Sunday, November 30, 2014

Woot! Woot! A Bass Pro Shop in Niagara!!!!

Back in the day, I'd never heard of Bass Pro Shop.  Who of us non-hunting, non-fishing types would have?  Then, fourteen years ago, we bought a boat.  I figured if I was going to live on the ocean, I'd better learn to fish.  A sweet enabler (also a Sabre Yacht owner) introduced me to the Bass Pro Shop fishing department in Daytona Beach, and I've been hooked ever since.

The 70 existing and proposed Bass Pro Shops in the US and Canada came from humble beginnings.  In 1971, John L. Morris opened a bait and worm shop behind his Dad's liquor store in Springfield, Missouri.  (Does this prove that fishing and drinking go hand-in-hand for many???  Capt'n B doesn't allow any imbibing while our vessel is under way, either by crew or guests.)  The Bass Pro Shop name was incorporated in 1971.  Catalogs came out in 1974.  By 1975, Johnboy was offering the first boat-motor-trailer package at a good price.  He was off to the races, as they say.  This combo is still his number one seller across the board.

The stores in this chain vary from 20,000 to 300,000 square feet in size, each a unique attraction.  Taxidermy mounts native to the local environs festoon each store.  Live fish tanks are used to demonstrate the efficacy of the baits on sale.  Also, little ones like to see the fish swim up to them behind the glass.  Who doesn't like aquariums?  Outdoor skills workshops on various topics are popular draws for customers.

All that to say, a brand new Bass Pro Shop has opened in Niagara.  81,000 square feet of retail heaven.  We went on opening night, after the first rush.  Our friend Steve calls malls "Temples of Want".  He's hit the nail on the head this time.  The line-up waiting for the the ribbon cutting ceremony, in below zero temperatures, blowing snow and miserableness, had snaked around the parking lot waiting to get in!!!!

The lobby was welcoming.

The first thing to grab my attention were the animals mounted on ledges, EVERYWHERE!

I'm thinking these were not taken as trophies, but fed families thru long, hard winters, like my father did for our family when I was young.

The profusion of antlers here gave me pause....  I thought we were supposed to leave them lying in the woods for the forest creatures to reclaim, for them to disappear back into the environment...?  Does that only count if you find them already shed by the wearer and not count if you take the whole animal at once??  You can tell I am not a hunter.

The diversity of what's available for sale here is mind-boggling!
The hunting section was the biggest part of the store.

Hunting, high-powered.


Decoys, anyone?

These signs gave me pause.  I know exactly who would buy several of them....

There was something for everyone.

A festive spirit sparkled thruout the store, with Santa and his reindeer in attendance.

Camping has a section all its own.

As I wandered thru the foot wear section, this little guy appeared.

Of course, the fishing area held my interest for the longest time.

Not to put a jinx on anything, I just wanted to point out that I don't think I need one of these.  I will catch food to eat this winter, like all the winters before this one.  (fingers crossed)

Even though this is out of focus, I think Santa will be able to see that it really tickles my fancy!

If the hunting, camping, fishing displays didn't do it for some, there was a well-presented offering of outdoor-themed household goods to assuage their retail therapy needs.

The three of us in my group came home with a couple of shirts that fit "big and tall", a replacement netting for my fish net, a stainless steel camping coffee perk, stocking stuffers and the satisfaction of knowing our home town is now part of the Bass Pro Empire.  We have arrived!

How about you?  Do you frequent an outdoor equipment store?  Is it as much fun as this?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Royal Winter Fair

Yes, it's been a long time.  Life happens.  I'm baaaaaaaaaaaack.

This week, Captain B helped me celebrate a family tradition, one we as a family no longer do together.  When our kids were in Elementary School, I'd declare my own professional development day, take the kids out of school and make a mini-holiday out of it.  Now that the kids have grown up and moved away with kids of their own, and now that my Mum is no longer here to go with me, it was just Captain B and me.  We made the hour drive into Toronto, to the Canadian National Exhibition Place, to visit the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

When I was the group leader, we'd visit the horse show.  Captain B wasn't interested.  He lasted thru one jumper doing the ring and that was that.  We moved on to the cows.  He likes cows.  His grandfather had a dairy farm.

The milking demonstration was much as you'd expect. Captain B says it's still much as it was when his uncle was doing it 20 years ago.   I lost the guessing game of "How much milk do you think a cow produces in one day?"  Do you know?  The answer is:  30 liters a day, over two milkings, 12 hours apart.  Who knew????

On to the pigs.

I googled Swine Ear Notches and Tags.  In simplified terms, this is what I learned:  the notches in the right ear designate which litter the pig was born in.  The notches in the left ear tell what number in the litter the pig is.  There were no screaming headlines about cruelty to pigs, just documentation of the fact that this little piggie is duly tagged and therefore legit with the pork marketing board of Ontario.

Watching the suckling pigs was fun.  Mama pig is kept from squashing her babies by the metal cage around her, called a farrowing crate.  With a litter of 16 wee ones, there is constant jockeying for position to get a meal.  There are lots of google posts about the cruelty of this system, but I was like the children there, happy to see baby piggies.  Pigs are very social animals, with over 40 vocalization patterns of communication.  They say.... pigs are smarter than dogs and most 3 year old children......  Remember the TV show called "Green Acres?"  Arnold Ziffle, the pig, could write his own name, change channels on the TV and play the piano.  Yup, more able (not necessarily smarter) than my three year old Grandson, also named Arnold.

It wasn't until I got home and saw my photos of the chickens that I noticed the "broken beak".  Turns out "Debeaking" is done on purpose to prevent egg layers from pecking obsessively.  Oh my!  There are armed camps of chicken-lovers ready to go to war against the perpetrators of this obscenity.

We were duly educated about the production of honey, the diminishing bee population and the survival of our planet.

Sheep yeild 8 pounds of wool at each annual shearing.  This handsome dude is wearing his cloth coat to keep him clean and warm until showing, after his recent hair cut.

 I was sorely tempted to indulge in an apple dumpling.  They smelled so good!

 We did purchase two tins of Leather Better after the demo.  It's made with beeswax and smells heavenly.  Proudly made in Canada.


We did not buy the Smart Soup Maker.  The lady was very good at explaining how it worked and offering samples.  It's really a food processor with a heating element in it.  hmmm.....  Hot, delicious soup in 20 minutes.  Also used to make smoothies, milk shakes and margueritas.   I was sold, but the Captain was skeptical.

There was a whole section which I called the Veggies on Steroids section.

Yup, the Royal Winter Fair.  We ate bison burgers for lunch.  We walked our feet off.  We saw, heard and smelled the farm animals.  We learned lots about where our food comes from and we came away proud of our Ontario farmers.  (not sure how those oysters got in there....imported.)  I wish my Grands lived close enough for me to continue the family tradition with them.  Maybe there are agricultural winter fairs where they live?????