awkward silence, a little laughter and then a polite no. We luck out and find a spot still available at Chassahowitzka (see why I called it the Chaz?). To make up for the failed shrimp and grits I make ceviche with local gulf shrimp and an heirloom tomato and avocado salad, all local as well. That night, as I go to brush my teeth, my head is savagely attacked by some mysterious animal. Surprisingly, it’s a rather stunning animal that doesn’t even have a mouth and has decided to become my new best friend. The Luna moth only lives for about 2-3 days as a moth and has the sole purpose of mating in that time. We let him keep us company for a few minutes then put him in a tree and tucked ourselves in bed.


The next morning we attempt to launch from weeki wachee and after passing a quarter mile line of people we realize this may not be a possibility. But we don’t give up that easily, on to the next launch site! This time, a woman laughs at us and suggests we go bowling. Next location? Quarter mile line to the parking lot. We go back to the campground to salvage this day. And we do. The paddle includes gators, otters and baby manatees. Desperate to get away from the crowds of people we decide to head inland and look for the next spot of crystal clear water.

Diving boots, pajama pants and not my shirt…

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