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Sunrise at Keaton Beach. Perry, Florida

By A. J. Burch

I recently had the opportunity of spending a weekend at Captain’s Quarters in Keaton Beach, owned by old friends Sandra and Joe Hatcher. I was invited for some desperately needed r&r and was only too happy to be their guest. My friendship with Sandra goes back about 10 years when we were into the tourism business – Sandra at Keaton Beach and I in Citrus County.

As I stopped at the two stores to pick up food items for the weekend, memories began coming back. When I was a kid Keaton Beach was a special treat for us. The trip out to Keaton was special too. We loaded up in a Chevy or Ford and played games on the way. Our favorite was who would see the water first and shout it out. There was a certain spot back then that we knew would be the first view. It was just about where Johnny Knight’s seafood restaurant once stood. I can’t get used to how Keaton Beach has hanged through the years. The old pavilion being destroyed pretty much finished the old and brought more of the new into the area.

I arrived at the Hatcher’s and unloaded my truck. You would think I was going to stay longer than a few days but I did try to keep it as light as possible. I loved that place. The Hatchers are no longer at Keaton Beach and I know that they will be missed a lot. The efficiency they gave me was wonderful. The pictures on the walls depicting scenes of sea life and activities were fun and added to the atmosphere of being at the beach. I especially liked the motto hanging on the wall, “Near the sea we forget to count the days.” I put on my G. W. flip flops and I went for a long walk down at the beach area later that afternoon and watched boats come in and go out from the canal.

There were a few people on the beach and a few out swimming. An older couple were wading and holding hands. I remember thinking how cute they were. I looked down and saw the murky mess of seaweed that made a complete line along the shoreline and just couldn’t get myself in gear to wade through it. When we were kids nothing bothered us or kept us from going in – whether to wade or to swim. The seaweed mess didn’t phase us one bit. As I watched a boat come out of the canal, I recalled seeing the blasting when they made that canal. I also love the sound of boats going out and coming in. When I was a kid I loved those sounds and still do. There is something soothing about that to me.

Sunday morning I made it down to the beach area in time to see the sunrise. There were only a few people down there. I didn’t want to disturb the birds on the water’s edge. They were busy with their morning routine and the tiny ones raced back and forth from the sand to the water as the bigger birds seemed to be watching over them. I noticed that it seemed as if when they had finished their routine they all lined up in a perfect line and just stood there for awhile, like they were taking a break. Maybe also enjoying the sunrise. A maintenance man was out there and we spoke. He told me that he had been working there for quite a while and he still was just as struck by the beauty of the place, as he was the first time he saw it. I understood exactly what he was saying. I worshiped God’s creations on the beach as well that Sunday morning.



Later that day back at the apartment, I ate a whole pint of chocolate ice cream and enjoyed my fast food diet for the weekend very much. I love the Hot Dog Stand…the food there is wonderful and the service is great. The stores – the one at the gas station and the Marina – were well stocked and employees were very nice. Later that afternoon Sandra knocked on the door to let me know that the storm had brought in a waterspout. They had just come back from the beach and took photos of it. I remember seeing those things from time to time growing up there in the summertime.

The time slipped away much too soon and it was time to leave. A most memorable weekend for me and one to reminiscence about a lot of cool memories and make some for now. “Near the sea we forget to count the days.

Keaton Beach is a year-round destination for visitors. It is recognized as offering one of the best coastal experiences on Florida's Gulf Coast. People come from all over to enjoy the peacefulness of this quaint community and it's friendly laid back atmosphere.

Keaton Beach offers opportunities to participate in amateur sporting events, fishing, hunting, scalloping, bird watching, boating and rest and relaxation. It also has a beautiful natural beach, with shaded picnic pavilions, rest rooms, a 700 ft fishing pier and public boat ramp. We're known for our quiet laid back atmosphere and beautiful sunsets. Please keep in mind that pets are not permitted on the beach.


If you've never scalloped, Keaton Beach is the place to do it! Taylor County is one of only five counties in Florida where scalloping is still allowed. Scalloping, which begins in July and ends September 10th, is something the whole family will love to do. If you plan on visiting during scallop season, please be aware that because it is such a popular sport, people have begun to make their reservations in March, due to the limited number of accommodations at Keaton Beach.


Kayaking is becoming a popular sport in this area because of all of the small creeks that can't be accessed by larger boats. Not only are they excellent for fishing, but they allow nature lovers to enjoy viewing wildlife both in the water and the marsh areas. Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has a newly completed Paddling Trail totaling 105 miles, which takes a total of nine (9) days and eight (8) nights. The FWC recommends that only sea kayaks be used in the Gulf due to safety concerns. And always, file a float plan even when kayaking. For more information on the go to FWC Site click on Paddling Trail.

Keaton Beach is located in "The Big Bend" on the Gulf Coast of Florida, which is part of Taylor County's "Nature Coast". Keaton Beach is 17 miles south of Perry and 17 miles north of Steinhatchee on CR 361, the "Scenic Coastal Loop". Taylor County's coastline consists of over 150 miles, with 90% of it unspoiled and owned by the State of Florida. The waters of Taylor County have been designated as "Pristine" by the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission. There are 22,000 acres of State Wildlife Management Areas that are available for hunting, fishing, or wildlife watching in the Keaton Beach area.

Just down the road (approx. 5 miles) from Keaton Beach you'll find Hagen's Cove which is also located on the Gulf, which is State owned and maintained. Here you'll find picnic pavilions, hiking trails, and an observation tower. Because of the shallow waters and grass flats, you'll find several species of fish and birds, horseshoe crabs, and even the occasional eagle. Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife came to Hagen's Cove to do some bird watching from the observation tower when they were in this area a few years ago.

Taylor County Chamber of Commerce
http://www.taylorcountychamber.com/tourism2.ivnu



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