Ozark Mill construction August 2018

Renovation work progresses on the historic Ozark Mill near the intersection of West McCracken Road and Fourth Street in Ozark.

“Are you going to check out the Bass Pro pyramid?”

“No, probably not.”

That exchange became a common theme of the week I spent in Memphis. While the pyramid is a sight to behold from the interstate, I explained that I’d rather get my authentic Bass Pro experience closer to home.

I’d been on the job here at the Christian County Headliner News for two months when I talked my employer into letting me take a week off. That in itself is a small feat of wonder at many places of employment. I hadn’t accrued any paid time off yet because I haven’t yet worked here for 90 days.

I made a commitment and I wanted to uphold it, so off to Memphis I went anyway for a week. I did eat some barbecue and I did spend about two minutes on Beale Street, but it wasn’t a sightseeing trip.

I went to Memphis as a volunteer adult leader on a mission trip with 16 teenagers. I’ve been volunteering off and on with my church’s high school and junior high youth group for about six years now. My wife, Ashley, has been a youth group leader for much longer than that.

We spent five days in Memphis finishing a roofing project at a house in the Binghampton neighborhood. It was hot, it was dirty and it was very rewarding. We did the work through a ministry called SOS (Service Over Self), which coordinates mission work for groups like ours all summer long.

On our allotted half day away from the roof, our group of 16 kids and four adults visited the National Civil Rights museum and the Lorraine Motel, the historic sight of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

Several other groups we were staying with did visit the Bass Pro pyramid. It was one of the most recommended places that the locals suggested to the out-of-town groups. Our group of southwest Missouri teens laughed long and hard at a girl from New York City who referred to the pyramid as “the fish store.”

A kid from Ohio asked me about Bass Pro while we worked on top of a Binghampton roof in the 94-degree heat. He explained how the inside of the pyramid was made to look like the great outdoors.

I listened to him, and admitted that it sounded like a nice place to visit, but then I took a moment to tell him about where I live. We have state and national forests, where you can walk around in actual fresh air. We have Lindenlure, Finley River Park, Shelvin Rock and scores of other places to experience real rivers. We also happen to be right down the road from the headquarters of Bass Pro Shops and the award-winning Wonders of Wildlife museum.

I also plugged basketball’s Bass Pro Tournament of Champions, and told him about all of the great players who recently took part in the tournament like Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, Malik Monk, Marvin Bagley and Quinn Nelson. That last name may be heavily dosed with hyperbole, but you’ve got to look out for the local guy, right?

Thanks for the recommendation, but I didn’t drive five hours in a church bus to hangout in a pyramid full of an outdoor experience that doesn’t stack up to what I can do at home.

I’m grateful to have been able to spend the week in Memphis. I was also grateful to come home to my own bed, my dog, my work, my outdoor amenities and news that “the fish store” plans a large development in Ozark.

It may not be located inside a pyramid, but it’s home.

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