BASS PRO SHOPS: MEM­PHIS

Boating - - MOTORHEAD -

Along the route, I had a no­tion to stop in Mem­phis to visit the Bass Pro Shops. I ex­pected to be im­pressed but was ac­tu­ally awed by the sil­ver pyra­mid ris­ing like the mon­u­ments of Giza, ex­cept this was along the shore of the Mis­sis­sippi.

One of my great ca­reer priv­i­leges was a term at Bass Pro Shops as out­door com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager back in the 1990s, when owner and pres­i­dent Johnny Mor­ris was just fir­ing up his re­tail ex­pan­sion mega ma­chine. Af­ter help­ing plan me­dia pro­mo­tions at ground­break­ings in Michi­gan and Fort Laud­erdale and meet­ing the press at grand-open­ing cer­e­monies at Is­lam­orada and At­lanta, I made it a point to visit ev­ery Out­door World I passed. A call to my for­mer co-worker, Bass Pro Shops out­door com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Katie Mitchell, landed me in an un­ex­pect­edly ram­bling, amaz­ing suite with a bal­cony over­look­ing over 500,000 square feet of the most dra­matic out­door ad­ven­tures in re­tail la-la land you can have in­doors or out­doors.

Big Cy­press Lodge boasts 103 ho­tel rooms in the pyra­mid, and at least 90 of them have bal­conies af­ford­ing a view down through cy­press trees alive with the sound of swamp birds, crick­ets and wildlife. Be­tween the cy­press run 600,000 gal­lons of fish-filled wa­ters also boast­ing wa­ter­fowl and an 84,000-gal­lon al­li­ga­tor habi­tat. Board­walks and side­walks me­an­der through this, and a fleet of john­boats, poke boats and punts, all typ­i­cal of this bayou area, are scat­tered through­out. At the top of the pyra­mid, I sam­pled a per­fectly seared steak at the Look­out at the Pyra­mid and slept fab­u­lously in a lush king-size bed. The hot tub re­mained un­used, but the enor­mous all-glass walk-in shower took the weary road off my body.

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