Gone before I could get there

I recently drove over to Fisheating Creek for a paddle with the alligators and planned onimg_0806c stopping in at an interesting rural country store/restaurant for a late lunch in nearby, very small, Palmdale, Florida (population just under 600). The Florida Backroads Travel website calls the place Not Near Anything.

The Palmdale Cracker (“A country mall and social club”) opened about a year ago in an historic, 1920s-era building and had been gathering decent comments from customers. It ranked 4.5 out of 5 with TripAdvisor, which called it #1, in a town that had just one restaurant.

Alas, I got there too late.   It burned to the ground about two months ago.

The building had been over the years a post office and a general store.  As the only place for miles around, it was a welcome break for truckers and motorists traveling on U.S. 27. And, as a genuine Old-Florida-flavored attraction for tourists, it fit in nicely with the still-open Gatorama (“Fast Hands or No Hands”), just south of town.  The nearby Cypress Knee Museum, another of those hundreds of places that dotted the roadside along U.S. 27, is long gone unfortunately.

Larry Taylor, who says he spent years getting the government approvals needed to get the store and restaurant off the ground in the old building, has launched a Go Fund Me page with an eye on raising $150,000 to rebuild.  To date he has $225.

Before and after photos below:






The word cracker, by the way, originally referred to the Florida cowboys of the 1800s and today mostly just means a Florida native whose family has lived in the state for many generations.

And thinking of crackers leads me easily back to Fisheating Creek, a piece of natural Florida that’s been around for a long time and one I hope stays just the way it is for a long time to come.  It was long owned by Lykes Brothers Inc., which attempted to close it to the public in the 1980s, but a 1998 court ruling that it is a navigable waterway and therefore owned by the state kept access open for the public.

Enjoy the photos.



About Ron Haines

Find me at https://ronhaines.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in Nature, Offbeat, Paddling, Photos mostly. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Gone before I could get there

  1. Leslie Dreier says:

    Fish Eating Creek is on my list. What is that cat-like animal? How were the water levels?


  2. Ron Haines says:

    It looked like a pretty large otter. It was not that close to me and was moving away. Water level was low and meant some wading. You should wait for it to get a bit higher. There’s a height gage link on the Fisheating Creek website.


  3. DJ says:

    Thanx for interesting info on “cracker.” Glad you werent’ @ Ft. Lauderdale airport yesterday.


  4. Jenn says:

    Great pictures! Is that one an otter?


  5. Ron Haines says:

    Believe it is, yes, never got very close to it.


    • Did you ever read about the “Dogkiller”? It’s a weird, nearly always overlooked Florida cryptid that seems to be related to something called a “Fisher” in New England.
      Basically, the description is of a super-large (larger than this photo) otter with the jaws and temperament of a wolverine. Shy and overly fierce about defending its turf. Something like a swimming bobcat, but I think with a lower, longer body – reputedly tough enough to take down a dog (which I think in context means a pit bull or yellow cur – the dogs people take into the Glades).

      I have a vague memory that Carl Hiaasen mentioned it in a Herald column sometime in the 1990s.

      Of course, the name makes it nearly impossible to google.


  6. Ron, Please tell Steve not to bring anything for the meeting. I will be cooking enough for several people. Thanks. How far are you from Orlando? I was just down there visiting our son.


  7. Denise J Hurt says:

    Wow, quite a few different birds in that post! Love that, but not so crazy about the crocs (or are they gators?)


    • Ron Haines says:

      There were blue heron too, but I didn’t get a decent photo of them. Those are gators. The fellow is the last photo, with the gator in the background, is a paddling friend from Rhode Island who was down here for a few days. He was a bit leery of them too.


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