A few months ago, I came up with the idea of traveling around Texas and visiting all 34 of the Buc-ee’s stores in the Lone Star State. For those of you not familiar with Buc-ee’s, they are far more than a convenience store with fuel and snacks. Most are massive with at least 50 fuel pumps, but not all of them. Personally, my favorite thing about these Texas-sized stores is the cleanliness of the restrooms, which the company was acknowledged for in 2012 by Cintas in a national restroom contest where the chain was named the World’s Cleanest Restrooms. The fact that they’re open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, according to their website, doesn’t hurt either. And I should add that the most disappointing thing about the stores is the closest Buc-ee’s to my Official World Headquarters in San Angelo is 221 miles away.
So I mapped out the trip on TrackMyTour, an app I learned about when Morgan, Debra, and I took my first How Big Is Texas quest around the perimeter of the state. You can find the actual addresses of the Texas Buc-ee’s on their website.
I reached out to my BFF, Darla, who went with me in 2021 on my Most Mispronounced Towns and Cities – Part 1 quest to see if she would want to come along for the ride.
Oh, yeah, there’s one other thing I should mention. I decided only driving to the stores wasn’t really enough. I let Darla know we would only be eating things that came from Buc-ee’s the entire 3 1/2 day journey. But like the great sidekick I knew she was, she still agreed to come along. Buc-ee’s or Bust!!!
In 1982, the year Darla and I graduated from Livingston High School in east Texas, Buc-ee’s opened their first store in Lake Jackson, and the rest, as they say, is history. The Lake Jackson store, like many of the first stores in the chain, was what you would consider a normal-sized convenience store. You know, the kind with four to eight fuel pumps, some grab-and-go food items, and a place for a quick bathroom break.
I loaded up my SUV with my How Big Is Texas swag, all Texas themed, of course, and Buc-cee, Jr., a stuffed animal wearing a t-shirt and hat that serves as the official mascot of the Buc-ee’s chain. I had purchased the little guy at one of my bathroom breaks a few months earlier. I headed east from San Angelo to pick up Darla at her sister’s house near our first stop in Madisonville. It was time to Potty On!!!
Many of the followers on my How Big Is Texas Facebook page, submitted ideas of the different foods we should try when we were on our trip. With only 3 1/2 days to sample, even if it was for every meal, we couldn’t possibly get to all of the options. Some of our favorites on this culinary journey included the barbecue items from brisket to pulled pork and all types of beef jerky make on site.
Candied cashews were delicious and once the smell of these items wafted by you, it made it almost impossible not to grab a bag for the road. And the cake balls made in the Buc-ee’s bakery represented all of the southern favorites, including double chocolate, Italian cream, and Red Velvet. The pure sugar high kept us going until we reached our final stop for the evenings.
The standard Buc-ee’s homemade potato chips and their variety of nuggets and nug-gees definitely made the cut. They even offered Keto-friendly meals, which I grabbed on my way home at our last stop on the road trip. Don’t ask me why.
For the Sophisticated Palette…
Prior to us leaving, many questioned whether we could eat anything healthy at the stores, so I decided to take that as a challenge. They do, indeed, have healthy options at Buc-ee’s. Carrot and celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, grapes, melon, pineapple, pickles, cheese, smoked meats like sausage, venison, and pork. They even had freshly made jalapeño cheese bread. We put it all together on a charcuterie board in our hotel room, including a bottle of Texas South Wind blackberry wine from Refugio, don’t pronounce the “g”, instead, replace it with an “r”. Perhaps some of the more sophisticated among you might judge our little meal harshly as it might not be up to snuff for you, but this southern masterpiece of ingenuity shined like the stars on a cloudless night in Big Bend.
Food and Wine Pairing
Since the choosing of foods was a significant part of this trip, we decided to have our own food and wine pairing. As I stated, the blackberry wine was purchased at Buc-ee’s. The other two were from Becker Vineyards in Fredericksburg and Messina Hof in Bryan. Thankfully, H.E.B. had us covered. Buc-ee’s needs to step up their Texas wine game, instead of offering mostly California options. You’re better than this, Buc-ee’s. After sampling the foods with the wines and ending with the blackberry, we decided it paired pretty well with everything. Hiccup!
The Pudding Challenge
We did a pudding tasting among chocolate, banana, key lime, and coconut. The chocolate won out over fan-favorite banana pudding, which I placed in close 2nd. I thought it was delicious, but Darla felt hers was better that she made at home, so she ranked it 3rd and gave the second place nod to coconut. We both ranked the key lime in 4th place. And before you say anything, we love key lime pie. This batch was on the border of being so sour you were afraid you’d never get that duck-face pucker off your mouth.
The Breakfast of Champions – Nuggets and Milk
Per a followers suggestion, we even bought milk at Buc-ee’s and tried the nuggets as cereal one morning in our hotel room. The cinnamon and regular were delicious. We would not suggest trying it with the savory nug-gees. Don’t ask us how we know.
Throughout our trip, I took the time to go and look at the various items the store had for sale. They have all things for the grill, including the grill itself, beautiful leather items, dishes, cookbooks, cutting boards, candles, and that’s just a few of the items. You can even purchase local art, which is smartly displayed on the way to the necessary rooms. The branded fashions were pretty interesting and I’ll admit I saw these designs on others while we were in the various locations. They have things for newborns to seniors, including every kind of t-shirt design, shoes, socks, winter hats, summer hats, hair bows, and swimwear. I didn’t find any swimwear designs from the 1920’s in my search. While the Buc-ee’s swim suits were cute, they were missing a lot of spandex and lycra to cover this body. I’m almost twice the woman I was in 1982 so I wasn’t about to put any of you through that look on this trip.
But You Gotta Have Friends
Seeing friends along the way highlighted our 3 1/2 day, 1,301 mile adventure. More than 30 people met us at the stores from north to south and all points in between – some were planned visits and some were introductions while at the stores. So thanks to Bill & Mary, Robert & Robert, Jr., Baker, Joe & Julie, Durinda, Vanesa, and Beth, Judy, Mary & Ronnie, Doug, John, Dana, Vickie, Tracy, Barry & family, and Alison & family for meeting us. And a special shoutout to the Buc-ee’s pitmasters in Wharton and the random group who saw us in the Buc-ee’s parking lot in Katy, followed us on Instagram, and then wanted to get in our selfie. Danny, Kalei, Dunkain, and girl named Diane, too, you made our day.
I even borrowed my friend Barry’s family for some fun store antics. They were visiting him from El Paso and had never been to a Buc-ee’s before so they joined in on the fun and games.
Hand’s down my favorite part of this road trip was catching up on life with Darla. I met her when I transferred to Livingston school district my junior year of high school in 1980. We both played basketball and struck up a friendship that way. We also roomed together our freshman year in college at Tyler Junior College. Over the 40 years, we lost touch some of the time, as we were both doing life in different places. Taking this road trip and our mispronounced Texas towns and cities trip in 2021 was fantastic. Having friends you can connect with is the absolute best.
Celebrating Buc-ee’s 40th anniversary and our 40th high school reunion on the road with my best friend was truly an epic experience for me. Catching up with old and new friends along the way made it even better. Personally, I was touched by the fact that more than two dozen of my friends would choose to go out of the way to meet us for just a few minutes to say hello.
And now for a little random Buc-ee’s trivia. Many companies have frequently asked questions on their websites, so that it is easier to forward information to those curious minds who need to know. My personal favorite on their site, because it really is so Texas. “Do you have deer corn? How much does deer corn cost?” I doubt you’ll ever see that question on any other convenience store’s website. And to answer the question, they do. Costs vary, but 22 stores in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the great state of Texas do, indeed, have deer corn for purchase. It comes in 50 pound bags, so make sure to bring a friend to help put it in your vehicle.
Would I do It Again?
Since returning from our road trip, many people have asked me if I would do it again. Quite honestly, the answer is “not likely.” No offense to this fantastic, over-the-top Texas convenience store, but I started going through Buc-ee’s burnout. And, yes, it is a thing. That said, a week later, my husband and I drove from San Angelo to northeast Texas. We didn’t stop in their location in Royce City on the way to our destination, but we did on the way back. “Oh, Buc-cee’s, I can’t quit you.”
Until next time…in Texas…safe travels!