As we pulled out of Branson, my head was scattered with thoughts ranging from our Branson experience to finding the tire store in Springfield to reviewing in my mind if everything was ready to travel with no drama. It seemed to be going smoothly and the GPS was keeping me on course. We found the tire store without any problems and they were slow on this Saturday morning and had us pull right in to the shop. We chose to go with a relatively new model of tire that Goodyear came out with for “buses”. I checked all of the D.O.T. datestamps to make sure all of the tires were recent manufacture and found all to be manufactured in March of 2015, which was pleasing to me. This Goodyear facility was a big truck facility and apparently sold a lot of tires, thereby the recent D.O.T. datestamps. When one of the criteria for tire life on a Motorhome is age, you don’t want to put tires on that are old or leftovers. Motorhome tires typically don’t wear out, but rather “age-out”. When they get to be 6-7-8 years old, it’s time to start having them checked by a tire pro, annually. Ours were showing a fair bit of “weathercracking” and I just felt more comfortable replacing them. I suppose I could have gotten another year or so out of them, but I know it would have been continually in the back of my mind and to have the peace of mind, I’m glad we made the move now.
Make no mistake, changing tires this size is a big job and requires special “big truck” equipment. These are very large tires and the bead is very thick. Something as simple as inflating them requires a special inflation cage because if that bead doesn’t seat well and pops, it can cause a lot of harm and bodily injury.
Another thing that was in the back of my mind was “what else will they find wrong”. I had them check the brakes all the way around while the tires were off and was really pleased when they told me that I have three quarters of the brakes left. So, no surprises!
They had us finished up around noon and after settling up our $3200 bill, I asked if there was anything we needed to see in Springfield before we headed on down the road. He told me that if we haven’t been to the Bass Pro Shop, that it’s worth seeing, even if we weren’t sportsmen, which we are. He said that this is the flagship store and the very first Bass Pro ever built and that it was huge.
So off we went to discover Bass Pro Shop flagship store. It was easy to find and as we approached, oh my, this facility went on for blocks. We found signs that directed RV’s to a special parking lot that actually had room for us. Outside the entry doors they had a map of the facility and I have to tell you, it was impressive. How many stores have 2 restaurants inside with one, called Hemingway’s being a nicer, fine dining restaurant serving fresh seafood from all over? Inside, the store was absolutely amazing and just seemed to go for miles.
“Now I’m not saying this is the 8th Wonder Of The World, but it certainly is impressive!”
Not only was each department the size of a High School, but their stunning wildlife vignettes were everywhere and impressively created. We had not intended to spend the entire day, but that’s what happened. Almost 500,000 square feet dedicated to the beauty of the outdoors. Waterfalls, aquariums, firing range, TRACKER® boat showroom, Hemingway’s Blue Water Café and more. They even had a pit with “live” alligators, wow! I’ve seen small water tank fishing displays before in stores, but this place has a number of small lakes, both indoor and outdoor that are stocked with a variety of different kinds of fish and actually had people fishing in them trying out new equipment and receiving instruction. Along with all the live fish and mounts there are two amazing museums in the store. Located on the fourth floor are the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum and the Archery Hall of Fame. The NRA National Sporting Arms Museum is dedicated to showing the progression of sporting arms throughout history. The museum also includes a large portion of arms from famous people through history like Jesse James’ revolver and holster or Teddy Roosevelt’s hunting rifle. This museum is connected to the Archery Hall of Fame which takes a historical look at archery throughout the U.S. In the Archery Hall of Fame is the wall of members. On this wall are the likes of Fred Bear and other archers and manufacturers who have changed the sport in their own way. In this collection is the original prototype compound bow and Geronimo’s bow and quiver that he handmade.
They have fly tying classes, gun classes, archery lessons, fishing classes, boating classes and the list goes on. If you’re a gun enthusiast, they even have a “Fine Gun” shop with very rare and expensive guns. I enjoyed looking at these expensive examples of craftsmanship and artistry with beautiful engraving, gold inlays, exquisite woodwork with exotic woods used for stocks and handgrips, all in a very impressive presentation.
After a very enjoyable day taking in the “theme park” that Bass Pro Shop built, it was back out to the Motorhome and on the road, headed west. Next stop…your guess is as good as mine!