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Day 22 – Sun. May 3rd: Buc’s, Boats, Bats & a Batmobile

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<– Day 21 – Sat. May 2nd: Ingram Rocks, but Kerrville Robots  | TRIP OVERVIEW | Day 23 – Mon. May 4th: Keeping Austin Weird –>


Any day I see a Tucker is a good day. It was an unexpected pleasure. So, yeah, Sunday was a very good day.

We started the day driving south toward San Antonio. We did not need to follow any signs to locate the city. All we had to do was listen for the anguished moans of NBA basketball fans. Those poor fans are still sad about their team’s loss.  Wow, was that a great game!


Our first stop of the day was to visit the largest Buc-ee’s (and largest convenience store) in the world. It’s located in New Braunfels. Once again, we counted the pumps. There were 120, which is 8 more than the Temple Buc-ees. The New Braunfels store is 67,000 square feet. You could fit two average sized Whole Foods stores or 11 7-11 convenience stores under Buc-ee’s roof. There are 83 bathroom stalls, 250 employees, and 1,000 parking spaces, We didn’t take any photos, because  it isn’t that much bigger than the new Temple store.

Following our Buc-ee’s fix we motored northward on I-35 until we reached Texas State University’s Meadow Center, home to glass bottom boat tours at the headwaters of the San Marcos River. When Spanish explorers first found the area they thought it was the fountain of youth due to the bubbling fresh water. In some cases the water spurted out like small geysers.

In 1849, the lake was dammed. For decades the lake was known for Aquarena performances and theme park attractions. Eventually, the theme park was shuttered, but glass bottom boats still explore the crystal clear lake sharing its history and educating visitors about the unique environment. Through Groupon we got a buy-one-get-one free deal, so if you decide to go, check them out for the discount. The boat operator was full of information and we enjoyed the tour. One tip, on weekends parking is free.


Entry way to glass bottom boat tours


The dammed lake is long and narrow. The water is very clear. It appears they have four boats that operate every half hour.


We photographed the lake bed through the glass bottom, but all perspective was lost. This shot demonstrates how visitors look down through the glass. I’m not looking down. I am posing for a photo, but it seems I should be posing by looking down?

After our boat ride we decided to check off another to-do item. We visited Dicks Classic Garage Car Museum. I’d decided to visit the museum, because it was one of the few car museums in Texas I could find.

We arrived to a nearly empty parking lot, so we knew right away we’d have the museum to ourselves. While paying our entry fee, we learned the museum was owned and built by Dick Burdick, who made a fortune manufacturing special cement for oil wells. The museum has only been opened since 2009.

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Similar to some other car museums, when we entered the first wing we found many of the cars were bunched together in a chronological order. You can view this first series of cars in these photos.


What really surprised me was when we turned a corner and I found myself staring at a Tucker. I had no idea the museum had a Tucker. Even better, the display contained all kinds of Tucker memorabilia.

According to the literature, this particular Tucker was the last one made. When it was ‘done’, it was completed with some incorrect parts and no transmission. The car has never been driven and the odometer registers less than a mile.

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Across the corridor from the Tucker was a 1943 GPW Navy themed jeep. I could see there were several frame patches, but otherwise it looked solid. The scratched paint suggested it has been used  on multiple occasions. In fact, it was probably the only ‘show’ vehicle that wasn’t fully restored.

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The museum had a M-38A1 on display as well, though no placard accompanied it. The jeep seemed like an after thought, tucked into a corner.

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There are certainly some neat cars in the museum along with other memorabilia. If you are nearby, I’d suggest you stop in for a visit.

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With our San Marcos stops complete, we drove to Austin. After checking in at our motel, we decided to check out Austin’s food co-op scene. The only one I found was called Wheatsville. We dropped in for a visit and I have to say I expected much more from the store. They had some sheep’s yogurt (a first for me — it was very good) and some duck eggs, but other than that the store didn’t have a very diverse selection. We were particularly surprised by the poor local Texas wine selection. Still, we found a couple things to buy.

On our way back to the motel we realized we’d forgotten to get some fruit, so we did a search for a nearby store. That turned out to be a H-E-B supermarket (Forbes article on H-E-B). We’d been to a H-E-B in Kerrville and it was fine store, but nothing particularly remarkable. However, the Austin H-E-B was a whole other level above the Kerrville location.


Yes, that is a grocery store!


There’s a musician in the covered area to the right where customers of the H-E-B’s to-go food can sit and enjoy music. Look how small the people are. That’s one tall roof!

First of all, the Austin store entrance was huge, shockingly so, the kind of huge we found impossible to believe about Buc-ee’s. Then there was the live music, the fountains, the prepared food choices, and more. Had we known about the place, we would have skipped the co-op altogether and just shopped the H-E-B big-box store.

The last to-do item we had on Sunday was to watch the Austin bats from a downtown bridge. Some years ago when the city rebuilt the Congress bridge, the builders added designs that turned out to foster development of the local bat population. In other words, the bats were bat-crazy about the design.

These days, at or after sunset, the world’s largest population of urban bats will often leave the bridge all at once, making the scene unforgettable. However, it doesn’t always happen that way. Sunday nights was one of the nights when they lingered around and under the bridge rather than flying off all at once.

Maybe it was the full moon, maybe it was the four tour boats, the three bike boats, the numerous kayaks, the hundreds of people on the bridge, or something else that kept them from performing. Still, it was a beautiful evening on the bridge. Maybe we’ll go back Monday night.


Fellow bat watchers on Congress Bridge waiting for the bats to leave from under the bridge all at once. They never did on this night.

For Monday I am scheduling me to sleep in. No other updates tonight because we stayed up too late playing with bats.

<– Day 21 – Sat. May 2nd: Ingram Rocks, but Kerrville Robots  | TRIP OVERVIEW | Day 23 – Mon. May 4th: Keeping Austin Weird –>



6 Comments on “Day 22 – Sun. May 3rd: Buc’s, Boats, Bats & a Batmobile

  1. mmdeilers Post author

    True Rick, I am a young man of almost 50. But, I do appreciate the story and the vehicle (I saw both the Navy GPW and the Tucker at the same time and focused immediately on the Tucker). It seems a shame that it has barely been driven, but I also understand its rare pristine condition.

    I’ve now seen three Tuckers in person. I would have seen a fourth in Ypsilanti, but my plans were thwarted:

  2. hugh

    I am 50 too dave. when the tucker movie came out in the eighties my dad and i went to see it at the ford city mall which happens to be inside the old tucker plant. they had a tucker parked and roped off in the lobby. there is a tucker in the laporte museum here in indiana not far from me and i saw one at the henry ford museum. so iguess ive also seen three of them also. the car was way ahead of its time.

  3. hugh

    If you havent seen the movie dave you should find it and watch. its great and stars jeff bridges as preston tucker.

  4. Hollis Wooldridge

    You might try to hit Franklin’s BBQ while in Austin. Just be prepared to stand in line for an hour or two…(but it’s worth it).

  5. mmdeilers Post author

    Hugh, I only own a few DVDs, but the Tucker movie is one of them 🙂

    Hollis. Thanks for the tip! We were planning to have bbq this evening, but a jackalope completely disrupted our plans (see Tuesday’s morning’s story). I read that Franklin’s was the best in town, with Stiles a close second. I also read about having to wait a long time at Franklins, so I thought about going to Stiles, except that Stiles is closed on Mondays. So, we felt we’d have to abandon any Austin bbq plans .. And as I type this the news reported that Aaron Franklin just won a James Beard award. What timing!

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