I didn't even know places like this existed anymore!
Yesterday Tim and I drove about an hour south to Ft Meyers to a place called The Shell Factory. The name alone makes me go, "huh?" They manufacture shells? And all this time I thought they just existed in nature, like trees and rocks? I have the mental image of some Willy Wonka looking factory that chugs out shells of every sort and people creeping around in the dark of night, scattering them on beaches all over the world.
So there were in the absolutely fully packed parking lot looking at this bizarre collection of buildings that are jammed right up against one another and wondering where to start. We walked in through the closest door. It turns out that The Shell Factory also has a very large Christmas store in it. Because that is a totally normal progression right? From shells to Santa?
The Christmas store was incredible. I have never seen so many different types of Christmas trees, to begin with. Every colour and size imaginable, both upside down hanging from the ceiling and right side up on the floor. All of them decorated differently. With a Christmas train chugging 'round and ' round the ceiling and Christmassy décor and Christmas music playing everywhere to get you in that holiday mood. The array of Christmas villages were definitely a good hint and just to be sure that you knew it was a Christmas store, Santas Everywhere!
This Christmas room somehow segued into a room FILLED with taxidermized animals from all over the world. It was.....unexpected. I'll just say that. But oddly, bizarrely fascinating. Like a freeze-framed zoo. And right in the middle of it all, was a shell encrusted golf cart. What?? No, seriously, there was. See?
So you as you can clearly see, they did actually have sells at The Shell Factory. They had a LOT of shells. And things made out of shells and...well...some unexpected things made out of shells:
And things oddly decorated with shells. This is clearly not a chair a person would sit on. Or at least not sit on comfortably:
When Tim was finally able to tear me away from the shells, we found an arcade, a small military museum, a strange pirate room that had what appeared to be a lot of animatronic pirates. Or at least there were a lot of mannequins in pirate garb and an entire panel of buttons waiting to be pressed but only one pirate actually moved or "spoke". That was odd.
They had home made fudge and home made ice cream that all looked pretty darned good though we resisted the urge to try it. And believe me that took discipline! There were rooms of gems and fossils that I perused at great length and a gift shop the likes of which I have never seen before. It. Was. Huge. There was every sort of gift shop, novelty, jewelry, clothing, gee-gaw, whirly-gig, kite, puzzle, doo-dad and thingamajig I've ever seen before and a few more. Honestly, I have never in my life seen to many thing "personalized". Bracelets, candle-holders, colouring books, hair clips, and on and on and on all with people's names emblazoned upon them. We marveled and giggled over it all.
Finally we made our way outside. Yes, there was more. At first it was sort of like a carnival midway, with games, mostly geared for children like the ring toss and ball throw and water balloon launch. Yes we got wet watching that one, but it felt good on a hot day. There were those great big pictures with the faces cut out too. (what are those called anyway?) Look who I caught peeking through there.
Lots of food to choose from, soft hot pretzels, ice cream and cotton candy of course but also two sit down and be served restaurants. One of which specialized in seafood if the signs are to be believed.
They had a petting/feeding zoo which we did not go through but also paddle boats and bumper boats and trampolines that looked like fun. They even had a small zipline~! It was a two person contraption where the victims are latched into a double chair and hauled very high up into the air before being released to zoooooom to the end. My heart kind of stops when I watch this but the people appeared to be having fun. You couldn't prove it by me, but these total strangers (and my apologies to them for taking their photo but I couldn't resist) are both smiling as they flew by us.
It took us a couple of hours to walk through and see it all and it cost us absolutely nothing to do so. It was kitschy, silly, ridiculous, touristy, awful, wonderful and reminded me a little bit of driving along Route 66 in the olden days when that was a road was worth traveling.
I'm so glad we went!
How was your weekend?
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.