Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Different Day Trip

Associated Press

Last weekend, I joined my friends Sandy and Sue for a visit to the town of Micanopy, Florida. Unbeknown to us, one of Florida's all-time worst traffic accidents had occurred along our route about seven hours earlier. A prairie fire had started in the early morning hours, the road had been closed and then reopened, and then the driving conditions got worse again, with both smoke and fog. At least a dozen cars and six semitrailer trucks were involved in a multiple collision that took 11 lives and sent many more to the hospital. The amazing thing about the photograph above is that, while there was zero visibility, some drivers apparently continued going the speed limit!

Traffic was backed up for miles and we were delayed for almost three hours. We finally reached Micanopy by early afternoon.

Micanopy was named after the Seminole chief Sint Chakkee who ruled over all the Alachua Seminoles in the early 1800s. Sint Chakkee took the title "Micanopy," which meant "topmost king," and the whites simply called him Chief Micanopy. The Indian Removal Act of 1832 required the Seminoles to be relocated in Oklahoma, which is where Sint Chakkee died, in 1848.

Micanopy is a small town lost in time. It's streets are shaded by ancient live oaks, and today the main street is lined with antique stores and gift shops.

After a leisurely stroll through the shops and a break for ice cream. the three of us went to Cross Creek, where Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings lived, and where she wrote the 1938 best-seller, The Yearling.

Then we had dinner at a nearby rustic restaurant called The Yearling. Part of the restaurant was arranged like a library, with books for sale.

Sue, Sandy and I ordered different entrees and then shared tastes from each plate, so I can report that my meal consisted of venison, catfish, alligator, frog legs, and grits and cheese. An unusual dinner, but all tasty and good!


  1. What a pleasant day; I didn't know about Micanopy, but a lot of important history apparently took place around there.

    The picture of the accident is a sober reminder to take it easy on the road.

    I think my favorite graphic at the bottom is the catfish.

    1. Hello, Parnassus,

      The lesson to be learned from the photograph is not only to of course stop when there is no visibility, but also to get out and away from the car!

      While all of the dinner was tasty, I'd probably be less inclined to eat catfish if I saw it whole (but it is good).

    2. Thank you for posting your pictures of Micanopy, Mark. I'm glad you and your friends had a good trip despite the hold up due to bad conditions on I-75. Fire investigators suspect a man-made cause for the blaze that produced the smoke that was partly responsible for the tragic accidents.

      See: 'Mother Nature doesn't care about interstate highways'

      Micanopy is a very attractive town. Those making brief visits can find it entirely charming if they hit it at just the right time.

      Unfortunately, the Town of Micanopy allows one of the scourges of contemporary life ~ the outdoor loudspeaker system. One shop/restaurant across the street from the stores Mark photographed often blasts amplified music at such a volume that the noise is projected for a great distance. This establishment has ruined my every trip to Micanopy over the last year.

      Majorie Kinnan Rawlings' Cross Creek house is also in an area blasted and shook by noise pollution. That's due to the airboat infestation on Orange Lake.

      Folk singer Whitey Markle is one of several people instrumental in quieting the airboats at night. At least for the time being.

      While Whitey and Quiet Lakes of Alachua County managed to get an airboat curfew on a ballot and passed, there are activities afoot to dismantle it.

      Read about 'Whitey Markle, A Quiet Man'

      On a more pleasant note .....

      Here's a wonderful John Moran photograph of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' house at Cross Creek

    3. off I-75 and exit 318 is a lovely antique shop called Hilltop Antiques the owners are really nice,honest and very informative about the area history

  2. alligator?!! I love to eat in a restaurant full of books, but so far I've avoided the gator dishes!

    1. Hello, Sharon,

      The meat of the alligator comes from its tail, and has the taste and texture of beef. I've had it twice now, and can vouch that it is a good dish!

  3. Replies
    1. No pythons, but they're multipying at the other end of the state, in the Everglades. I saw a news report recently that said that the population of small mammals there — like raccoons — is shrinking by about a quarter, due to the increase in pythons.

  4. It is a sobering moment when you pass such an horrific accident scene and particularly knowing that there were so many lives needlessly lost .
    I do think that you are quite experimental with your dinning out! I seem to remember you posting before about unusual dishes eaten.
    The whole ambience of the small town, the restaurant, and its history looks to be charming.

    1. Hello, Rosemary -

      The accident scene was so horrific that we didn't get anywhere near it; it took us the better part of three hours to go the couple miles to the nearest exit.

      I am open to tasting unusual foods and I usually get a gold star for a clean plate!

  5. Hello Mark:
    The road traffic accident sounds to have been appalling and such an awful loss of life.

    Micanopy looks to be a wonderfully intriguing place to visit with such a distinguished historical past. We are all in favour of a restaurant with a bookshop, that is exactly our kind of haunt in which to spend a leisurely time. And what, we wonder, does Alligator taste like...?!!!

    1. Hello, Jane and Lance:

      The alligator's tail is the part eaten, and it has a beefy taste. I also had alligator sausage last year, in New Orleans, and the taste was actually indistinguishable from other sausage. (I expected the venison to have that "gamey" taste everyone describes, but that was not the case.)

  6. A sobering trip there Mark. Now the restaurant with books for sale sounds wonderful. I love books and I love food, so I guess I will be in heaven!

    1. Hello, David -

      When I was growing up, books and reading aloud were a part of the dinner hour, now a very fond memory for me. When I dine alone, I still take a book with me, and I think it would be very natural to combine a library and dining room.

  7. Hi Mark,
    This morning, our CBC news opened with a horrific road accident that happened in a neighbouring county, at a four way intersection. A flat bed truck rammed into a mini-van filled with migrant workers from Peru, all parties dead - eleven of them as well. More than eleven lives are destroyed is all I can think of.
    On a lighter note, amongst the selection you sampled, i never had grits and alligator, but grits is what would scare me the most.

    1. Anyes, I'll bet you'd love grits! For me, it's a comfort food, and I wouldn't mind having it for breakfast daily.

  8. Micanopy sounds like a good place to explore...and slow down in pace a little! I had no idea Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was from there.
    Being from the south, I grew up on grits!! :)


    1. As a matter of fact, Micanopy has attracted a number of artists. While I enjoyed the day of relaxation, I personally need a little more action around me!

    2. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was born in Washington, DC in 1896. She grew up in Washington and Michigan where her mother was from.

      Marjorie and her husband Charles Rawlings bought their Cross Creek farm in 1928.

      Here's a brief biography of Marjorie at the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society web site.

    3. Thanks, KO, and thanks also for the link to a view of Marjorie Kinnan Rawling's house, in your earlier comment. John Moran's photograph is indeed beautiful.