Thursday, July 25, 2013

Scenic Cady's Island

Where is Cady's Island?

The home of Jim Dallas and Sam Lyons is firmly established in the state of my imagination. It's fictional. If it existed, it would be a few miles south of Jacksonville, roughly east of Davis Park.

It's not quite six miles long and not quite a mile and a half wide and is shaped rather like a paramecium. Driftwood Beach, at the northern tip, is cluttered with wood and other stuff cast up by the sea. South of the island's center is the old Cady's Island Lighthouse, decommissioned in the 1950s. From the lighthouse it's a bit more than a mile down to the extreme southern tip of the island.

There are only a few score year-round residents. In season--which basically means in the summer and then again in the winter--most of the houses are rented out to vacationers. The beach isn't the best, being coarse sand and shell fragments, but the water is clean.

To get to the island, you drive south from Jacksonville on 1A through Ponte Vedra and then Sawgrass. A very short spur turns off to the left and ends in the parking area for the ferry, operated by Liz Fretty ever since her husband died. There's a wharf and parking area for island residents that includes an inadequate roofed garage and lots of gravel-crushed-shell open space. Liz lives in the little house off to the right of that, down near the bay. Her flat-bottomed ferry can accommodate about a dozen people at once, but no cars. Cars aren't allowed on the island. Passage each way is two dollars, a dollar and a half for seniors, kids under twelve free.

When you get off at the island wharf, you'll see a boardwalk leading off across the dunes. Follow it. There's a break in it for Island Lane. Watch out for people on bikes. Then it takes up again and leads down to Beach Lane. The boardwalk comes out between a brick cottage and a fairly big aqua-painted beach house with a tin roof. The aqua place is Delight House, usually empty except in rental seasons. Farther down past the brick cottage is the lighthouse, and past that is the gray beach house that belongs to Sam Lyons.

The brick house belongs to Jim Dallas.

He's not receptive to visitors, so don't go up and knock.

Unless you're in trouble, that is.....

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