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Florida or Bust: Gulfport is for Artists, An Ice Cream Cone Shaped Ice Cream Shop, Fort De Soto Beach Rules and a Very Southern Diner

Day 7
While Scott was at work we had a relaxing morning. 

I must not be very relaxing.

Our gracious Airbnb hostess left suggestions on things to do in the area and mentioned a farmers market was nearby on Tuesdays. Lucky for us it was Tuesday so we walked over to check it out. 

Then we checked out the beach. Blake wasn't impressed. Plus it would be cloudy with a chance of rain on our free day.

For a guy who wasn't impressed, he sure looks happy. Perhaps the fact that we saw it the night before.

A lemon tree.

Brooke loves taking pictures of citrus trees.

I was disappointed that there was only one food vendor at the market. I did buy an alligator car for Meadow from a wood craftsman.

Meanwhile I had two shoots today and  had to find a place for lunch in the northern exurbs of Tampa Bay.

I'd wanted a chinese buffet all week.  Golden Inn was probably the best lunch Chinese buffet I've had. This makes up for Saltwater Cafe.

Since Meadow hadn't really had any decent naps on this trip. Mostly little ones in the car. I thought I would let her sleep as long as she wanted, plus it was raining. Blake and I played bored games and read.

Then I found that there was a thrift store nearby so we headed there. All the older women there LOVED Meadow. Blake ended up getting a Minnesota/Wisconisn map and I got Meadow a sand shovel all for only .50.

With a break in the clouds we walked around the neighborhood. 

Blake and Scott made fun of me for bringing rice cakes. C'mon top them with peanut butter, bananas and honey and it makes a delicious snack.

While those toppings are quite delcious, the underlying rice cake still sucks.

Always getting stuck under furniture.

As it was raining again we relaxed until Scott got home.

Blake and I became addicted to solitaire.

She was still playing when I got home from my shoots.

From our short time in Florida we could tell that Gulfport was an outlier. It wasn't car-centric strip malls, the houses were cute in an understated way and it's someplace I could actually stand living.

Plus there were lots of cute bungalows.

When I told my aunt that we'd be staying here, she told me that we would like it. It seems there aren't that many arty artist conclaves in this part of Florida.

You could just chill here for a lifetime.

For dinner we walked back over to the main drag to Peg's Cantina.

Blake and I continued our board games.

We had nachos for an appetizer and drank the house microbrew: Cycle Brewing.

There weren't any tables available so we sat at the bar. Poor Meadow had to sit way below us. She didn't seem to mind as long as I kept handing her food.

This turned out to be right up their with R. Thomas for best food on the trip.

Cycle's tap handles are killer. I could go for one of their beers right about now.

It turns out the owner is from Iowa. Everyone we've met down here isn't an actual true Floridian. 

Meadow's such a good sport.

After dinner we walked around more of Gulfport.

Can't say I remember what's going on here.

I have no clue either. Blake?

 We were all wishing the sun would come out.

Florida bohemians are bizarre.

I loved this little home/dog house.

Driving to Scott's aunt's house the night before, I spotted a giant ice cream cone. I told Scott we had to go there. There was a bait shop next door that had a sign listing names of lures. At first I thought the sign was for Twistee Treat and was wondering what kind of flavor the Tormented Freaker would be.

I finally know the story of Tormented Freaker. A lure...

Brooke and Blake got hand scooped ice cream, while I got their blueberry soft-serve.

Yup solitaire addict.

Day 8
Baby breakfast.

I miss all of that dried fruit you made us for the trip.

Scott had one more shoot in the morning.

Meadow took one last good nap before we packed up.

Meadow and I were going to miss our little Florida cottage.

As we were leaving we finally got to meet our hostess.

We highly recommend Edie's Fun and Funky Retro Bungalow.

Here's a rare family photo.

I made Blake take this since we never get these. Plus he was our au pair for the trip. He couldn't say no.

We ate at the Habana Cafe down the road from Edie's place in Gulfport. Brooke got a massive salad. Blake and I got a more traditional Cuban fare.

I thought I would get a salad and then share with Scott, but my salad ended up being a meal in itself.

We asked Edie what the best beach in the area was and she recommended the one at Fort De Soto Park. There was a fee to get in, but it'd be worth it. 

I had been waiting for it to be warm enough to let Meadow try out the swings. We parked right next to the park so I knew this was her chance. She LOVED it. She squeled and giggled the whole time.

Edie was right. The beach was gorgeous and it was the perfect day to go.

It's a beach like this that makes you realize people deal with the heat and humidity.

And the lizards and anacondas and alligators and snakes.

We'd made it all the way to the beach only for Brooke to go back for her hat. (I think)

Nope my waterproof camera and an umbrella for shade.

This was Blake and Meadow's first time in saltwater. Meadow loved splashing in the waves. She also liked eating the sand. Oops.

We heard through Twitter and Facebook that there was a snowstorm back at home.

No snowstorms in Florida.

She's going to love going to beach this summer.

As long as she doesn't eat all of the sand. 

Blake the forager started collecting seashells.

Blake and I played in the waves while Brooke was being motherly.

I brought my waterproof camera, but halfway through it stopped rolling the film. I later discovered too much sand got in the shutter.

All of our cameras got gunked up with sand. I never like to hear that grinding sound in my $1500 lenses.

I need to lose some weight to match my lost hair.

This was turning out to be the best day of our whole trip.

Man was this fun.

We each took turns watching Meadow so we could all get time in the water. While Blake and I were jumping into the waves my top fell off. Oops. I really hope no one saw that.

Beach bums are too fun to photograph. That is, as long as you aren't creepy about it.

Can we stay all week?

Blake's collection was getting pretty good.

Blake watched Meadow so Scott and I could take a stroll along the beach.

I think Blake said that this was an egg sack.

We spotted lots of interesting creatures.

The humans were pretty interesting too.

Although Edie claimed to see dolphins here we didn't see any.

I collected shells on our walk too.

I sure do have two beautiful ladies in my life.

We had places to be, so we meandered back to our car.

Meadow had one last playtime on the swings before heading out.

Since we did pay to go to this park we figured we would get our moneys worth and see the actual Fort.

Nice picture Brooke!

Meadow is such a a good piggyback rider.

No gun climbing? Aw man.

While at the Fort Blake went to jail and was strangled.

Then we head to start heading inland.

Scott's next work destination was in Ocala. Across the street from our hotel was Aunt Fannie's Restaurant.

I really felt like I was in the south here.

Their menu was separated in three sections and we took a long time to order.

I've noticed women down here love touching your baby.

Oh yea sweet tea.

It's weird how just a few hours north of Tampa and you are in the deep south again.

We all had more food then we could eat. Apparently their corned beef and cabbage was their speciality. I can vouch that it was pretty good.

I was tempted to purchase some pure cane syrup.

The little walk to our hotel was full of great neon signs.

I wanted to check out our pool to see how heated it actually was, but the gate was closed. 


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