Urine luck, Bucee’s Nearby

Alright, I’ll admit that this post might seem strange considering the subject matter. But it means something to me, and it makes me happy. In my last few posts I’ve talked about my great affection for Texas, and I’ve unwittingly taken you on a journey through fond travel memories. It wasn’t my intent to make a series out of my many trips through the Lonestar state, but here we are.

Anyways, on with the show…

One of my most favorite-est places to stop in Texas is a place called Buc-ees. No, it’s not a restaurant, it’s not a cute thirft store. But it’s a gas station. Yup , you read that right, I go out of my way visit a gas station. But it’s not just a gas station it’s a Fun Store! And their mascot, is an adorable beaver…

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And he’s ready to greet you with a welcoming hug and a winning smile.

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Once you walk through the average convenience store automatic doors, one is struck by the size of this place. My favorite location is the one in New Braunfels, between San Antonio and Austin. It happens to be the largest convenience store in the world at 68, 000 square feet! When Texans do something, they don’t do it small that’s for sure.

This place offers so many amenities, but before I go into those, I’ve got to talk about the #1 priority, as well as the #2. The restrooms! Yes, we’re gonna go there. Buc-ees bathrooms are so clean they’ve won awards for them. So, if you ever do get to visit one, make sure you come with a full bladder too! (Wink-wink, also sorry for the potty talk Mom). But really, the restrooms are a big draw. They advertise themselves and their gloriously clean bathrooms for many miles along I-10. With signs that totally speak to my inner 10-year old:

“Urine luck! Buc-ees right ahead!”

“Restrooms so clean, We leave mints on the urinals!”

“Buy a gift, leave a gift.”

“Epic Flush”

No, I didn’t make those up, those are part of the Buc-ee’s ingenious ad campaign. If I were in marketing, I would totally wanna work with these guys!

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After you’ve discovered the joys of such a rare thing as a clean public restroom, with actual locking doors and Buc-ee’s branded soap, it’s time to get your shop on.

At Buc-ee’s you can buy everything from the normal convenience store fare, to specialty items. They’ve got the best selection of Icee’s I’ve ever seen. My favorite is the Big Red Icee, but you can choose from various other Icees in soda pop form to the regular blends such as Cherry and Blue Coconut.

The stores them selves are huge, and resemble a cross between a grocery store, a regular convenience store, and one of those kitschy tourist stops. It pulled me right, in like the fish chasing a worm…

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There are walls upon walls of snacks, with Buc-ee’s knowing smile staring back at you. He knows he had you at the funny billboards and the fulfilled promise of clean restrooms.

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His sweet mug is on pretty much everything sold at this haven of kitsch.

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Even on the strangest of items…

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But it’s not all trail mix and Beaver Nuggets (Nope, not making those up either. They’re caramel and butter glazed corny puffs of heaven!) They also offer hot freshly prepared meals as well. I only had the chance to try this fare once, it was 11:30 at night, and the hot foods section had just closed up shop. I ended up with a brisket sandwich and a coleslaw. Let me tell you, that was the best BBQ I’d had all day, especially considering the sandwich had been sitting under a heat lamp for the better part of an hour. It was so good, I didn’t have time to take a picture of it, too busy munching.

When you do find yourself at a Buc-ees make sure your bladder is full and your car is empty, because they offer 154,939 gas pumps for your convenience.

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But don’t forget the gift shop! Apparently, I say this a lot, if you’ve spent any amount of time in or near Texas you’ll understand.

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Guys, I think I found my people! If you need me I’ll be in a Buc-ees restroom…munching on some Beaver Nuggets or taking a nap.

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Dream Homes in the King William District

For my birthday this year, I was ever insistent on visiting our neighboring state, big brother to the east, Texas. I don’t know what it is about Texas, but it’s grabbed my heart and run away with it. Maybe it’s the sunshiny skies and the green green grass, the smiling faces, or maybe it’s because Texas is a whole other country. Those marketing campaigns really aren’t too far off the map. What other state in the lower 48 (other than Cali, but we won’t go there.) can you see the whole spectrum of sites, from mountains, plains, and shores?  I don’t know what the allure of this great state is, but I can’t seem to get enough of it.

My favorite area of Texas is the Hill Country, particularly the areas around San Antonio and Austin. I’ve had the awesome opportunity to visit around these areas a few times, and each time, I come away with something new from my adventures.When I visited San An a few years ago, I got to take a look around the King William District. If you aren’t familiar, it’s an area of town just south of downtown and about a mile from the infamous Alamo, full of beautiful Victorian homes. It was around Christmas time when I visited, the houses looked oh so cheery in their festive reds and greens. It’s probably not normal to enjoy looking at other peoples homes as much as I do, but considering these houses are in a historic district, I’d say it’s acceptable.

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I love a house with a good porch, but a house double porches? I might need a minute to compose myself.

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Oh my…look at the porch on that one.

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And here we are with only a one level porch, but isn’t it grand?

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And the houses with the oh so fine arches.

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Then the houses that have grand gardens with mazes.

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And weird babies holding flowers. At least he’s wearing a loin cloth. Still, for some reason I find this disturbing.

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And strange stone chairs and tables. I understand the concept, but what if you can’t reach the table and need to scoot the chair closer?? Or what if you’re too fluffy and need to scoot away? Maybe it’s just for pretties.

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Then you’ve got the houses that look like they should be on the English country side somewhere. Oh so European.

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Doesn’t this one look like Kate Winslet’s house from The Holiday? Behold…

Via HookedOnHouses.net

Psst…click the picture or the above link to find more information about the movie house.

Oh, and speaking of the King William District feeling a little like Europe, the San Antonio River flowed in a canal right behind of the gorgeous homes. Made me feel like I was visiting the canals in Venice. Actually, I’ve never been to Venice, but I like to pretend. And I thought this was a pretty sight.

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The architectural elements are oh so delectable, on old homes. It’s a shame that houses aren’t built like this anymore.

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It wasn’t all British accents and pretty homes though. Along the way, I picked up a tour guide. He wasn’t too forthcoming about histories on the homes we were touring, but he sure was cute.

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He led me to my most favoritest house of all…

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Someday, I will have a house with a wrap around porch, and another porch to grow on. Le sigh…

So, next time you find yourself in San Antonio, head down to the King William District.

For more information visit the King William Association website here.

Bonnets of Blue

On my morning commute into work, I have these brief moments of creative brilliance. For instance, this morning, I was sitting at a red light, as one does when driving in the city, and I came up with several bullet points for a blog post. I knew for sure, I would remember them and be able to jot them down as soon as I got to the office. But once I stepped into my office and sat down at my desk, I was suddenly mind blocked. Work things started taking the place of creative things. Which is probably a good thing, since work things pay the bills and creative things only entertain me. But it’s a bummer when I wanted to record those creative things for later use. Staring at a blank note pad, pen in hand didn’t bring the thoughts back either. So, they’re lost…until tomorrow on my next morning commute.

All that to say, I don’t have anything cool to say. But, I do have lots of photos to share…

Remember in this post I promised lots of bluebonnet and wildflower photos from my trip to the great state of Texas this past April. So here we go…

We went in early April, so it was a little early to see a lot of different wildflowers and I really didn’t get to see the sea of Bluebonnets like I had envisioned. But I still got to shoot lots of them despite how sparse they kind of were that time of year. On the bright side, the route we took gave us a good tour of the Texas hill country.Texas as a whole really is one of my favorite places, but I seem to have a special place in my heart for central Texas and the hill country in particular. I can’t explain it, but it just feels right.

We left fairly early on a Monday drove through New Mexico, West Texas, and finally arriving in the Austin area. From there we went south to New Braunfels, because Buc-ees, I’ll have to tell you about that later. It’s not just a gas station by the way. From New Braunfels, husband and I decided it was time to move further north, so we headed up to Waco. Which by the way is a super charming town, and had me at all the great eateries (Health Camp anyone?) Then sadly, it was time to head home. But today, lets focus on the reason for the trip, the flowers!

These were taken lakeside in Waco…

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butterflybluebonnetsNotice the butterfly in the center of this photo? I didn’t have a macro lens to properly capture that quick moving sucker. Maybe next time.

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These were taken outside Austin at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. An awesome stop if you ever get the chance. They have beautiful grounds.

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I have tons more photos of these beautiful blues. But for now this is what I have to share. I’ll be talking about the little Texas towns I had the pleasure of visiting along the way. So there is more to come!

Also, any of you know of an easy to use photo editing software? I am using a pretty clunky system now, it’s very time consuming, and apparently I can’t seem to get my watermark to be consistently less intrusive. I have played around with Photoshop and enjoy using it, but it’s so expensive. I’m leaning towards purchasing Elements since it’s a little more user friendly and not as costly. Any thoughts?