When Ray Hudson won his first game as Miami Fusion head coach, he kissed his players on the lips, grabbed team co-owner Ken Horowitz in a bear hug, swung him around and announced, "I'm higher than a hippie at Woodstock." This transplanted Scot may not know the meaning of the word restraint, but he knows enough others to be a veritable quote machine. He sums up the task facing the defense saying it "needs to be on its tippy-toes, like a midget at a urinal." Commenting on the change in his team's play, he says, "This team was as dangerous as my grandmother knitting a quilt." Explaining how a winning tide can turn, he says, "We have the slushy in the cup holder. The music is playing. There are no problems, and then all hell breaks loose." On his own job, he says, "It's like juggling balls on a high wire while riding a unicycle." But his similes of circus acts aside, there is no question that the man who first made his mark on South Florida as a midfielder for the now-defunct Fort Lauderdale Strikers is no clown. In less than a year, he has turned the beleaguered soccer club around. And the story of how he got the chance to do it is almost as good as his quotes. One day last spring Hudson was working as the team's community outreach manager, selling pro soccer to school kids. The next day, he was tapped to be the team's head coach. Did he really want the job? "Guys now say, Hey, coach,' and I thought about what if I don't get this job, what are they going to say: Hey, community outreach manager'? I don't want that, you know? I like coach." The players and the fans like it, too.

The best part of a trip to the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve is the engendered sense of superiority. As you motor toward Naples on I-75, smirk at the lightweights en route to guided airboat rides. Cackle at the sandal-wearing sissies sauntering through the Miccosukee Indian Reservation's mammoth rest stop. You, stoked for adventure, are leaving the cakewalk behind for the Fakahatchee Strand. To get to the trails, turn off the interstate onto southbound State Road 29. Go about 15 miles (until you hit Copeland) and turn west onto Jane's Memorial Scenic Drive, which becomes a remote dirt road. After driving through a few miles of overgrown forest, you'll come to gated, unmarked paths. Park, strap on your backpack, and start walking. The paths cut through a thick, swampy forest of palm trees, brambles, and tall grass. In some places fallen branches obstruct the trails, which extend for miles and mostly do not intersect. The only noises come from birds calling out as they swoop overhead, the wind rattling through the branches, the rhythmic croaking of frogs, and the occasional mystery animal walking within earshot. More than anything else, the Fakahatchee Strand is the kind of place where you could die and no one would find you for weeks. Though you probably won't run into another hiker, expect to see wildlife; sightings of brown bear, raccoons, birds, snakes, and alligators are common. And if you aren't tough enough, Naples, with its golf-playing, sweater vest-wearing tourists, is only a short drive away.
Smith gets the nod not only because he brought a solid running game to the 'Fins for the first time since Nixon resigned but also because of the hardships he's had to overcome during his seven years in the NFL. When he was a rookie in 1994, he was involved in an alcohol-related car wreck that partially paralyzed teammate Mike Frier. The injuries ended Frier's career; the guilt and bad press could have ended Smith's, but he persevered, showing both contrition and character. He pleaded guilty to vehicular assault, shared his salary with Frier, and took his lumps in the papers as he languished, often on the bench, for four years in Seattle. In 1998 he went to play for the New Orleans Saints' Mike Ditka, a coach revered for his compassion and capacity for introspection and forgiveness -- oh, and for pigs flying out of his ass as well. The Big Easy was plenty hard for Smith, who again struggled. This past season, Dave Wannstedt signed Smith mainly to give projected starter J.J. Johnson some competition. Smith competed Johnson right out of a job. At a compact 5 feet 11 inches and 230 pounds, he has a bloodhound's nose for the hole, deceptively quick feet, and enough power to punish tacklers (and occasionally run over them). The 30-year-old back had a great regular season (1139 yards, 14 touchdowns), but his monster game came in the playoffs when he beat Indy with a 209-yard performance. Smith doesn't talk about Seattle anymore. (In fact teammates say he doesn't talk much, period.) He lets his game do the talking.

If anyone knows fishing, it's worms. Thus by extrapolation, the guys who sell worms to fishermen ought to know where the good fishing is; four of five bait shops surveyed recommended Anglin's Fishing Pier. And why not? The fish are biting. Ask folks along the pier, "Havin' any luck?" (asking if anglers have caught anything is taboo), and they will likely say something to the effect of "yup" or "mmhmm." Bluegill abound in these waters, along with several larger species of fish, especially after a full moon. Strange things happen under the full moon, the saying goes, and this applies particularly to the ichthyoid community; lunar rays turn underwater dwellers into sex-crazed fiends that begin to spawn with anything that moves and looks reasonably like a fish. The result of this aquatic orgy is that the little swimmers get hungry, and those worms on the end of your hook look better and better. So catch full-moon fever at the pier, and catch yourself some dinner.
Because of the airport tram's resemblance to a theme-park attraction, you can calm antsy kids by taking them on a ride around the terminals and parking lots. "Just like Busch Gardens' pseudosafari," you can tell them. But it is fun, not because of the view from the tram (parking spots, terminals, and travelers, oh my!), but because of the sights within. On a recent trip one elderly gent, like some overgrown jack-in-the-box, stood up numerous times until he was warned to sit down. Another man perpetually muttered, "I'm in handicapped parking." Acting like a tram tour guide, a handsome airport maintenance worker politely answered riders' questions -- but unlike the workers on traditional theme park rides, he did it while smoking a cigarette and flexing his buff, browned biceps.
Oh sure, you can hack the greens at plenty of swank and ritzy courses. But we recommend Pompano Beach because it offers two great golf experiences and you don't have to sell your kidney on the Internet to play there. You can go out tomorrow and glide through 18 holes in the morning for a mere $22. If you walk the course (the way God intended), the price plummets to as little as $10. And get this: off-season membership (from April through November) goes for just $280. What do you get in return? Try lush courses with six lakes, brand-new greens, a new practice facility, and beautiful woods and shrubs with wildlife including foxes and ospreys. You'll feel the morning breeze off the nearby ocean, which usually keeps the temperature under 90 degrees, even on the worst summer days. The location also shields you from many of the storms coming off the Everglades. The only decision left, then, is which course to play, the Palms or the Pines. The Palms is short, with picturesque doglegs. It's fun. The Pines is long (7000 yards) and features one of the toughest back nines in Florida. It's mean. We like the Pines -- because it makes the beer seem even colder when we head to the course restaurant after a punishing round.
For less money per month than you'd spend on a basic cell phone plan, you can buff your bod and stoke your heart at Downtown Gym. It's smallish and seems geared more toward free-weight equipment than weight machines, but the essentials are here. There's a wall of dumbbells with poundage that most of us can only dream of lifting some day. For cardio it offers treadmills, bikes, StairMasters, and those newfangled elliptical walkers. Freebies include ample parking and lockers for clothes and valuables (bring your own lock). And for those who haven't had the time or inclination to buy music headsets, the gym's sound system plays consistently good alternative rock tunes -- untainted by commercials. A one-year membership in the basic plan works out to around $25 a month, which includes unlimited use of the gym and free abdominal-strengthening classes. Group fitness lessons cost members just $7. Splurge on rice cakes (or ice cream) with the money you save.

On a team the age and health problems of which were its undoing, House's youth and upside win him the prize. When the Heat made the Arizona State guard the 37th pick in last year's NBA draft, the question heard at breakfast tables across South Florida was, "Who is Eddie House?" He's a scorer, we were told -- in fact he once scored 61 points in an overtime college game. He was touted as a Glen Rice-caliber shooter. So how did we get him? Well, he's a 'tweener. At six-foot-one, he was too short for the two-guard slot and didn't have the ball-handling skills to play the point. Coach Pat Riley gambled on him anyway; judging by House's rookie season, it was a hell of a bet. Number 5 has sparked several victories with his play off the bench and shows an almost uncanny ability to stroke the net with his jumper. He's deceptively quick and practices as hard as anybody on the team. But he played only in about a third of the games this past season, and even then for scant minutes. Sure, he got a little extra PT in the playoff debacle, but that was a desperation move by Riley as the team fell apart against the Hornets. Next season House must be not only in the Heat's house but on the floor. We think he can be something special, as in Miami's answer to The Answer. (OK, maybe not that good, but who knows?) The bottom line is, we agree with Riley's 12-year-old daughter, who is known to wear an "FEH" T-shirt: "Free Eddie House!"
Quiet Waters Park
Famous for its annual Renaissance festival, Quiet Waters boasts some qualities that have nothing to do with thousands of pseudo-Brits juggling, forsoothing, and quaffing swill. Unbeknownst to many it's a light hiking and camping locale. The park, open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., offers a great escape from the suburbanized domesticity of its surroundings with 430 acres of greenery packed with squirrels, birds, and the occasional raccoon. If you don't want to hoof it, detour onto the oft-used bike trails for a shin-banging jaunt through the park's northwestern corner. You can camp overnight, but make reservations first. This place isn't as hush-hush as its name implies.

J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area
Precious few spots exist in Broward and Palm Beach counties where you can let loose a pebble from your slingshot, much less a volley of buckshot from your gun, without hitting the side of a building. But the Corbett Wildlife Area offers a whopping 60,000 acres with game aplenty. Managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the preserve is home to deer, wild hogs, turkeys, and a plethora of other critters. During small-game season in January and February, you can blast away at squirrels jumping through the oak hammocks or pursue quail, rabbit, opossum, raccoon, beaver, coyote, armadillo, and skunk. Turkey season runs from March to April and November through January. Bow-and-arrow aficionados can hunt for deer and small game in late August and early September. For those who prefer bagging deer and small game à la pioneer, with muzzleloaders, the season runs during portions of September and October. A $26.50 permit lets you hunt at any of the state's 100 wildlife preserves. Hunters must also buy the appropriate license. The wildlife commission will set exact dates for the 2001-02 hunting seasons in June.

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