By Tamara Herchel
What a beautiful weekend in North Florida! Sunny skies, not too humid, a breeze sweeping through periodically to whisk away the occasional mosquito. We stayed close to home this weekend and found ourselves wading through creeks searching for sharks’ teeth, but had we planned ahead for the perfect weather, we’d have headed back to Cedar Key to enjoy some Southern hospitality and the glittering Gulf of Mexico at the Old Fenimore Mill.
First, I must tell you about their amazing staff. Our trek out to the island a few weeks ago started late, and I was frazzled. I called ahead to speak with the property manager, Bob, who calmly assured me that our keys would be tucked safely into a drop-box outside of the office and to take our time. He was so welcoming and flexible, I knew right away we’d be taken good care of, and we hadn’t even arrived yet!
When we finally arrived, we found our keys right where Bob promised they’d be, and we made our way to our home-away-from-home. As a vacation condominium complex, the Old Fenimore Mill offers units in all sizes, all luxuriously decorated by their individual owners and all fully stocked! Our unit, 1-B, was a spacious one-bedroom with double doors leading onto a balcony the overlooked the Gulf of Mexico; stepping through those doors was like stepping onto the back deck of a cruise ship! Miles of deep blue water stretched out before me. Directly below our unit was a sandy beachfront, and we could smell salty sea air and hear water lapping lazily at the shore, and the distant calls of seagulls. My lingering frazzle was swept away by the sea breeze.
As we settled in, the phone rang and I answered to a warm welcome by the unit’s owner and, in true Cedar Key fashion, we quickly became friends as she explained how she found the Old Fenimore Mill- and more specifically, her unit- when they were still under construction. She’d climbed a ladder to take in the view I was now enjoying comfortably from a bar-height deck chair, and knew then it had to be hers! We chatted a few more minutes before Tiny Child and I set out on a 30-second walk to the waterfront for some splashing and shell-collecting. As the sun set, we gathered Hungry Husband and headed to the Pickled Pelican for dinner.
We have a Pickled Pelican in Gainesville, but I have to say it’s across town and thus feels “too far” to travel for a weeknight meal. We were delighted to try their original location, and were not disappointed! We chose a table outside and loaded up on fresh grouper and crab cake sammies, both served with their house-made chips and tartar and cocktail sauces on the side. Their menu featured several bottled beers and we toasted the evening with Red Stripe and an Orange Blossom Pilsner for me (I heart Florida beers!) After we filled our tummies, we strolled along Dock Street, watched some fishermen *almost* reel in a shark, and were almost ready to turn in when the sound of live music tempted us to Steamers.
We took a table near the band and Thirsty Husband ponied up to the bar while Tiny Child and I perused the dessert menu. The guitar-strumming duo up front raised their glasses and announced that whoever hadn’t yet had three shots should raise their hand for the waitresses to come around and Tiny Child readily complied! They paused, and then commented, “if you have a crayon in your hand, you cannot participate…. You either, Mom, if you’re driving!” And as I turned a lovely shade of red to match the Crayola in Millie’s hand, I realized it had happened… I had a baby… in a bar. Rather than skulk away, though, I embraced the situation and me and my young’un had a wonderful evening dancing the night away (and I am happy to report that after the band saw that I was accompanied by my hubby, I relaxed and enjoyed my cocktail without further heckling!)
Our tired feet breathed sighs of relief when we finally made our way back to the condo and stepped onto the cool tile floor. We climbed into our comfy queen-sized bed and drifted into a dreamy sleep that only a laid-back island town like Cedar Key can induce. We awoke the next morning to find a chill in the air, but that didn’t stop us from plunging into the heated pool- just the right temp to enjoy a swim year-round! Overall, it was a relaxing stay, made even more so by the great folks helping us out along the way. Head to Cedar Key and enjoy some Southern hospitality for your ownselves!