4 Mar 2011
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.
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 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.)
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….
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.
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 …..
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”
Buc-ee: “love me”
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!!”
Please … that is clearly a beaver nugget and not a flat beaver tail. I think Hampy knew what he was talking about.