Kansas Travel Blog
June 2008

Chronicling changes to KansasTravel.org and Keith Stokes' adventures while exploring and photographing Kansas restaurants, attractions, museums, festivals and art. Contact Keith at sfreader@sff.net.

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Keith Stokes with a bald eagle at the Eagle Valley Raptor Center
Monday - June 30, 2008:    Added new Kansas Travel pages devoted to the OZ Museum and haunted Columbian Theatre in Wamego, Kansas.

 

Friday - June 27, 2008:    Attended the 27th Great Lenexa Barbeque Battle in Lenexa, Kansas. Since 1984, the event has also been the official Kansas State Championship. Nearly 200 teams compete and Friday evening is a big party.

There is free BBQ sampling at mid-day on Saturday, and commercial BBQ is available on both days, but an outgoing person can quickly make friends and find themselves invited to sample Que and enter parties.

I'm not that outgoing, but was accompanied by a long time Lenexa resident who knew many contestants and got us into a number of the parties. We sampled ribs, chicken, pork, beef, goose and side dishes.

There was also live music and activities for children.

 

Great Lenexa Barbeque Battle Great Lenexa Barbeque Battle
Thursday - June 26, 2008:    Added a new Kansas Travel pages devoted to Chase Lake Falls, 1.5 miles west of Cottonwood Falls, Kansas. Totally reworked the two pages already devoted to the Eagle Valley Raptor Center with 9 new photos.

 

Wednesday - June 25, 2008:    Revisited Paradise India Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas. This is the 4th or 5th time I have visited the restaurant which opened earlier this year. The food is inconsistent, but some dishes are very good. It is improving with time.

Paradise India is worth visiting if you find yourself in south Overland Park, but at this time, I wouldn't make a long drive just to eat there.

Updated the Kansas Travel page devoted to Tanganyika Wildlife Park near Goddard, Kansas.

 

Monday - June 23, 2008:    Added the very first ads to this website. They appear at the bottom of just 30 pages including the Unique Kansas Restaurants page.

 

Saturday - June 21, 2008:    Saturday morning I drove out to the Eagle Valley Raptor Center in Garden Plain, Kansas where I was greeted by Program Director, Ken Lockwood. I first met Ken when visiting Eagle Valley in 2006.

Ken told me that their visits from people that live outside Kansas are up significantly and that 40% of those visitors say they found them on www.kansastravel.org.

This was a chance to see the new facilities and new birds residing at the center. There are two new pens just for wild birds that are expected to be released again, and two new larger cages for Eagles. Each of the Eagle pens were built by Eagle Scouts for their Eagle Scout Leadership Service Projects.

Highlights of my visit included two baby vultures that came in a week before from a building that had been destroyed by tornado, posing for photos with Miles the barn owl and WaSu the male bald eagle, plus the opportunity to enter the pens and become familiar with many of the other birds at the Eagle Valley Raptor Center.

From there I returned just a few miles east to the Tanganyika Wildlife Park near Goddard, Kansas. This was the Grand opening of the formerly private park as a public zoo.

Frankly I was baffled by the opening. About all there was to see were men building the zoo. Almost no exhibits were open. Really just the nursery near the entrance and a few other small animals that were outside being held by staff so visitors could meet and pet them. There wasn't nearly as much to see as on my previous visit to the private park and the only large animal seen anywhere was a camel which people could ride for an additional $5.

I went all the way through the small zoo, then turned around and went back through to make sure I hadn't missed anything. I was done at Tanganyika in under a half hour.

Back in Wichita, I had lunch at my favorite BBQ in Kansas: B & C Barbeque Restaurant which occupies a former garage on the edge of Old Town. The buffet was as good as always with the ribs, sausage & beef being my favorite meats, and the hot spicy baked beans & garlic coleslaw being my favorite sides.

A woman was playing acoustic guitar and singing at one end of the dinning room and a group of about of a dozen women dinners were joining her singing and clapping. It was a really cool lunchtime.

Then to the Great Plains Transportation Museum. It has a great location in Old Town, with tracks and an large old steam engine extending over a main street. But there was little to see there. Just a gift shop and one room museum, and about 13 old engines and other railroad cars outside. Most aren't in very good condition and there are few labels to tell a visitor what they are seeing. It would be more interesting if they gave guided tours.

Before leaving Wichita, I stopped by the original Nu-Way Cafe for a homemade root beer frostie, and pints of chili & garlic salad to bring home. The frostie and chili were wonderful, but I didn't care for the garlic salad.

I drove back by way of Cottonwood Falls, where I took some fresh photos of the old bridge and dam, then drove west of town to Chase Lake to photograph the falls that was created by the spillway from the dam.

The dam spillway travels about 200 feet before descending in a series of three really beautiful waterfalls. A total decent of about 40' in a short distance. The middle falls is the most impressive, but I don't think my photos captured how neat this location really is.

Finally, I visited the Chase County Historical Museum in Cottonwood Falls. I'm afraid this is mostly a typical small local historical museum. The only thing that I found to be unique and interesting was a display about Knute Rockne, who died in a plane crash near the town. The nice lady volunteer also gave me contact info someone that may take me to the Knute Rockne memorial some time in the future.

 

Baby Buzzards
 
 
 

Tanganyika Wildlife Park Tanganyika
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Great Plains Transportation Museum - Wichita Great Plains Transportation Museum
 

Nu-Way Cafe  Wichita, Kansas Nu-Way Cafe
 
 

Chase Lake Waterfall

Friday - June 20, 2008:    After work, I drove to Wichita, Kansas, where I spent the night at the Days Inn South (4875 S. Laura). After trying several other inexpensive motels in the Wichita area, this is the only one that I really care to return visit.

For dinner I tried a restaurant which was recommended by another user at Fodors.com: Fat Ernies Family Dining at 2806 South Hydraulic. This crowded little restaurant has a lot of "character." The main room is smoking, with a smaller room to one side for those that don't like to smell burning tobacco while they eat. Both rooms were full, and I had to wait for a table to be bussed before I could sit down.

The menu is large and varied, plus there are many daily specials. I had the smoked rib and hot link combo which comes with choice of potato, baked beans, salad and dinner roll for $8.99. I substituted chili for the salad and all of my food was good. The meats had quite a bit of flavor on their own, but went well with the thin, sweet BBQ sauce. My cottage fried potatoes were very good.

Fat Ernies has its own pies, and the chocolate peanut butter pie was good, if not outstanding.

The special for the evening was all you can eat catfish for $6.95. Many people had the special, and I overheard good comments about the catfish. Almost all of the customers appeared to be regulars and most didn't even look at the menu.

 

Fat Ernies in Wichita, Kansas
 

Fat Ernies Dinning Room
 

Thursday - June 19, 2008:    Today I had lunch at a recently opened restaurant, Brobecks Barbeque in Overland Park, Kansas. 

I was pleasantly surprised by Brobecks. They provide service at the table, rather than going to the counter, something unusual at the less expensive BBQ places in the Kansas City area. And that service was very good. Attentive without being intrusive, and doing all the little things correctly.

Brobecks offers a lunch special that is plenty of food: regular sandwich with 1 or 2 meats, 1 side and a drink for $6.96. But I was wanting to check more items for KansasTravel.org and had Brobecks Combo Platter: three pork ribs, Polish sausage & one sliced meat, with 2 sides for $11.95. Enough food for two not very hearty eaters. My choices were pulled pork, French fries and cheesy corn.

The sides were my favorite part of the meal. The fries were perfectly cooked and the cheesy corn was good. The sausage and ribs were both very flavorful. The dry-rubbed ribs had so much flavor that I ate them without sauce. I found the pork bland, but someone that doesn't eat BBQ as often might be happier with the pork.

Although there is nothing distinctive enough about Brobecks to make the list of Unique Kansas Restaurants, it is good enough that they were added to the list of other restaurants at the bottom of the page. Note: a review and more photos added to this website in September.

 

Brobecks BBQ in Overland Park, Kansas Brobecks BBQ
 
 

Brobecks combo platter Brobecks combo platter
 

 

Tuesday - June 17, 2008:    Added three more waterfalls to the new Kansas Waterfall page: Soden's Dam Falls in Emporia, Kansas; Otto's Mill Falls in Fredonia, Kansas; and Ozro Falls southeast of Cedar Vale, Kansas.

 

Monday - June 16, 2008:    Launched a new Kansas Waterfall page, starting with only 9 waterfalls. I have a couple more waterfalls to add, but many more to visit. Waterfalls have turned out to be among the hardest locations to find in Kansas and I hope that you visitors to this Kansas Travel website can point me to many more.

 

Saturday - June 14, 2008:    This morning I conducted a seminar on Kansas Travel at the Olathe Ford RV Center in Gardner, Kansas. The standing room only crowd seemed to enjoy my presentation and several people came up to talk more when my presentation was complete.

Lunch was at Rosedale Barbeque in Kansas City, Kansas. Rosedale Barbeque has long been listed on the Unique Kansas Restaurants page, but I took several photos and added a new page devoted to Rosedale Barbeque.

 

Rosedale Barbeque, Kansas City, Kansas Rosedale Barbeque
Friday - June 13, 2008:    Added a page devoted to Alcove Spring and Waterfall. The park is adjacent to Independence Crossing, a famous ford where pioneer wagons following the Oregon Trail forded the Big Blue River. Six miles north o Blue Rapids, Kansas.

Also, I just realized that I failed to mention that a page devoted to Cowley Lake Waterfall, south of Dexter, Kansas, last week

 

Thursday - June 12, 2008:    This morning I stopped by Cottage Rose Teas and Treasures in Olathe, Kansas for the ribbon cutting ceremony at this new business. Two sisters opened the tea room a month ago and it is presently open only during the day on weekends. 

The didn't have much in the way of refreshments at the ribbon cutting, so I can't speak about their food, but the menu lists deserts and three sandwich entrees. Tea service is by appointment. 

Cottage Rose specializes in Princess Dress-Up Tea Parties for girls up to 14 years old. $21/person including tax includes hats, purses, boas, beverages, finger sandwiches, fruit, desserts, fashion show and an etiquette lesson.

In a somewhat similar vein, I decided that today was the time to visit Andre's Confiserie Suisse in Overland Park, Kansas. It has been many years since I have been to Andre's original location which opened near Kansas City's Country Club Plaza in 1955, and this was my first visit to Andre's second location.

Although I arrived at 11:20AM, I wasn't surprised to find a line waiting for a table to open. But the wait was only about 10 minutes and never seemed to get longer. When I left an hour later, only one person was waiting in line. 

Andre's Rivaz Tearoom serves light authentic Swiss lunches Monday - Saturday. The menu is limited to a couple of sandwiches, Quiche Lorraine, cheese pie and a daily special. Lunch is $14.05 including sales tax, and includes tea or coffee, entree, vegetable, salad and dessert.

A middle aged man like I can still enjoy Andre's, but it really is designed to appeal more to ladies. Of the 50 plus people dining today, only 5 others were men and there were no children.

But the Confiserie Suisse appeals to everyone: chocolate candies, French pastries and tortes, all made at the two Andre's locations. A video playing in the background shows the candy making process. I couldn't resist picking up a small box of mixed chocolates for a friend on the way out.

A new page devoted to Andre's Confiserie Suisse has been added to this Kansas Travel website.

 

Cottage Rose Teas, Olathe, Kansas Cottage Rose Teas


 
 

Andre's Confiserie Suisse, Overland Park, Kansas Andre's Confiserie Suisse

Wednesday - June 11, 2008:    Added a page devoted to The Hollow in Sedan, Kansas. An attractive small park with a boardwalk and a tiny waterfall.

 

Sunday - June 8, 2008:    I revisited Amor de Brazil, an Overland Park, Kansas steakhouse I hadn't visited since shortly after is opened last year. It has a high quality salad bar (I particularly liked the pepper crusted seared tuna and the large wheel of blue cheese). The gauchos brought 11 different meats to the tables. The chicken legs and pork ribs were both good, the alcatra (top sirloin), leg of lamb and garlic beef were all VERY good. 

Amor is fairly pricey, but they have lower prices this summer: weekday lunch $20 (salad bar only $10), Dinner $40 ($22), Sunday $35 ($18). Overeating is a big temptation. Just added Amor de Brazil to the other restaurants section of the Unique Kansas Restaurants page.

 


Amor de Brazil - Overland Park Amor de Brazil
Saturday - June 7, 2008:    After staying overnight at the Salina, Kansas Day's Inn, I drove to he community of Glasco for the first ever Bring Your Own Lawn Chair (BYOLC) meeting. Held on the sidewalk next to the Glasco post office, it was designed as a opportunity to support and encourage the tiny community's dream to save three derelict old buildings by turning them into a National Highway 24 Museum.

When I arrived 15 minutes before the gathering, there were only 3 people there and when I got out of the car wearing a Kansas Explorers T-shirt, they cheered. This was the first time that I officially met Marci Penner (the Executive Director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation) and Assistant Director WenDee LaPlant, and it was a great pleasure. We have had a lot of contact by email over the past few years.

About 25 people (half local and half from around the state) attended the one hour session. I enjoyed this a lot and hope to make it to the August BYOLC event in Stark, near Chanute. After the meeting, I photographed the nearby historical museum, and had a smoothie (local name for a milk shake) at the Hodge Podge soda fountain up the street.

Before leaving town, I photographed an 1800's truss bridge at the edge of town. Between the bridge and the downtown, I think there is enough to add a Kansas Travel page in the near future.

There is a restaurant in Glasco and I would have had lunch there, but it doesn't seem like they want business from out of town. You can't see into the restaurant and there is no sign other than "open." So I headed east and north toward Alcove Spring Park.

Along the way, I passed the community of Barnes - one I have ever visited. I decided to pull off the highway and photograph some of the buildings on the main street. Although there are few buildings remaining in the one block business district, every one is in use and looking good.

I recognized the name of one from past research and stopped for lunch at Our Daily Bread - a bakery that opened a few years ago and expanded into a Christian theme restaurant. The large dining room is attractive with a mural the length of the longest wall.

The menu had only 8 dishes. Tea room fare. I had Hot Chicken Salad (chicken casserole with bread crumbs and Swiss cheese topped with slivered almonds). It came with the choice of one side. I selected potato salad. The potato salad was very good, but I found the chicken dish a bit bland.

I bought some scones, cookies and a kolache from the bakery on my way out.

Then on to Alcove Springs for some photos to go with the ones I took in January. The spring is supplemented by a small waterfall in wet weather, and I was surprised that the waterfall was almost completely dry.

Back on the highway, I head south to Wamego where I had scheduled visits to the Columbian Theater and the Oz Museum. My first visit was to the theater where the staff was preparing for a wedding reception. The restored 1895 theatre began as music hall and hosted vaudeville, silent pictures and modern motion pictures before going dark in 1950. Restoration began in 1989 and the Columbian reopened for live shows and special events in 1994. The most interesting features of the Columbian Theater are 6 large murals and various other furnishing which came from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition (Chicago World's Fair). The Columbian Theater is also said to be haunted.

The Oz Museum is just a few doors away. It houses over 2,000 artifacts relating to the magical world created by L. Frank Baum. There are materials and exhibits related Baum's writing, the silent films, the movie staring Judy Garland, and the Wiz. I was a little disappointed that there were no exhibits related to Wicked.

The final stop of the day was in Lawrence at The Orient, my favorite Vietnamese restaurant. Nothing fancy, just good food. I was surprised to learn that a lot of changes are taking place. The owners opened Southern Cuisine, next door, a few months back. In the next few weeks, The Orient will also move into that space, with both restaurants in the same dining room. The Nguyen family's third restaurant, Angler's Seafood House, will move into the newly vacated space.

After supper at The Orient, I decided to purchase a meal to-go from Southern Cuisine. While I waited for my meal the owner, Pat Nguyen, introduced himself and we had a great conversation about his restaurants and the Kansas City and Lawrence restaurant scene. Their fried chicken was a bit overcooked, but the hush puppies were better and the red beans and rice was the best I've ever had. 

 


 
 

Bring Your Own Lawn Chair - Glasco, Kansas
 
 
 

Hodge Podge soda fountain - Glasco, Kansas Hodge Podge soda fountain
 
 
 
 

Our Daily Bread restaurant - Barnes, Kansas
Our Daily Bread
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Alcove Springs
Alcove Springs
 

Columbian Theatre - Wamego, Kansas Columbian Theatre
 
 

Oz Museum - Wamego, Kansas Oz Museum

Friday - June 6, 2008:    After work, I drove to Salina to be ready for a full day of exploring the north central part of Kansas on Saturday.

I had planned to stop for supper in Junction City, where there are three Korean restaurants that I like, but along the way, decided to revisit the Renaissance Cafe - the northern Italian restaurant which surrounds the gymnasium of an old school building in Assaria, Kansas.

Unfortunately it was closed (2 weeks for staff vacations). Instead, I revisited the Hickory Tree Restaurant, whose dinning room is in another old school gymnasium, only about 10 miles away. Their BBQ buffet is OK, but the charm of Hickory Tree is its location. 

When I parked, I saw a car across the street with a Kansas Explorers Club flag and left them a note saying how much I enjoyed seeing other Explorers in Kansas. I would get to meet the owner of the car, Susie Haver, Kansas Explorer #27 from Concordia, the next day.

 

Sunday - June 1, 2008:    I drove down to Colony, Kansas to bicycle a portion of the expanded Prairie Spirit Trail. The new section of rail trail from Welda to Iola was completed last year, but red tape has prevented its opening. The rest rooms are not open, the water is not turned on, and the materials for paying the trail fees have not been placed at the Rail Heads.

The Wildlife and Parks' Officer that I spoke to said that while officially this section of the Prairie Spirit Trail is not open, they are not kicking people off the trail. He said that a grand opening had been planned for next week but it has been postponed. He doesn't now when it will open.

The lack of other riders on the trail meant that I saw a lot more wildlife and I took what I thought would be great pictures of deer, turtles, lizards and snakes.

I hurried my ride to get back to Colony before the Country Diner closed at noon. The food was good and a great value. A $2.79 cheeseburger and $1.29 order of fresh French fries fills a large plate. The homemade blackberry cobbler was fabulous.

The servers were fun and a bit ornery. 

The Country Diner is only a block from the trail and I will be visiting it again.

One disappointment today. When I returned home and downloaded the photos, I discovered that the camera had been set to the very lowest resolution while I was on the Prairie Spirit Trail. Only a couple of the pictures will be useable.

 

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