Tag Archives: Buc-ee's

Super Susan!

Wish the body went with my face!

Seeing “Chronicle” made me ponder that all-important question:

What super power(s) do I wish I had?

I know that some people want the ability to fly or read minds or even be invisible. But not me.

I do yearn to be able to teleport to places hither and yon instantly. It would be great to just snap my fingers and be in Chicago visiting my mom instead of having to deal with motion sickness on a plane.

I love being part of the Justice League with my animated husband, the Flash.

But, really, the super power I’ve always wanted is the ability to never have to use a public bathroom (ugh!) as I’m out and about (except for Buc-ee’s, of course). Even after having several glasses of diet Coke (and nothing goes through you like diet Coke!).

Now that would be a wonder for this woman!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Farewell for Now

My older son seems ready to return to college.

Last week was big for our family. Not only were we trying to cram in activities as summer came to a close, but we also deposited our #1 son back at the University of Texas at San Antonio for his sophomore year (classes start tomorrow).

Storage bins await transport back to UTSA.

First, my boy and I went through all the stuff he had brought home, which has been patiently sitting in storage bins in his room all summer.

Lots of papers to look through

We looked through everything and determined if he ever used it (some things thus remained at home), still needed it, or required more of it. Then we repacked the bins, feeling better prepared than last year for moving in.

Back to familiar environs

Last Friday the Mister neatly put all those bins, plus a couple trash cans and backpacks, into his Honda Odyssey, which already held our company’s dolly. Then the four of us hopped into the minivan for the three-plus-hour drive to San Antonio (including, of course, the required stop at Buc-ee’s in Luling).

Mr. Muscle makes a second trip with his brother's stuff.

Even though UTSA changed its move-in policy from last year and didn’t let us drop off our stuff at the curb (this time we had to park and move the bins, etc., from there), it was easier than last year. We actually felt organized!

The collegian gets the easy load.

There weren’t a lot of changes for my #1 son as we moved him in: He has the same roommate, Ben, who he has known since first grade (and who lives in our subdivision). And the boys are back in the same room in the same building in, yes, the same dorm as last year.

The boys briskly move towards #1’s building.

But, of course, things are different. My firstborn son has a year of higher learning under his belt. He made a successful transition both academically (on the Dean’s List) and personally (making decisions and doing his laundry). He seems a little more mature, a little more sure of himself this year.

When I hugged him goodbye, I didn’t feel as sad as last year. I know that being in college is best for my boy right now. This is his time, and I hope he makes the most of it at UTSA.

Plus, we’ll see him in a little over a week when he returns home for the long Labor Day weekend!

Turning a Friend On to New Experiences

Toni and her new friend, Buc-cee

Toni and her new friend, Buc-ee

My friend Toni clearly has been frustrated with her digital SLR sports photography experience. She has an older dSLR, the Nikon D70s, and uses a Sigma 70-300mm lens for her action shots. Her image quality has been spotty, and she turned to me for help.

Sidebar: The Nikon D70 was my first dSLR five years ago. I absolutely loved it for a year and a half. Then I absolutely loved the Nikon D200 for two years. Now I absolutely adore my Nikon D300. I may be fickle, but at least I keep it in the same family!

No one will see you eating camo popcorn!

No one will see you eating camo popcorn!

One other thing about poor, innocent Toni: She’d never been to Buc-ee’s, the most-amazing roadside stop in Texas. Sure, it’s a gas station at its core, but it’s so much more! I waxed romantically about Buc-ee’s here. Let’s just say they have the most incredible bathrooms ever! Hand sanitizer dispensers in the huge stalls. Wonderful decor. And the store?!? Any place that sells Beaver Nuggets (aka crack in a bag) is heaven on earth!

It just so happened that our gutsy, neighborhood 11-year-old Little League all-stars that I wrote about here are playing their district games in a small south Texas town with something brand new, something so compelling that it makes the 40-minute drive there worth every second: A new, huge Buc-ee’s has just opened! Toni’s son Michael is on the team, and our friend Sue was itching to drive to see the new store. Oh, and watch some Little League baseball, of course!

So yesterday we made it a road trip and got to indoctrinate Toni into the wonderful ways of Buc-ee’s. Now she understands the temptation of Beaver Nuggets (not only can you not eat just one, you have to be careful not to eat the entire bag at one sitting) and the allure of the great bathrooms. I don’t think this will be Toni’s last trip to Buc-ee’s.

Toni gets behind the big gun.

Toni gets behind the big gun.

That was Toni’s first new experience. Her second? Getting to shoot baseball with my big lens! We put my beloved Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, complete with a Nikon 1.4x teleconverter to give her more reach, on her D70s and let her snap away. The combination of the lens and teleconverter is heavy, so the whole kit and kaboodle was placed on my monopod. I wanted Toni to see that equipment can make a big difference in image quality. There’s a reason why the 70-200 is about $1,500 more than the Sigma. It’s one of Nikon’s gold lenses, a favorite of sports and portrait photographers.

Matt is safe at home.

Matt is safe at home.

Meanwhile, that left me with the Nikon 105mm macro lens slapped on my Nikon D300. Too much reach for some shots, not enough for others, it’s not my first lens of choice when I shoot baseball. But it is a great lens, and it forced me to rethink the way I shoot a sport that’s enclosed by fences.

Harry hits

Harry hits.

I decided to shoot on both sides of the plate where I had enough access to put my lens hood on the chain-link fence and shoot in one of the gaps without blocking the fans’ view. It made for a tight squeeze, as I tried to time it so I was shooting the bat and the ball. Very challenging!

Cole gets the bat on the ball.

Cole gets the bat on the ball.

Normally, I don’t like taking many photos from behind the players. Faces tell the story better than backs. But I do like shooting from different angles, and it makes for a more-satisfying photo experience to try something new.

Mohawked catcher Cole

Mohawked catcher Cole

This was one of my favorite photos of the night. I like how it shows off Cole’s mohawk (a style all the boys are wearing), as well as his grip on the baseball as he prepares to throw it back to the pitcher. Compelling!

Gotta love that homerun trot!

Gotta love that home run trot!

Probably the best photo for the team was this one of B, who hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to clinch a 10-0 victory for our 11s. Love that smile!

#3986-(john-toni)

So did Toni like using the 70-200mm? Here she is telling her husband John, one of the team’s coaches, about it. Sometimes those new experiences can be relatively cheap, like those addictive Beaver Nuggets. But others like expensive photo equipment that lets you stand out from the crowd and capture great memories? Ka-ching, ka-ching!

Car Wash and a Movie

 

Heading into the car wash

Heading into the car wash

An old favorite singer of mine, the late Jim Croce, wrote a song called “Workin’ at the Car Wash Blues.” Someone working at a car wash might have the blues (the guy I saw certainly didn’t look very thrilled), but I love driving through the car wash! Hey, sounds like a great song title!

When I went to get gas for my car yesterday at Buc-ee’s, I noticed that the price was a whopping 20 cents cheaper with a $5 car wash. $1.79.9 for gas plus a badly needed cleaning? Count me in!

Sidebar: This would be the Honda Pilot’s first car wash since it came to live with us in November. Dirty? Definitely!

I gassed up the Pilot and drove around to the automatic car wash. It’s not fancy, but it does a decent job for $5. Since I just happened to have my Canon PowerShot A590 point and shoot, I was able to document the whole experience for my reader(s) as I enjoyed someone other than me scrubbing my car clean. Sit back, relax, and relive it with me. Unless you’re claustrophobic, of course.

Soap time

Soap time

Time to bring in the brushes!

Let's bring in the brushes!

Brushing the windshield clean

Brushing the windshield clean

Now I know how teeth feel when they’re about to be brushed!

Watering off

Watering off

Things continue to clear.

Things continue to clear.

Ah, the clean windshield!

Ah, the clean windshield!

Back outside on a beautiful day

Back outside on a beautiful day

Something in that fifth picture worries me. Could it be the monster that hides in the car wash giving the workers the blues? Might make me think twice about driving through again!

The Car Wash Blob!

The Car Wash Blob!

Movietime

General Custer and Ben Stiller

General Custer and Ben Stiller

The family saw “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” yesterday. As with all sequels, this wasn’t as good as the original. Both the Mister and I rated it as just average, but the boys loved it. #1 deemed it worthy of his top “10” rating (which he gives to just about every movie), while the more-discriminating #2 “only” gave it a 9.5. See this one for the kids.

Stuff ’n Nonsense Wednesday

Lisa R's vegetable garden

Lisa R's vegetable garden

When my friend Lisa R. talked about her vegetable garden on her Facebook page, I knew I had to see it (plus I needed to pick up a box of Lemonades Girl Scout cookies that she was kind enough to buy for me; #1 son loves those cookies!). Today being a meandering morning kind of day, I moseyed on over, interrupted a GS meeting she was having, and walked into her backyard.

OMG! The girl and her husband sure can garden! Her Mister built her a very-impressive, multidimensional, raised veggie garden, and she already has cages around her tomato plants. She’s also growing cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, squash, banana peppers, and various herbs (she probably is a good cook and knows how to use them).

Lisa R's train garden

Lisa R's train garden

See the photo above? That’s Lisa’s train garden (so named because a train track runs around it). She had several areas of pretty flowers in her blooming backyard, which is the way I always imagine my backyard should look . . . only it doesn’t. Not anything like it at all. Then again, Lisa doesn’t have a couple disc golf baskets and hordes of discs to cope with. Just a train.

I’m going to make several field trips to Lisa’s garden during the spring and summer to compare notes and see who has the better green thumb. Anyone taking bets on who it will be? I know who my money’s on . . . and it ain’t me!

Buc-cee’s

Buc-ee’s

Love that Buc-ee’s!

Most of the Buc-ee’s gas stations and so-much-more stores that I’ve seen in Texas are along highways. As I’ve mentioned previously, Buc-ee’s is known for its sensational bathrooms (yes, really, in this case you can use the word “sensational” with “bathroom”), sugary Beaver Nuggets, and so much more. Surprisingly, a smaller Buc-ee’s recently opened up close by, but not on a highway. Since it was a meandering morning, I left Lisa’s and moseyed on over to the Buc-ee’s to pump some gas ($1.79 a gallon) and check out the store.

56-life-is-shortIt was all shiny and new and full of possibilities (such as trail mix, fudge, drinks, etc.). The only purchase I made (besides the gas) was a couple packs of Dubble Bubble assorted fruit gum balls (gum being one of my weaknesses), and I was rewarded with a free car wash ticket. Which I was hesitant to take.

Me: Do I have to use this today?

Cashier: You have until March 31st to use it.

Me: Audible sigh of relief!

Why didn’t I want to wash my Honda Pilot, which desperately is in need of a thorough cleaning? Because of the weather forecast, of course! Today is #2 son’s penultimate track meet, and the meteorologists claim there’s a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms. I knew that washing my car would surely seal the deal, pushing those rain odds to 100 percent. Better to have a dirty car than a rained-out track meet! I might take my chances tomorrow or Friday.

Jimmy John's back door

Jimmy John's back door

“ull” or “ush”

Jimmy John’s sandwich shop, the one that almost had “Gourmet Sanwiches” on its awning, is at it again! Today when I passed its back door on my way to eat lunch at my favorite restaurant on earth, Chipotle, I saw “ULL.” I resisted the temptation to open the door to see if the letters spelled out “USH” on the other side.