You love this part of the park for many reasons: lots of foul balls, great sight lines, and best of all you're within point-blank heckling range of the enemy bullpen. And when those stinkin' Braves are in town, the fireballing, immigrant-bashing, racist homophobe nincompoop every baseball fan loves to hate is sitting right in front of you. His thick, red neck is just waiting for you to heap invective upon it. Problem is, he's been heckled so darn much the past year or so, your barb will have to be really cutting to penetrate his callused hide -- to say nothing of that dense, bony skull and walnut-size brain. What to say, what to say....

Hello, what's this piece of paper that just fell at your feet from two rows up? Why, it's a photo of the reviled reliever himself (in which his mouth is agape, as always). You search your pockets for a writing implement, debating whether to go with (a) devil's horns, (b) Hitler mustache, (c) hayseed between the teeth, or (d) all of the above.

"Excuse me, did my picture fall down there?" You look over your shoulder at a mousy, bespectacled woman in a Braves T-shirt. Silently you hand her the snapshot, and watch in bemusement as the woman strides down the steps, leans over the bullpen wall, then returns with her hero's autograph.

Another spectator asks her why she's such a fan of the big fella. "Because he's honest and he speaks his mind," she declares in a slight drawl.

You look back down into the 'pen, where the paragon of homespun, folksy wisdom is about to sit back down. It's now or never. You take your best shot:

"Hey Rocker, you suck!"

Ooh. Stung him with that one. Definitely.

For a tennis scene devoid of tea-party etiquette, Hardy Park is the place to go. The four hard courts, lit until 9:45 p.m., attract scrappy players who don't wear white and who don't need well-manicured courts. And best of all, they're free.
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
Ebyabe via Wikimedia Commons
For most of A1A's course through Fort Lauderdale, the west side of the street is a hideous combo of strip malls, restaurants, condos, hotels, and curio shops: crap, in other words. But then you come upon a strange little strip of mangroves and sea oats corralled behind a wrought iron fence, which seems as out of place on this road as a ballerina at a biker bar. That would be the eastern boundary of Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Mr. Birch was a reclusive former attorney from Chicago who amassed the land for a dollar per acre. In 1949 he donated it to the state, and today it's a priceless reminder of just how beautiful Fort Lauderdale must have been long ago. Spread a blanket on the beach or grab a picnic table on the Intracoastal and watch the parade of passing boats. (But beware the marauding raccoons. You could lose your lunch.)

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