Ok, so where did we leave off? Oh yes…
The day before we were due to leave my brother’s in Missouri, we all loaded in his car and headed for Springfield to the Bass Pro Headquarters. Or as they like to call themselves, “The Grandaddy of All Outdoor Stores.”
Now, I’ve been in all sorts of Bass Pro Shops and Cabelas across both Canada and the U.S., so I thought I knew what to expect.
First thing is, this place is incredibly huge. Almost 500,000 square feet of outdoor gear, clothing, boats, ATV’s, fish tanks, water features, stuffed wildlife, cafés, and even a couple of museums. Attached to the same building is Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, featuring a 1.5 million gallon aquarium and 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles and birds. We opted to leave this attraction for another time, but that’s ok, since they’re still building on to it. We’ll come back and investigate when they’re finished.
Lions & Tigers and…Wait, No Tigers
Stepping in the main doors, you’re immediately in awe of the sheer size of this place. Everywhere you look is rustic, log cabin decor and wildlife dioramas. The sound of running water permeates the whole building. The hardest part is trying to decide in which direction to go first.
One of the first things I noticed was this “pool” on the stone floor. Projected with a holographic laser, fish are swimming around in this circle of light. The coolest feature was that when someone stepped on the “pool”, sometimes the water would ripple and the fish would scramble away from your foot.
You can see it better here in the video,
although I wasn’t fast enough with the camera to get the fish scattering. I also apologize for the shakiness and sometimes low video quality in our little film, which was done entirely on our phones. One of these days, I’m going to invest in a decent video camera and a gimbal, I swear.
Throughout the store, staff were preparing for the holidays. Garland and lights were everywhere, and a children’s section in the boat area featured a small carousel, complete with moose, bear and elk to ride on.
Walking throughout the rest of the store, we were treated to displays of live alligators, a huge alligator gar, waterfalls, beaver dams, trout ponds with live ducks in them and more.
Along one outside wall, for almost the entire length of the building, was a 3 story diorama featuring large elk, bighorn sheep balancing on craggy cliff edges and a cougar hunting from above. Two glassed-in elevators provided a unique and close up view of the the wall and surrounding exhibits.
From one of the many vantage points on the wall, you can see a larger than life replica of James Earle Fraser’s famous 1915 sculpture, “The End of the Trail.” It’s quite beautiful.
Toward the center of the building at the top of the escalator, you are greeted by this big fellow,
who guards the entrance to the Wildlife Galleries, the Bass Pro Shops Museum, and the Bass Pro Shops Motorsports Museum. The latter features the O.C.C. bike designed by Paul Teutul Jr., which was behind glass and difficult to get a good photo of.
Oh, yes, and there was a bunch of stuff about this fellow.
Back to the Trail
Leaving Missouri behind, we pushed on the following day, fighting a wicked head wind the entire way through Oklahoma. But by nightfall, we found a sweet camping spot quite close to the interstate, complete with water and electric hookups, on a pretty little lake. All for free.
The next couple of days found us still fighting the wind throughout Texas, New Mexico, and finally into Arizona, where we landed at the Twin Arrows Casino in Flagstaff for the night. The casino and it’s staff were warm and welcoming, and it’s one of the prettiest casinos we’ve seen so far.
But while the people were warm, the weather was certainly not. The temperature dipped well below freezing that night, making for our coldest night on the road so far. But, no tanks or lines froze up, so no harm, no foul.
Here Comes the Sun
While in Flagstaff, Mike headed down to Northern Arizona Wind and Sun to take advantage of a deal on solar panels. It still wasn’t cheap, but Pete is now hooked up with 610 Watts of sunshine power, freeing us almost entirely from using the generator.
We moved on to Phoenix, where we were welcomed with open arms by our wonderful friends Maureen and Neil. Taking a bit of a break from the road, we moochdocked in their driveway for a few days while Mike and Neil installed the new solar panels, and Maureen and I hit the craft stores. 🙂
Finally, we’ve settled into the LTVA in Quartzsite. The weather is warm, the solar is working fantastic, and we’ve picked up a few items that have made our lives easier than last year, including a portable washing machine that will run quite well on the solar. We’ve also made great new friends, like Dan, and Lesley & Chris from Colorado and Betty & Gerry from New York.
I can’t quite believe we’ve been here three weeks already. It’s been quiet so far, but much easier and more comfortable than last year. Fingers crossed for another great season.
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