Galveston Road Trip

March 4, 2011 — 21 Comments

This last weekend I had to go down to Galveston for the Southwest Fire Rescue Conference in Galveston, Texas. This was a work trip (since I also design fire stations) but it was a fast and furious trip; down on Sunday morning, back by Monday evening. One of the partners where I work came along for the adventure and as it turns out, we had a pretty good time. The drive down I-45 was around 4.5 hours and since he drove, I was able to sit back and look out the window at a bunch of really boring things. Have you ever made that drive? It’s terrible … there is either nothing to look at or the worst of the worst industrial parks and low level strip shopping centers and U-Stor-It buildings.



galveston seawall, ocean, gulf of mexico

We made it down to Galveston with a few hours to spare before the portion of the conference we were attending began so we went down to the seawall to find something to eat and to do some people watching. Despite the gloomy appearance of this photo, the temperature outside was around 70 degrees. Finding a place to get some local seafood and drink a beer was priority #1.


oysters, picnic table, cocktail sauce and horseradish

Oysters are delicious … I think. You put enough horseradish and cocktail sauce on anything and it will taste good to me. I don’t remember the name of this restaurant, it wasn’t anything special, but it did have a giant plastic shrimp mounted on a pole. Big shiny plastic shrimp on a pole = fine dining right? (You can’t argue with that logic people, you just can’t.)


pole sign, plasic shrimp, interesting signs, sealife

We walked around the vendor area of the show and they had all sorts of groovy stuff on display. The best was this Skeeter Brush truck. This vehicle is made to go off road and fight brush fires and it looked like it would pretty much smash or run over anything it wanted. On the front there was a water cannon, in the back – 400 gallons of shoot ‘your neighbors azalea bushes not that I would do something like that’ water tank. There was a joystick in the cab that would allow you to aim the nozzle at the things you wanted to spray while you are cruising along. Yes, I totally wanted one and if I had a spare $114,000 laying around….


fire truck, skeeter truck, bush truck, fire hose, nozzle, big pickup truck, fire rescue truck


The only surprise on this trip came from a pit stop we made along the way at the largest truck stop I’ve ever seen called ‘Buc-ee’s‘. Since I don’t drive down I-45 very often, I had never seen this before; and since I wasn’t driving, I couldn’t control  this particular pit stop. Let me describe the scene to you – total and utter chaos. I have been referring to this place since my visit there as a “Provision Warehouse” where you can get gas from the 48 pumps, or possibly from the 8 trajillion packaged food items they have. Once inside, we were greeted by a dude who was probably 7 or 8 feet tall, wearing sanitary rubber gloves, cutting up beef jerky from a bag containing no less than 50 lbs of dried meat. Look, I like beef jerky as much as the next person but seeing an entire carcass worth in a plastic bag is a little unsettling.

There were rows and rows of plastic provision bags containing granola+something else (the something else being any combination of something else you can imagine). There was popcorn+something else, fudge+something else, nuts+something else and on and on. They even 3 rows of something called “Beaver Nuggets”. Uhmmm – ‘scuse me? Does that label really say “Beaver Nuggets”? Who would eat a nugget from a beaver?

You can’t make this stuff up people.


bucees, beaver nuggets, big sign, truck stop,

All that snacky whacky food actually made it difficult to choose anything so I thought I would just get something to drink.


Only 8,719 different choices, and that’s before you make your soda a suicide (if you’re over 30 you know what I’m talking about). Yeah, I’m not thirsty anymore. In fact, I think I need to pee. Having taken care of my business, I catch up with my travel mate and we head out the door. But wait a minute  …   what is this? My travel buddy bought a Buc-ee Beaver toy as a gift to my daughter. “Ha-ha, gotta do it”. This toy is a little wooden Beaver made up of separate pieces and you can push on the bottom and a string goes slack and the beaver flops over. Release the bottom and the beaver pops back up. Understand? Of course you do, we’ve all seen these type of knick-knack bric-a-brac County Fair type toys before. So I brought it home and gave it to my daughter. Our conversation went like this:

Me: “Hey Kate, look what I have here! Check this out…” (pushing and releasing the bottom to make the beaver pop up and down)

Kate: “What is that?”

Me: “It’s a toy.” (pushing and releasing the bottom to make the beaver pop up and down)

Kate: (taking the toy, pushing and releasing the bottom to make the beaver pop up and down … puzzled face)

Me: (raised eyebrows, hopeful face)

Kate: (scrunched up weird face) “Thanks Dad, it’s great” (sets it on counter and walks off)


I’m not so sure that the other toys on the counter knew what to think of Buc-ee either. Using the super secret spy techniques I learned by watching TV, I took these photos of the encounter and listened in on the conversation …..

erasers, children's toys, the next big thing, buc-ee the beaver, toy

Penguin #1: “Do you see it? Over there…”

Pineapple: “Mmmhpff pfffft mmmummfff”

Whale: “Yeah. I see it. What the hell is that? This is bad … I like our group, we don’t need a 6th”


japanese erasers, children's toys, the next big thing, buc-ee the beaver, toy

Buc-ee: “love me”



japanese erasers, children's toys, the next big thing, buc-ee the beaver, toy

Penguin #1: “Just look at it. What do you think it is”?

Buc-ee: quietly muttering “I’m standing right here, I can hear you … and I’m a Beaver. Buc-ee the Beaver”

Penguin #2: “I think it’s a beaver but why is it wearing clothes?”

Penguin #1: “It can’t be a beaver, they have flat tails, and it’s definitly not flat. That tail looks like a pine cone.”

Hamster: “A pine cone!? That’s ridiculous – it’s clearly taking a shi….”

Whale: “Hey, hey hey hey!!! C’mon now Hampy, this is a family environment. You need to clean up your act okay?”

Penguin #1 and #2: (looking at each other) “I say we kill it”

Pineapple: “Mmmrmmfppft  Mrrm!!”



japanese erasers, children's toys, the next big thing, buc-ee the beaver, toy

Please … that is clearly a beaver nugget and not a flat beaver tail. I think Hampy knew what he was talking about.




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  • I must say that overall I am really impressed with this blog.It is easy to see that you are passionate about your writing.

  • The place with the big shrimp is Gaido’s. It’s been there for 92 years.

    • YES! Now that you mention the name, I remembered it.

      Thanks – aahhhh. I hated not remembering.

  • Pingback: Kitchen Carpet, Silly Marketing, Mouse in House, and Buc-ee Beaver | Decor Girl()

  • Beaver Nuggets!

    I’d eat 3289372 oysters right now, and drive that rad truck… Great trip, Bob!

  • randydeutsch

    Brilliant! One of my all-time favorite blog posts.

    • Thanks Randy!

      (maybe you should read some more blog posts … maybe your bar is set too low)

  • Another post that is nothing short of awesome. I’m not sure if this life will ever take me to Galveston, but I feel like I can successfully check it off my list as ‘completed’ given the inside scoop on the beaver nuggets (couldn’t help but sneak one pun in)….

    • Now that’s funny – inside scoop on the beaver nuggets – nasty but funny.

      Hope you and A are doing all right – I’ve still got my eye on you both.

  • Small Town

    Let’s see a fire station project! Having recently worked on one, and learning some of the typology involved, I became kind of fascinated in how the design of them has morphed over time.

    Oh, and my boys are now addicted to those little erasers. Silly bands are soooo last year.

    • Give me a bit and I’ll send you a link. We literally switched over our website last night and I’m still looking at the cached version.

      Since my wife works at the Corporate offices of Michaels (the arts and crafts store) we get the heads up on these things about 6 months before they hit the shelves. Those erasers are from a 18 months ago. I still like them but my daughter has moved on to something else.

    • Here is the link to the Rowlett Fire Station #1 that was the 1st station we ever designed – it won a Station Style Design Award 2 years ago (not bad for the first one – yeah?


  • Bob,

    As a representative of the Canadian race I must protest the way you have ridiculed our national animal. The beaver (Buc-eee or otherwise) is a noble animal that represents the perseverance and resourcefulness of the Canadian people. They do not beg for friendship, let alone fake plastic toy friendship.

    And FYI, the beaver’s tail engorges during mating season, allowing the mail beaver to float while procreating in the water with the female beaver. Or something like that …

    The oysters looked good.


    • Now THAT was a good and appropriate response to my foolishness. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy beavers. It was only after making the beaver body pop and lock several times and the head swiveled around so that the “tail” was in the front and looked decidedly like something other than a tail did this post come into creation.

      Besides, I doubt this was a Canadian Beaver – most likely Chinese.

  • Something about Buc-eee is gnawing at me… Hmmm.

    • Wow, what can I say to that. Gnawing at you … WINNING

  • Alistair

    Bob, just to contrast you, I was out of the office yesterday and had a fantastic trip. Off to London and Ecobuild for me! Way too many people at the exhibition but nevertheless a good trip, with lots to see. Highlight by far had to be meeting up with my fiancé for a double espresso at Bar Italia, Soho; people watching the pre-theatre crowds and it seemed half the Metropolitan police turned up too for their coffee break. If you’re in London be sure to go!

    • Love London and have been many times – although it’s been about 8 years since my last trip.

      And yes, your trip sounds a lot better than mine so today, you get to call “scoreboard”. Next time bring your camera and send me a picture.


  • Wavewriter

    Was it made in Texas? If not, why did you buy it, to teach your daughter a lesson or patronize your buddy or help China bury us?

    • Thanks for commenting, I appreciate you taking the time to contribute. I suppose I did a bad job writing this post because you didn’t get your facts straight – I didn’t buy it, someone else did (that someone else being my boss). I do have some questions though –

      1. Why do you have something against China (or me for that matter)?
      2. What if it was made in Oklahoma, or New Hampshire instead of Texas?
      3. What lesson did you think my daughter was going to learn by receiving a gift someone else bought her? Gratitude possibly?
      4. How would I be patronizing my boss by actually giving my daughter the toy he bought for her in the first place? I didn’t tell her it was s stupid gift, I just gave it to her.

      And by the way, those other little toys are erasers from Japan.

      • Okrazorback

        It it were from Oklahoma it would be stuffed and about three foot tall.