I have been going to the Gulf Coast of Florida for vacation with my family ever since I can remember. I remember riding in the back of a van with my cousin Catherine when we were little, then taking turns driving my grandparents with my cousin Susan when we were older, and always, always stopping at a rest stop halfway there to eat pimiento cheese sandwiches. (Oh, how I hated that part. Look into a McDonald's, GRANDMOTHER.) Then, when Madeleine was born, introducing the tradition to her and Vince. This year will be the first that she hasn't gone with us -- she is staying in town to do some high-school-sorority-related activities (read: hazing freshmen). We will miss her a lot, but she knows she will be back. This year, new friends and their kids are coming, and I'm so excited to introduce them to our good old Redneck Riviera. Here, for your enjoyment, the things I love most about Florida:

1. Shrimp boils 2. The Flora-Bama 3. That beautiful emerald water 4. Polka dot bikinis 5. Catching sand crabs at night with flashlights and buckets 6. Rainbow umbrellas 7. Miller High Life (The Champagne of Beers) 8. Acoustic guitar sing-alongs 9. Straw cowboy hats 10. BEACH BOOKS! (This year's picks: Spoiled; This Won't Hurt A Bit; Bossypants) 11. Perdido Bay

We leave Sunday, and I cannot wait. See you on the flip side, fools.

AuthorAB Chao