Best Miami Dolphins Player 2003 | Ricky Williams | Sports & Recreation | South Florida
The stiff arm. The explosive power. The speed. The moves. The dreads. The personal website. The strangeness. The weird spats with police. The social disorder. This is almost too easy a choice. Williams isn't just a great running back; he's a hell of a complex person. There is an unpredictability about him that makes for great suspense and tension -- like a tautly filmed movie with an unsettling ending. Never before have we seen one person concurrently display such raw and powerful violence with such sublime sensitivity; you can't help but wonder which side will win out. He practices photography, and if he brings half the artistry to that craft that he does to rushing, he'll be the next Richard Avedon. But nowhere will he ever achieve the sheer beauty -- the apocalyptic explosion at the line of scrimmage, the fiery sweep to the sideline -- that he creates on a football field. Miracles like that don't occur twice in a lifetime.
This guy is a smorgasbord of tot-inspired talent. For a fee, he offers sno-cones, cotton candy, face-painting, and that nemesis of paranoid parents, a bounce house. To calm adults' jittery nerves, he sometimes even makes frozen margaritas -- though he generally avoids such fare at kiddie shindigs. Gary Cardonick's specialty is balloons. The 36-year-old Coral Springs dweller, who boasts an associate's degree in business, can make motorcycles, Bugs Bunny, even a working Ferris wheel by mangling a little rubber-cum-air. He got his start a decade ago at the Baja Beach Club in Fort Lauderdale, where he did just about everything you can imagine to make a buck. He even recalls selling his clown shoes for $200 to a rich guy who was trying to impress his date. ("I went home in stocking feet," he comments.) He started face-painting four or five years ago, added the bounce house in 1999 after a stock tip paid off (we love a clown who plays the market), then added the food in the past couple of years. Twisty don't come cheap: His full-service birthday costs $350. You might consider starting a preschool if you really want him over. That's only $150 a shot. "Good advertising there," Cardonick says.
There's a great path between water and trees in Pompano that is one of the few places in South Florida where you can run without getting hit by a car. If you like to space out when you move, this strip of concrete is safe. You have to worry most about tripping over one of the walkers or bicycle riders. But the path is pretty wide, and the people are polite, so the risk of person-versus-person collision and injury is low. If you like to focus on surroundings rather than accomplishment, keep your eye on the water while you sweat. There'll be ducks on the surface, turtles on the bank, and fish that jump from the water and splash down several yards downstream. And hey, a couple of bridges give you one of the few places in this flat region with slight elevation, so you can work your quads. To get there, follow Palm Aire Drive south from Powerline Road; this beauteous place to exercise runs between Atlantic Boulevard and McNab Road.
There's not much to do in Easterlin Park, and that's just the point. Unlike busy, high-energy gathering places, Easterlin is a passive, urban wilderness area, much of whose 47 acres are taken up with an honest-to-God cypress forest -- rather amazing, since it's only a stone's throw from the hyperbusy intersection of Oakland Park Boulevard and Powerline Road. All of which means that it's a good place for a quiet walk, a good locale for a peaceful picnic, an oasis amid a firestorm. Take a relaxing stroll through the unspoiled forest -- admire 250-year-old trees and other native flora while birds converse in the treetops and squirrels skitter across your path. Notice that the occasional train whistles are just far enough away to blend in with the sounds of nature. Sit trance-like while ducks glide serenely across the smallish lake, and fish if you like... it's allowed. Camping is an option too; there are 55 campsites, many for tents only, not RVs. Volleyball and shooting hoops are permitted if you must do something. But really, this park's simple charm is the peaceful escape it affords. Maybe that why it's a workers' favorite at lunchtime. Admission is free during the week, only $1 per person on weekends and holidays.
So what do you want from a picnic spot? A little quiet. A little solitude. A nice view. And, if you have kids, a playground nearby to keep them entertained while you soak up the best Mother Nature has to offer. If that's your criteria, you can't do better than John D. MacArthur State Park. The 336-acre idyll (161 acres are underwater) is the perfect place to peel off the stresses of work-a-day life. While some naturists have taken the park's allure literally, stripping off their bathing suits much to the dismay of park staff, this is no place for controversy. With towering pines, a nature center, a 1,600-foot boardwalk, playgrounds, and 1.8 miles of beach, the place allows visitors to do as much or as little as they like. And in this setting, less is truly more. Grab a picnic table. Grill a hotdog. Sit back. Enjoy.This place rocks if you're 7 years old or younger. It swings too. And it has one of those gizmos that kids hold with both hands as they slide across a rail while suspended eight feet in the air. There's also stuff from smaller, less-sophisticated playgrounds like slides, climbing bars, and bridges to walk over. Lots of 'em. There are even two sections to this monstrous facility, one for very little ones and one for big kids. Then there are the huge sun shades that keep it cool in the summer. And the facility, located in the center of TY's 150 acres, is close to dozens of other recreational activities like the water park at Castaway Island, boat rentals, tennis and basketball courts, picnic shelters, and a campground. The place's name means "meeting place" in the Seminole language; your kids are sure to meet others here. Thus, you can kick back and enjoy some peace -- a rarity on the parental front. On weekends, as many as 100 kids jam this place, so get there early. The park is open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the summer and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in winter. Admission is a buck a person. Kids under age 5, the real target audience for this sixth wonder of the juvenile world, are admitted free.

Memo to the Lake Worth City Commission: You have spent much of the past decade wringing your hands about what to do with the city's municipal beach. Stop it! Leave it alone. This throwback to the 1950s has everything any beachgoer could want. For those who are content to spend an afternoon soaking up the rays, there's 1,300-feet of uninterrupted white stuff. For those who begin to get bored shortly after the sunscreen kicks in, there are plenty of diversions, including a 962-foot fishing pier, surfing, volleyball, and even a pier-side restaurant where you can down a couple of cold ones while checking out the near-naked crowd. Like your water without salt? Venture across the street and do a couple of laps in the city's Olympic-sized swimming pool, then cool down by taking a stroll through a half-dozen kitschy shops. Improve it? How do you improve upon perfection?Two words: free parking.

Q: Ever watch reality-TV shows?

A: Well, I've seen one that Ford sponsors. A sort of "no boundaries" show. It's kind of hard to remember. They actually go around the world with their teammates. Then they all pick a leader. Then the leader votes off one of the members.

Q: You sure? Sounds like a combination of Amazing Race and Survivor.

A: I can't remember the name. I think the interesting part was actually doing all those things -- mountain biking, running, working together as a team. The part I don't like is when they get rid of team members. The person they get rid of isn't always best. There's strategy. People being pitted against each other.

Q: You know sponsors, not shows.

A: I'm into getting sponsors. I know the gentleman from Ford who does the Mountain Bike Experience here. Toyota does a show too.

Q: Are there any others you've watched?

A: I've seen Fear Factor periodically. People will do just about anything for money. I wouldn't do half of that stuff. It's not healthy. Like eating maggots. My husband watches and says, "Mmm, protein." But things like that are really not good for you. Physically or mentally.

Q: Is it real?

A: I don't think so. It's all for show. It's all to get ratings. They're missing the point. Most of what they do is for money and publicity. It's a lot different to really work toward a goal, to achieve something you really want to achieve, to make yourself a better person.

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