Time for Tubing

If you asked our kids what one of their favorite things to do while in Texas, they would reply, “Tubing down the Guadalupe River”.  For the uninitiated, the act of tubing entails sitting in a large inflatable inner tube while floating down a river.  It is imperative to have a tube containing a cooler filled with drinks, and some may even have tubes with stereos, as the “activity” can last all day.  (I use the word “activity” lightly, as it is certainly not a calorie burner.)  

While we have taken up this tradition with the kids for the last four years, it was only this past summer that we finally made a stop in New Braunfels at Buc-ee’s (on I-35 between Austin and San Antonio), a must-do for any serious tubing adventure…and, in truth, for anyone visiting Texas.  At a whopping 67,000 square feet of retail space with 60 gas pumps, Buc-ee’s is hailed as the largest convenience store in the world.  Owners Arch “Beaver” Aplin, III and Don Wasek opened their first store in 1982 in Lake Jackson.  With the aim of providing the cleanest restrooms and the cheapest gas and ice, they have expanded their convenience store empire to 19 stores across the roadways of Texas, all located outside major cities but near popular tourist attractions.  The target market is the road-weary traveler, one who is tired of paying for overpriced items on the road while putting up with dirty bathrooms.  It is nirvana for those who love to snack on the road.  Please excuse the over-used cliche, but you have to see it to believe it.  It is the Disneyland for those salty-snack, 40-oz. soda-loving addicts.  As I was snapping away with my camera, a clerk asked me, “Are you new here?”.  Why, yes, I was, but how could she tell?  Was the Tory Burch dress a dead give-away?  She proceeded to show me around the store, starting with one of my favorite salty snack items…jerky.  Not regular jerky, mind you, but over 10 different kinds at a jerky bar, for example Hill Country Turkey, Peppered Beef, Teriyaki Turkey and Beef, and Sweet and Spicy Beef.  There is also a nice selection of dried sausages, summer sausages filled with cheese and jalapenos, and marinated meats for the grill.  You will find basically everything from pickled quail eggs to jambalaya stuffed chickens to toxic-colored Buc-ee’s corn puffs.  From a row of computer stations, order a made-to-order deli sandwich, or a chopped BBQ sandwich.  I chose the chopped pork and found some fresh spicy green chile salsa with which to top it.  Check it out:

Yum, yum, yum…jerky

Feel free to try as many as you like, until you find your favorite

The Hill Country Bohemian Garlic Beef Jerky was my personal fave


The length of the store is longer than that of a football field

There are 75 soft-drink spigots in a row…and chewy ice!

A Dippin’ Dot bar… mix and match from over 10 flavors

There are over 23 flavors of fudge…try the Texas Heat with cayenne pepper

Chopping brisket

A selection of BBQ sandwiches, from brisket, turkey, pulled pork and sausage
Toxic-colored Buc-ee’s Nug-ee’s…they are spicy!

It is hard for me to resist a pink cowboy hat

So now we have our hats, our cooler, our Dippin’ Dots…what else do we need?

Oh yeah, some inner tubes
Wait a minute, this smoker is way cool, but how do I get this back to AZ?

Check out the cut-outs of the state of Texas

Yes, I am now a believer

Que tengan un buen fin de semana.  We are off to Guadalajara, Mexico, and some cool parts of Baja (maybe even a stop at the illustrious Hotel California), so stay tuned for our culinary adventures!  

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