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Gulfport, FL – Day 2 4th of July 2011

We have to share this video with you. Rob Fowler of http://007computer.com/ did while we were here:

Clam Bayou Tour


We meet Kurt Zuelseorf, owner of kayak Nature, at the Boca Ciega Yacht Club to start our adventure. Kurt’s “Bring Back the Bayou” waterway clean up program has recieved national attention as the trash totals are nearing 200,000 lbs…all removed from waterways using kayaks! The result of Kurt’s actions is a wonderful and amazing “Clam Bayou” that you really need to see. We were going to tour the bayou by way of kayak, which would have been fun, but instead

had the pleasure of touring Clam Bayou by means of Kurt’s new electric boat before it was even open to the public. It was an amazing tour. The boat seems to be quietly sneaking around the bayou allowing us to see an American Egret glide effortlessly over the mangroves… an Osprey closer than ever before… a  Night Heron watching intently as we glide silently by. It was fantastic and defintily recommended. Bye Kurt and Thanks!

Just to make sure we mention everyone here is a link to the Gulfport, Fl restaurants that have created a sampler platter especially for the Rand McNally Road Rally.
Click Here to see all of the sampler platters.


A healthy hearty breakfast with small town friendliness. We chose to try their Sampler Plate which included fried green tomatoes made with Chipotle Aioli Dipping Sauce, Hand Chopped Corned Beef Hash with One Quail Egg Southern style, Mini Biscuit & Gravy and Mini Lox. The Gulfport chef’s lack nothing on creativity, variety and style in serving beautiful and tasty meals. This was also a scheduled get together with the locals. Many people showed up to have breakfast with us. It was really nice. There is even a coffee mug rack on the wall that holds mugs belonging to the regulars. They just come in, grab their mug, and sit down. Stella’s replaces them after washing for the owners next visit. Now that’s community!

After breakfast we went to the beach to participate in the children’s sand castle building  and fishing tournament. It was a great time and there were kids everywhere having a blast.

Car Show – Complete with 2 SAABs

We were the stars of the car show with not one but two SAABs. There were so many cars there to look at. The line went on and on. Here is a video of some of the cars. It’s a little long but it had to be:

Lunch Omaddys with Press


Lunch at Omaddys with the press was a hit. We met representatives from area papers and had a fantastic lunch. Omaddys is on the beach and the view was beautiful. They, like 14 other restaurants in town, had a sampler platter in honor of “The Rand McNally USA Today Road Rally” and it was great.

We had a great time talking with the press and others from the community. We even got to meet the Chef, Wade Parrish, and Joe Guenther the manager and husband of Maddy, the owner.

Friends of The Fun Finders Lunch
Monday Lunch for Guests at Peninsula
No points earned, hospitality still at it’s best.

The staff at Isabelle’s Restaurant went above and beyond the call of duty. In fact it was not a duty at all but pure pleasure. It seems that creating an atmosphere where all guest feel welcome, relaxed and special is their motto. Several friends and supporters of ours, AKA the Fun Finders were staying at The Peninsula Inn and ready for lunch.  When lunch timed rolled around the owner, Alexandra Kingxett came to accommodate them. During this month “Sampler Platters” are available but not this day. The chefs, Bernie and Edgar made an exception and prepared just for our friends that very thing. It was beautiful and made our friends feel as though they were treated as royalty.

Here are the sampler entrees: Lump crab cakes with remoulade sauce, zucchini fritters with balsamic glaze, sour cream and red onion marmalade, fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese sauce. These chefs take everything into account, flavor, texture, color and presentation.

FYI: The restaurant name is after the resident ghost, Isabelle Jarel. She is a multigenerational member of Gulfport from the early 1950’s. Isabelle passed away unexpectantly in her early 50s. She has been spotted in her favorite color of powder blues on the 3rd floor of the Inn. She loves cats, parties and all the activities at the inn. She is very playful and her presence is felt often by guests.

Thank you to the staff for all they did to make the stay one to remember.

We are confident that all guests are treated exactly the same as our friends were treated. Try them out and experience for yourselves.

We stopped to cool off and make three stops in one spot. Gulfport’s diversity isamazing.

TangelosNeptune GrillVillage Pub

Parade  - SAABs Lineup and go

We were invited to be in the 4th of July parade while we were in Gulfport. It was an honor. We joined the parade with both our traveling SAAB as well as the red convertible loaned to us by Dimmit SAAB in Clearwater, FL. There was quite a crowd out to see the parade and they were all cheering for us as well as the others in the parade. This celebrity thing could get comfortable. Here is a video of us passing the stage:

Council Key from Mayor

After the parade Mayor, Mike Yates invited us up on stage to receive the key to the city. When we get home were going to come down and see how many doors it fits!

Dinner at Pia’s


More food at Pia’s Trattoria. This was a very relaxing atmosphere. Definitely Italian too. Here is an excerpt from their website which says it better than I can:

Pia’s Trattoria is the kind of sweetly earnest restaurant that you’d like to think unfurls fully realized from the ground. Just a kernel of vision, nurtured by sweat and love, fortified by some good basic ingredients and a healthy inoculation of Italian culinary know-how.


Finish the day with a fantastic fireworks show. Here is a video of the finale. You know, the part where they finally just throw a match in the rest of the box.

After a good nights sleep we woke up to the Tuesday Fresh Market. It seems like there is always something going here in Gulfport. There are produce stands and crafts up and down Beach Blvd. It just wonderful, I don’t know what else to say.

We had to stop by and say goodbye to Lori and thank her for all her help.

Time to get packed and off to Lafayette by Way of Tarpon Springs

  1. For a small town of 13,000 residents Gulfport packs a punch. There is always something happening from 1st Friday and 3rd Saturday Art Walks, to Tuesday Fresh Markets, to big celebrations like Geckofest, Springfest, July 4, Pink Flamingo Tour of Homes. For a beach town the cuisine is outstanding and varied and you don’t have to worry about getting a parking ticket because there are no meters. Thank you Fun Finders for coming to Gulfport and hopefully putting us on the map!

  2. Marsha Warner

    Jim and Bonnie, Gulfport is very proud to have met you both and we know your visit was awesome. We are enthusiastic about our small town and the excellent variety of restaurant choices we offer. Moving here was the best personal decision I made in life! Please return to enjoy more of our food and activities. We would love to see you again!

  3. Jon Ziegler

    It was a delight meeting you guys. I have tried almost all of the sampler platters here in town. I hope they decide to keep them on their menus. It’s a great way to try a little of everything…Safe travels, and we look forward to your return trip

  4. It was great meeting you at the Industrial Arts Center. I’m glad you were able to make a red, white & blue ornament to remind you of your Independence Day visit to our little town. I’m also glad your visit inspired special sampler plates at our best restaurants … I have had a great time sampling those myself the past couple of weeks.

  5. Jackie Ballard

    We are so thrilled to even be in the running. We know how special we are and it is with mixed feelings that we open Gulfport up so others may experience our small town–big heart ambiance.Jim and Bonnie, you represent true America and it was a pleasure meeting you.

  6. Rose-Marie Seawall

    If as Mahatma Gandhi observed, “God comes to the hungry in the form of food,” then Gulfport, Fl, is truly blessed. For it has an abundance of world cuisines and a remarkable fresh market to shower its citizens and visitors with tasty goodness.

  7. Lynn DiVenuti

    So happy to have made your acquaintance here at the Industrial Arts Center. We have your hand blown ornament that you created and blew here. That means that you need to come back and pick it up–we’re looking forward to seeing your smiling faces grace our door again and hope that your road trip continues to be a safe and happy one. Some of the best restaurants can be found here in Gulfport – which makes Gulfport a culinary slice of Heaven.

  8. Sandy Duffy

    Jim and Bonnie, Gulfport may be considered Florida’s best kept secret but after your visit, we think the secret is out! We not only know how to have a good time, we know how to eat! There is such a variety of tastes in a very small area and always something new to try. We hope you return to not only sample the dishes you missed, but visit the friends you certainly have here. Please come back!

  9. Margo Scannell

    Jim and Bonnie-thanks for visiting Gulfport. I’m sure you’ve met people who live here and are just as enthusiastic about our city as the new residents who have just discovered our “secret. Come back often and enjoy what we have every day.

  10. John Riesebeck

    You two have done yourselves and Rand McNally proud Gulfport was honored to have you as guests. We do hope you return for a visit soon.

  11. Vice Mayor David Hastings

    My wife and I opened our first business in Gulfport 15 years ago. We liked it sooo much we built our home and moved here 3 years later. We have since opened 2 more businesses and love this City and all it’s diversity. We have our own police and fire departments; public schools; Stetson Law school; an Art District; a Marina; a Pier; a beach; a library; a Senior Center; a Youth Center; a Theater; our own Trolly and the BEST food anywhere. Come visit Gulfport and I bet you will fall in love with it.

  12. Ester Venouziou

    So glad you got to sample so many of Gulfport’s awesome dishes!! There are tons more, too, so you better come back :)
    I think you can have something different every day of the year, and never have to leave town!

  13. Leigh Hanson

    We loved having you and your friends staying at the Inn!
    Hope you had as much fun with us as we had with you.
    Come back and see us soon…

  14. Lori Rosso

    WOW!!! Even I am impressed with this posting and I live in Gulfport! We may be one of the smallest towns you are visiting, but we have great big heart, fun and most definitely FOOD. I think you got a good representation of what we are all about here during your quick stop and hope to see you in return visits. The lovely friends who came in to greet you and support seemed just as impressed and I hope they will return too.