Saturday, April 26, 2008

Outfitters R' Us

The Keep Springfield Beautiful campaign was in effect Saturday. Those signs were all over the city promoting the effort. Nature gave a helping hand by presenting us with better than expected weather.

Desperately Seeking Shoewear

I've been looking for a new pair of hiking shoes/boots. Quality hikers are usually on the expensive side, and I'm the kind of person who grows attached to his gear and will wear them faithfully until they fall apart or become useless for some reason. So, they've got to be right. I love the ones I have now, but I had ordered them online, and was unable to try them on first. I quickly found that their sizes run just a little bit small. I debated sending them back, but liked them enough to optimistically hope they would stretch with use, which they did not. So, for several years I've put up with hikers that were just a wee bit too small. Just undersized enough where they're fine for a while, but start to hurt after about 3 miles of walking.

My trusty LL Beans:

That said, I've been shopping around for a couple weeks now for a replacement pair, and want to be absolutely certain of them before making a final decision. I've gone pretty much to all the local outfitter stores, small and large, and have my selection nearly narrowed down to a couple pairs. But before I purchase, there was one more place I've been been meaning to check out:

Cabela's has recently opened a store, down in East Hartford. I had heard a lot about them, and saw some potential hiker boot prospects in a flyer. We had plans for lunch with the family early afternoon, but the kid and I decided we had just enough time to run down there, and take a quick look at this outdoor outfitter center...

I've heard and read a lot of commentary about this place, bad and good. I've summarised from what I've heard that their prices are average to expensive, but they have quality products for sale there. Also, word on the street is this place has to be seen. There was a lot of people taking pictures in there, because that's the kind of place it is. It's really kind of a small theme park, in an outfitter store. Dead center when you walk in, is a giant display with all kinds of (real, taxidermed) wildlife examples.

Below it, is a neat aquarium with all varieties of freshwater game fish swimming around.

There are several other displays, including a small natural history museum, replete with an animatronic fly fisherman to tell you about local conservation efforts and wildlife.

A forest of fishing gear.

Upstairs, (take the elevator if you'd like), there is a restaurant area and an African game display. Everywhere are top of the line brands. There was way more stuff to look at here than I expected, and I had allowed just enough time to take a quick look at the hikers before we had to go, or be late for lunch. All the stuff to look at was eating into that short amount of time. We'll have to come back again for a better look. We finally pulled ourselves out of there and hurried back, but unfortunately I hadn't allowed time for a traffic jam. Late for lunch. Again.

Oh well, at least my day wasn't going as bad as this guy's:

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