I hold my hands up here. I know that I am not perfect and because I have a belly button that makes me human means I make mistakes. This time I had calculated the number of days away with the wrong return date and hadn’t reserved a room for the night of the 16th October. As it turned out it was a happy mistake and worked out well for us.
Failing to get a reasonably priced room in Austin I chose a town further south called San Marcos. Being positioned there put us closer to San Antonio for the visit to the Alamo the next day. This was the longest drive on the road trip a distance of 244 miles. Again we shared the drive and I estimated that we could swap places at Buck-ee’s just after Waco in a place called Temple.
This organisation must have spent a fortune advertising almost every mile travelling south on I-35. Signs suggesting that ‘You can hang on!’ or adverts for their signature brisket or jerky with the number of miles left before you get there. This had to be something out of the ordinary!
Everything is BIGGER in Texas and Buck-ee’s must have followed the well known statement. Traffic was heavy pulling off the highway and crossing the bridge to what we assumed was a petrol station with shop. I think my jaw dropped and stayed that way for 10 minutes or so.
The first thing we saw was the fuelling plazas’ yes plaza plural. Almost as far as the eye could see there were cars and vans filling up at not one but two plazas that I since found out accommodate 120 vehicles so probably 30 lanes on each plaza.
There was a bronze statue of Buck-ee the Beaver at the entrance to the shop. A shop that you couldn’t see the end of. It had Buck-ee branded well everything and anything. An entire brand all of it’s own. It sold everything and I mean everything, you name it it had it in one form or another. The fresh food area was equally enthralling and teams of team members were constructing brisket sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, buritos and list goes on. What a production number.
There was a Jerky wall as well as a counter service to select by weight your chosen dried meat. The lanes to the bathrooms were used as art galleries and above each toilet cubicle was a red/green light system which was a great indicator as to what was available, though best if customers thought to lock the door!
The soda machines were maybe 6 strong across the wall with an equal number of units to get coffee. A large soda cup which was 20oz was 89c and a large was 99c. If you are savvy you should head to fill up your iced tea and roam around the vast shop and refill before paying for it. If you got coffee there were two refrigerated counters with every type of milk that you could ask for.
The back wall with fridges ran the width of the store and a grocery section for essentials. Eventually my jaw closed and we must have spent nearly an hour there. Petrol was the cheapest that we had seen on our trip so filled up using the Chase card at the machine. Now this doesn’t normally work for me but this time, success. The only way to pay in advance with cash was to line up again with the shoppers inside the store.
Driving again through Austin on the I-35 travelling south the traffic was much lighter than when we witnessed nearly a week before. The hotel in San Marcos was literally opposite both the Premium Outlets and Tanger Outlets.
Rarely, if at all I have seen the two outlet malls next to each other. Remember everything is BIGGER in Texas! If you walked from the Nieman Marcos Last Call at the end of the Premium Outlets to the Old Navy at the back of the Tanger Outlets it will take 23 minutes, a distance of 1.1 miles. Absolutely astonishing.
After checking in at the hotel where again there was a grab bag offered for breakfast even though there was a fully furnished breakfast area. We queried why it was like that and it really felt like the hotel was saving a persons wage rather than provide the service for the customer. Anyway we returned to the outlets for more retail therapy until closing time at 19.00 as it was a Sunday.