Let’s Go to Bass Pro Shops and Blow Our Minds
Everything great about the great outdoors and guns under one roof.
Last Saturday, as we lay in bed trying to figure out what to do with our day, Tania, my wife, suggested, “Let’s get stoned and go to Bass Pro Shops!”
We were introduced to Bass Pro Shops (BPS) by their TV commercials that feature these massive log cabin stores that are filled with gigantic expanses of imitation nature—the interiors kind of look like Disneyland meets the Long Beach Aquarium meets REI. It looks absolutely ridiculous, and we’ve been fixing to visit one for quite some time.
“Okay,” I said. “That sounds perfectly stupid. We do need new tent stakes.”
“And a new slingshot,” Tania added. Oh yeah, that’s right. Our slingshot broke.
So we grabbed the vape and drove out to Rancho Cucamonga to see what the hell is going on out there. Below are pictures and captions from our BPS fieldtrip. As they say in their commercials, “Your adventure begins here.”
The first thing we noticed when we pulled into the parking lot of the BPS compound was that our Honda Civic was a little out of place amid the towering herds of Ford F-150s and Dodge Ram trucks. Most of which were too big for a single parking space; so it appeared to be perfectly normal to just straddle a couple of parking spots. “I’ll park where I want! This is ‘Merica!” Also: NRA stickers on every truck. None of that was really surprising. What was surprising was the camel in the parking lot. BPS has camels. It costs $5 to have your picture taken with the camel. “Guts. Glory. Camel.”
I thought I could fulfill my lifelong dream of finally getting a blowjob from Charlie the StarKist Tuna, but upon closer inspection only a child could fit in his slimy embrace. I took a picture with the fish anyway because after seeing the camel I needed a selfie with something in the parking lot, anything except that goddamn camel.
We still haven’t even gotten to the front door yet and look, NATURE! Oh my God, a fucking bear ran through here while they were paving the parking lot! Or does Jesus have bear paws? “When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.” —Yogi Bear to Boo Boo.
This is the foyer. Before the turnstile (?) entrance, there’s a cozy sitting room around a massive stone fireplace. It was really quite lovely. We wanted to curl up in a comfy chair in front of the fireplace with a good book and a hot cup of cocoa, but we could hear waterfalls and shit—no time to linger. (Note: There were no camel heads mounted on the wall.)
For once, a sign that doesn’t say, “NO SKATEBOARDING.”
This is why we came: Bears perched atop rocks screaming at waterfalls that plunge into massive pools teeming with fish. I was half expecting a fucking orca to swim by. Also, there was a sale on fish pillows. A fish pillow is a pillow that is shaped like fish and they cost $24.95 each.
Black Crappie. White Crappie. They’re obviously listed alphabetically, but I like to imagine some right wing Christian nut job looking at this and going, “How come the White Crappie is on the bottom, huh?” #CrappyWhiteLivesMatter
One time when we were having drinks at El Torito overlooking Monterey Bay, a whale surfaced unusually close to shore. The dingdong sitting at the table next to us fancied himself a cetologist and decided to let everyone in the restaurant know that he knew that that was a whale out the window. “That’s a Grey Whale,” he said to his dining companion, but loud enough so that everyone could hear. “It’s probably a male… or it might be a female.” It’s either a male, or a female, huh? You don’t say. “Hey, Tania, c’mere and look at this elk,” I said. “It’s probably a bull… or it might be a cow.” I’m not even sure if it’s an elk?
Another great thing about BPS: you can bring your dog. Dogs like hogs.
And then there’s the fudge shop. There is a fucking fudge shop in a gun store. Which is pretty cool because that means that someone is packing fudge back there.
What’s the saying? “The family that hunts together, cunts together.” Is that right? I forget how it goes.
I couldn’t figure these things out. And I think that’s the point: They’re camouflage! Practically every other product in BPS is camouflage; so I’m assuming these double wall beer mugs are designed to trick your bros into thinking that you’re drinking beer, when really you’re just being a total pussy and drinking sparkling water.
Besides the real, actual shooting range that’s on the premises, there’s this amusement park shooting range. You point lasers at little targets that make taxidermy squirrels jump in the air and iron pans rattle against the cabin. While we were there, a young father was teaching his son the proper techniques for shooting a gun. It was really weird how serious he was about it. His tone was that of a tribal elder passing on ancestral knowledge to his son. I wanted to say, “You know there’s one of these at Disneyland, right?”
None of my photos do justice to how enormous the BPS building is. I don’t think we saw even half of it. For instance, there’s a boat showroom left of frame. I’ve always wanted a boat, but I resisted venturing into that area because a boat mechanic once said to me, “The only people who buy boats are rich people and idiots.” This is a male elk, by the way. Or it might be a female.
The last thing I expected to see at BPS was art, but they have art! I didn’t see any titles for these two pieces; so I took it upon myself to give them names. The deer installation is titled, “Side Effects May Include Deerrhea.” The painting—a dead duck in a dog’s mouth—is titled, “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Somebody Living.” Opening bid for the silent auction is $100—way better investment than Damien Hirst.
At no point during our visit did I think, Oh my God I’m so high right now, but it certainly had an effect on me. There’s no other explanation for why I was so excited about these goddamn buckets. “Oh my God! They has buckets!” I squealed when I saw this. I was obviously channeling one of my favorite antique memes, “They be stealin’ my bucket.”
The gun section was very crowded and one of the most active areas in the store. Probably because that jerk Obama is fixin’ to take ‘em all away. I heard it’s going to happen any day now. But while there are a lot of guns at BPS, there is even more space devoted to bullets. My bullet photo is blurry. You’re just going to have to imagine that out of frame on the right are four long aisles of nothing but boxes of bullets. So many bullets. I was reminded of that Chris Rock joke when I thought, Shouldn’t it be the bullets that are behind the counter? Like, you guys can have all the guns you want, it’s the bullets we need to keep an eye on here.
They may have a fudge shop on the premises, but at BPS beef jerky rules. It is ubiquitous throughout the store. But just in case you didn’t notice the ample supplies of dried meats hanging on nearly every aisle, they have bins of it at the cash registers. Oh, and that NRA approved miniature M4? That’s a lighter. At least I think it’s an M4? Whatever breed of gun it is, it’s probably a male gun. Or maybe female.
And finally, they have a bar. Once I realized there was a bar in the attached Islamorada Fish Company Restaurant, I found it hard to concentrate on shopping for slingshots and tent spikes. It was one of the most delightful lunches I’ve had at a chain restaurant, thanks in large part to the impressive aquarium behind the bartenders. I could sit and stare at those fish for hours. And we kind of did, actually.
I’ll admit I was expecting to hear some ignorant, vaguely racist, conservative banter at the bar, and I had even intended to ask one of the FarmersOnly-looking-employees, “Excuse me, what aisle are the abortions on?” but our afternoon was free of conflict. And to my delight two lesbians—in tie-dyes, no less—entered the restaurant, sat down at the bar, and were cordially served food and drinks. Two lesbians! In tie-dyes! (I’m not sure how they were received in the bathrooms, though?)
We left with some new tent spikes, a slingshot, and some waterproof matches. Mission accomplished. And we very much enjoyed our experience in the surreal, weirdly contrived, completely fabricated environment, designed for the benefit of commerce, that they’ve magically conjured at Bass Pro Shops.