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Actual footage of me writing this article at the Railroaders game, right before I got hit in the head with a foul ball. I’m just kidding. This picture is from Fever Pitch, the best sports/romance movie ever! Courtesy IMDB.com

This time last year, I made a spring getaway to Waco with my boyfriend and our best couple friends. We had a lovely time, and it was my pleasure to tell you all about it in Summer Edition 2021. While we couldn’t travel with our favorite companions this spring, the boyfriend — who has recently upgraded to fiancé — and I visited Cleburne last weekend and will be checking out Comanche over the summer.

Our first stop in Cleburne was The Depot at Cleburne Station (1906 Brazzle Blvd, Cleburne, 817-945-8705) to see the Cleburne Railroaders face off against the Fargo Moorhead Redhawks. (These teams play in the American Association of Professional Baseball, an official partner league of Major League Baseball.) It did not end well for the Railroaders, who lost 7-1.

Much like Drew Barrymore in Fever Pitch, I did more research/people-watching than baseball-watching during the game. The weather made for an enjoyable night, and the fireworks afterward were a nice touch. In terms of ballpark food, everything at The Depot is priced affordably, the hot dogs and burgers are from #GoTexan suppliers, and the beer even includes a local option, Cowtown Brewing (1301 E Belknap St, FW, 817-489-5800). My favorite concession snack was the plate of fajita fries. Thick-cut potato wedges came covered in a bechamel-style cheese sauce, green onion bits, and beef fajita meat. At $9.50, it’s the highest ticket item. Everything else is in the $5 or less price range.

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Afterward, we checked into the world’s worst hotel. I’ve enjoyed my share of Motel 6 accommodations to save money, and the properties are usually clean and friendly. This was not that. I’ll boil it down for you into one anecdote. Until the end of time, we will think fondly of our poor cleaning lady when we see the band name #PooLiveCrew. The location is dog-friendly, and one of the canine travelers on our floor did its business right outside our door. It was hard to spot with all the trash in the hall, but the stench was unmistakable. Instead, we should have stayed at the Liberty Hotel (205 S Caddo St, 817-556-3700). One local Cleburnite claims there is a haunted room. We intend to find out on our next Cleburne adventure.

As the pool was not open (grrr) for the morning swim we had hoped to take, we went ahead with an early checkout and headed to West End Grill (1629 W Henderson St, 817-558-3663), thinking we’d hit the breakfast buffet. We arrived too late for that, but I’m glad. The lunch buffet was delicious. Due to post-pandemic staffing issues, the regular menu is not available on the weekends, just the buffet. The food bar included an ambrosia-style fruit salad that your grandma would love, grilled little smokies and mac ’n’ cheese for the kiddos, and smoked brisket that would rival the meat at any barbecue festival in Texas. With prices around the country being what they are, $14.99 per person seemed reasonable.

After our early lunch, we launched into tourist mode. With at least three other museums worth checking out — Chisholm Outdoor Trail Museum (101 Chisholm Trl, 254-998-0261), Cleburne Railroad Museum (206 N Main St, 817-645-0940), and Layland Museum of History (201 Caddo St, 817-645-0940) — we settled on the Gone With the Wind Remembered Museum (305 E 2nd St, 817-517-3897). My future mother-in-law collects GWTW memorabilia, so we had to check it out.

The Remembered museum is filled with memorabilia from the movie, including many original and one-of-a-kind pieces that owner Vicky Lynn Rogers has collected for more than 30 years. The items are displayed in state-of-the-art, climate-controlled galleries with great lighting. The installations are impeccably designed.

“All over the world, the book and film have influenced peoples’ ideas about Southern history,” Rogers says. “We hope you will reminisce with us and savor what you see.”

Admission is $10 per person.

Next, we walked off our lunch by exploring the three stories of nostalgia at the Red Horse Antique Mall (216 E Henderson St, 817-645-1963). I do a lot of window shopping at antique shops, but this place took a (small) chunk of our change. Purchases made include a framed 33rd-degree Masons certificate from 1904, a custom framed 1968 watercolor by Mary Dice Pettit, numerous home decor items, and a wacky bird necklace, which gave me a big serendipity vibe as we would be hitting Songbird Live later that evening.

Having worked up a thirst, we headed down the block to Trovato Street (106 E Henderson St, 682-317-1898). A root beer bar was the perfect spot for two non-drinking travelers such as ourselves. While it’s all bottled brands, the selection rivals that of any craft beer joint, with most varieties priced at only $3.50. I made mine into a root beer float for just a little more. Over the years, the space has been a pharmacy, comic book shop, and more, all while keeping the integrity of the old brick building. The owners, who live in a loft upstairs, came up with the name for the business while on a trip to Italy. Travato is Italian for “found.”

With some time to kill before our dinner-and-a-show evening, we found a hidden treasure. The Published Page Bookshop (10 E Chambers St, 817-349-6366) is massive and worthy of a full day of digging. Owner James Hart is quite knowledgeable, and you will find him there at the counter from open to close. I think I’ve discovered the Bill’s Records of bookstores!

Perusing books, we almost missed our dinner reservation at Fly by Night Cattle Company (2704 County Rd 1125, 817-645-7000). The restaurant is wildly popular with out-of-towners and locals alike, having recently made the Texas Bucket List. They’ve expanded, and the newly added space has windows, where the horses like to get nosey with the customers. Co-Owner Jennifer Craft says they see their reflections and get spooked. Hopefully, they don’t head-butt themselves right through the glass. In the meanwhile, they provide a lovely view.

Still full from lunch, we opted for lighter fare from the Texas Favorites menu rather than steaks. The grilled Atlantic salmon ($24) and the drunken tequila chicken with poblano cream ($16) were delicious and affordable. When I’m bringing a bigger appetite — and wallet — I’d love to try the tomahawk rib-eye ($85). “You’ll never forget your first tomahawk.”

After a full day of exploring Cleburne, the acoustic stylings of Sara Hickman in the new listening room at Songbird Live (210 E Henderson St, 682-248-8424) were just the ticket.

“There is not a bad seat in the house at the Songbird,” says owner Mark Joeckel. “It’s the best little listening room in Texas. We feature blues, Celtic, country, folk, gospel, jazz, and swing music.”

Joeckel is the brains behind Create Arlington and the West Main Arts Festival. He is in the planning stages of a future Create Cleburne. I hope it’s up and running when we come back.

A second trip to Cleburne will just have to wait. We have our sights on Comanche, this time with our couple friends in tow and a slightly bigger vacation budget. Along with checking out the local restaurants and wineries, we intend to explore Proctor Lake while experiencing a bit of design history at Tranquility Hill.

If time and budget allow. It’s a midcentury modern house designed by architect Charles Schiffner, son-in-law/apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright, that goes for $279 per night. With its fantastic rooftop views, the 3000-square-foot Tranquility Hill is available on Airbnb and VRBO.

Read about how chunky jewelry and big, bold bracelets will stand out this summer in chunky jewelry and big, bold bracelets will stand out this summer in Accessorize Your Style in #SummerEdition2022.

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