Buc-ee’s or Bust

Our recent trip to Texas did not change my mind about the Lone Star State. I still have no interest in moving there (apologies to the few family members residing there), but I know now that it’s not all that bad. Once we got beyond the city limits of Houston, I discovered that there is beauty outside the concrete city limits.

Traveling westward on Interstate 10 are miles and miles of nothing,  until we reached rest stop heaven—otherwise known as Buc-ee’s.

Buc-ee’s is a rest stop with probably 100 gas pumps and “the cleanest restrooms in America.” While I am not disputing the sparkle in the loos, unfortunately, on my 10-point ranking of public bathrooms, Buc-ee’s scored a “9” because if failed to provide a changing table for the diaper-wearing crowd.

Every other item on my checklist received five stars:  Clean, neat, purse hangers, filled soap dispenser, plenty of paper towels, doors that opened out so one did not need to touch a dirty door handle upon exiting (I believed there was a hallway thereby eliminating the need for a door), good locks, plenty of room (although no room for shopping bags like at the Charleston outlets), and tight doors so no one can “peak while you leak.” Although there were no changing tables (a huge no-no for families with young children), there was museum-like artwork adorning the walls of the restroom.

Did I mention the snacks? If your stomach begins growling at you are approaching Buck-ee’s, just know that your appetite can be satiated by an assortment of goodies such as a candy selection which will make your mouth water, sandwiches, pickled quail eggs (I kid you not), cheese, dried fruit,

trail mix, candied jalapeños, an aisle of assorted popcorn, and jerky the likes of which mankind outside the state of Texas has never seen before.


Knowing that I had never experienced this extraordinary delicacy, Dad insisted we try some. When Dad asked the man behind the jerky deli counter for a recommendation for a jerky newbie, without skipping a beat, the jerky dispensing worker quickly ripped off a piece and handed it to me.

While I could see the appeal for some, it did nothing for me. Dad, on the other hand, purchased two different varieties—turkey jerky and teriyaki beef jerky. He spent the next hundred miles happily chomping away on his jerky.

So the next time you find yourself in the state of Texas, do not leave without experiencing the wonders of Buc-ee’s. Trust me. You will not be disappointed. And if the Christmas season is on the horizon, I suggest that you consider doing your holiday shopping at Buc-ee’s.

See the USA in Your Chevrolet

My favorite Christmas present from Dad is both extremely geeky and incredibly mind-blowing. It is not much larger than a deck of cards but is capable of holding every photo I have digitally taken, my videos, all my research, the many versions of my two books, and all of my music. And after adding all this data to my new external drive, I have used only one per cent of its capacity. Whoa and Wow! Just try to wrap your mind around that.

While now organizing my digital life, I discovered an additional story about Grandma and Grandpa’s younger days which I’d like to share with you.

Grandma’s family never had a car.  When her dad worked at a local grocery store, he would take the kids for a ride in the country (Boonton Township) in the store’s truck while making deliveries or would borrow it to take the family on an evening drive. That was there entertainment.

Her first car was the Chevrolet Grandpa had when they got married, which was the car they drove to Texas together after their marriage in 1951. As I have mentioned, Grandpa was in the Army reserves, and was recalled to service during the Korean War.

They lived in a two-room apartment, and like Grandpa’s apartment in Russia, they had to share the bathroom with their neighbors—a woman from Texas and her spouse who was also in the army.  Grandma did not like her.  She said she was a typical Texan who thought everything in Texas was bigger and better than every place else.

One day, she told Grandma to come watch a house being moved.  Grandma, as typical of her wry sense of humor, told the woman it was no big deal, because in New Jersey she had seen whole houses, including the basement, being moved.  Furthermore, she claimed that she even watched the Empire State Building being moved to another location.

The town of Killeen, where Fort Hood was located, was very small.  There was nothing to do except go to the one theater located in town.  One evening Grandma went to a show alone and was followed home by someone who even shined a light in the window.  She screamed out as if she were speaking to someone, and the person left.  She immediately called Grandpa, who returned home and brought her back to the base.  She remained in the car until he finished work.

On Sundays, they would sometimes go to the base for dinner in the mess hall at a cost of $0.55.  She would pass her days with the bragger from Texas and another woman from Chicago. That summer was the hottest temperature thus far for that area.  In order to sleep comfortably, Grandma would sometimes put the sheets in the refrigerator to cool down. There were no air conditioners.

Fortunately, Grandpa’s service abruptly ended, and they returned to New Jersey in September after spending five miserable months in Texas. It was not a day too soon for Grandma, who missed her mother and could not wait to get back to Boonton!

See the USA in Your Chevrolet
See the USA in Your Chevrolet
Grandma and Grandpa's First Home- Killeen , Texas 1951
Grandma and Grandpa’s First Home- Killeen , Texas 1951