We covered a lot more ground today than yesterday. Of course we had the full day for travel this time. We started out much earlier than we expected which is actually pretty normal for us on the road. The hotel last night was definitely acceptable although the bed definitely was not a king and was much firmer than I am used to. On the way out of Illinois, we observed the largest ketchup bottle which is to be added to the Facebook gallery. Then we headed across Missouri. I always marvel at the roadways around St. Louis. It reminds me of Skyway City in the game City of Heroes and makes me very nervous driving. The flat terrain of Illinois was quickly replaced by terrain that was much rockier and not at all flat. I have never been to the Springfield/Branson area of Missouri so the great hills here were quite unexpected but make for very interesting and picturesque driving. Even without seeing our license plates, we make ourselves known as tourists by the constant flashing of the camera at sites that locals must find ordinary but are fantastic to us. In addition to our roadside shots, we had plan to visit one or two attractions in Branson. The first was Predator World and the second a Dinosaur Museum. After Predator World, however, my heart was not in the sight seeing anymore. Let me tell you why.
Predator World is something we discovered through the website Roadside America. We looked up their website and it really sounded like an interesting place. We actually met with great disappointment. It is in an out-of-the-way location but the website set us up for that. What it did not tell us was how sad the place is. You enter through a gift shop where you also pay admission. The place seemed to be run by an elderly woman who seemed very nice and was very welcoming. She directed us to the door that begins the tour of the place with the aquarium. The aquarium was definitely fun to see. The sharks swimming in their tank, the rays, and other fish were impressive. The odd thing we noticed in this first building was that there were large puddles of water on the floor near all the tanks. We passed this off and continued on. The other buildings and the outside is where things really seemed wrong. In the other buildings there are a number of reptiles, a few insects, and frogs. Some of the tanks seemed to have seen better days. In one tank was a large snake with a pool of water that looked like it had not been cleaned in some time. We though well, this could be because he was shedding his skin. Maybe he dirtied the water. There was a funny moment when a little crocodile jumped at the tank wall and startled Steve. The little thing was barely bigger than his palm. When we went outside, there were a number of enclosures that did not seem to have any animals in them at all. That is, until I spotted the wolves. These animals looked so sad that I wondered if anyone had been out to care for them at all recently. The only positive in this whole story is that there were signs throughout that asked the guests to pardon the mess as they are being taken over by a not-for-profit agency. I can only hope this means that the missing animals have gone to better homes already and the others will soon follow or see major renovation. We left without buying anything but we do have some pictures. I felt sad for the animals when we left and a little sick for the state of some of them. I don’t think they neglect them intentionally but the place has definitely seen better days. Ultimately, skip it unless you call ahead and see if the non-profit has renovated the place.