Monday, December 3, 2012

Refuge at the Forty Foot Beaver

The forty foot tall buck toothed beaver, illuminated in the velvety, ebony sky by thousands of bold light bulbs, beckoned us into the ten acre parking lot, a brief respite for weary travelers looking to refuel, unfold cramped legs, and reclaim road- sodden thought processes.

The black heels I had worn the eight hours to and from our friend's memorial service were discarded, pushed to the back seat, and in their place were a supple pair of woolly slip-ons. As incongruous as my dark dress, black cardigan, and chignon were with these house shoes, they did not draw undue attention from the other refugees inside, many of whom had on similar attire.

My daughter and I headed for the restrooms while my husband yawned and stretched his arms at the jerky counter that lined an entire wall. Every flavor imagined for jerky in all of the history of the meat eating world presented itself in this carnivore's paradise.

Once inside the bathroom stall, I wriggled out of as much as I could that was constricting while remaining mostly decent. I stuffed the discards into my purse before heading back out.

The aroma of cinnamon roasted cashews and peanuts drew us over to the station where nut chefs poured finished product into large, warm paper cones.

In the next aisle, a man with a day's stubble on his face animatedly waved his arms and talked with someone in Spanish on a cell phone. "I'm driving as fast as I can, woman! I'll be home by morning!"

A plump woman holding the hand of a sleepy eyed girl already in pajamas perused the smorgasbord of homemade fudge available at another sprawling counter. "It's not for me," she explained to the teen-aged clerk. "You see, I'm taking it home for..."

We moved to one of the checkouts staffed by unfailingly cheery workers. "And how has your day been? Do you have long to travel?" she chirped as we smiled. Back out into the parking lot, a large caravan of trucks pulling horse trailers had circled their quarry and the drivers, some still with spurs on, gingerly stretched their denim clad legs.

A man with silver hair and a tanned, lined face, pumped gas into the tank of a Lexus while a curly haired woman in the passenger seat pulled at her purse with her door half open. She quietly moved behind him and suddenly squeezed her arms around his back. Surprised, he turned, laughed, and gave her a quick kiss before she walked into the store. He grinned and watched her until she disappeared inside.

My husband was just putting the gas cap back into place by the time I had finished arranging things in the front seat. Parked next to us was a luxury horse trailer, replete with air conditioning, a small satellite receiver, and slide outs, more costly than our first home.

The velvety muzzle of a palomino mare poked out the open side door of the trailer. I put my hand close and she sniffed and then nickered softly, deep down in her throat. As I stepped back into the car, she shook her head, tossing her blonde mane from side to side, signifying her impatience at the whole waiting process.

"You and me both, girl," I smiled to myself as we pulled out onto the highway again, headed to our casa.

And no matter who you are, or how far away you've landed, there's a little piece inside that's always working to get back home.

Buc-ee's is a legendary place to stop in Texas when drivers need a break from the road. They are famous for their astonishing array of food, their clean restrooms, and the sheer size of the stores.
Here is a link: Buc-ee's




50 comments:

  1. Dear Shelly, stopping and stretching is so important on a long trip. I once drove for 14 hours from New Hampshire to western Ohio. For the last five hours of that trip, I never stopped to stretch. So when I arrived at my friend's home in Dayton and alighted from the car, I fell flat on my face! My legs just wouldn't hold me up! That was a real learning experience for me. Now I stop at gas stations or rest stops every 1 1/2 hours. Peace.

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    1. Dee: My goodness, that seemed to be the longest trip yesterday, and the highway stretched on forever! So I was thankful for this stop, even with the weird beaver mascot. I'm sure other folks are just as thankful.

      14 hours???? Whew- I don't think I could have even gotten out of the car!

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  2. "Cleanest restrooms in the land" is quite enough of a selling point for Buc-ee's or any other oasis for weary, hungry motorists needing a break during a long trip. We all know how "crappy" the restrooms usually are at service stations, fast food joints and even "respectable" restaurants. It's been years since I used a rest stop in Florida, but any state in the union could learn a lesson from your Buc-ee's there in Texas. The array of exciting comfort foods and other amenities are icing on the cake. Thanks for another very interesting and informative story, dear friend Shelly, and have a terrific week!

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    1. Shady: And these bathrooms are truly beautiful. I started taking pictures in it, and my daughter was mortified that anyone would be taking pics in a bathroom, no matter how luxurious, so I stopped. But it's definitely worth the stop, if for nothing else but that! Have a great week!

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  3. I can smell the horse, see the jerky wall. :-)

    Wherever you go, such wonderful people.

    Pearl

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    1. Pearl: It was so late when we got home and I am so tired today, but these images stayed with me so strongly I had to get them down. Odd they are, but nice nonetheless...

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  4. Even in the midst of such a long, tiring trip you keep your powers of observation, you wit, and your cool. Amazing.

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    1. vanilla: You may not have thought that had you seen me dressed the way I was, but thank you!

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  5. This sounds like my kind of place. I love jerky.

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    1. Stephen: It is carnivore heaven. You could probably spend a long time in there if you love meat. They give free samples of any or all of it, too.

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  6. I LOVE that place!!! I bought the very first gifts for my grand quadruplets there - Tiny A&M booties!! Have you tried their candied jalapenos?? GREAT mixed with cream cheese for the best dip in the world!!

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    1. Linda: That and Prasek's in Hillje are our two favorite stops. I saw those A&M booties there- too cute!!! Have not tried the candied jalapenos yet- but I will definitely be on the lookout for them next time!

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  7. Bucee's sounds like an awesome place to stop and revive and survive a long trip,I have never seen such a place here in Aus, we often stop at Macca's because of the clean toilets and eatable food.

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    1. Jo-Anne: These restrooms are BEAUTIFUL! I started taking pictures inside of it, and my daughter was mortified, but they really are amazing. Probably the best public restrooms I've seen anywhere in the US, Mexico, or Europe.

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  8. I know I must have been there at some time when I was on the road with my husband but I can't remember it to save my life. I wish I did though because I know I must have enjoyed it too. But you have done such a wonderful job describing it that I don't need to go.

    So far you and your dad are tied for holding my attention for longer than a few seconds when it comes to reading on the internet. The acorn sure didn't fall from the tree with you two when it comes to writing.

    Thanks for this wonderful share and trust me I have seen a lot crazier things in travel plazas and truck stop bathrooms than a woman merely taking pictures!!:-)

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    1. Jackie: There are several of these here in Texas, so I'll bet you have been by one.

      Thank you for your kind words! I take it as a great compliment, but my dad doesn't blog. In fact, only two people I know in real life even know I write anything beyond grants and emails.

      And yes, there are some very strange things that go on in those travel plazas- I'm sure they never have a dull moment~

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  9. With so much in your post to fill my head, the thing that stands out most is when you say you removed the uncomfortable parts of your outfit to feel better - that is one of the most exquisite feelings in the world - and mostly available to most people: removing the uncomfortable or changing into something comfortable. It's like a mini-vacation. It's how I know I'm home in the evening, and not about to stir out of my home again until the next day!

    That being said, I enjoyed the rest of your story too :)

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    1. jenny_o: Oh, it is heavenly! If that feeling could be bottled and sold...we'd be more than rich. I like how you say it's a mini-vacation. I'm going to think of it like that and add even more enjoyment to it. And thank you!

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  10. So sorry for the loss of your friend that put you on the road to attend their memorial service. I think that was wise for you to bring comfy shoes to wear to travel. Buc-ees seems like a wonderful rest stop. Clean restrooms are always a plus when traveling! The goodies they had there to eat sounded like an extra bonus I do believe! If I'm ever driving through Texas, I'll have to keep my eyes open for one!

    betty

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    1. betty: Thank you- he was gone much too soon. And yes, Buc-ees should definitely be on your list of stops should you ever make it to Texas. Words can't do it justice.

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  11. Seems like the perfect place to people watch!

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    1. Missed Periods: I could camp out there all day~

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  12. As a child I was obsessed with public restrooms. Fancy, quirky, or extra clean bathrooms made my day. I will never forget the restaurant that had part of a pink Cadillac in the women's room.

    Kudos to Buc-ees for understanding that all a traveler really wants while getting fuel is a nice bathroom and a treat for the road.

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    1. Funny is Family: The bathrooms here are almost otherworldly, they are so nive. There are dozens of stalls, but even that is a misnomer. Each stall is the size of a walk in closet, with a floor to ceiling door, all kinds of amenities in dispensers on the wall... I could go on and on!

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  13. Gosh, Shelly, I don't know how I missed Buc-ee's in all our traveling by car through the great state of Texas. Maybe we just stuck to our custom of mostly stopping at McDonald's. I can't stand those dirty restrooms. The real downer is when you go into a business where food is being served and there is no soap in the bathroom.

    (hope you got my little email I sent you this early am ... ♥)

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    1. Cindy: They're popping up all over the state now, but mostly they're in the southern part of Texas. There's a HUGE new one that just opened in New Braunfels. I'm with you- no soap in the bathroom means I won't eat what they serve.

      And yes! I was flabbergasted at who that was in your email! I amswered you back, but in case you didn't get it, his book was in my bag on Sunday during our trip. Wow- what you wrote about makes me admire him even more

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  14. I am glad to know this - but I have never seen one of those stores - wish we had them around here. sandie

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    1. Sandie: They are truly an experience!

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  15. You made me feel I was right there with you guys at Buc-ee's! :)

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    1. Rita: I feel like I should be a tour guide for them because I like their stores so much~

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  16. Dearest Shelly,
    I was totally at a loss reading at first as I had no idea what Buc-ee's was(^^;) Oh, we have a couple of big convenience store chains here and kind of ubiquitous. They are literally convenient like you posted here. While the long drive, we stop to use the restroom and buy chewing-gum. Ours are not gas-station type, though. Interesting to read that you have same kind of stores as well.
    Haha, I need to come back and enjoy reading your description about the each customer. It won't be enough just skimming once(^_^)v
    Sending you lots of love and hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

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    1. Orchid: Yes, these type of huge places seem to be coming more and more popular here, my dear friend Miyako. This one sells so many types of specialty foods, but also lovely purses, wallets, even seeds to plant.

      It is a nice place to stop when we've been driving so long (well, my hubby drove, I was just the front seat passenger!)

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  17. What a wonderful gift you have for seeing and hearing the wonder in the ordinary!

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    1. Betty: When we were growing up, my brother used to call it "nosiness". But I do think the wonder is always there, just waiting to be found~

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  18. I am always learning something about Texas from your posts!

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  19. Shelly, I love the dialogue! And I felt like I was right there with you. Please pass a warm cone of sugary roasted pecans! The mare made me smile so big. How wonderful for her to be cared for like a princess. Travel is such a part of our lives because of distant family that I really appreciate travel stories, journals and memoirs.

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    1. Jenny: Here's the pecans! And the cashews! And the peanuts! Such a huge array of stuff. The mare was beautiful, and the trailer was incredible. I can't believe how luxurious they are now. I'm learning to take traveling better than I used to, and it's places like this that make the journey a little sweeter~

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  20. Hmmmmm....if we are ever on the road and see a Buc-cees we'll have to stop!! I am amazed at the detail you notice. You make us stop and think about the world around us, to notice the little things. With that gift of seeing what most people don't see, you are obviously meant to be a writer.

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    1. Jamie: You would love it, I think, and the kids definitely would. Thank you for your kind words- my brother used to call it "being nosy", but it is fun to me to notice those little things.

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  21. Oh, what fun! We rarely travel to Texas, but when we do, I'll have to make sure we stop at a Buc-cee's. Thanks for sharing this delightful, full-of-senses story!

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    1. Jeanette: They are so worth the stop, if for nothing else the marvelous bathrooms!

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  22. IT's so fun to eavesdrop on conversations like that. I've never been to his place, but I'll keep my eye out if I'm ever down there. :)

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    1. Lydia: My siblings all used to accuse me of being nosy when we were growing up because of that very thing, but I like to call it "being interested".

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  23. Loved your insightful post on an ordianary event!

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    1. Nas: There's much to be seen in the ordinary, I truly believe!

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  24. Not only do you paint a vivid picture, but you elevate the ordinary.

    Jerky isn't this carnivore's dream! ; )

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    1. Theresa: I can't imagine that people could ever eat that much jerky, but this place is packed with that stuff!

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  25. The clean restrooms would be the draw for me! Sounds like a traveler's paradise!

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    1. Nancy: It's truly like an oasis in the desert!

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