Destination: Inglis, Yankeetown
Of the many blessings Citrus County offers, my favorites are numerous drives to nowhere.
And I took one such drive on Thursday to one of my favorite drive-to-nowhere destinations, Inglis/Yankeetown.
Now, before you start in on the geography lesson, I realize that Inglis and Yankeetown are not, technically, in Citrus County. Driving up U.S. 19, that’s Levy County on the other side of the Withlacoochee River.
But for my sake, we’re all community, OK? So just work with me here.
I needed a drive after a week of heavy government presence. Now, I write about the government for a living so that comes with the territory. But every so often, I get away and clear my head.
Inglis and Yankeetown provide that respite.
It’s an hour’s drive from the Just Wright Citrus world headquarters on the shores of Big Lake Henderson, but worth it. I usually approach from the Citrus County side of the river on U.S. 19, but on Thursday decided instead to take the Dunnellon-to-Inglis route on County Road 40.
The speed limit drops to 40 mph once entering the Inglis town limits, but other than a few scatterings of businesses or homes, the town comes alive at U.S. 19. From there, it’s west on “Follow That Dream Parkway,” and I feel fairly confident solitude is awaiting.
My Inglis/Yankeetown visit has two components: The boat ramp, and then Riverside Drive on the way back.
Driving to the boat ramp is always a pleasure. It’s 12 miles from U.S. 19, but half is the leisurely cruise through Inglis and Yankeetown. Man, just so much to see in those few miles. The stone-built Yankeetown School. A sidewalk that runs halfway to the gulf. Inglis Town Hall.
And, happily, Levy County is resurfacing the entire stretch of Highway 40. There was so little traffic Thursday, the road crew flag guy was sitting on a plastic milk crate in the shade and didn’t even bother to flag me through as I crept by.
The boat ramp, where the Withlacoochee empties into the Gulf of Mexico, appears at the end of the road. Levy County has done a good job here, with plenty of marked parking for boat trailers and cars right along the roadway. If you go, I highly encourage you to get out of the car and breathe the fresh salty air, feel the gulf breeze and listen to the absolute quiet.
I never realized how noisy Citrus County is until I spent 30 minutes at the Yankeetown boat ramp hearing virtually nothing but nature and a few voices here and there. Then as I was about to leave, I spotted five or six dolphins playing about 100 yards out in the gulf.
It’s in those moments when I’m able to stop, look, listen and appreciate.
Heading back, I always miss the turn for Riverside Drive and, sure enough, I missed it again. After reversing direction, I make the turn off C.R. 40 onto Riverside Drive and slow down to a crawl.
Riverside Drive isn’t so much a return to yesteryear, though some parts of it probably haven’t changed in decades. The pavement itself is in terrible shape and it’s probably going to stay that way. If ever there was a 10 mph street, this is it.
But, my, what a gorgeous drive. Old homes and new ones. Some small, some larger, along the water’s edge. The Coast Guard station. Blackwater Restaurant on the site of the old Izaak Walton Lodge. Nice parks along the way.
Just peaceful, you know?
I’m terrible at describing scenery, so you’ll just have to trust me on this. Inglis and Yankeetown exude rural Florida charm.
I headed home south on U.S. 19, then east on C.R. 488 to Citrus Avenue so that I could drive right into the heart of Crystal River. The traffic wasn’t so bad, and I parked to take a stroll.
After grabbing a Cattle Dog lemonade, I walked the sidewalk along U.S. 19 toward S.R. 44, sipping my drink and enjoying the afternoon.
I need days like Thursday. We all do. There is so much taking place in our community, it’s hard to keep up. I can become very self-important in a hurry if I don’t balance myself every so often.
The Inglis/Yankeetown drive does that for me. I’m grateful for our neighbors across the river.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 35 years.