Our vacation was quickly coming to an end but we still had a few days left. Unfortunately it was time to say goodbye to South Beach and start the trip back up to Central Florida. But we had decided to take a little detour along the way. When I was young we had taken a trip along the famous Alligator Alley (Highway 75) and I wanted to do the same trip this time around. I had these memories of alligators lining the sides of the highway as we drove mile after mile through the Everglades.
To my dismay after driving along this stretch of highway those memories must have been larger than life. There were fences lining both sides of the highway and as my wife and kids kept vigilant watch out through the windows we didn’t see one single alligator.
After we drove west on 75 we eventually found ourselves in Fort Myers. This was where I had planned to stop for the day/night and stay over to break up the trip home. Just off the highway we found the Gulf Coast Town Center which was like a big box store shopping area. There were a couple of hotels with plenty of vacancies so we checked in. Once in the hotel we opened the curtains and were face to face with a Bass Pro Shop. I’ve been to a few of these in past adventures and even a few Cabela stores which are similar. These huge hunting and finishing super stores are really just amazing to me. My wife and oldest daughter were a little tired so they decided to stay in the room and rest, but my youngest was on board to check out the store.
I’ve mentioned this in previous posts that I’m not a hunter or fisherman, and if left along out in the woods I would probably starve to death. But these outdoor superstores are really intriguing to me. I could spend hours just wandering around checking out all the finishing poles, camouflage gear, and barbecue equipment.
We spent a good amount of time just going up and down all the aisles in the fishing section. The selection of poles, lures and other tech is really amazing. The fish don’t seem to have a chance. My daughter was fascinated with the large “aquarium” tank behind the counter that was filled with all sorts of fish.
Did I mention hot sauces? There is an entire area of this store dedicated to hot sauces of all kinds. They range from supposedly mild, to bottles with big black cross bone warring signs on them. Some are more unique like a white hot sauce, and even some made with moonshine.
The second floor gave a nice overview of just how big this store is, and the selection of merchandise in stock.
This second floor is also where I found the barbecue section which I always enjoy. I’ve been working on my BBQ and smoker techniques for a few years and have gotten pretty good. All these different grills and smokers, wood chips, thermometers, and other gadgets has me in heaven but my wallet won’t be so happy.
Back down on the main floor towards the back of the building is a huge replica mountain that is decorated with stuffed animals, but does have a real fish tank in it. This seems to be a favorite of the kids as they all seem to congregate around this area.
Lucky for me right next to this tank was the pressed penny machine. While my daughter watched the fish I quickly pressed a set of coins.
Usually these designs at Bass Pro Shops are all very similar but they do always have the specific city location listed on each of the designs. This set included the standard Bass Pro Shops logo, a Sailboat and beach, an Alligator, and a Crane.
After dragging my daughter away from the fish tank, we made our way to the check out area so I could buy my new BBQ equipment and loaded it up in the car. We met up with my wife and other daughter for dinner, and spend the early evening in the hotel pool relaxing. Our vacation was almost over and we only had one more day to get back home. But our trip had time for one last stop before going home.