Day Trips & Beyond: January Travel Roundup

Remembering 2020 and looking forward to travel in 2021

It’s good to see 2020 in the rearview mirror and a new year in the windshield.

White circles show visitors where they can socially distance on the lawn at the Pearl in San Antonio. A new normal and a new vocabulary took hold as we all tried to safely maneuver the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

No matter where we went, this past year our conversations were thick with a new vocabulary that became much too common.

Words to remember 2020 by: Aggressive social distancing, face masks, stay-in-place order, stay-home order, shelter-in-place order, NYC on pause, Stay Home-Work Safe, flatten the curve, community transmission, community spread, major stimulus package, safe-at-home order, self-quarantine, essential services, COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, wet market, PPE (personal protective equipment), PPP (Paycheck Protection Program), Dr. Anthony Fauci, quarantine, herd immunity, clusters (of cases), hot spots, surge, take-out food, curbside, health emergency, vaccine, second wave, contact tracing, lying Trump-hating media, clusters of deaths, face coverings, asymptomatic, mode of transmission, essential services, hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir, Zoom, George Floyd Jr., BLM, SpaceX Falcon 9, Crew Dragon, ACAB, Breonna Taylor, phased reopening, spike, mail-in ballots, lockdown, invincibility mentality, epicenter, reopen, learning pods, testing labs, virus mutations, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), absentee voting, antigen testing, Portland, USPS slowdown, defund police, Minneapolis, long-haulers, underlying medical conditions, Kenosha, vote-by-mail, QAnon, finger condoms, 220,000 deaths, COVID is a hoax, unprecedented times, an abundance of caution, losers and suckers, super-spreader events, third wave, rounding the corner, too close to call, COVID fatigue, Stop the Steal, winter surge, 95% effective, sanitary protocols.

Here’s a toast of Texas-made wine, beer, spirits, or cider to many happy day trips in 2021 and many happy returns.

Travel Notes:

It’s cedar fever time again. If you’re new to Central Texas or haven’t yet suffered the effects of an allergic reaction to the pollen released by mountain cedar trees, hang around the area long enough and you will. From January to February, and for some of us even earlier, the burning eyes, running nose, and sore throat are the price we pay for living in this winter paradise.

Jonathan Motsinger and Robert Edmonson, tree experts with the Texas A&M Forest Service, recently provided these facts about the scourge of the Hill Country.

• The predominant species of mountain cedar in our area is the Ashe juniper.
• Cedar fever is worse west of I-35.
• The pollen from Ashe junipers is not particularly allergenic or harmful—it’s just that there is so much of it that it overwhelms the immune system.
• The pollen is disseminated by the wind affecting individuals far removed from high concentrations of juniper trees.
• Most trees pollinate in the spring, but cedar trees are an exception. The bushy trees’ favorite time to release pollen is right after a cold front, and right in the middle of cold and flu season.
• If your fever surpasses 101.5° F, then pollen is probably not the cause.
• If your mucus is running clear then it’s an allergy. If it’s got color, then it’s probably a cold or flu.
• Only male juniper trees release pollen. The problem is they do it all at the same time.
• Ashe junipers are not all bad. The berries can be used to make medicines and oils that can treat a variety of ailments. The trees also provide a source of food for wildlife. They will grow in terrain that isn’t hospitable to other tree species.

If you need help identifying the Ashe juniper other than the rust-colored pollen rising like smoke from the branches, go to the Texas A&M Forest Service’s Texas Tree ID website which is full of useful and interesting information on Texas trees. For an app for your mobile device to help identify trees, go to My Tree ID.

Jacob’s Well Natural Area outside of Wimberley is one of the most beautiful and unique spots in the Hill Country. From May to September it is a prime swimming hole, but in the winter it’s a great place for hiking. On Jan. 9 and 23, and Feb. 13 at 9am, volunteers from the Hays County Master Naturalist chapter will lead tours of the headwaters of Cypress Creek. The guides talk about the aquifer, wildlife, vegetation, and history of the area. Each group is limited to 10 participants who must wear a face mask and maintain a social distance from other participants. To sign up for a free guided tour, send an email to or call 512/214-4593. Private tours can be arranged with a two-week notice. The tours are not given during the summer months.

In happier days, Bob Hall Pier on Padre Island outside of Corpus Christi was a popular fishing spot or just a nice place for a walk. Hurricane Hanna damaged the concrete pier so badly it will have to be replaced. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Bob Hall Pier outside of Corpus Christi on Padre Island is to be torn down and rebuilt. Nueces County Commissioners decided in December that the popular fishing pier and Mikel May’s restaurant was too badly damaged to be repaired. Built in 1982, the concrete pier was battered by Hurricane Hanna on July 25, 2020. Heavy winds and a six-foot storm surge damaged the walkway and took out the T-head at the end. The county hopes to have a new structure completed by 2022.

Other January Events:

Canyon Lake Gorge Tours
Jan. 4-31, New Braunfels,

Winter Nature Programs
Jan. 14-Feb. 25, Galveston,

Find more travel ideas and info (virtual and IRL) at
Gerald McLeod has been traveling around Texas and beyond for his "Day Trips" column for more than 25 years. Keep up to date with his journeys on his archive page and follow him on Facebook.

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Day Trips, coronavirus, COVID-19, Bob Hall Pier, Corpus Christi, cedar fever, Ashe juniper, Jacob's Well Natural Area, Canyon Lake Gorge tours

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