BASS PRO SHOPS: MEMPHIS
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.