Rewind to two weeks before Christmas 2000 and a pool-side bar in a motel at Estero Beach in Florida, the state that Chuck Wendig called America's hot, moist land-wang. I'm sitting next to a group of locals who are discussing hanging chads. Two of the loudest are carrying barely concealed guns. Down the road, there's a shop called Guns n Porn, a candy-pink stucco cinema showing The Grinch, and a few hours away via the 1-75, aka Alligator Alley, is Miami. We've covered quite a lot of the state already, and I am utterly baffled. I thought I was going somewhere vaguely familiar, like a visit to an aunt I hadn't seen in twenty years, but the family relationship was still there. With Florida, I had an illusion of a connection that had been fed by Disney, Lily Pulitzer dresses and Maybelline Great Lash Mascara in all their Floridian pink and green glory. As a teenager, I devoured Pat Booth's bonkbuster novels set in Palm Beach and watched Miami Vice. I'd made a key lime pie. Hell, I'd tasted Florida! I thought I would know it when I met it.