Tag Archives: TX

Brewery Reviews: The Wellhead & Franconia

While staying in Artesia, NM and escaping some wicked high winds we discovered a brewery. As some of our geology/science inclined folks know, an artesian well is a geologic formation that causes the well to have pressure of its own and water rises with out the need for pumping. Artesia New Mexico likely got its name from another type of well, the oil well. It’s a town based on petroleum extraction, so the towns only brewery has an oil theme. We had a decent lunch with some respectable freshly brewed beers.Sampler at the Wellhead

Sampler at the Wellhead

The crude oil stout was our favorite and is thus pictured in our growler below.  We’ve been disappointed that most breweries do not do growler fills, so we were stoked to finally get ours filled up.

The Wellhead

The Wellhead Brewery in Artesia, NM

The next brewery has a name as German as its brewmaster, Franconia, named after the region of Germany that the brewmaster hails from. Many German immigrants have settled in Texas, and it would not have good bbq or beer without their worthy contributions. Franconia was suggested to us as a tour while attending the Wimmer-Osborne wedding in McKinney Texas.

Franconia Brewmaster

the Brew Master for Franconia brewing

brewery tour Franconia brewing

Brew master standing next to the mash ton explaining the brew process.

The brew master Dennis Wehrmann studied beer and food science for seven years in Germany and is the 4th generation of a family of brewers. All the Franconia beers are done in the German tradition with only four ingredients, malts, hops, water, and yeast. It was remarkable how much flavor the beers we sampled have given that all the great taste comes only four ingredients.

Jay at Franconia Brewing

Jay enjoying the Wheat beer at Franconia

The wheat turned out to be everyone’s favorite with a huge flavor and smooth drinkability, the dunkel and lager were also good. But that wheat was in a league of its own.

The Saturday we toured the brewery turned out to be an event for a greyhound adoption league.

greyhounds at Brewery

Greyhounds at the Brewery

Even a dog track does not have as many greyhounds in one place!  They really were remarkably calm and quiet dogs.

Photo Review – New Mexico -> Texas

Gran Quivira Ruins

Gran Quivira Ruins north of Carrizozo, NM

lizard at Gran Quivira Ruins

Lizard blending in at Gran Quivira Ruins, NM

bird in flight at Gran Quivira Ruins

Bird in flight at Gran Quivira Ruins

malpais lava flow

Malpais lava flow at Valley of Fire Recreation Area near Carrizozo, NM

horses in New Mexico

Horses walking themselves home in southern New Mexico

bronze statue in Artesia

Bronze statue in Artesia NM

Brantley Lake State Park

view near the tent at Brantley Lake State Park near Carlsbad, NM


Dragonfly at Living Desert Museum in Carlsbad, NM

carlsbad living desert zoo

Carlsbad Living Desert Zoo & Garden

natural entrance Carlsbad Caverns

Natural entrance to Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

morning light Abilene State Park

morning light in Abilene State Park, TX

Abilene State Park

Abilene State Park, Texas

Volunteering in the Community Garden – AKA, Ruining Our Shoes

These 6 hours of volunteering were sponsored by Tiffany Kudravetz and Terri Defazio.  Thank you for the support!

One of the things I didn’t think about until my shoes were covered in about 5 pounds of black prairie soil is that on this trip we only have the stuff in the car.  I have only one pair of walking shoes and on Saturday they got filthy.  It was a memorable way to learn that Plano Texas is part of a unique strip of soil that is incredibly rich and comes in either of two forms: sticky or solid.

Shoes covered in Black Prairie Soil

Jay's Shoes Covered in Black Prairie Soil

On Saturday morning we woke up early to backtrack from McKinney to Plano Texas.  My friend Robin had given us the heads up on a community garden work day there.  Arriving a few minutes late (we’ve been getting lost frequently on this trip), the coordinator, Erin, had already started her intro.  We joined a small crowd made up of teenagers from Future Farmers of America and women who are garden regulars.  This Saturday turned out to be their once a month volunteer work day, so we jumped right in with picking up litter and digging rocks out of the soil.

Plano Community Garden

The garden area we were working in

When I think gardening, I think planting, weeding, harvesting, watering….  We did not do any of those things.  As you can see above, the garden isn’t much of a garden yet.  It turns out that there used to be an extensive garden here, but it had to be transplanted in order to make way for a new LEED Platinum Certified Environmental Education Center, built on the grounds.  The building has just been completed, so now it’s time to get the garden back in.  That means a lot of grunt work, tearing out any plants that aren’t part of the plan and picking all the rocks and junk out of the soil.

Jay dragging tree branches to the street

Jay dragging tree branches to the street

It felt good to get a little dirty and join in the community effort.  Community gardens are particularly noteworthy for being a place of common ground where diverse peoples can gather and work together to create a space that is beautiful, productive, and safe.  When we are in Phoenix at the end of February, we plan to revisit the Garden of Tomorrow, that I volunteered at in November.

Sharon carrying tree trimmings to the street

Sharon carrying tree trimmings to the street

NAVPLG – Plugging into my peer group on the road

NAVPLG, the National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government is a unique organization of volunteer managers who organize volunteers in Cities and Counties throughout the United States.  I joined the NAVPLG Board at their Annual Meeting in San Francisco in 2009 and have enjoyed meeting NAVPLG members from around the country through my involvement with the association.

NAVPLG members

NAVPLG past and present Board members in New York City for the last National Conference on Volunteering and Service

When we arrived in Shreveport Louisiana a few nights ago and looked up our route to McKinney Texas, I suddenly realized that Plano Texas was directly en route.  Plano Texas is famous in my mind as being the home of Robin Popik, one of the previous NAVPLG Presidents and a leader in the field of Volunteer Management.  Robin is a professional volunteer manager, a leader in the field who is currently involved in the national debate over where the field of volunteer management is headed and how to bring in a new generation of leaders in volunteer management.  I was glad to get a chance to have lunch with Robin and share ideas and knowledge about volunteering in local government.

Sharon and Robin

Visiting Robin at her offices in Plano, Texas

Robin told me about a new program that the City of Plano has started called Helping Partners.  This referral service program, funded by a HUD grant, brings together several community partners to identify, assess, and repair homes in Plano.  Residents can apply for assistance with home repairs such as handicap accessible ramps, exterior painting, and fence repair.  Next a volunteer team of assessors (made up of individuals from Habitat for Humanity, faith-based groups, corporate groups, etc) go to the home to identify what work needs to be done and what skills are needed to do the work.  Then each project is matched with a volunteer team with the required skills.  The City coordinates the match, keeping the homeowners information private until an approved volunteer group is selected.  The initiative is ongoing, but they use “Love Where You Live” days to direct focus on the project.  The last Love Where You Live effort assisted 77 homes.

We hope to come back through Plano in April on our way to our friend’s wedding in McKinney and may get a chance to participate in one of their big events such as Love Where You Live or Live Green in Plano.