Two Month Gestation Period


Posted in Behind the Scenes, Community Relations

Back in June 2014, around the fourth, I saw and ate beautiful red surinam cherries at Cracker Creek.  Because of the plentiful rain we experienced this year, the two large bushes produced a bountiful spray of fruit.

From the handful I ate, I kept few seeds to propagate at home.


Having read the article in the link below, I planted four seeds the next couple of days after I collected them.

Then nothing happened.  I watched for weeks to find no activity.  Then two months later, there were three pups in the garden at their new home in Orlando, Florida.   Probably take 10 years to fruit, so it’ll be a while before berries.

surinam cherries pups


Cracker Day 2013 @ Cracker Creek

Cracker Creek Whips

Posted in Backwoods Adventures, Behind the Scenes, Pontoon Eco-Tour Adventures

Whips Banner We had a great day celebrating the Port Orange Centennial and recognizing our pioneer heritage. Come join us again this year for another fun Cracker Day on 31 May 2014 from 10am until 4pm!

Cracker Creek Cowboy

Cracker Creek Cowboy, Doug Homan






Cracker Creek’s own Cracker Cowboy, Doug Homan, delighted festival guests showing off some of his barnyard critters, including Pal, the newest member of the family.







Cracker Creek Cowboy Riding

Cracker Creek Cowboy Riding

Over a hundred years ago, Cracker Cowboys roamed western sections of Port Orange, an area that was very densely forested pine scrubs, palmettos, and hardwood hammocks - the real Florida pioneers.

Lots of fun in the Kids Craft Zone, as Jerry Kennedy demonstrates native arts and crafts for young visitors.

Lots of fun in the Kids Craft Zone, as Jerry Kennedy demonstrates native arts and crafts for young visitors.

Mary Yackel helps these young ladies make their own miniature canoe, and yes they really float! — at Cracker Creek.

Mary Yackel helps these young ladies make their own miniature canoe, and yes they really float! — at Cracker Creek.


Kids Craft Zone Clay

Just a sample of the clay modeling created in the Kid’s Craft Zone.


Artisan Jesse Berguson

Artisan Jesse Berguson shared his woodcarving talents with guests. Beautiful art form creating useful tools used by early pioneers.

Thanks to the Florida Native Plant Society for participating in the Cracker Day festivities and sharing their knowledge about native horticulture.

Thanks to the Florida Native Plant Society for participating in the Cracker Day festivities and sharing their knowledge about native horticulture.

Beekeepers Marlin Athearn and Tom Bartlett

Beekeepers Marlin Athearn and Tom Bartlett share their knowledge about beekeeping during the Cracker Day festivities. Watch the Cracker Creek web site for future seminars and opportunities to learn more about beekeeping.

Observation Hive

Observation Hive - watching the bees in action!

Blacksmith Alex Chase

Blacksmith Alex Chase impressing the crowd with his skills for Cracker Day at Cracker Creek.

Lasso and Whip Lessons Seth Carlton

A very special thanks to Seth Carlton for sharing his talents and teaching visitors how to lasso and crack the whip. Seth and his brothers and Carlton cousins spent much of their childhood at the Cracker Creek property when his grandparents were the former owners.

Cracker Cowboy Lassoing Lessons

Learning how to lasso like a real Cracker Cowboy!



Timucua Indian Dugout and Display

Special thanks to Al Evans for assisting in the display of a Timucuan canoe (displayed in the case shown in the photo above) at Cracker Day. The Timucua were the first native indigenous people in east central Florida. Archeological evidence of these Indian mounds has been discovered at Spruce Creek.

Ted Johnson Display

Photo exhibit provided by Ted Johnson Jr., great grandnephew of Rollie Johnson, the first caretaker for Gamble Place and the original owner of what is now Cracker Creek. Thank you Ted for sharing the genealogy of the Johnson and MacDonald family.

Smooth Country Band with Rog Lee

Great country music and folk ballads provided throughout the day by Smooth Country Band and solo performer Rog Lee.

Antique Auto Show at Cracker Creek

Thanks to the Crankin’ A’s Car Club of Daytona Beach for showing off their Model A antique cars at Cracker Day.

This article has been reposted by Frank Gould for Janelle Homan who originally wrote this in facebook as a photo album. Frank reposted this so he could see all the pictures and captions on a single page.


Connecting the Dots…Content Marketing


Posted in Behind the Scenes, Community Relations

As my acquaintances, friends, and family know me, I have a diverse range of skills and talent for creating all kinds of products. From carpentry, to software development, to web design, to project management, to video production, I can produce products that people appreciate and use. Well, a few months ago, I realized that I was missing an important piece that connects all these diverse product sets. Of course, the web is the most important marketing venue these days and the pieces I was missing was branding and content marketing.

Well, this Fall, my dear friend Jill Musson Williams asked if I could help her increase her video and written content for her company Cracker Creek. I had no specific ideas what she wanted but had helped in the past and wanted to continue doing so. I had an idea what that entailed but I didn’t have any scope for how far to go and exactly what to do.

Along popped up this article from Social Media Today talking about the new Google Hummingbird algorithm that is supposed to comprehend and process a broader range of data and how it “de-emphasizes specific keywords in the search/search results schema in favor of semantic searching.” Then in that same article, it mentions how to use the web to increase marketing channels and connect with web users and buyers. It went as far as to say “content marketing so helpful people would pay you for it.” A book called Youtility appeared on my screen and after downloading a Kindle ebook copy, I learned how to connect all my skills and talents to market a product, online.

Some of the concepts I learned included charts as displayed below that are from both Youtility and Epic Content Marketing.

Sources of Information ECM Hub of content ownership ECM Content Atomization

They needed results and to do that I needed a way to measure traffic with a focus on inbound traffic into Daytona, a much higher recognized brand over Port Orange, where they are located. The Daytona-brand location would increase their exposure and competition, however, target those interested in Old Florida, tropical ecosystems, kayaking, canoeing, and tours. Besides the location, Cracker Creek had, over the years, created several names such as Cracker Creek Canoeing,, and just Cracker Creek. Today, we’ve minimized the contact to and

So, I had my work cut out for me. I needed to expand the Cracker Creek presence on the web and focus the products for search engine optimization. As I had researched the different web services targeting audiences and product marketing sites to learn user popularity, I started putting Cracker Creek on the maps of watercraft launch sites, campgrounds, road trippers, and boat rental sites. I also added links on the Cracker Creek website to different vendor’s mobile apps that were applicable to the Cracker Creek products, such as knot typing apps for campers.

Having tested Google Webmaster Tools with another friend’s website, I setup Cracker Creek to recognize the Cracker Creek sitemap. Then I installed Google Analytics to start collecting accurate statistics and reporting results. However, since there were no statistics before my changes to the website, we could not see historic results prior to my website updates. Below is the graph directly from the Google Analytics view of the Cracker Creek website.


Now being new to the Google world of the internet, I learned that their software still has bugs and on many occasions, I had to wait a few days before Google cleaned up it’s data. For instance, below are two message windows about logging into Google Analytics within seconds of each other (click to enlarge image).

Attempt to get password sent to email address
Attempt to get password sent to email address
 Attempt to create new email address
Attempt to create new email address

This kind of dysfunctional behavior also happened with a file called robot.txt where the “test” resulted in being blocked from analyzing a public website. Another when sitemap couldn’t find the server which became frequent as I setup different aspects of Google web tools. The example below is when trying to setup the Cracker Creek website using tags associated with the images and text on the page as part of the semantic algorithm.

TaggingErrorThese kinds of anomalies continued to hit me across the web. Be it a rental site that on a mobile device displays all prices at hundreds of dollars too high, even too high to purchase a vessel like displayed in the ad, or fixing driving directions on Google maps where it takes visitors to a residential neighborhood instead of Cracker Creek.

Besides that, I have to have multiple identities to work on Cracker Creek accounts as well as my own personal sites. This created a delay in the creation of a Cracker Creek business account and website on LinkedIn where my first attempts failed to deliver the activation email. Finally solved this one by changing the LinkedIn email address to mine so I could activate and create the Cracker Creek business page.

I have since worked through most of the outstanding issues and we are now linked to the major social media sites with icons prominent on the home and contact pages, as illustrated below. In the lower picture, you can see the floating left social media bar courtesy of a Joomla! plug-in that illuminates the social media icon when the mouse hovers over them. The Zap Weather forecast window shows a week’s predicted weather. The Tide Forecast window, not shown below, and the weather forecast window are tools to help people decide to go fishing, kayaking, or just a day out canoeing down the creek. That was my attempt to provide “marketing so helpful people would pay for it” by visiting Cracker Creek.



To measure the website’s improvements, I took a snapshot of the Market Grader application’s analyzer in October and took another today. You can see in the snapshots below that the website’s marketing score has increased almost double from what it was when I started.

October 2013

October 2013

December 2013

December 2013

And finally, for the sake of content marketing, I just finished adding the voiceover for an online marketing campaign focusing the values of Cracker Creek for elementary students. This video required me to attend two events with local third grade classes and another event to record the different options available for teachers, organizations, and parents. To view the final version, click on the video below.

In closing, this project has connected all the dots in my skills and talents pool. I created a chart to show the different roles I’ve accomplished for this project and some product learning curves since September 2013, illustrated below. The difference today versus 5 years ago is now all of these tools are in high definition and the world is inundated with apps.


As for results, I’ve been credited with increased inbound marketing from Google searches that have brought in customer calls and has created a reservation for 40 visitors in January, from Illinois. Thus, our target market. After two months, Google Analytics shows the site is still getting over 80%  new unique visitors, and we’ve yet to start online transactions (macro conversions) that will take some time to integrate into their business operations and procedures.

Update 24 January 2014:  Over the last month, I’ve worked on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Designated Paddling Map for Spruce Creek. In it was old and misinformation about the area and no mention of Cracker Creek being an access point.

Spruce Creek Guide Old Second Map

Spruce Creek Guide Old Second Map

Today, they published the new map and copy which now includes links to Cracker Creek and more information about Gamble Place and the Russell Property that share residence on the creek. Click on the image below to see the Volusia County website and scroll down to Spruce Creek to see the full document.

Spruce Creek Guide New Map

Spruce Creek Guide New Second Map

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