In 2014, loggerhead turtle nest numbers remained high and leatherback turtle nesting reached a new record in the state according to FWC research scientists.
“Sea turtles face many important threats at sea and on land, which need to be addressed for the recovery of these charismatic and endangered species, but the results of the 2014 nesting season in Florida are encouraging and provide a positive outlook for the future”, said Dr. Simona Ceriani, FWC research scientist.
Last summer, Russ and I left Cedar Key for a month to walk the Way of St. James in Portugal and Spain. It was the sixth time we had gone to walk part of the trail. In Episode 1, I talked about that most recent hike. In Episode 2, I described what the Camino is and how we prepared to hike it. This time, I will talk a bit about what it is like to be on the trail.
Life on the Trail
Accommodations are abundant. For $15 to $20 a night, we can choose an albergue (hostel) providing a bunk, shared bathrooms and showers, a common room, a kitchen, often a shared dinner and breakfast, and splendid camaraderie.
Because they also provide snoring and night-time trips by many of your roommates to remote restrooms, we often opt for small boarding house style accommodations with more privacy. Those cost $40 to $50 for two people, sometimes with a private bathroom and a meal or two.
Despite having to climb hills with our flat-lander legs, the trail is beautiful to us. We walk on Roman bridges, alongside rivers and canals, climb forested mountains, watch sheep and horses, listen to birds calling “cuckoo” to us, cross through rolling fields of wheat blowing in gentle (and not so gentle) breezes, and poke into abandoned stone buildings in medieval towns. On the flip side, it sometimes rains. The mud in France on our first hike stuck to my shoes. They got so heavy I could barely pick up my feet. But I only cried a little. And, in 2013, we had sleet and snow . . . in mid-May. Looking back on it, living with the weather is part of the adventure. It does not always feel that way in real time, however.
There is only one real rule on the Camino. If you want to get a “Compostela,” a certificate of completion from the Pilgrim Office in Santiago, you must walk the final 100 kilometers (62 miles) or bike the final 200.
So, back to the original question . . . Why do it?
We walk the Camino for the beauty of it, for the people we meet, and the challenge to our bodies. We do it because we can, and maybe next year we won’t be able to.
Oh yes, and we do it for the bragging rights.
Peg Rooney Hall lives in Cedar Key and Gainesville. She is on the Board of the Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys NWRs and chair of its communications team. She is co-author, with her husband Russell J Hall, of Second Wind on the Way of Saint James: A Novel and The Summer of a Thousand Cheeses. Their blog is www.caminodreaming.net. They will teach “Hiking the Camino” for the Santa Fe College Community Education in February. If there is interest in such a class in Cedar Key, they would be happy to offer it.
Last evening, Monday, October 20, 2014, at 5:01pm and 6:00pm, two meetings, led by Vice-Mayor Sue Colson, sought public comment from locals about how they would like to see Cedar Key’s public parks improved. More than a dozen individuals came to the Cedar Key Community Center to take part in the brainstorming session.
Colson is seeking two $50,000 Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FDRAP) grants, one for Cemetery Point Park and one for City Park on Second Street. Grant writer Fred Fox, with whom the City of Cedar Key has successfully worked in the past, will be hired to write and administer the grants for a percentage of the grants, leaving approximately $46,000 from each with which to upgrade the parks.
After further discussion, the group ranked ideas as follows: first, expand the walking trails; second, increase native vegetation and shade trees. In third place, three items ranked equally: a kayak ramp, a telescope, and covered seating.
After further discussion, the group ranked ideas as follows: first cameras; second, additional lighting; third, more shade trees; fourth, more sea grasses; and fifth, new playground pieces.
The meetings concluded at 6:50pm with Colson’s many thanks for the audience’s input.
As noted above, all meetings are open to the public.
October 16, 2014
Each year for the past ten years, the Cedar Key Public Library has collected blankets and outerwear for needy homeless people in North Central Florida. These items are distributed to the homeless population by the North Central Florida Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry.
The library again will be a collection point for items needed by the coalition: blankets, jackets, hats, gloves and socks. Items are limited due to limits in storage space, so PLEASE do not donate items other than those listed.
Patrons of the Cedar Key Public Library always have been generous in their donations for this program, and we welcome your donations again this year. Thank you for thinking of those less fortunate who are in need of these items during the winter.
Cedar Key School’s kindergarten, first grade, and fourth grade have won a grant for a multi-age project which will study the life cycle of Painted Lady Butterflies.
Teachers C. Tomlin, J. Sloan, L. Campbell, and K McCain wrote the grant proposal titled Buddies and Butterflies. Countywide, proposals are submitted; they are then judged by the New Innovative Creative Education (NICE) selection committee. Cedar Key School teachers and students won their award, while some other Levy County Schools won grants as well.
Stay tuned for more NICE Painted Lady Butterfly classroom progress!
ATTENTION, ALL EAGLES
NOTICE TO ALL MEMBERS!!
Due to the Seafood Festival we are changing our meeting from October 16, 2014 to October 23, 2014 at 7PM.
That's it. Simply put, the Redfish are all over the fish friendly habitat of Cedar Key, Florida.
Pictured here are the scow and its crew about three miles out of Cedar Key. These photos were captured by Christine Ford.
The scow, built from tools of the era by the Crystal River Boat Builders, is a replica of those that sailed our waters in the mid-1800s. In celebration of the Smithsonian’s The Way We Worked exhibit, the scow arrived in Cedar Key on October 3 and returned to Crystal River on October 5, 2014.
PHOTO by GABBY5
Football season is in full swing, and the 2014-15 hunting season is cranking up. Heck, in Zone A, they’re already into general gun season. But for the rest of us, I’d like to cover some things you should know regarding three hunting seasons that are just around the corner: muzzleloading gun, gray squirrel and the first phase of dove.
Immediately following the close of crossbow season in each zone, the muzzleloading gun season begins. Season dates on private lands run Nov. 22 – Dec. 5 in Zone B, Oct. 18-31 in Zone C and Dec. 6-12 in Zone D.
During muzzleloading gun season, bows and crossbows are also legal methods of taking game on private lands, in addition to muzzleloaders. But on wildlife management areas (WMAs), only muzzleloaders may be used.
The most common types of game to take during muzzleloader season are deer and wild hog. Regarding deer, only bucks that are legal to take in your area may be harvested, and the daily bag limit is two. You can hunt wild hogs year-round on private lands, and there are no bag or size limits.
RIGHT BRAIN – LEFT BRAIN – OR – STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH ME
2015 Old Florida Design Contest Winner – Joni Hoffman
Although innately artistic and always creating something from anything she could find, Joni Hoffman did everything but pursue a formal education in the arts. After several false starts including switchboard operator, certified soil and concrete inspector, and legal secretary, the “uninspired” 27 year old decided to join the Marine Corp and became an Avionics Technician specializing in onboard aircraft electronics. When a back injury put an end to that, she returned to school, initially thinking she was going to pursue graphic design, but instead she was “turned on by numbers” and graduated, cum laude, with a BS in Accounting. Totally left brained lady – right?
Not quite… all the while she had been honing her right-brain skills. As a grade schooler she created a ‘gigantic’ hallway mural (at least in the eyes of a 10 year old), in junior and senior high she enjoyed taking as many electives in art and writing as she could, and over the next 30 years she explored a wide variety of art forms while raising a family and living the military life with her Marine Corp husband, Mike. In truth, she says, art was what grounded and centered her throughout her busy and sometimes chaotic life.
Being “centered” brain-wise is exemplified by Joni’s artwork. Not all artists can make the transition from 2D detail, as was Joni’s predominate art form in the earlier years of her “art career” doing burned and painted wood panels and painted ceramic pieces, to perfectly proportioned 3D wood carvings. Which, by the way, became her award winning passion after her husband made the classic suggestion - “you could do this” following his visit to the Core Sound Decoy Festival in 1999.
Retiring from the military life in 2003 to a home in Ocala, Joni made a trip to Cedar Key with her husband, who had read about the island community in a magazine. Before long they found themselves at the Cedar Keyhole Artist Co-op. As Joni browsed the gallery, her husband, a “yacker,” began a conversation with the shop artist that day, Corrine Ryan. By the time she rejoined Mike, “impressed with the artwork she had seen,” he had arranged for her to bring in her carvings for review by the Co-op. Since joining the group, Joni’s artwork has continued to evolve with more impressionistic wood creations of wildlife and artistic renditions of her poetry, but it was not until this past spring that she discovered Zentangle.
Crossing the Number 4 Bridge onto the island, looking out over the oyster bars and black needlerush to clouds reflected in glass-flat water, I have to wonder why on earth any of us ever leave Cedar Key.
Nevertheless, we did leave this summer, to walk 175 miles of the Way of Saint James (called El Camino de Santiago in Spanish) in Portugal and Spain. And, this was the sixth time my husband Russ and I left to hike parts of the Camino. “Why on earth?” surely is an appropriate question.
This year’s hike was on the Portuguese Route of the Camino. We gave up a month in Cedar Key for rivers, oceans, bridges, fields, woods, mountains, seafood, wine, sunshine, rain, birds, frogs, lizards, sheep, goats, Aussies, Spaniards, Texans, Czechs, eucalyptus, slickrock and mud.
Lisbon, our point of arrival in Portugal, was beautiful. Well, beautiful until I encountered a pickpocket and lost a bunch of money. I saw him outside the food market when I went in. I saw him behind me as I walked away. I turned and smiled at him. He smiled back, which was appropriate as since he had all my money. But, bless his little thief heart, he put my wallet back in my bag with only cash missing. I still had my credit card and passport.
Things got much better after that. We began our hike from Porto, a short train ride north of Lisbon. The first evening, after a day of level, cobblestone trails through villages and farm lands, we stayed in a renovated 18th century monastery with beds for 50 people. We shared the building with a Czech woman, Janna. We each had a room with three cots and three double windows overlooking the grounds, chapel, and distant fields. The shared toilet and shower room was at the far end of the long hallway with only vacant rooms opening to it.
In the cool morning sunshine of the next day, we left with Janna still behind her closed door. We walked, again on cobblestone trails, through fields of wildflowers and wheat. The owner of the café-bar, where we had breakfast in a village after an hour on the trail, was from Rhodesia. She was eager to speak English. Over fresh-made pastry and café con leche we learned about her emigration to Portugal.
By afternoon, following a second sunny day of flat-land walking, we were settled into a small B&B with Portuguese speaking innkeepers, a private suite with our own bathroom, antique wooden winemaking equipment scattered about the yard and house, a huge flower garden, and a homemade breakfast. When I asked what we owed them and he replied 35 euros (about $50), I assumed I misunderstood and asked again. He thought I meant it was too much.
The next evening found us in a small city with a lively plaza. When we came out of our restaurant after diner, bands were playing and the townsfolk were dancing in the square. No special occasion . . . just a weekend.
Ah, but it does rain on you when you commit to a three-week, outdoor trip. Ponchos deployed, the next day we walked forever, smelling the fresh wet soil and anticipating arrival at Casa Fernanda, reputed to be the best albergue (hostel) in Portugal. It popped up on us unexpectedly in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a vegetable garden.
We were glad to be there. The kitchen in the main house seated 18 at the dining table. The outdoor, open-air living room had chairs and tables under a roof. In the rain, we sat around with the other hikers. Janna had caught up to us and was there. We met a young Finnish woman, a Slovenian, and a Pole, a self-described second-generation Texas hippie from Terlingua, and four Italian women hiking together. This group became our “hiking pod.” We kept meeting up with them in cafes and other lodgings.
The bunk house had one room with 16 cots and a bathroom, and one room with a double bed and bathroom. Being the only married couple there that night . . . thank you, Universe . . . we were assigned the private room. Lunch, dinner, singing, guitar-playing by Janna, folk dancing by our hosts, story-telling in four languages later, Fernanda and her husband requested that we pay “whatever you want to give.” If they had said 30 euros we would have paid, but since they didn’t, we paid 50.
We hiked for 15 more days, two of them in a steady downpour, two in ponchos part of the day, and 11 in the cool sunshine . . . near perfect. Of course, the biggest hill and the only one with slick rock appeared in the steady rain. I could hardly believe we weren’t miserable. But the woods were so pretty in the rain that it was joyous, like being at camp when I was a kid.
Seafood is king in Portugal and the Province of Galicia of Spain where we walked. Razor clams were my favorite, especially combined with Padron peppers. The peppers of Padron are served roasted in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. You get a whole plate of them, each about the size and color of a jalapeno. They are sweet and mild . . . usually. Occasionally they are hot. The excitement is that you never know; roulette on a plate.
The last few days of our hike were along the coastline in Spain. The sun was bright. The water was rich blue. We stayed in quaint, old, stone inns run by couples welcoming us into their villages and history. It was spectacular.
Is all of that beauty enough to make us, and many others, return to hike the Camino several times? What is the Camino? When we decided to give it a try, how did we prepare? I will try to tell you in Episode 2 of this little series.
Peg Rooney Hall lives in Cedar Key and Gainesville. She is on the Board of the Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys NWRs and chair of its communications team. She is co-author, with her husband Russell J Hall, of Second Wind on the Way of Saint James: A Novel and The Summer of a Thousand Cheeses. Their blog is www.caminodreaming.net. In November, they will teach “Hiking the Camino” for the Santa Fe College Community Education.