Recently opened near Ashland is Richmond's new Bass Pro Shops store. While it is essentially just another store for outdoor activities with an emphasis on fishing and hunting, we had heard that it also had quite the theme park atmosphere going on. In other words, despite the fact that we had no interests in buying any outdoor equipment, it was worth going to take a look around simple for the entertainment factor.
You know something is different when you have to go through a turnstile at the main entrance. At least they don't charge an entry fee! We arrived around lunchtime, so decided to have a bite to eat at the attached Islamoranda Fish Restaurant. There was a short wait for a table and we begun to browse the store. Its really a Mecca for all that's tacky about rednecks. I don't have a problem with the redneck lifestyle. Nor do I even object to 'weekend rednecks' who live in the city but go huntin' and fishin' in their spare time. But neither group really has any need for recliner furniture upholstered with forest camouflage print fabric! But then you knew the chain dedicated to the commercialization of outdoor activities when you saw the alcove dedicated to NASCAR.
Lunch was very pleasant. The dining room had a huge reef-themed fish tank (although the coral fake) which helped you forget that the view out the window was I-95. I got a Smoked Wahoo Wrap, although I still have no idea what a wahoo is. After lunch took a closer look at the main attraction of the store, a huge indoor freshwater pond full of local varieties of fish, complete with cascading waterfall that comes down from the ceiling. The pond is built above the floor with a plexiglass front so you can see all the fish, and every so often a member of staff does a quick educational session about the different species.
Next we headed upstairs to check out the camping section, which is all we would seriously be interested in. Unfortunately they don't really cater to real outdoors types. The first thing you are confronted with is their range of huge gas and charcoal grills, fryers and other cooking equipment. It's all ridiculous technology that is in no way easily portable - more for the type of people that go camping out the back of their F-150. The only thing we saw that we liked was a two person kayak.
For the fun of it we wandered over to the hunting section. I'll admit it: I like to look at guns and fantasize that I have some legitimate use for one in my life. In fact, not just one, but several, such that I would need a $3000 gun safe in my office for my extensive arsenal. But I don't, so I have to be content with watch other people who don't need guns try to buy one despite having no criteria for choosing a weapon other than which one looks the coolest. Or on the case of one gentleman, without the proper ID. "Don't worry" says the salesman, "We'll get you squared away".