You don’t have to travel far from Houston to find a little peace and quiet if that’s what you’re after. I like to be a bit more spontaneous, with minimal planning.
Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a slow migration of Houstonians heading west out I-10 to towns like Columbus, Moulton, Shiner and Smithsville.
That’s where I found myself this past weekend, on pastureland between Shiner and Moulton, Texas.
The area was settled heavily by German and Czech immigrants between 1840 and the 1890s and much of those cultures still permeate everything from town names, architecture, food, and language to this day.
Many years ago I heard that the founder and former owner of the Heights iconic music venue Dan Electros, Jim Mendenhall aka Zoomack, had moved to Moulton and bought a building on Main Street. Sure enough, it’s the Ole Moulton Bank, 101 N. Main, built in 1900, and “unremodeled” in 2001 by Mendenhall.
Old Moulton Bank serves beer and wine, it’s motorcycle and car club friendly and he brought along the popular Thursday night acoustic jam that he started in the Heights.
Next time I’ll get there on a Thursday.
Remember Texas Junk Co., of Montrose fame, now closed? Owner Bob Novotney took over a sizable storefront just a few doors down from Old Moulton Bank.
Unfortunately, the locals told me he’s usually closed, and out traveling as was the case this past Saturday.
I’ll keep trying though as should you. A peak in the window revealed a huge selection of cowboy boots that only rivaled what he had in Houston.
Next stop, Shiner, Texas. Here in the Heights, we are blessed with an abundance of amazing craft breweries. Never the less, no visit to Shiner is complete without a visit to Spoetzl Brewery. The tours are famous and draw a sizable crowd even on weekdays.
When you pack for seventy-degree weather and it ends up in the fifties, it’s souvenir time and Spoetzl Brewery has a fabulous gift shop where they also give out samples of their Shiner beer. Great for sales, I’m sure!
Around the corner, (Shiner can’t be bigger than the Heights) we hit Antiques, Art & Beer, 720 N. Avenue E. The store lives up to its name but if you get claustrophobic easily, stop at the beer counter first and order a cold one. With over 250 beers and 150 wines, don’t forget to get up and look around. The store is absolutely jam-packed with collectibles of all kinds. I managed to find a few pieces of original art though.
Sunday, because I posted a photo of the guitars hanging in Old Moulton Bank on Facebook, friends that recently moved nearby saw it and invited us over for a visit. Before we knew it, we were getting a behind the scenes look at Smithville, Texas, which was named the first Film-Friendly Community in Texas by the Texas Film Commission.
After doing a little research on this historic Texas town, I’ve come to the conclusion that anyone in Houston with the acting bug needs to hightail it 120 miles west.
Even while relaxing over a cold beer to discuss our tour, the bartender tells us famed country music legend Willie Nelson sat in our very seats in one of his popular videos. Just across the driveway it seems, a zombie flick is being shot nightly. A peek through the fence revealed an apocalyptic scene verifying that rumor.
We did see pastures, cows, horses, donkeys, and amazing sunsets but it was conversations with friends, new and old that really restored this writer. I think another trip is in order soon.
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com.