Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
January 20, 2016

Sometimes in life it’s not about the destination, but the journey. While car shows are often a polarizing experience, with some people loving the idea of hanging out and chatting about their Mustangs and other people despising the idea of sitting in lawn chairs in a parking lot, what just about any Mustang enthusiast can agree upon is we all enjoy driving our Mustangs. Getting together with club members and friends and caravanning to said shows is quite fun. We know of a lot of Mustang clubs that have regular monthly cruises to obscure and off-beat destinations—museums, car collections, mom and pop diners, and so forth—that often have higher participation than their monthly club meeting!

Every year, on the Friday before the big National Parts Depot Ford & Mustang Roundup at the Silver Springs state park in Silver Springs, Florida, the crew from NPD plans a “Pony Trails” from their Ocala, Florida location to Cedar Key on the Gulf coast of Florida. The ride is just over an hour long and goes through some of Ocala’s beautiful back country (the Ocala area is known for its huge horse farms/stables) and ends in the quaint downtown area of Cedar Key, itself known for its fresh seafood and great fishing. It is also one of the oldest ports in the state and features several great annual events. NPD often sees over 100 cars, dependent on the weather, and everyone heads out for Cedar Key after a brief driver’s meeting at NPD. Arrival is timed to take in the local Cedar Key sights and have lunch at one its famous seafood restaurants, such as Steamers Clam Bar & Grill or Tony’s Seafood Restaurant. Be sure to keep a lookout for NPD’s show in 2017 and join us for a great drive to Florida’s Gulf coast and a beautiful day in Silver Springs state park. You won’t want to miss it!

The morning started out damp and cool at NPD’s Ocala location, but that didn’t keep more than 100 Mustangs and other Fords away from a great morning cruise! Here the Yellow Mustang Registry lined up early to be able to park together.
Pony Trails attendees were able to grab coffee and donuts inside, courtesy of NPD, plus grab their favorite NPD catalogs and even pick up those last minute parts orders before Rick Schmidt of NPD got the driver’s meeting under way.
Mustangs from every generation were in line for the Pony Trails and ready to head out around 9:30. We saw vintage Mustangs, Fox era, New Edge cars, and of course a bunch of S197 Mustangs. The S550 field grew from last year as well.
Many thanks to the Ocala police department for helping with traffic, including the departure from NPD and the first few big intersections before getting out into the countryside. They kept everyone safe and prevented the group from getting separated.
Arriving in downtown Cedar Key at roughly 11:00 am, the Pony Trails group filled every available parking spot (sorry Florida tourists!). Everyone got a chance to stretch their legs downtown and visit all of the Cedar Key shops before grabbing some lunch on the water.
Our lunch destination of choice was Steamers Clam Bar & Grille where we enjoyed some fried shrimp. Our friend’s shrimp po’boy sandwich looked pretty good as well, and everyone in our group had nothing but positive comments about their food too.