Woo Hoo Dude !!!
Last visited 2012.
Huge changes for and investments in the craft brew industry in the past five years.
Those changes are on display at both breweries that we visited this trip (2017):
Still single breweries in small towns but both have made huge investments in updating and upgrading their brewery equipment and facility.
Abita allowed for the more comfortable and photographically accessible tour of the two.
Both were equally proud of their brewery, their people and their product.
The free-wheeling step-right-up & serve-yourself tasting room of five years ago at Abita is no more.
Now that Abita has made a name and a presence for themselves on the craft brew scene,
controlled intake, controlled access and at a cost is the name of the tasting room game.
Still very nice.
Still an enjoyable afternoon.
Abita Brewery 2012 – Blog Post Link
Black Tie & Tales For the Performing Musicians Among Us
Refurbished Woodwind & Brass Instruments of All Make, Stripe & Style
… Party Too
Decataur Street, NOLA
Mardi Gras 2017
To Be Appreciated
Check This Out
The County Seat of Caldwell County, Texas
The Official BBQ Capitol Of the State of Texas
On May 26, 1999 House Resolution #1024 was adopted by the 76th Texas Legislature naming Lockhart the ‘Barbecue Capital of Texas’,
then by the Senate in the Fall of 2003.
“Kreuz Market moved from its original location started in 1900 by Charles Kreuz as a meat market and grocery store to its newer, expanded facility a quarter of a mile north of the old location in 1999. Along with the new building came some new items on the Kreuz menu, most notably: pork spare ribs, beans, German potato salad, sauerkraut, and a new jalapeno cheese sausage, but don’t look for any barbecue sauce or forks as they are still missing in action from Kreuz Market to this day!”
Bread or crackers? White Bread, Wonderbread, ‘Who Knew’?
We are new at this.
Meats wrapped up all together in a brown butcher paper pocket.
Sausage was good and spicy, tough skin, dense, moist and tasty contents.
Sides were pricey (as they were everywhere we went, so no fault here). German potato salad in a cup styrofoam container was good, seasoned with dill plus.
All of this went down in a big hall, no forks nor sauce, in a newish facility on the outskirts of town.
A Thumbs Up : We liked our brisket and sausage at Kreuze Market
Lockhart was originally called “Plum Creek” but the name was later changed to Lockhart.
Reportedly named after some surveyor’s assistant the first Anglo to set foot in Caldwell County.
The Beautiful and Architecturally-Intriquing Caldwell County Court House On the Square in Lockhart, Texas The architectural historian and critic Colin Rowe dubbed Lockhart “a “curiously eloquent” example of a Victorian post-frontier American town.”
Following the arrival of the railroad, various immigrant groups arrived in Lockhart and set up shop.
Out and About In Lockhart, Texas
We walked around Lockhart on our way to Black’s BBQ in order to walk off the first bunch of meats and work up a similar appetite for the second bunch. Black’s BBQ
“Black’s Barbecue, located in Lockhart, Texas is Texas’ oldest major barbecue restaurant continuously owned by the same family.Find out why the Travel Channel featured Black’s on their Barbecue Paradise show and what’s kept generations of Texans coming back for more.”
Again with the pricey sides but at least you determine the portion size.
That and a wider variety of sides.
Big Dill Pickles
Who am I not to oblige.
Ordered up a cut of lean brisket and a cut of fatty brisket.
Huge difference in taste, texture, marbling and density: the fatty cut won out.
This was the moistest cut of brisket of the day.
On with the sauce which had a local A-1 type taste to it: Good.
Good food paired with a Shiner Bock for Curtis Finney.
We enjoyed our meats and our meal at Black’s BBQ
“Smitty’s Market has been named one of the top five barbecue restaurants in Texas by Texas Monthly Magazine. Nina Schmidt Sells established Smitty’s Market in 1999 in the building that housed her father’s Kreuz Market for more than 50 years. The market sits in the same location where barbecue has been sold in Lockhart since the turn of the last century.”
Can you pick out the pit-master?
These folks were pretty proud of where they worked and the work they did.
Shows doesn’t it?
We ordered up a medium piece of brisket.
The young lady doing the counter service cautioned us that she could not cut apart a brisket to get at a medium piece but she would see.
We had a couple pieces of brisket and some pork ribs.
All of it was moist and tasty.
Sauce was allowed but no forks.
We ate no sides at Smitty’s as we were pretty full.
Common seating in a well lit cafeteria style dining area at long tables.
The pork ribs were a hit, with or without the sauce.
The ‘medium’ brisket was good and moist and tasty.
Once again we enjoyed the Texas BBQ meats at Smitty’s Market.
at the intersection of U.S. Highway 90A and State Highway 95 in western Lavaca County Texas
the town that beer built and sustains
… and do try the cream ale and the cold brewed coffee ale, my favorites among the family of Shiner Beers.
“In 1885 a post office called Half Moon was opened at a trading post near the present site of Shiner. When the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway came to the area in 1887 it bypassed Half Moon and built through land owned by Henry B. Shiner. Shiner donated 250 acres for a right-of-way and depot, and a town soon grew around the new transportation facilities. At first the community was called New Half Moon, but in 1888 its name was changed to Shiner. Shiner was incorporated in 1890, and L. P. Amsler was elected the first mayor. Czech and German immigrants soon became the dominant ethnic groups, and Shiner developed a cohesive Czech community through social organizations such as the National Sokol Society and the Slavonic Benevolent Order of the State of Texas. “
The Texas Handbook ~ www.tshaonline.org
Shiner Gaslight TheaterMain Street ~ Shiner, Texas.
The Spoetzel Brewery and their variations of Shiner Beer have made the town ‘a household word’ throughout the state of Texas.
The Spoetzl Brewery started in 1909. It was originally named “The Shiner Brewing Association,” (SBA) and was founded by German and Czech immigrants who had settled around the central Texas town of Shiner. Unable to find the type of beer they had known in their home countries, they decided to brew their own. It is the oldest independent brewery in Texas and one of the oldest independent breweries in the U.S.
Shiner was originally a “Lenten” beer, only available in the spring. As the brewery gained popularity in the area, the SBA began to look for a trained professional brewmaster. They found one in Bavarian-born Kosmos Spoetzl, a onetime soldier who had trained as a brewmaster in his native Germany. Part of the package that lured Spoetzl to Shiner was potential ownership of the brewery. In 1914, he co-leased it with Oswald Petzold with an option to buy in 1915, which he did, giving the brewery his own name but continuing to call the brews Shiner Beers. Spoetzl had attended brewmaster’s school and apprenticed for three years in Germany, worked for eight years at the Pyramids Brewery in Cairo, Egypt, and then worked in Canada. He had moved to San Antonio in search of a better climate for his health, bringing with him a family recipe for a Bavarian beer made from malted barley and hops.
During Prohibition, Kosmos Spoetzl kept the brewery afloat by selling ice and making near beer. After Prohibition, only five of the original 13 Texas breweries were still intact. Following Prohibition, Spoetzl kept things small and simple, never going more than 100 miles for business.
Carlos Alvarez of San Antonio acquired the brewery in 1989 (from the last of the Spoetzel family). As of 2012, it is the fourth-largest craft brewery and the tenth-largest brewery overall in the United States.
One of Texas’ Painted Churches.
A red brick rectangular building with stone cut buttresses and buff and gray brick designs. The square tower supports an octagonal spire.
In 1890 two acres of land were bought for construction of a church. The first wood frame church was completed the following year and damaged in a tornado in 1892.
By the early twenties, the congregation had long outgrown the original church and the present church was built near the first.
In 1954 the building underwent a restoration and it is believed the interior was painted shortly thereafter.
The Whopping Cranes
Day one was a tease with overcast, cloudy conditions and, until the end of the day, the birds, five feet tall all white, excepting black wing tips and red capped heads, stayed at a distance. Shooting from a floating platform in the wind and the elements was a new experience. I found myself low on the new learning curve that first day.
Captain Kevins Simms of Aransas Bay Birding Charters managed to be in the right place at the right time.
He was able to predict the birds behavior, cuing us for the upcoming flight or display.
The second day was a glorious day of shooting from start to finish. Lots of different lighting, most of it good. The birds, of all sorts, but especially the Whooping Cranes, were more accessible and demonstrative.
The Oyster Catcher antics and behavior display at the end of the day was exceptional.
Once in a lifetime.
Jeff Parker ~ Explore In Focus organized this exceptional photography tour. Jeff communicated a lot of pertinent natural history on the spot as it was happening and being observed. He also was adept at predicting bird behavior and cuing us as a group.
It took quite a while to process the number of images captured over the two day experience as well as to process the new learning that occurred.
An exceptional experience.
Sign me up for next year!
The Whooping Cranes were omnipresent, whether they were center stage or not. This was their ancient winter feeding and roosting grounds. This was their annual time to raise a colt, rarely two. There was a palpable primal energy in the presence and continued existence of these grand birds.
Birds whose breeding numbers had dwindled to just over a dozen:
“Aransas Nationa Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937 to protect the Texas wintering grounds of the Whooping Crane. The flock you’ll see here travels an amazing 2,500 miles each year down from the Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta, Canada, and is composed of descendants of the last wild flock (which according to many sources had fallen to a mere 16 individuals by1942). The birds were officially listed as “endangered” on March 11, 1967 under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966. In 2012 (the last year for which exact stats are available), the Aransas-Wood Buffalo flock (as it’s commonly known) numbered 279 – up from an estimated 245 in late 2011. (They now estimate, rather than directly count, the flock size; the 2014 estimate is stated at 304. The 2017 number is approximately 350.)”
“‘Whoopers’ as they are affectionately called, can live up to 24 years in the wild. Adults weigh about 15 pounds. As North America’s tallest birds they stand up to 5 feet tall and have 7 1/2 foot wingspans. They are monogamous, typically forming life-long connections with mates. The birds are ground-nesters and both parents contribute to the raising of the young. The juveniles that you will see are about 6 months old and, while they can fend for themselves, you’ll often see them ‘begging’ their parents for food.
That food, often includes protein- and fat-rich Blue Crabs, unique animals in their own right.”
“Due to high amounts of protein and fat, Blue Crabs make great food for Whooping Cranes.
Compound eyes on top of the head allow Blue Crabs to see in almost every direction at once. The crustaceans have five pairs of legs (one doubles as a set of pincers), which they can regenerate within two molts if one is lost in battle.
It takes Blue Crabs 18-20 molts to reach adulthood. Females mate just once in a lifetime, upon reaching the final molt. When arriving at her ‘terminal molt’ a female Blue Crab signals her reproductive availability with the release of a pheromone. Unlike females, male Blue Crabs mate often. After fertilization, the male protects the recently-molted females until her new shell hardens. When ready to spawn she will fertilize her eggs with stored sperm before placing them on tiny hairs on her abdomen, where they remain 14-17 days. About two months later, hatchlings begin resembling adult Blue Crabs; however, in spite of the fact that females produce an average 2-million eggs, only one or two of them make it to adulthood.”
“This tour takes place in a coastal wetland environment. Coastal wetlands – also known as ‘tidal’ or ‘estuarine’ wetlands, or ‘salt marshes’ – are where fresh water empties from rivers and meets the ocean (in this case the Gulf of Mexico). Texas has roughly 2,00 miles of estuary-bay shoreline.
The degree of the water’s saltiness (it’s brackishness) dictates what kind of animals can live there. Some coastal wetlands have more salt in them than others. Unfortunately, Texas now faces a problem whereby not enough freshwater is making it downstream to our Gulf estuaries. Due to statewide population growth more and more freshwater is being used and/or kept upstream. Freshwater inflows are crucial to maintaining bay and estuary health and the lack thereof has upset the delicate salt/salt-free balance that many coastal wetland species need to survive. Conservationists are especially concerned for the Whooping Cranes that reside each here winter.”
Thank You Jeff Parker
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Expanded Image Gallery Link : Aransas NWR ~ Winter 2017
Past Aransas NWR area blog posts:
Boquillas del Carmen
Across the Rio Grande via human-powered john boat to a frontier-mining town gone tourist.
The present, an odd mix of the past and the future:
solar power with electrical poles throughout town, water to individual adobe homes and places of business, preschool building and program, a public healthcare clinic
horses, burros and chickens, lots of small dogs on the lose, little kids hawking their parents tourist wares, kids walking home from school
two neighborhoods: one on the high ground and one on the twenty-year Rio Grande flood plain, one with the government backed improvements and one without, one the future and one the perpetual past
people at work: ferrying visitors, guiding visitors, selling their handcrafted wares to visitors, building homes and places of business, serving visitors in the two restaurants and craft stores, teaching, tending the small burro and horse herd, clerking the government office, crafting, trucking commercial goods between the interior town and Boquillas
cars on blocks, some on the road, dirt roads, some in front of residences, some young people just driving around, pickup trucks more often than not
many towns people without rudimentary English, a minority with some facility in English, the two restaurant proprietors spoke and could understand some English, enough to do business and interact with the visiting public who seemed to have no Spanish, I speak no Spanish: just enough to ask for the ‘bano’
a hardscrabble existence yet cell phones abound especially among the young people, stylish dress among the teenagers too, teenagers are teenagers where ever
after 9/11 this border crossing, all the border crossings on the mexican-american border were closed, boquillas dried up with no visitors and no mining, many people and families left town, after the reopening of the border crossing in 2013 the town and townspeople returned
there was a spoken fear of the future and trump’s border wall, more of the same in the town’s people’s minds, no drug dealers, rapists or criminals here from what we could see
go to the border, visit the border towns on both sides before you champion a border wall or build that wall
where would you put a border wall??
the imposing mountain wall of the sierra del carmen on the horizonhard at work with a smile, a pickup truck, and a saddle – a later day vaquerothe outskirts of the high ground neighborhood looking to the flood-plain part of townhawking mom’s wares
took this little guy’s picture after asking permission and promptly tipped him a buck which he folded up put in his pocket and retrieved it countless times: pride, pride in self !! nice quality hand-crafted warespreschoolneighborhood pride
color and colorfulboquillas with the chisos mountains on the horizon adobethe rio grande with the chisos mountains on the horizonthe soul of boquillas (even if mom demanded that her daughter be paid for having her picture taken)looking towards the flood plain part of town again the soul and future of boquillas (this time without the demand) unafraid of work
where would you put a border wall?
Expanded Boquillas del Carmen Image Gallery Link