Story and Photo contributed by Ken Weyand
When we were staying in Crystal River in 2015, my wife, Karen, and I occasionally drove over to Yankeetown, a quiet community of mostly transplanted Northerners a few miles to the north. Near the end of the highway, the land gives way to coastal marsh, with meandering waterways cutting through grassy flatlands. The road ends at a concrete boat ramp and a nearby small park, where kayakers launch and take out their boats on soft sand.
Beyond the ramp, seemingly floating between water and sky, is a small, unnamed group of three islands, bunched closely together and appearing as one when viewed from the ramp. Depending on the tide, much of the area between the islands and the ramp is either a barely submerged mud flat fit for shorebirds or a watery haven for brown pelicans, cormorants, and other creatures in search of fish.
If our timing was right, Karen and I would arrive to see the setting sun slowly merge with the Gulf, leaving behind an artist palette of reds and yellows for a few moments before dipping below the darkening horizon. Before they left, a small crowd of locals and visitors would pause to enjoy the show with us.
Florida promoters call this the “Nature Coast,” where fishing and boating along the grassy coastline contrasts with the more luxurious beaches on the Atlantic side of the state. As for me, I’ll remember the “Nature Coast” as the best of Florida.