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Bass Pro’s Wonders of Wildlife Aquarium Made a Great Day Trip

Jim and I needed to get away for a while. We work opposing shifts, and it’s rare we have a day off together when one of us isn’t taking care of some chore or a family member. We were long overdue for couple time, so we decided a day trip was in order. We gave our outing a great deal of thought and finally decided to check out the new Bass Pro Wonders of Wildlife Aquarium today.

We don’t get away very often, and Springfield is an easy hour drive for us. We decided to only see the aquarium this time and save the wildlife museum for another time. We did a pretty good job of making a whole day of it. We left home mid-morning and took our time meandering through the aquarium. Afterward, we had a late lunch at Steak ‘n Shake, which was delicious as we expected.

The aquarium had huge galleries, as well as a lot of little rooms with themed displays and plenty of places to sit down if you got tired. They sported several giant tanks containing everything from trout to jellyfish. There were sharks, clown fish, catfish, an octopus, sea urchins, and poison frogs just to name a few.

They even had touching pools where you could touch a horseshoe crab and a stingray. Jim was able to touch a stingray, but my arms weren’t long enough for me to get my hand deep enough to touch one. They were swimming just out of my reach. I may have been able to touch one if I’d been more patient, but that is not one of my strengths.

Photos of famous fishing enthusiasts were abundant. I was impressed by the array of photos of past US Presidents fishing. There was even a photo of President Theodore Roosevelt with a giant fish. They had several boats that had once belonged to famous people including one that once belonged to President George W. Bush.

The aquarium had several fishing lure displays. There were tons of vintage fishing gear and clothing. Photos of fisher folk reeling in their catch, holding their catch, and posing with their boats were plentiful. Casts of more kinds of fish than I can name hung from the ceilings and walls. A cast of a blue whale hung proudly from the ceiling of one room.

Their jellyfish tanks were impressive. They had a good size tank with several varieties of eels. They had a huge collection of baby alligators and some fish that I’d never seen before. They had snakes, birds, turtles, seahorses, an octopus, and various examples of sea fauna.

There was a cast of a prehistoric skull from a relative of the crocodile that you could touch and use to pose for pictures. The croc cousin was Sarcosuchus Imperator, which grew up to 39 feet long, weighed up to 8 tons, and only lived in fresh water. It lived 112 million years ago. Can you imaging tangling with that?

The aquarium was good overall. I think it could have been better if things had been marked more clearly. The layout was a little confusing. We had to ask directions to the aquarium entrance after we bought out tickets. We purchased them from the desk just inside the Bass Pro main entrance, and the aquarium entrance wasn’t obvious from where we stood.

Once inside the aquarium, the path looped around in giant circles for the most part. There were a few times that we felt lost when there was more than one way to turn and we weren’t sure if we were backtracking or not. The path takes you up and down stairs and escalators several times. The confusion could be easily rectified if they distributed maps. If there were maps available, we weren’t offered one.

The important part is that Jim and I were able to get away from our home-related stresses and responsibilities for a day and simply enjoy each other’s company. We’ve been together nearly 20 years. It’s important to reconnect every once in a while to keep our relationship strong. Taking the time to look at pretty fish and scary snakes was just what we needed.

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