Category Archives: Exploring

My visits.

Midlothian, Texas Little Free Library And Larkin Newton Cabin

While passing through Midlothian, Texas, we decided to turn off the highway and see if there was anything worth seeing in this Ellis county town of more than 18,000 people. I have to confess, we didn’t find a lot that intrigued us. Maybe we didn’t look in all the right places. But we did see a little free library near a historic cabin.

I didn’t capitalize “little free library” because this isn’t an official one with a charter from the Little Free Library nonprofit organization. This sturdy box on a pole was designed and placed in the prominent location by a Girl Scout troop, as you can see from the photos. It’s located at 234 N. 8th Street in Heritage Park – which is also the home of Larkin Newton Cabin.

The 1848 cabin was built on land provided by a Peters Colony land grant and was moved to its location in today’s Midlothian from 3 miles to the southwest. It displays complicated corner notching, including half dovetails.

The little library could use a little careful attention, but it seems to be holding up reasonably well – even if there was nothing very inspiring inside. Two families with children were in the park when we visit on June 12, 2018 – and no one seemed to notice the little library. (Interestingly, Little Free Library #57550 is also apparently located in Midlothian, but we’ll have to visit it another time.)

It was only a quick trip through Midlothian, but at least we found something worth noticing. On the hot summer day we were in Midlothian, most people we saw weren’t noticing much.

(This post was written for a blog project that has been discontinued — but it lives on here in my Front Yard.)

Saginaw Little Free Library #45268 May Not Want To Be Found

Little Free Libraries with charter signs and numbers must choose to be listed on the Little Free Library World Map if they want the world to find them. If not, they’re essentially in hiding – limiting their reach and impact.

In Saginaw, Texas, LFL #45268 is a modest little structure that apparently doesn’t want to be found. We happened upon it while playing the geolocation game Flagstack – which involves collecting virtual flags – in October 2018. This LFL is deep inside a relatively new housing subdivision off East Bailey Boswell Road. (Since the owner may not want it to be found, we won’t share the exact address or coordinates.)

It has a shady spot under some trees near the community pool – but the recent harsh weather has taken its toll. The simple plywood structure is holding together after our hot winter and rainy fall, but the paint is failing and the wood shows signs of water damage. The sparse conte

nts were mostly surviving, but some were water damaged. And since we hadn’t planned a visit, we didn’t have anything to add.

Honestly, this is a nice subdivision, and it deserves a better Little Free Library. When we return to visit it again, we’re hoping the structure has been spruced up and the contents upgraded.

It looks like there are 3 published LFLs on the map in the Saginaw area at the moment. I’m hoping each Little Free Library we find in the future is worthy of its neighborhood – and worthy of the goals of the founder of the movement, Todd Bol, who died recently. Everyone deserves easy access to great books – and the chance at a better life that being open and aware can provide.

(This post was written for a blogging project that has been discontinued — but it lives on here in my Front Yard.)

Mansfield Little Free Library #19235 Really Is There If You Look Around

Text by David Boger

It’s always fun to see what new things you can discover while visiting towns in your own area. We always check the Internet to see what people recommend seeing.

When preparing for a visit to Mansfield on June 12, 2018, we noticed that there was a Little Free Library listed. (There are actually two, but we didn’t get to the second one.) Only coordinates were posted for the location instead of an address like on many. So we looked them up and noticed that they seemed to lead to a private lake. Since we hadn’t been to this part of Mansfield before we decided it needed a visit to see if we could find where this library was actually located.

When we got there we found that the spot where the coordinates took us really wasn’t accessible, so we figured that wasn’t the actual location. The street we were on seemed to go around this little lake so we decided to see if it might be somewhere on this street. Then we fo

und it. The actual coordinates are on Cains Lane at about 32.59741 -97.14016 — although the Library doesn’t show on Google Maps.

It was a very nice Little Free Library, but it was showing it’s age a bit. We couldn’t really tell if it was used much or not but at least there were some books in it if anyone was looking for something to read.

The great thing about Little Free Libraries is that the books are totally free and there’s no due date. You’re just asked to bring a book to leave if you take a book. The organization behind these streetside cabinets is a wonderful group that seeks to inspire people to read and to build community in local neighborhoods by providing access to books 24/7.

If you’re interested in either finding a Little Free Library in your area or maybe even creating one, you can find all the information you need on their website. They partner with many organizations and companies like Disney and Random House to provide greatly discounted books to owners of the libraries as well as themed Little Free Library boxes.

This is just another wonderful surprise we found when out traveling around the area.

(This post is from a shared blogging project that has been discontinued — but it lives on here in my Front Yard.)

Little Free Library #63536 And David’s Trip To Mineral Wells, His Hometown

Text by David Boger

As a former librarian, I’m always excited about sharing new information and books with people. Imagine my surprise when I shared a unique source of books with people in my hometown on the Remember When In Mineral Wells… group on Facebook and found that many people in the area didn’t know about this special little place offering free books.

You see, while visiting Mineral Wells on June 9, 2018, I went to check out a Little Free Library that’s located west of downtown at the corner of Holly Hills Road and Austin Street. This library was built by another retired librarian, Melissa Morgan who said on the Little Free Library site that she had “always dreamed of my own free library” as a way to share free books with her neighbors. So she got her family involved and together they built this library which sits on the side of Morgan’s property away from whizzing traffic and their front door.

While this little library was exciting, the rest of my visit to my hometown was rather depressing.

I went to the neighborhood where I grew up. The street looked as if they hadn’t had any repairs in the more than two decades that I’ve been gone. And the house I grew up in was now nothing like when I lived there. I had seen it on several visits previously but now it has aluminum siding and lacks many of the decorative features of the house I lived in. I’m not sure I’d want to live in that part of town anymore.

I went and visited the public library where I worked for over 20 years and was disappointed to see that the parking lot didn’t appear to been repaved since I left there in 2005. And the sign in front of the building had not been maintained and looked to be deteriorating too. The main things that I saw which I considered positive about the town were that building on the main street were getting repainted and that there were businesses occupying these buildings.

It’s a very interesting adventure to revisit your hometown but, as I found when I did, you need to be prepared to see a mix of good and bad.

(This post was written for a shared blogging project that has been discontinued — but it lives on here in my Front Yard.)

Live Music At Central Market Fort Worth: Great Bands At A Grocery Store

Central Market isn’t a secret at all, but free live music isn’t something people expect from a high-end grocery store. Still, hundreds gather every Friday and Saturday night from March through October to listen to Fort Worth music acts that vary from great to poor in quality and cover many musical genres.

While the idea of a grocery store as a music venue takes some getting used to, I’ve listened to more live music at Central Market than anywhere else. That’s because the price is right, the atmosphere is fun, the regulars are generally agreeable people and many of the bands are top quality.

[This article originally appeared on my Fort Worth Secrets website, which has been discontinued. It’s from April 2016.]

About Live Music At Central Market

The Fort Worth Central Market has offered live music for more than a decade, since shortly after the opening of the store in 2001. The massive patio — one of the largest in town — along with the ample parking and the convenient location make it a natural live music venue that draws listeners from all over the city and beyond.

The connection between the Central Market brand and live music goes back even further. The original Central Market location in Austin opened in 1994 and also has a generous patio with an adjoining private park. Other locations in the chain feature music, too, but the original Austin location and the Fort Worth location are the only ones with large, accommodating patios that draw in big crowds.

Central Market is a high-end chain from H-E-B, a grocery store company with a long history in Central Texas that has only recently brought its large and impressive H-E-B grocery stores to the Dallas-Fort Worth market. The idea behind Central Market is to provide an upscale grocery experience and upscale take-home food as well as classes and other amenities that draw people to the stores. There are now nine locations, all in major Texas cities.

Bands at Central Market Fort Worth play most Fridays and Saturdays in March through October, usually from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Music At Central Market: Getting The Most From It

I’m a regular for the free live music concerts at Central Market and have been for many years. The quality and type of music provided has varied considerably through the years. Things seems stable these days, however, with more good bands than bad. There’s also more variety that in some years.

Crowds got large and out of control in years past, and management stopped booking some audience favorites, opting instead for solo acts and acoustic groups in an effort to limit attendance. Imagine that: a venue trying to keep guests willing to shell out for food and drinks away. Fortunately, saner ideas prevailed and management is once again booking a good mix of bands.

To make the most of your Central Market live music experience in Fort Worth, watch the store’s online events calendar to help you decide what nights to visit, then call ahead to make sure the announced band is actually performing. Last-minute schedule changes and weather-related cancellations are common.

Be sure to check out bands you don’t know much about by seeing if they’re popular on Facebook and looking at some YouTube clips or listening to some MP3s on the band website, if there is one.

Remember that arriving early is essential if you want a seat on the main patio section near the stage. Many guests arrive before 4:30 p.m.

Some seasons, I’ve had strong negative feelings about Central Market because I’ve made the mistake of taking a personal interest in this venue. Many assurances to me have turned out to be just so much talk, but the live music at this grocery store has been an overwhelmingly positive part of my life in recent years — and one that I miss when it occasionally flakes out.

Good To Know

  • It’s impossible to overstress the importance of arriving early. The best tables are almost always gone by 5 p.m., and crowds come even earlier on the best evenings. If it’s cold or excessively hot, however, few people show up even if the music goes on.
  • Bring a cushion of some kind because the wooden chairs are uncomfortable for many. I get around the discomfort by sitting on a towel — and standing up a lot!
  • Outside food and drink is prohibited, but this is a grocery store and café, after all. Coolers are also prohibited. Prices for food and drinks are generally expensive, but there are some affordable choices, like a one-price fountain drink you can refill all night, child’s spaghetti, macaroni and cheese and sandwich meals and relatively inexpensive chips, bulk dips and fresh-made breads.
  • Most prepared foods are served chilled, so make your selection early enough to take advantage of the microwaves inside.
  • When the patio is full, try the second-floor balcony. There’s also an inside dining room upstairs with a microwave and the best free wifi reception in the store.

Learn More

Central Market Fort Worth Events

The Fort Worth Civic Orchestra Has Remained A Relative Secret Since 1977

You might think an organization that’s been around since 1977 would develop a following, but if that’s happened for the Fort Worth Civic Orchestra it’s difficult to tell.

While yearly Teddy Bear concerts aimed at collecting stuffed animals for the Fort Worth Police Department draw crowds that sometimes come close to filling the venue, many concerts don’t draw much of an audience.

That’s a shame.

[This article was originally from my Fort Worth Secrets website, which has been discontinued. It’s from April 2016.]

About Fort Worth Civic Orchestra

Fort Worth Civic Orchestra has four concerts each year. They’re free, open to the public and held at the Truett Auditorium at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. The orchestra also performs as part of the Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival at University Christian Church every year in early January.

The purpose of the orchestra is two-fold: to provide the community with great symphonic music and to allow musicians who want to play but aren’t necessarily professionals an outlet. In recent years, seminary student musicians have also been included in the orchestra.

The group was formed in 1977 to bring classical music to the area at a reasonable price and to serve as a reading orchestra for volunteer musicians. It quickly reached 65 members and performed across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Early members included teachers and students as well as retired professional musicians and others. In the years that followed, community outreach was added.

In 2002, the Fort Worth Civic Orchestra came under the baton of current director Dr. Kurt Sprenger. In 2009, the orchestra moved to its permanent performing home at the seminary, where Dr. Sprenger teaches. Still independent but with a performance venue, rehearsal space and storage, the orchestra seemed poised for great things.

But why don’t more people know about this orchestra and attend it’s events? It’s probably because of a lack of advertising, infrequent updates to its website and Facebook page and other marketing lapses. While hundreds experience the orchestra during the festival at University Christian Church, it seems that relatively few of those attendees realize the orchestra has performances of it own.

My Experiences With The FWCO

Since the orchestra moved to the seminary, I’ve attended nearly every concert. I’m no expert on symphonic music, but the music ranges from excellent to lacking polish. Often, however, the performances rise nearly to the level of the Fort Worth Symphony and other professional organizations.

The type and quality of the programs presented varies considerably. Some recent concerts have offered less than an hour of music and left some audience members dissatisfied, but other programs seem well-crafted and professionally done. This inconsistency may be part of why audiences are sometimes small.

The Teddy Bear concerts usually feature a singer and a performance of two pieces written by children’s carol competition winners. Special performance pieces have also sometimes been performed at other concerts, and sometimes the programs veers away from only classical music.

While I’d like to see more consistency, more attention to programming and more people in the audience, Fort Worth Civic Orchestra concerts are usually vibrant and interesting events. And Truett Auditorium’s rotunda lobby space is something to experience. While everything looks very Baptist and is clearly a bit worn around the edges, this area and the auditorium itself are great for the purpose.

But it’s a shame that more people don’t get to experience the Fort Worth Civic Orchestra and it’s four-concert season for themselves. Will I see you there next time?

Good To Know

  • While wheelchair access is available from a side entrance, the building is not very user-friendly. There are no handrails on the grand staircase outside and there are steps into and out of the rotunda before reaching the auditorium.
  • Parking is free and close. Park in any of the spaces in front of the auditorium, even if they’re marked for faculty.

Learn More

Fort Worth Civic Orchestra

Granbury Gallery Nights Are Laidback Day Trip From Fort Worth

If you’re looking for a simple, quiet and perhaps even romantic way to spend an evening, why not get out of the city for a while? Granbury is a quick and easy day trip from Fort Worth or anywhere in North Texas and has more to do than most cities its size. I recommend trying out a gallery night, held the last Saturday of every month. It’s a laidback way to see some great art, meet some interesting people and get to know this quaint little town.

Granbury has all the things you’d expect from a small Texas town: a historic courthouse square with unique shops, some home-cooking restaurants you’ll enjoy and more. Plus, there’s the especially scenic lake right in the middle of town. But you may not know that the city has a small-but-determined visual arts community. This includes a real art gallery downtown as well as several other venues on and near the square that also display surprisingly high-quality artwork at affordable prices.

[This article originally appeared on my Fort Worth Secrets website, a project that is now discontinued. It is from August 2016.]

Getting To Know Granbury Gallery Nights

Many people who visit art galleries never buy any art, and I suspect that’s the case with most of the visitors to Last Saturday Gallery Night & Art Walk in Granbury. Organized by The Galleries of Granbury, this even is similar to the twice-yearly gallery night events in Fort Worth, but Granbury’s event happens every month.

While not all galleries participate every time, venues that stay open late — usually from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. — for gallery night include:

  • Artèfactz, a store with many different booths inside. One belongs to an artist who is usually present, and you can often find an artist demonstrating outside this shop as well
  • Dora Lee Langdon Center, a historic home where art from a featured artist or group of artists is displayed. Meet the artist and learn more about the home too.
  • Shanley House, a historic building that shares a parking lot with the library. Amateur artists are often on display, but check hours since this venue sometimes opens late.
  • Uptown Arts, the backroom of a boutique called The Bridge. There’s art jammed into the room everywhere and a nice patio out back where you can get a breath of fresh air.
  • Your Private Collection Art Gallery, a real gallery displaying works by professional artists. This is the hub of gallery night activity and perhaps where you want to start and end your evening.

Other venues sometimes participate as well. Most venues offer refreshments including hor d’oeuvres, wine and beer, and many artists are present to meet you. A trolley can help you get from one venue to the next, but all within easy walking distance of each other. The details for each month’s event is available on the Galleries of Granbury Facebook page.

My Experiences In Granbury

To make a gallery night in Granbury a complete experience, you need to venture beyond the galleries a bit too. You can easily visit all the galleries on foot and see everything within an hour and a half. But I encourage you to take things a bit slower and to see what else in town might attract your attention.

First, some other shops on the square may be open late for you to enjoy. You might also be interested in booking some tickets for the current show by the Granbury Theatre Company at the Granbury Opera House, also on the square. Several restaurants surround the square too.

If you’re looking for familiar chain restaurants, most of those are out on Highway 377. The array of choices is larger than in most small towns. If you want dependable chain near the square, try Babe’s Chicken Dinner House or Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. Fuzzy’s is a great place to stop after you’re done with gallery night and grab a taco if you aren’t already full up.

A great city park hides behind city hall and next to the Shanley House. Sunken below the road, you can step in and step away from your art walk experience to enjoy some time to yourself. A walking path will take you off into the sunset if that’s what you want.

Lake Granbury is a long, narrow lake, so it seems to be everywhere you look in Granbury. There’s even a small public beach with boardwalk just off the square that you might enjoy. You can also book a room near downtown and stay the night. If you’re a foodie, Granbury’s huge H-E-B grocery store might be an attraction for you since most of us who live in or near Fort Worth don’t have access to this affordable chain that also offers gourmet choices.

Whatever you decide to do in addition to visiting the galleries, make Last Saturday Gallery Night & Art Walk your reason for visiting Granbury. Then expand the experience into a completely fulfilling trip by exploring some of the other things to see and do in Granbury.

Good To Know

  • There’s plenty of free parking around the square in Granbury, and public restrooms are available too. I usually park at city hall and have never had to compete for parking. You can park around the courthouse or in another lot closer to the lake as well.
  • Ignore what may appear to be rudeness and customer-unfriendliness at some of the shops around the square. You may see signs warning you about bringing your children inside some shops or indicating that the shops don’t have public restrooms. But enjoy these shops anyway if they happen to be open when you’re there. Most shopkeepers seem to be much friendlier than their signage indicates.

For More Information

Galleries of Granbury Facebook page

and also

Historic Granbury Merchants Association
Visit Granbury

 

Free Film Screenings At The Kimbell Show Off Art And Unusual Auditorium

One of the most unique and unusual auditoriums in Fort Worth is often open to the public for showings of films that you might not otherwise see. While many of these films are as entertaining as they are educational, there’s no doubt that you can learn a lot about art and the culture that surrounds many of the Kimbell Art Museum’s exhibitions by attending some of these films.

The auditorium of the Kimbell’s Kahn building is put to use many Sundays at 2 p.m. showing films that in some way relate to what’s happening at this respected Fort Worth museum. An added bonus is the opportunity to see the unusual and unusually comfortable deep and narrow auditorium that’s behind closed doors most other times.

[This article appeared on my Fort Worth Secrets website, a project that is now discontinued. It was published in September 2016.]

About Free Films At The Kimbell

There’s a lot to like about the Kimbell Art Museum in general. It starts with the Louis Kahn building. Completed in 1972, it’s widely regarded as Fort Worth’s architectural crowning jewel. When you consider it today alongside the understated but also masterful Piano Pavilion, added next door in 2013, it stands out all the more.

And according to what I’ve seen and read, that was the intent. Adding the Piano Pavilion focuses more attention on the beauty of the Kahn building and allows visitors without ability issues to easily reach the front door of the Kimbell for the first time. Visitor have been entering the Kahn building through a back door in the basement for decades.

Visting the Kimbell to see a free film allows you the opportunity to study the unique vaulted design of the Kahn building, which consists of six sections of vaulted ceiling with thin skylights where they join the walls that allow in natural light. The north portion of the easternmost of these vaulted rooms is the Kahn Auditorium. With terraced seating that descends into what should be part of the basement, the room is stark and cold-feeling but somehow seems the perfect plain backdrop for a film about art.

Seeing A Film At The Kimbell

Films are often planned to coincide with special exhibits at the Kimbell. They may include documentaries that examine the surrounding culture, fiction movies based on the times or circumstances depicted in exhibits or specific examinations of works, artists or periods. If it somehow related to something at the Kimbell, it’s fair game for the Sunday afternoon movies.

You’ll notice several things when you enter the auditorium. The first is that the room is long, narrow and deep, a shape that’s unusual. You’ll also notice as you choose a place to sit that the auditorium features individual bucket seats, another rarity. If you look carefully, you’ll see that the skylight area similar to those where natural light comes into the galleries of the Kimbell is awkwardly filled in with red to keep the sun out in the auditorium, adding a splash of color to a building that has very little.

I’m never pleased with the brightness and image quality of the films, perhaps because I’m used to the glowing and intense picture quality at the nearby Modern Art Museum and at today’s digital movie theaters. I’ve actually asked the Kimbell about this more than once and my inquiry has resulted in some bulbs being replaced, but you may still be dissatisfied with the brightness and quality, especially when artwork and other images meant to be carefully examined are being shown. But remember, the presentations are free.

Most of the films shown are available on DVD, so you could order them and watch them at home. But seeing a film with other art lovers in one of the most beautiful buildings in town is an experience you shouldn’t miss. And it’s a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Good To Know

  • If you enter from the side of the building facing the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, called the East Entrance, you must climb an imposing staircase or take an elevator to the second floor. Entering from the side of the building near the Piano Pavilion involves fewer steps but is not wheelchair accessible. Those who use wheelchairs must enter through the East Entrance and use the elevator. Drop off near the door to this entrance is possible.
  • The entrance to the Kahn Auditorium is located in the dining room of the Buffet at the Kimbell. Look for the double doors at the south end of the dining room.
  • Doors don’t open until 15 minutes prior to show time, and there’s usually no reason to line up in advance. While many shows are well-attended, the auditorium is never full for these events.
  • There’s a beautiful auditorium in the Piano Pavilion where concerts and other events, including occasional films, are held. Most of these events have an admission charge. For a complete list of events at the Kimbell, visit their Calendar.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy the artwork while you’re there. There’s a reason the Kimbell is called one of the best small museums in the country, and viewing the permanent collection is always free. There is a charge for special exhibits, which are now hosted across the lawn at the Piano Pavilion.

Learn More

Films at the Kimbell

 

A Wichita Falls Day Trip Or Weekend Trip Is More Interesting Than You Might Think

Wichita Falls makes a great day trip from Fort Worth — or anywhere in North Texas. If you’ve never been to this city of 100,000 people located 120 miles to the northwest, you may be surprised that it’s a vibrant college town with plenty to do.

While the downtown and some other parts of the city still appear largely neglected, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Locals insist there is slow improvement in many areas of the city.

When judging any town against the vibrancy and variety of things to do in Fort Worth, it’s sure to fall short. But if you’re dying to see something different and get out of the Fort for a day or two, you should consider some time in Wichita Falls.

Since I grew up in declining Jacksboro — halfway between Wichita Falls and Fort Worth — I experienced both towns regularly as a kid. It’s obvious which became my favorite, but Wichita Falls has more to do than ever. And that unique red dirt makes you feel like you’ve left the Metroplex behind.

[This post originally appeared on my Fort Worth Secrets website, which I discontinued. It was written in September 2016.]

Wichita Falls, Texas Points Of Interest

There’s plenty to occupy your time in Wichita Falls. We focused on nature and art during our Tuesday through Wednesday visit in September 2015 and weren’t disappointed. Here are the places we visited:

River Bend Nature Center
A highlight of the trip was the River Bend Nature Center, which has a small entrance fee. If you come with children, there are activities that could occupy the family for hours. For us, the visit started with a quick walk around the educational area to see the insects and snakes exhibited there. A young and knowledgeable guide who considers the creatures on exhibit his personal friends made this enjoyable. We also explored the glass conservatory with the required docent and visited the prairie dogs and butterflies. Then we ventured off on the nature trail on our own. There is both a well-maintained accessible trail and a rougher version on which we managed to get lost.

Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU
Located on the campus of Midwestern State University, this museum is larger than you might expect. But don’t expect any classic works of art. And strangely, getting to the building requires going through a shopping center parking lot. Once there, you’ll find a cavernous main gallery and three smaller ones. The main exhibit when we visited was an uninspiring look at works by a Metroplex artist. Two of the smaller galleries were more compelling and featured some local works. Allow only an hour or less to see the museum, but it’s worth a stop, and there’s no admission charge. The building features a new performance area just outside the front entrance.

The Kemp Center for the Arts
Another highlight of our Wichita Falls trip was the free Kemp Center for the Arts. This historic building features rotating exhibit space and an outdoor sculpture garden. It was easy to see from the surrounding neighborhood why the building has an overstated fence around it. The center also hosts events in it’s elegant Great Hall and houses the Wichita Falls Symphony offices. Be sure to see both floors of art inside, and slow down a bit and wander around outside in the garden area if the weather permits. The receptionist downstairs will point you to the best bits.

The Museum of North Texas History
The strangest of the things we visited in Wichita Falls, the Museum of North Texas History is dominated by junky and fading exhibits and hand-typed note cards. But there are interesting miniatures, lots of military history exhibits and a display about how oil wells work. Plus, they have an iron lung, a medical relic I had never seen before. Since it’s free, it’s worth a brief visit, but you won’t find exhibits of the quality and interactivity that you expect from modern museums.

Wee Chi Ta Sculpture
Located in a poorly maintained area of town near a free veterinary clinic with a line of people waiting outside it the morning we visited, the signage and trails around the sculpture are a bit rough as well. But the sculpture is beautiful and compelling. It’s based on a legend about the how the town got its name, although most agree the legend couldn’t be true.

We weren’t able to visit these attractions during our two-day stay:

The Falls in Lucy Park
I remember the campaign to build the falls when I was a kid. And I remember that the river was so muddy on dedication day that they pumped in water from fire hoses for the dedication so it wouldn’t look so bad. Today, there’s a nice walking trail from the Lucy Park parking area to the falls — or simply view them as you pass on I-44.

Kell House Museum
Closed on the day we tried to visit, the Kell House Museum looked a bit rundown from the outside. Still, it’s promoted as one of the most significant buildings in the city from an architectural standpoint and is billed as featuring original furnishings, costumes and decorative arts. Guided tours are available, but they aren’t open on Wednesdays.

You don’t need to worry with the World’s Littlest Skyscraper. While the story is interesting, it’s only a small antique store down a narrow alley.

If you find that the town doesn’t impress you, use up your remaining time wandering Sikes Senter Mall, a mainstay of the town for decades. Plus, choosing to visit during one of the many Wichita Falls events helps ensure a better experience for certain travelers too.

You may also enjoy:

An iron lung at the Museum of North Texas History.

Things To See Along The Way

From Fort Worth, you can access Wichita Falls from Highway 199 — which merges with Highway 281 at Jacksboro and is called Henderson Street or Jacksboro Highway around here — or from Highway 287. While Highway 287 is a better road, taking Highways 199 and 281 makes more sense unless you live where you can easily access the larger freeway-like road.

If you take Highways 199 and 281, your trip takes you through Jacksboro and Windthorst. Neither town is particularly interesting, but there are two points of interest worth noting. You’ll enjoy seeing all the new wind turbines along the way too.

Just outside Jacksboro, a very modest town with less than 4,000 residents, is Fort Richardson State Park (fee required), where you can see ruins and reconstructions of post-Civil War era buildings, enjoy a small lake, camp for the night or walk the nature trails.

In Windthorst, a tiny blip of a town with about 400, you may enjoy a peek inside St. Mary’s Catholic Church, a beautiful and unique church with a famous grotto outside. Be sure to drive across to Windthorst General Store — also called the Old Weinzapfel General Store — an authentic mercantile that’s still in operation.

A Few Thoughts Before You Go

Maybe a Wichita Falls day trip or weekend trip isn’t as exciting as a drive down to Austin or San Antonio. Even Oklahoma City has more to do.

But when you choose to go to Wichita Falls, you’re choosing a route with less traffic and a town with absolutely no pretense. It isn’t a big town, but it’s an important regional hub with several worthwhile attractions. And it isn’t a beautiful town, but it has some beautiful and interesting spots you won’t want to miss.

And if you can’t find enough to do, you can always keep moving. There’s a casino and the striking Wichita Mountains just to the north.

Learn More

No Matter What Changes, I’m Home In Downtown Fort Worth

I wrote the following post a few months ago for a contest. The prize was something I didn’t want very much, so I didn’t win. At least, I guess I didn’t. They said they’d let me know. They didn’t. Now, you get the post — and I don’t get a prize.

After growing up in a small town near Fort Worth, I moved to an apartment on Camp Bowie as soon as I could. (Living downtown wasn’t even really an option two decades ago.) For me, identifying with Fort Worth rather than my small town roots was a choice.

Then the need for cheap housing sent me packing to Parker County more than a decade ago. But I still consider myself a Fort Worthian. This town is where I spend my money, spend my time and live my life.

Downtown is a great destination in its own right for many reasons – and when there’s nothing else to do or see in town or you don’t want to spend much money, there’s always downtown Fort Worth. You can explore the galleries or shops like a tourist, marvel anew at the Water Gardens or simply choose a restaurant patio where you can enjoy an afternoon or evening.

And as someone who likes to walk for exercise, the streets of downtown provide a nice occasional alternative to wandering around in a park, on a trail or at the mall.

Perhaps downtown Fort Worth’s best asset is its abundant free and cheap parking. When I’m on a weekend trip to Austin, San Antonio, Oklahoma City or some other distant and exotic locale, it’s always amazing to me how hard it is to park. How can I access what the city wants me to see and do if I can’t even park?

No matter where I go, it’s always good to get home to Fort Worth.

Like so many people who are from small towns around here or who have chosen to live outside this city’s limits for the space or the value, I call Fort Worth home because that’s how it feels. It’s hard to imagine how it could feel so special to me without such a diverse, interesting, walkable, accessible and ever-improving downtown.

I may sleep in Parker County, but I live in Fort Worth.

Gip Plaster identifies so strongly with Fort Worth that he calls himself the Fort Worth Copywriter, and you can find him online at fortworthcopywriter.com.