Kansas Travel Blog

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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Saturday - May 30, 2009: I had lunch at the only place in the metro area that I know where you can order just chicken hearts - Gomer's Fried Chicken at 95th Street and Holmes in Kansas City, Missouri. The deep fried hearts were great with Louisiana Hot sauce, but I was less impressed with the battered potato wedges.

In the afternoon I visited Har-B-Q at a home on the south side of Olathe, Kansas. It is a backyard BBQ on steroids. This was the 8th year and there were 11 teams competing at barbecuing, and lots of partying going on. I wasn't there 5 minutes before someone insisted on giving me a drink.

The annual party is open to the public and free. The awards presentation and serious partying begins in the early evening and I hope my schedule permits me to return in the evening next year.

Supper was at Shogun Sushi and Japanese Steakhouse in Lenexa, Kansas. I sat at the sushi bar and sampled unagi (fresh water eel), spider roll (soft shell crab, avocado & cucumber), shrimp tempura roll (tempura shrimp, crab, avocado & cucumber), and dancing eel roll (toasted eel, avocado, cucumber, cream cheese, japonnaise & caviar).  All were good, but the shrimp tempura roll ($6.95) was my favorite. Shogun may be the best of the inexpensive sushi places in the KC metro area.



Har-B-Q in Olathe, Kansas Har-B-Q

Shogun Sushi and Japanese Steakhouse - Lenexa, Kansas Shogun Sushi and Japanese Steakhouse

Friday - May 29, 2009: We decided to visit Jumpin' Catfish in Olathe, Kansas, since the kitchen is open until 10PM on Friday and Saturday. We had the dinning room to ourselves. I had Cajun Style catfish fillets (12 oz of catfish fillets, seasoned with cajun spices and grilled), while Linda had Southern style catfish (dipped in a light corn meal and fried to a golden brown). They went well with the fried potato wedges.


Wednesday - May 27, 2009: Revisited the Burger Joint in Kansas City, Kansas. The Italian steak sandwich isn't a Chicago style Italian steak sandwich, but the hardy sandwich was the best item tried there so far. Linda liked the the handmade onion rings.


Burger Joint in Kansas City, Kansas
Sunday - May 24, 2009: This weekend was ConQuesT 40 - Kansas City, Missouri's annual science fiction convention. I have attended every year since 1985 and have participated on programing for a number of years. On Saturday I made a presentation on books that people may have missed from the 1930s-60s. The convention was at the Hyatt Regency at Crown Center and it gave me a chance to revisit 5 Kansas City restaurants.

My first meal was at Skies, the revolving restaurant on the 41st floor of the Hyatt. It is reasonable for an upscale restaurant and our memberships in the convention entitled us to a 15% discount. I had prime rib and Linda had bacon wrapped veal. We split a very chocolate dessert.

Other meals were at Street Car Named Desire in Crown Center, Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ (with a party of 24), Lydia's Kansas City, and Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbeque (with a party of 7). Genghis Khan is a favorite of some of my out town friends and does a good job with large groups. 

Lydia's and Jack Stack are in adjoining freight houses, across the railroad tracks from Union Station.

Lydia's was my favorite meal of the weekend. The decor and service were impeccable. I particularly liked the art glass chandeliers and the beautiful garden courtyard.

We were there for Sunday brunch, where for a fixed price of $22 you get an antipasti table, a choice of about 15 entrees and a dessert table. Everything was very good. My entree was the Pasta Tasting Trio, which changes daily but is a selection of three pasta dishes. A server periodically comes by with a pan of one of the pastas and you may have as much of each one as you wish. My favorite was a bow tie pasta with lamb that was divine.



Skies Restaurant - Hyatt Regency, Kansas City, Missouri Kansas City skyline as seen from our table at Skies

Lydia's Italian Restaurant - Kansas City, Missouri Lydia's dinning room

Tuesday - May 19, 2009: Linda and I had lunch at the Pie Lady in old town section of Lenexa, Kansas. I was disappointed that a place called the Pie Lady only offered three types of pie by the slice and I didn't order pie, though Linda shared her slice of (very good) apple pie with me. The only choices available by the slice were apple, cherry and stawberry-rhubarb.

My chicken salad sandwich was large and good, though a tad pricey at $7.15 with just a small bag of potato chips.


Pie Lady - Lenexa, Kansas Pie counter at the Pie Lady in Old Town Lenexa.
Monday - May 18, 2009: Added a new page devoted to the Kansas City T-Bones baseball team in Kansas City, Kansas, and updated the review of The Pizza Man in Lenexa, Kansas.


Sunday - May 17, 2009: For lunch, several of us tried Rosedale Barbeque in Kansas City, Kansas. Rosedale BBQ has been a long time favorite of mine, and as we went in I bragged about the ladies that handle the orders at the counter.

Of course, the lady waiting on us proceeded to get my order wrong. Twice. But the ribs and sausage were good and no one complained about my recommending the 75 year old BBQ restaurant.

From there, we drove to the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, to finally visit the reopened National World War One Museum. The WW1 museum was as good as it as been billed, and an hour and a half flew by. I would have liked to have stayed twice as long, but we were there primarily for the benefit of a teenager receiving extra credit in European history, and I was tagging along at her sufferance.

In the evening, Linda and I went to the the third game of the new season at CommunityAmerica Ballpark at the Legends in Kansas City, Kansas. The  Kansas City T-Bones are in their 5th season, and were the 2008 Northern League Champions. There are 6 teams in this independent league which was founded in 1993 as a way for players who had been cast aside by a major league organization to continue their careers. 

There are a lot of nice things to say about going to a game at this modest ballpark. Parking is free and we had to walk less than 100 yards to the stadium entrance. On Mondays, they even pay you to park at the games!

The stadium is much smaller and has fewer food options than a major league baseball stadium, but it is still a fun location. There is green space beyond the outfield, where people can sit on blankets and let their children play around them. Beyond that, we could see people playing basketball. There were contests and activities every time the teams switched between batting and the field.

We had the best seats in the house for $16. Literally the best seats, we had the first two seats on the aisle, behind the home dugout. At the T-Bones they still let you put your feet up and and set food on the dugout. We could watch the play and players, so much more than we did the night before at the Kansas City Royals, and the players (and umpires) could hear us when we shouted.

The T-Bones didn't do very well against the Winnipeg Golden Eyes. The T-bones opening pitcher gave up 7 runs in the 1st inning (a 3 run homer & a grand slam home run) and 4 more runs in the 2nd inning before being replaced. The T-bones settled down after that, but were down 13-3 when we left at the end of the 8th inning. The announced attendance was 3,764.

Since 2008, CommunityAmerica Ballpark is also the home of Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wizards.


Rosedale BBQ in Kanas City, Kansas Rosedale Barbeque

Kansas City, Missouri skyline Kansas City, Missouri skyline from the Liberty Memorial

Kansas City T-Bones Kansas City T-Bones during the national anthem

Saturday - May 16, 2009: Today was Art Tougeau - Lawrence, Kansas' 14th annual wheeled-art parade and wheel-apalooza. I arrived at 11AM, as the parade entries were setting up and spent the hour before noon photographing and chatting with the various entries. About half of the people that I spoke with were in the parade for their first or second time. There were about 20 motorized entries and perhaps twice as many human powered entrees on 2-6 wheels.

My favorite self propelled entries included a shark, dragon and giant fish. While the motored art included Tirezilla, a flying saucer, the two unit "Don't worry - be happy," a car decorated entirely with mud and a folk art masterpiece from Wisconsin named Claire.

Art Tougeau is a lot of fun - a grassroots art festival on wheels. I've already placed it on my calendar for 2010.

Following the parade, I had lunch at the Thai House in Lawrence.

My appetizer of hot basil wings ($6.95), was large wing thirds, fried conventionally with a sauce that was too hot to use enough to give the wings a lot of flavor.

But the pork Pad Thai (soft rice noodles with meat stir fried with mild spices and topped with crushed peanuts - $9.95) was some of the best I have ever had. Very good flavor and wonderful strips of pork.

In the evening, we visited the newly remodeled Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. There really is a lot of other things for people uninterested in the watching the Royals play baseball to do But the park is not as beautiful as it used to be and the new "exciting" food choices left me unimpressed.

Sadly, the Royals lost to the Orioles.


Art Tougeau parade in Lawrnce, Kansas Art Tougeau parade

Tirezilla Tirezilla

Thai House - Lawrence, Kansas Thai House

Friday - May 15, 2009: For lunch, Linda and I had lunch at the Subway Kosher Deli in Overland Park, Kansas. I was less impressed with the sandwiches tried on this visit, but that is part of the reason I check restaurants more than once.

A kosher hot dog was OK, nothing special. Linda liked her teriyaki chicken sandwich, but the corned beef on my sandwich was bland - nowhere near as flavorful as the pastrami I had on my first visit. Overall, my impression on this visit was closer to any other Subway restaurant, but without cheese of $5 foot longs.

In the evening, I drove to the Great Mall of the Great Plains in Olathe, Kansas to visit the Traditions Fire Company and Museum which opened a few weeks ago. But the one room museum was closed due to the inclement weather.

It was too dark to take photos, but I could see the contents of the museum through the windows. It doesn't look like it would have taken more than a few minutes to tour. There is a 1955 American Lafrance Ladder Truck and just a handful of other items on exhibit.


Subway Kosher Deli - Overland Park, Kansas Subway Kosher Deli
Thursday - May 14, 2009: Tonight I had supper at the Fork and Screen in the AMC Studio 30 in Olathe, Kansas. 12 of the theaters at the AMC Studio 30 have been recently converted to fewer and better seats, with mixed drinks and a limited menu served at the seats.

The food was OK for the setting, but I liked the better seats and service more than the food. The price is only $5 more and you get a $5 credit toward the food & drink. The fish and chips were average. The peanut pie ala mode wasn't nearly as good as it sounds. I think the best way to do the Fork and Screen may be to order soda & popcorn and enjoy having the refills brought to your seat.

They also have some theaters with a "suite" option which includes assigned seating for $10, with a $10 credit toward the food.

Following the movie, I updated the page devoted to the Brown Mansion in Coffeyville, adding the new higher admission prices. There was only a dollar increase for adults. But the price for children 7 - 12 years old tripled from $1 to $3.


Wednesday - May 13, 2009: Tonight's supper was at The Burger Joint, one of several restaurant I have been wanting to visit along Merriam Lane/Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City, Kansas.

The Burger Joint as only 3 tables and some stools at a counter that looks like it might be home made. The specialize in 1/3 pound, hand formed burgers in single, double or triple size. I had a double cheese burger, chili and a hand dipped chocolate shake.

The service was friendly, but inconsistent. Kind of like eating in the home of a careless friend.

The homemade chili was soupy and had a lot of beans - good, but not great. Which is how I would describe the burgers. Good, but not something I would make a special point of having.

The shake was the best part. While it was being made, I was even asked if I wanted it to have normal chocolate or lots of chocolate. I voted for lots.


The Burger Joint - Kansas City, Kansas The Burger Joint
Tuesday - May 12, 2009: For supper, I revisited Stroud's Restaurant & Bar in Fairway, Kansas. I was wanting to try some items that I hadn't had before and had the chicken fried steak. It was good and the serving was large enough, but not as large as some of Stroud's other main dishes. The cottage fries were very thin (almost like potato chips), but still very good.

I was going to finally try one of Stroud's desserts, but the server never asked if I wanted anything more and brought the check.

Added a new page devoted to the Richard H. Schmidt Museum of Natural History at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas.


Saturday - May 9, 2009: Today was spent in a region of central Kansas that has received heavy rains for several weeks.

The first stop of the day was at the Richard H. Schmidt Museum of Natural History on the campus of Emporia State University. The museum occupies part of the hallway and a large room in the basement of Breukelman Science Hall.

The Museum was supposed to be open until noon, but was locked up. Fortunately I had been informed that the ESU police could be called to unlock the room. The campus police unlocked the room and were courteous, while making it clear that they shouldn't have to do it.

I was quite impressed with the collection in the Schmidt Museum which displays 600 taxidermy mounts of Kansas birds, mammals, reptiles, and fish. The collection was mounted by Richard H. Schmidt who was a biologist and taxidermist at Emporia State University. Over half of the display cases are filled with birds and this would be a great place for someone wanting to learn to identify the birds of Kansas.

Before leaving the building, I revisited the Johnston Geology Museum located on the first floor of the building. Although this museum isn't as large, the detailed, interesting descriptions of the geologic and fossil exhibits could keep me there for hours.

But I had miles to go before I would sleep and continued through Emporia to La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant, which was recommended to me by Kansas Explorer Larry Hornbaker. My favorite parts of the meal were the chile con queso and refried beans.

I drove west on Highway 50, to see what the waterfall in the spillway from Kahola Lake reservoir looked like after the heavy rains. There was a lot of flooding near the highway and as I approached the turn off to drive back to the lake, all of the other county roads were blocked by flood waters.

As I started photographing the three level waterfall, the sun finally peaked through the clouds. The total drop is about 55 feet along about 100 yards. The upper falls are the closest to each other and rather unusual. The water dropping from the first falls passes under boulders, almost disappearing entirely.

While I was returning to the car, I was met by Kahola Park security The officer was friendly, but explained that permission must be obtained from the homeowners' association before visiting the falls.

Returning to Highway 50, I drove to Cottonwood Falls. The Cottonwood River was out of its banks and nearly up to the bottom of the 1914 Arch Bridge. So much water was flowing over the Cottonwood River Dam, that it couldn't even be seen.

One of my favorite Kansas Waterfalls is just west of Cottonwood Falls in the spillway from Chase State Fishing Lake and I wanted to revisit it during high water plus refresh my memories for an article I am writing for Kansas Traveler magazine this week.

I could hear the roar of the falls as soon as I got out of the car a third of a mile away. Arriving at the falls, it appears that several times more water was flowing than on my previous visit. Though so much of the beauty of this waterfall is the setting, that I actually prefer it during the normal spring flow.

On the way back toward Olathe, I made two more stops.

The first was in Hartford, where I had reserved almond croissants at the European Bakeshop. I actually arrived too late (they close at 3PM on Saturday) but a note on the door directed me to the bar next door where the pastries had been left.

The last stop was in Ottawa, where i checked on the water conservation dam on the Maris des Cynes River at the edge of town. It had been recommended to me by Travis Shinkle. So much water was flowing, that it really wasn't that attractive. Fishermen at the site, said that the flow was being cut from some of the Kansas reservoirs and the flow would be dramatically reduced by the following day.

Supper was at Brobecks Barbeque, where I had two appetizers smoky hot wings and the ham salad dip. The wings were tiny. Most of their flavor came from the smoking with some hot sauce added after the cooking.

The smoked ham salad was good. When I previously tried it, it came with crackers. THis time the serving was bigger and it also came with freshly cooked potato chips. Really quite a large, nice appetizer for $4.50. 


Richard H. Schmidt Museum of Natural History Schmidt Museum

Johnston Geology Museum - Emporia State University Johnston Geology Museum

La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant - Emporia, Kansas La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant

Kahola Lake falls Kahola Lake waterfall

Cottonwood River at flood stage Cottonwood River bridge

Chase Lake Falls Chase Lake Falls

Smoked ham salad

Friday - May 8, 2009: For lunch I revisited Pickering's Restaurant and Pub in Olathe, Kansas. Pickering's has daily lunch specials for $6.29. Friday's special is a hand breaded pork tenderloin sandwich with choice of potato. The tenderloin has good flavor and is so big it hides everything on the plate.
Thursday - May 7, 2009: This is the too cute, kittens photo that I took at Wooly Works Alpaca Ranch on Saturday.

Kansas Kittens

If you know anyone that might appreciate it, please pass it along.

For lunch, I visited the new Cafe Augusta in Lenexa, Kansas. A new page devoted to Cafe Augusta was posted tonight.



Cafe Augusta - Lenexa, Kansas Cafe Augusta

Wednesday - May 6, 2009: Added a new review of Korean Garden in Junction City, Kansas.


Monday - May 3, 2009: For supper, I revisited Chung's Rainbow Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas. The small Korean restaurant has been a favorite of mine for several years, but tonight was a mixed bag. The service was the best they have ever provided, but my NaktiBokum (spicy octopus) had much less flavor and heat than on my previous visits.

Updated the review of the Renaissance Cafe with new photos and details.


Sunday - May 3, 2009: I've had good luck with the Salina Day's Inn in the past, but there were children's softball teams in the hotel and it was a noisy night. Still, I was up early and in Concordia, Kansas before the Kansas Explorers Annual Meeting at 9AM. 

The first person that I met was Larry Hornbaker, whose Travels Notes has a lot in common with this blog. We had never met before, but I liked him immediately and look forward to getting to know him at other events around the state.

Marci Penner, Executive Director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation and author of Kansas Guidebook for explorers, led the meeting, introducing some of the long time Explorers and the people that had worked so hard to put on the Kansas Sampler Festival. There was a major presentation by costumed performers from Leavenworth, which will host the 2010 and 2011 Sampler Festivals.

The meeting was over before 10AM, and we dispersed to participate in the second day of the festival. I visited every tent devoted to Kansas communities, counties, regions, and attractions, putting the brochures from each tent into the same bag so they would be organized by region.

I stopped by the Kansas Sampler Foundation tent to pick up this year