Just back from three hours at the Black Dog – a local beer and wine bar in Cedar Key, that not only allows dogs, it Welcomes them!! Our next door neighbors at Faraway Inn told me they went there this afternoon with their dog, Red, and he was welcome INSIDE.
The resident greeter, Otis, a black labra-doodle, welcomed Max right away. (Otis has his own Facebook page: Otis Edge) I was able to unleash him within five minutes, and he settled right in to the place. Not long after we got there, Kevin and Carmen arrived with Red, and Max was a little more fired up to play.
This is one of the best bars I have ever been in! Not just the dog part either. The whole place exudes a vibe of welcome, make yourself comfortable, enjoy your time. They serve beer, wine, and cigars but no food; you can order from a couple of other places in town and bring it in to eat with your drink of choice.
A local musician named Matt (sorry I didn’t get his last name) was playing when I got there – a mix of blues, country, and some of his own stuff – and it was fun to listen. Reminded me of my friend, Hank, back home…
Later, I met a guy named Johnnie from Washington, DC, and we had a great time talking about what he’s interested in (photography – check him out on flickr, fishing, travel…) and what Max and I are doing on this road trip.
As I drove to Cedar Key this morning, I was having those nagging self-doubts again. You know, maybe I should head back… It’s been three weeks since we left, and I haven’t found any connections to speak of. No cool small towns, no people to spend time talking with, no … whatever it is that sent me out on this journey. In many ways, it’s been so solitary.
And then, I got to Cedar Key and the downtown (all three or four blocks of it) is so small town, and so old Florida, that I felt a little ray of hope. The wind was whistling from the northwest, and it was COLD, but this little town was here, and so charming. So, I found a room at Faraway Inn, and we settled in earlier than we have anywhere along this road so far.
We walked around town, got a pizza for lunch, and came back to our room for a little nap. About 1/2 hour before sunset, we went outside to meet our next door neighbors and their dog, Red. Max ran around with Red, met several other dogs passing by, and generally had a good time. I “trusted” him without his leash, and except for one incident of running across the road in front of a slow moving car with an attentive driver, he did really well. (Speed limit here is 25 mph, so the car was moving slow to begin with. Still, it did give me a moment!)
So, back to the Black Dog experience: Max is a bar dog!! He was so at ease, so well-behaved, and so much fun to see in that place. But, the place itself! How many places allow dogs INSIDE, OFF-LEASH (as long as they play nice), and provide treats and water?? This was my dream come true. All along the way, we have encountered so many places, from beaches to restaurants, to motels, that do not allow dogs. How does one travel with a dog if he can’t go where you want to go?
SO, my hat is off to Connie and Jay Edge – and Otis! – for making such a great space for people to gather, lift a glass, and make new friends.
And special thanks to Carmen – who listened to me talk about turning around and going home, and said, “Keep going! You are on an amazing trip, and you need to keep going.” And to Johnnie, who offered not only great enthusiasm for what I’m doing, but also some good tips on places to stop along the way.
And thanks to Oliver and Doreen at Faraway Inn for welcoming us to a beautiful spot with a great sunset view!
Tomorrow… ever onward!