Day Trips & Beyond: January Events Roundup

Explore Texas and beyond in 2022

Start the new year off with a tour of prehistoric cave paintings, a cold beer fresh from the brewery, or one of the many events around the state.

No one living knows what the writing on the wall means in Fate Bell Shelter at Seminole Canyon State Park. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

The New Year sees a new roster of tours to Fate Bell Shelter in Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site. The guided hikes to the site of some of the best preserved Pecos River-style pictographs take advantage of the cooler weather along the Rio Grande. January’s calendar contains a full list of 90-minute expeditions Wednesday through Sunday.

Archaeological research shows that the cave eroded out of a limestone cliff was used as a shelter for 8,000 years. The cave drawings are estimated to be between 3,000 and 4,000 years old.

Not much is known about the people who created drawings of what look like humans (shamans), animals, and insects. Some of the more interesting art are anthropomorphic figures with long bodies, no heads, and raised arms. No one knows exactly what they signify.

The shelter is named for a former landowner, and the canyon is named for Seminole Indian scouts who once camped here. The tours are moderately difficult, with the hike out of the canyon the most difficult part. About 40 miles west of Del Rio, the park has 46 campsites and 10 miles of hiking trails that do not require a ranger guide. It is best to make reservations online before you arrive.
Wed.-Sun., Jan. 1-30, 10am, 3pm, Fate Bell Tours, Seminole Canyon State Park, Comstock, 432/292-4464, www.tpwd.texas.gov.

Jimmy Mauric started with the Spoetzl Brewing Company as a 17-year-old and 43 years later is the head brewer. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Having one beer from an old family recipe make up 75% of your brewery’s output might seem a little boring for a brewmaster. But for K. Spoetzl Brewing’s head brewer Jimmy Mauric, the consistent popularity of Shiner Bock gives him time to experiment with other brews.

An affable guy with a warm smile and firm handshake, Jimmy started working at the brewery as a 17-year-old. Over the last 43 years he’s graduated from stacking boxes to overseeing the brewery’s production.

Every drop of Shiner beer sold in all 50 states comes from the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas, and every batch of the liquid gold is taste-tested by a team of Shiner employees before it goes to the bottling line, he says.

Jimmy shepherds through the network of pipes, tanks, and vats several different concoctions while the Shiner Premium and Bock ferment away in the giant stainless steel containers. The state’s largest craft brewer has expanded to include a line of fruit-flavored hard seltzers, alongside beers flavored with peach and pecan, sea salt and lime, strawberries, grapefruit, and even prickly pear.

For those who prefer their beer to more closely follow the German purity law of 1516, Jimmy works on an annual Centennial Series of small-batch beers highlighting different styles and recipes. The current release of Shiner 1909 goes back to the brewery’s founding for a heritage lager using two-row barley paired with Spoetzl’s unique yeast and artesian water combination.

“[All these different styles are] a fun challenge,” Jimmy says as he sips a Shiner Bock in the brewery’s hospitality room. “With craft brewing there are no borders. There are a lot of different styles of beers and you can do what you want with them. We ‘Shinerize’ them.”

The fifth-largest craft brewery in the U.S. has seen an uptick in sales during the pandemic. Because they were declared an essential business by the state, the brewery never shut off the tap during the initial shutdown. On the other hand, the snow-pocalypse in February 2021 brought operations to a standstill for a week, Jimmy says.

“Don’t worry, we were never in danger of running out of Shiner,” he added.

The K. Spoetzl Brewery is about 1.5 hours southeast of Austin. Tours cost $20, or $10 for those under drinking age. It’s always best to reserve a space on the 20-person tour before making the drive. If you don’t get on a tour, it’s still fun to grab a cold beer fresh from the brewery’s tap and enjoy it in their large, covered beer garden. Who knows, head brewer Jimmy Mauric might wander out to greet you on his regular rounds of the factory.
Tours are on the hour between 11am and 4pm Monday-Saturday, and on Sunday between 1pm and 4pm. K. Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, shinerbeer@spoetzl.com, www.shiner.com.

Travel Notes:

Mud week. The main channel along the San Antonio River Walk will be drained from Jan. 23 to Jan. 30 for routine maintenance. They discontinued the mud parties years ago. Now it’s just a sight to behold instead of the usual placid stream. Alamo Street (between Market and Commerce streets) will be closed, and the Go Rio Cruises will be suspended.

Finder’s keepers. Art and history are important parts of the essence of Galveston. That’s why Museum Day (actually two days, Sat.-Sun., Jan. 29-30) is such a great opportunity to delve deeper into the island city’s culture. There’s something for everyone as 10 museums, galleries, and cultural spaces offer free or two-for-one admission. As part of the exhibit “Esferas Perdidas,” or “Lost Spheres,” the Galveston Art Center will be hiding homemade glass marbles around the city. The hide-and-seek project was conceived by San Antonio glass artists Sean Johnston and Justin Parr with photos and clues to the hiding places posted on their Facebook page. Finders can either keep the marble or re-hide it and post the location on the Facebook page.

Deep-dive Frida. The folks who gave us "Immersive Van Gogh" now give us "Frida: Immersive Dream." The new exhibit features 500,000 cubic feet of projections and 1,200,000 frames of video, allowing patrons to walk into Kahlo’s most recognizable work. Tickets have gone on sale, beginning at $40, for the exhibit in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and Toronto. It will be in Dallas Feb. 3 through April 17, and in Houston Feb. 17 through April 17. It’s not too late to experience “Immersive Van Gogh.” That show has been extended in Dallas through Feb. 28 and in Houston through Feb. 6.

Dale Chihuly, Sol del Citrón at the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Ariz. (Photo by Nathaniel Willson, courtesy Desert Botanical Garden)

Glass in the desert. If you have ever seen one of glass artist Dale Chihuly’s outdoor exhibits, you know how magnificent the whimsical-shaped colored glass sculptures can be. Through June 19, the artist’s latest installation will brighten the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Ariz., and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Ariz. At the garden, the large-scale installation complements the plants along the trails in addition to filling an indoor gallery. The exhibition at Taliesin West continues the experience, but adds the pairing of two great artists.

Other January Events:

“Georgia O’Keeffe, Photographer”
Jan. 1-17, Houston, www.mfah.org

“Calder-Picasso”
Jan. 1-30, Houston, www.mfah.org

Gospel Music Festival
Jan. 7-9, Rockport, www.gospelforce.org/festival.html

Sam Rayburn Birthday Celebration
Jan. 8, Bonham, www.thc.texas.gov/historic-sites/sam-rayburn-house-state-historic-site

Battle of Galveston Walking Tour
Jan. 8, Galveston, www.galvestonhistory.org

Market Days
Jan. 8-9, Boerne, www.boernemarketdays.com/boerne.html

Bluegrass Jam at The AgriCultural
Jan. 8, 22, Boerne, www.theagricultural.org/bluegrass-jams

Audubon Raptor and Education Center Behind-the-Scenes Tour
Jan. 8, 22, 8:30am, Houston, www.houstonaudubon.org/programs

“Les Diners de Gala by Salvador Dali”
Jan. 13-March 27, San Angelo, www.noelartmuseum.org

Yaga’s Chili Quest and Beer Fest
Jan. 14-15, Galveston, www.yagaschiliquest.com

Stock Show and Rodeo
Jan. 14-Feb. 5, Fort Worth, www.fwssr.com

Boom: Cannon Demonstration
Jan. 15, La Porte, www.sanjacinto-museum.org

Luckenbach Blues Festival
Jan. 15, Luckenbach, www.luckenbachtexas.com

Roughhouse Third Anniversary Party
Jan. 15, San Marcos, www.roughhousebrewing.com

Dunes Day Christmas Tree Recycling
Jan. 15, Surfside Beach, www.brazoriacountyparks.org

Market Day at Varner-Hogg Plantation
Jan. 15, West Columbia, www.visitvarnerhoggplantation.com

Hill Country Gem and Mineral Show
Jan. 15-16, Fredericksburg, www.fredericksburgrockhounds.org

Culinaria Restaurant Weeks Bi-Annual Extravaganza
Jan. 15-29, San Antonio, www.culinariasa.org/restaurant-weeks

Agarita Chamber Players
Jan. 18, Fredericksburg, www.fredericksburgmusicclub.com

Bastrop County MLK Walk and Program
Jan. 17, Elgin, www.elgintx.com

MLK Grand Parade
Jan. 17, Houston, www.mlkgrandeparade.org

Hill Country Indian Artifact Show
Jan. 22, Fredericksburg, www.hillcountryindianartifacts.com

Nebgen School Open House
Jan. 22, Gillespie County, www.historicschools.org

Hops n’ Hot Sauce Festival
Jan. 22, Houston, www.hopsandhotsaucefestival.com

Bird Banding
Jan. 22, Lake Jackson, www.gcbo.org

Winter Market
Jan. 22-23, Kerrville, www.texasmarketguide.com

Eastside Market
Jan. 23, Waco, www.eastsidemarketwtx.com

Restaurant Week
Jan. 27-31, Port Aransas, www.portaransas.org/sp/restaurant-week

Renaissance Festival
Jan. 28-30, Feb. 5-6, Kerrville, www.kerrvillerenfest.com

Museum Day
Jan. 29-30, Galveston, www.visitgalveston.com/events/galveston-museum-day

“Harry Bertoia: Sculpting Mid-Century Modern Life”
Jan. 29-April 23, Dallas, www.nashersculpture-center.org

Wine Lovers Celebration
Jan. 31-Feb. 25, Fredericksburg, www.texaswinetrail.com


In search of more travel ideas? Visit our Out of Town listings.
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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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Day Trips, Fate Bell Shelter, Seminole Canyon, Spoetzl Brewery, Jimmy Mauric, Shiner, San Antonio, River Walk, Galveston, Esferas Perdidas, Frida Kahlo, Van Gogh, Dale Chihuly, Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Taliesen West, Frank Lloyd Wright, Scottsdale

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