In Florida

In Florida, traffic signs and signals are regarded more as guidelines than as rules. You can expect anywhere from one to six cars to go through a light after it’s turned red, and nobody ever honks their horn at any of these scofflaws.

In Florida, the roads all have much higher speed limits than you’d expect. It seems like the entire roadway system is made up of wide parkways, where you can drive 55 from stoplight to stoplight. But there are also toll roads, which cost a few quarters to use, but are much smoother and have lighter traffic than the interstate.

In Florida, motorcyclists aren’t required to carry insurance (only two states allow this insurancelessness: Florida and Washington). But they also allow motorcyclists to ride without helmets. However, if you choose to ride without a helmet, apparently you’re required to carry $10,000 of some sort of special medical insurance, in case you get hit and bash your head open. My guess is that there are a lot more motorcycle deaths here than usual, since the insurance-free, helmet-free cycle probably appeals to inexperienced young drivers who don’t want to spend a lot to get around.

In Florida, everybody is eerily nice. And it’s not the phony rude politeness of Seattle — it’s genuine niceness. Most people seem to have come here from somewhere else, so it’s not natives of the area who are especially kind. Maybe it’s something in the air, or the sufficient levels of vitamin D that everyone gets. All I know is that when I’m down here, and especially when I’m on Disney property, I myself get a lot nicer and more helpful and cheerful. Weird.

In Florida, people move faster than you’d expect. In Hawaii, you live in “island time” — a more mellow and relaxed pace. That doesn’t seem to be the case here. From speeding cars to speaking just a little bit too fast, the pace here seems quick. We’ve been pegged as being “from the north” by one local already, because we’re “mellow”.

In Florida, freaky news stories happen twice a week. This week’s diaper-wearing killer astronaut and sudden bimbo death may be hard to top in the future, but I’m sure Florida will give it her all.