Bass Pro – the Disneyland of outdoor sporting stores

Anyone not familiar with America is likely to also be not familiar with Bass Pro Shops – an store that sells outdoor sporting goods.

Well, the term store is not the right word – mind blowing wonderland is more appropriate.

And the term sporting goods is the right word either – massive collection of boats and four-wheel-drive-vehicles and tents and guns and more guns and even more guns is more appropriate.

Here is what some of it looks like from the outside (the huge collection of over 20 boats are behind me and not visible in this photograph):

Inside the store, this snap does not even show 20% of what there is:

There is not only an archery section, but also an indoor archery range where you can freely try out any of the gear:

Sadly, this Bass Shop lacks the usual indoor gun range, as well as the private room that have historical antique guns costing tens of thousands of dollars – and usually, my favorites, big bore elephant guns used if you want to shoot real elephants!

But this one still has plenty of guns on display – and many, many more locked in a safe (tip for experts: if you are looking for a particular make and model of gun, always better to ask. Could be they will have it, but not on display at the moment!):

What’s really terrific is that the people working in the gun area are usually older, retired gentlemen, and even if you are not a serious buyer, they are happy to let you handle any guns of your choice – and they’ll spend hours with you, just chatting about firearms:

This Bass Pro shop also lacked an indoor hunting area where – and I am not kidding – you can hunt wild stuffed animals using a laser equipped rifle. Sorry, no laser hunting here, but I’d say well over 200 stuffed animals all over the store:

Now, I’ve never see a Bass Pro shop where you can actually fish – but there are plenty of fish and in fact an entire indoor waterfall:

So, if you are planning a trip to the United States, I highly recommend you see if there are any Bass Pro shops near to where you are going to go!

World’s most stupidest train

Sometimes, I see things that are dumb.

Occasionally, I see things that are really, really dumb.

But every once in a very rare while, I see something that is so incredibly, mind-bogglingly stupid that I really makes me question how something so ludicrous could even be thought of by mankind, much less implemented!

And here is one of those things, a little train that runs back and forth in Terminal A of the Detroit International Airport.

Here is what it looks like from the outside:

And, not being able to resist trying out something so incredibly stupid, here is what it looks like from the inside:

Now here comes what the famous magicians Penn and Teller call The Reveal, when I tell you why this is so stupid.

Many large airports have little automated trains – actually, one of the first was probably the train at the Dallas Fort-Worth airport, which I remember from back when I was a little kid.  Airports are huge but with well defined stopping places, so a train is an ideal way to get around.

But in this case, the train only plies Terminal A, from Gate 1 to Gate 70.  That is not a big distance to walk – with the rolling  floors, I think I required no more than about 7 minutes to walk / coast the distance.  But worse that than, this train has only three stops: at Gate 1, at Gate 35, and Gate 70. Plus the train is elevated.

So that means for anyone wanting to shave off a little time from their gate-to-gate journey . . . no way they can do this!  They have to schlep their luggage up to the platform, wait 5 minutes for the train, then take it to somewhere where, unless you are lucky, walking will be required anyway.

I could think of no usecase in which this train would save anyone any real time – and in fact, most of the people riding it seemed to be like me: curious folks with a four-hour layover and plenty of time to kill doing stupid things. And I could think of no usecase in which this train would benefit the mobility limited.

My best guess: this was a project intended to channel public money to the right private parties, such as the company the makes the train.

When them cotton balls get a rottin‘

South Texas is famous for its cotton fields. Here the cotton is ready-to-pick:

It really begs the question: what happen if it rains?

The old western song made famous by the Bluegrass musician Bill Monroe tells „When them cotton balls get a rottin‘, you can‘t pick very much cotton.“ So presumably it is possible for cotton to rot.

But after a rain shower, do farmers worry about how much moisture the cotton has before harvesting?  Is the water content somehow tied to the price?  This is in fact the case for feed corn: the higher the water content, the lower the price.

The lonesome expanse of sea-side Texas

Not only does Texas have one of the longest coastlines of any entity in the world, but in fact – like most of Texas itself – it is an empty coastline.

Here I am standing deep within the Padre Island National Seashore (itself at over 100 km long, the longest protected stretch of beach in the world) watching the thunderstorms brewing in the distance.

I‘d say the nearest human to where I am standing now is over 25 miles away. This is one reason that keeps drawing me back to Texas, time and time again.

My artwork is completely fresh out-of-the-camera and unretouched in any way. This now definitely belongs to one of my all time favorite snaps.


Thunderstorm over the Gulf of Mexico

I took what I hopefully believe you‘ll agree is a magnificent snap on a recent holiday in Texas. I‘ve waded out into the water at the North Padre Island National Seashore. As usual, none of my artwork is re-touched or enhanced in any way: this is a color snap from my iPhone 8, and I did not even need to crop it.

If you look closely you‘ll see a few seagulls in the sky.

Milan Panoramic

Taken with the famous Duomo di Milano at my back, the Galleria is on the left:

Interestingly, this hidden cathedral behind me, which you cannot see in this shot, is the largest cathedral in Italy, the third largest cathedral in Europe, and the fourth largest cathedral in the world! You can get a sense of just how big, when I simply turn 180% and take this shot:

Bad Canstatter Volksfest

Although the Oktoberfest in München is by far more well known, the Bad Canstatter Volksfest in Germany has the unique charm that it’s almost as big as the Oktoberfest, but is attended only by the locals.

Here’s what I thought was a pretty snap of a beer hall I took early one afternoon:

Believe it or not, it is attended by several million Germans – real Germans, not tourists – and it is world’d second largest beer festival.

You don’t see this everyday

In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen anything even remotely close to this:

Sadly, I was in a hurry to catch a train, but there are many questions I’d like to ask. Number one among those: how important is it to keep the stick vertical?  I assume a tube with such a high aspect ratio between its length and diameter is in great danger of bending.

Update on September 6: He was out there again today, so I stopped to talk with him and he showed me the device. He also demonstrated it will NOT bend! It‘s made out of an extremely heavy, extremely thick PVC plastic, and it‘s attached to a compressor that pumps water to the top.

Bamberg Water – Dam I forgot!

Not damn, but dam. I took this snap while visiting the Franconian village of Bamberg, in Germany:

And it reminded me I left the village before exploring what this really was.

The Rhine-Danube canal flows through the city of Bamberg, and the Rhine-Danube canal has plenty of locks. But this is not one of them, and I am not sure why they need to regulate the flow of the river here. It doesn’t look like the water is used for any purposes, such as an historic mill or modern power generation.

It’s on my to-do list to come back one day and figure this out!