to KansasTravel.org and Keith Stokes' adventures
while exploring and photographing Kansas restaurants, attractions, museums,
festivals and art. Contact Keith at email@example.com.
Follow me on Twitter
& like me on FaceBook.
Visit my Michigan Straits
of Mackinac site: www.mightymac.org
|Sunday - July 31,
2011: There is one potential problem with Abilene Bed & Breakfast
Inn: only one of the rooms has a private bath and there could be too many
rooms sharing the same bathroom. The upstairs shared bath was attractive
& functional, and I had confirmed that we would not be sharing with
others, while booking the room. The 5 of us in two rooms were able to coordinate
our schedules, but there were two other vacant rooms and there could have
been way too many people.
BTW: With three of
our party staying in a two room suite, our host even offered to let one
of them stay in one of the vacant rooms if they wished. These folks really
At this B&B we
were asked when we wanted to have breakfast. As some of us settled into
the large comfortable living room to use our notebook computers before
breakfast, the hosts repeatedly checked to see if we needed, orange juice
or other beverages.
ABBI doesn't say much
(anything?) about their breakfasts, but they were an elaborate affair,
starting with Marcia Cox greeting us dressed like a dance hall girl. We
weren't sure why she was dressed that way, but it was a fun start to the
The first course was
an attractive presentation of assorted fruits and a yogurt dip. The second
course was cream of wheat. The third coarse was poached eggs, blueberry
pancakes, fried potatoes and sausage. Doc prepared everything fresh and
checked to see if anyone wanted more.
We drove about 45 minutes
to Manhattan to worship at First United Methodist Church where one of our
former pastors, Kay Scarbrough, is now Senior Pastor. We were expecting
to hear preach, but they had made changes and we heard one of the Associate
Pastors. But our surprise visit was saved when we found Kay after the service
and she joined us for lunch at one of my favorite Manhattan restaurants,
CoCo Bolos Wood Fired Grill and Cantina.
CoCo Bolos is a small
place and we had to wait about 20 minutes to get a table large enough for
6 of us. They have a nice patio, but with triple digit temperatures, that
did not appeal.
The menu is a bit limited
on Sunday and we were still able to find dishes that each of us could enjoy.
The chili verde was spicy and flavorful and I liked the scrambled eggs
with jalapenos & onions, but we were all in envy of Kay's tostada salad
with grilled steak.
That was the final
exploration stop of the trip and the drive home was uneventful, with a
brief stop to visit family in Topeka.
Abilene Bed & Breakfast Inn
CoCo Bolos Wood Fired Grill and Cantina
|Saturday - July
30, 2011: Seasons of the Fox serves a three course breakfast and we
had received the menu when we checked in. We were told that breakfast would
be served at 9 AM and our host, Michael J. Fox, wanted us in the adjoining
room in advance so he could open the doors and show off the table.
The first course was
mahogany zucchini bread & rustic scones, stone fruit, grapes and tangerines.
I didn't care for the scones, but liked the zucchini bread (made with zucchini
from their garden) quite a bit.
The second course was
sunflower soufflé and chicken sausage. John was a big fan of the
soufflé and we all liked the sausage which came with or without
hot peppers. The hot version of the sausage wasn't too spicy. One of our
party could not have cheese and coddled eggs were offered as an alternative
to the soufflé.
The meal finished with
almond torte and Lingonberry tarn. It was a bit rich for breakfast, but
we had already had a lot of food.
Our first stop of the
day was at Kansas's smallest state park - the 5 acre Mushroom
Rock State Park. There are many large, rounded Dakota sandstone concretions
and the softer sandstone beneath three of them has partially eroded away
so they are supported on "stems." Jesi complained that they didn't look
like mushrooms, but couldn't convince the the rest of us to agree.
It was already getting
pretty hot & humid outside, and 10 minutes was plenty of time
for our visit.
We drove on to Lucas,
the Grassroots Capital of Kansas, where
we started at the north end ot the downtown at Bowl Plaza, where a public
rest room is being built in the shape of a huge toilet. At the adjacent
Pig Gallery, Eric Abraham showed us the mosaics which are being made
to go on the walls of giant toilet. THe gallery did not have AC and it
was very hot, but I would have stayed longer if we hadn't had so much more
The next building was
Meat Market, a wonderful little market which has been operating for
83 years. I love Brant's Czechoslovakian ring bologna, but it wasn't going
to be easy to transport, so I limited my purchases to some cold drinks
and a pound of the great beef jerky (produced by Luther's
Smokehouse in LeRoy, Kansas). I'm nibbling on the jerky as I work on
this two days later.
The next building was
Troy's Grocery, whose outside wall is covered with a beautiful, large mural
dedicated to the regions post rock limestone and Czechoslovakian immigrant
A few doors farther
up the street, we came to the Grassroots
Arts Center. Part of the front wall recently bowed out and construction
is taking place to stabilize and restore the wall. The Arts Center was
the busiest I have ever seen it and there were several families on our
tour looking at the work of various self taught artists.
Grassroots Art Center
Director Rosslyn Schultz lead our tour on a short walk to a second location,
the Florence Deeble home with the Garden of Isis
and its wonderful rock garden.
Before leaving town,
we drove past the World's Largest
Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things
Traveling Roadside Attraction & Museum and the Garden
of Eden where more work is being done. During this visit, I was delighted
to learn that Kohler Foundation has purchased the Garden of Eden and is
restoring the unique concrete sculptures.
Lunch was at the Hungry
Hunter in Lincoln, Kansas, which I visit about once a year. Just simple,
well prepared food at a reasonable price. We had fried chicken, grilled
pork chops, grilled chicken tenders and fried chicken gizzards. We waddled
back out to the van and headed back east.
We arrived at the Eisenhower
Presidential Library & Eisenhower Museum at 4:45 PM. Walking up
to the visitors center's door, we found a sign that said that for the summer
hours, the boyhood home, tomb and library were closing at 4:45 and the
museum and visitors center closing was at 5:45. We went into the visitors
center anyway and discovered that the sign was wrong (and they knew it!).
The boyhood home was closing then for the day, but the library stays open
until 5:45 and the Place of Meditation (tomb) stays open until dusk.
We toured the Eight
Wonders of Kansas exhibit at the Eisenhower Library. Some of the exhibits
which I had seen here in June have been removed. We also stopped at the
Place of Meditation.
Since everyone had
enjoyed the Whirling Earth Gallery yesterday, I took them to the Bow
Studio and Gallery which I enjoyed so much in 2008, both for the pottery
and for the delightful couple operating it - Bob and Inga Bow. Sadly, things
have changed. Inga no longer has short term memory and is no longer creating
her wonderful decorative handmade tiles, sculpture, and other art work.
Bob is still producing his glazed turtles, but Inga was the principal artist
and the gallery is turning into more of a museum. It is heartbreaking.
Tonight's stay was
at another B&B - Abilene Bed & Breakfast Inn (ABBI). Abilene has
many fine mansions and we were not disappointed with this one. Marcia Cox
and Utsab (he said to call him "Doc") immediately made us feel welcome.
After stowing our luggage, we were offered cold drinks & nuts, and
shown through the rest of the Victorian Mansion. Marcia arranged our dinner
Tonight's supper was
at the Kirby House Restaurant which was in another restored Victorian Mansion.
Although not as good as the previous night's steak, my bone-in ribeye was
very good. My asparagus was even better and the green beans (which were
cooked with butter & garlic) may have been the best I have ever had.
Other highlights of the meal included the prime rib and mussels. Linda
was less pleased with the "grilled" salmon which appeared to have been
The service was extremely
We finished the evening
back at ABBI, where we all settled into the very comfortable, large living
room and took advantage of the wifi. Doc was attentive, checking several
times to see if we wanted wine or anything else to drink.
sunflower soufflé and chicken sausage
Mary sitting atop one of the rocks
Bowl Plaza mosaic wall
Doug Brant wrapping meat
Garden of Eden
Dwight D. Eisenhower statue by Robert Dean
Kirby House Restaurant
|Friday - July 29,
2011: Five of us are on our first exploration of Kansas with the whole
family. Linda & I were just married in October and her daughters Mary
& Jesi are 18 & 21. We were joined by Jesi's fiancee, John.
Our first stop was
the Booth Hall of Athletics at the University of Kansas Allen Fieldhouse.
Linda & I had toured the sports museum before, but the girls had not.
Linda and the girls are huge KU fans, so it seemed an appropriate place
to start this Kansas tour. John is from Nebraska and not that interested
in watching team sports, but like me, he is learning that following KU
Basketball is part of the package of loving these women.
In the photo to the
right, another family is posing with the Phog Allen statue outside the
entrance to the Booth Hall of Athletics.
Our next stop was the
1884 First Presbyterian Church in Topeka. The building is very handsome,
with hand carved furnishings which were installed in 1935. The best known
feature of the building is the 100 year old Tiffany windows. Louis Tiffany
visited topeka and planned the windows which were installed in 1911. The
windows are only available for viewing and photographs on weekdays, so
it has taken me a long time to get here.
The next stop was the
Computing museum, located just 3 blocks away. The modest display fills
some no longer used store windows inside an office and retail building
near the Kansas State Capitol building. It is very low key and not staffed,
so I wanted to confirm that it is still in operation. The computer display
appears unchanged, but some of the other windows, lining the arcade, now
have other displays. One is devoted to the restoration and renovation of
the Jayhawk Theatre. Another is about the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority
which also occupies the building.
It takes just 5-10
minutes to see all of these displays and the youngest members of our party
remained in the van.
We continued west to
Wamego, Kansas for lunch at Friendship House, a bakery and restaurant.
Linda and I had been impressed when we are there three years ago, but this
time around, two of us have dietary restrictions and the menu is rather
limited. The food was still good, but it wasn't the treat it was before.
The best dishes sampled
were the cheese broccoli soup and the chicken enchiladas. The crust on
the strawberry rhubarb pie was flaky and good, but it isn't the favorite
pie of anyone in our party.
During the drive into
Wamego we had noticed the Whirling Earth Gallery and we stopped there on
the way back out of town. Whirling Earth has work by other artists, but
primarily sells the hand thrown pottery crafted in the studio in the back
by Bill Derek. We enjoyed the art work, our tour & demo in the studio
in the back, and meeting Bill 7 his wife, Lena. If they had a little larger
kitchen canisters, already in stock, they probably would have had a sale.
Before getting back
on I-70, we stopped at Alma Creamery
in Alma, where we sampled cheeses and bought some sausage and cheese for
the road. We were also going to visit Alma
Bakery & Sweet Shoppe, but it was gone. I have since learned that
they have moved out of the wonderful building they had occupied, into a
newer building off the main street, a block away.
We pushed on straight
to Lindsborg because I wanted to arrive at Hemslöjd while the artists
were still at work. Hemslöjd has been selling imported Swedish gifts
and handcrafted Dala horses since 1984. We liked the craft work (particularly
Christmas ornaments) but purchased only some imported chocolate.
After looking over
the rest of the Lindsborg shopping district, we checked into Seasons of
the Fox, an attractive bed & breakfast in a three story mansion near
After unpacking and
freshening up, we went down to the back parlor, where the Welcome to our
Inn Sheet said "Appeteasers of crudités, spreads and crackers
with house cider would be offered at 5:30 PM." The only thing setting out
was a small bowl of party mix, though after about 20 minutes we were offered
chilled, mulled apple cider which was good.
At 6 PM, we were back
in the van for a couple more stops. We drove north out Lindsborg, just
a few miles to Coronado Heights Park
- a scenic overlook, park and stone castle built by the WPA on a 300' promontory
dedicated to Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, who visited central Kansas
in 1541. It is a beautiful setting with a wonderful view and exploring
the little old castle and checking out the view in each direction was one
of the highlights of the weekend.
We arrived in Assaria
just in time for our 7 PM reservation at the Renaissance
Cafe - one of my favorite restaurants anywhere and a place I was wanting
to share with my new family.
Renaissance Cafe is
totally unexpected in a hundred year old high school gym in a Kansas town
of a few hundred people. With five of us, it was a wonderful opportunity
for me to sample a large selection of the Italian menu. Between us, we
had two types of steak, campanelle with escargot & pesto, pasta Renaissance
and chicken mozzarella.
My Steak Venato (ribeye
dredged in seasoned bread crumbs, grilled and smothered in a savory sauce
of brown mustard, shallots, mushrooms, cognac and cream) was outstanding.
The tender steak was one of the best I have ever had.
Chef Kevin O'Brien
stopped by the table between the main courses and desserts. It was a pleasure
introducing him to my family. We discussed the menu changes he has made
and it was a shame to learn that rising production costs have stopped him
from producing the Renaissance Cafe's Prairie Fire hot sauces.
Tonight was also a
chance for me to get a rare, tiny taste of the desserts I can no longer
eat. In addition to the complimentary amaretti cookies, our party ordered
bacon maple pound cake, chocolate sorrento, and blackberry spiced rum sorbet.
Although I didn't care for the pinot noir berry sauce on the side of the
wonderful dark chocolate torte, the desserts really were all great. In
case you wondered, yes you can taste the bacon in the pound cake.
Back at the Seasons
of the Fox, we were disappointed to learn that they do not have wifi. They
do have a computer available with an internet connection, but we had four
people wanting to use our laptops. I did get a brief chance to check on
The only TV was in
the public area on the main floor of the inn and a couple of our party
went down to check it out as well, as the evening sweets and beverages
which were mentioned on the web site and Welcome Sheet. They found the
innkeepers already settled in watching TV. They did not feel welcome and
were not offered anything. Supposedly there is another TV on the third
floor of the inn, but we were told the AC was off up there and we would
not be comfortable.
I took few exterior
photos, because the outside door was always locked and we could only reenter
by ringing the bell. Overall, we did not feel very welcome or comfortable
at this B&B. It wasn't terrible, but I would be unlikely to return.
Phog Allen statue outside Allen Fieldhouse
First Presbyterian Church
painting a Dala Horse at Hemslöjd
Seasons of the Fox garden waterfall
John, Mary & Linda at Coronado Heights
Renaissance Cafe desserts
|Thursday - July
28, 2011: Added a new review of the Marion
Historical Museum, which is the nicest historical museum of its size
I have found in Kansas.
For supper we went
to Woody's Pub & Grub, a small neighborhood bar and grill in Lenexa.
Woody's doesn't open until 4 PM and the menu is quite limited: seven burgers
& sandwiches, and seven appetizers or sides. The same man was trending
bar, cooking and waiting on tables. He did a pretty good job.
The food sampled was
all good, if not great. The $7.49 Tulsa tenderloin was a traditional pork
tenderloin sandwich. It came with fries, but we upgraded to onion rings.
The $7.99 Bleu Burger was 1/3 lb black angus beef topped with Cajun spices
& bleu cheese crumbles. The spices weren't that noticeable, but the
cheese was strung and good. It came with seasoned hand cut fries.
There was a problem
with the Coke and Diet Coke. They were flat because the lines run through
the hot, un-air conditioned basement.
Marion Historical Museum
|Tuesday - July
26, 2011: Updated the page on Nick
Schmeidler's Grassroot art environment in Lawrence, Lawrence, Kansas.
For lunch I drove to
Gardner, where I discovered that Fat Katz BBQ has suddenly closed. I had
lunch at Smoke'N Babes BBQ. The onion rings were good as always, but they
have changed the sauce on the chili sweet chicken wings. It was an oil
based sauce, but now it is sweet syrup. It wasn't bad, but I like the other
style much better.
When I commented on
the sauce, I was told that they were experimenting because the sauce they
usually use is only available in small bottles.
Nick Schmeidler Grassroot art environment
|Monday - July 25,
2011: Added a new review of the 137 year old Bowersock
Mills & Power Company in Lawrence.
We tried out the Dodge
City Distillery which opened 3 days ago in Olathe. A sign outside the restaurant
said, "Welcome to our Training Event" and there was a limited "training
I started with a bowl
of chili which I enjoyed. It was light on the beans and fairly heavy on
the spices. Some folks would have found it too spicy. We each tried burgers.
I miss read the menu and ordered the Texas burger (with chili on the burger)
when I intended to order the Doc Holiday burger (with bacon and gorgonzola
cheese). Linda had the Doc Holiday.
The 8 ounce burgers
were served on large, toasted, excellent buns. Linda's well done was properly
cooked, as was my medium. For $9, they included one side. There were only
three options and we both went with the fries. They were fresh and thick
cut - pretty good, but I would have them cooked a bit more and the serving
could have been a little larger.
The service was very
good. My only question is that we ordered Coke products and the bill said
they were Pepsi.
A small still has been
set up in the front of the store and in time they will be distilling vodka
Bowersock Mills & Power Plant
|Saturday - July
23, 2011: I drove to Lawrence, Kansas this morning, where my first
stop was at the Downtown Farmers' Market which claims to be the oldest
farmers market in Kansas. The Lawrence Farmers' Market is a producer
only market, which means that everything sold is grown, prepared or crafted
by its vendors. In addition to produce, baked goods and plants, there were
food vendors, musicians, grass fed beef, poultry, emu and elk. I limited
my purchases to some iris bulbs sold by Lawrence First United Methodist
The primary stop of
the day was at Bowersock Mills & Power Company where a tour was scheduled
at 10 AM. I was the only one taking the tour today and met the Plant Manager,
Rich Foreman. Rich is enthusiastic about the plant and we spent a very
enjoyable (though hot) hour and a half exploring the interesting old facility.
Bowersock is a small, family run business and the only operating hydroelectric
plant in Kansas.
The first dam at this
site was completed in 1874, but there have been many floods and damage
over the years. Much of the current facility (and some of its equipment)
date back over 100 years.
The seven hydroelectric
turbines in the plant are capable of producing enough electric power for
nearly 1800 homes. The Bowersock Mills & Power Company is building
a second power plant on the opposite bank of the Kansas River, where four
larger turbines will triple the capacity of the plant.
Lunch was at The Orient
Vietnamese Cuisine. I first dined at this restaurant 25 years ago and I
love the Phad Thai so much that I tended to order the same food over and
over, but it has been several years since my last visit. Lawrence has so
many good locally owned restaurants that even though I am in Lawrence 10
or more times a year, I can't keep up.
Today I tried totally
different, more recent additions to the menu - the fried chicken and braised
greens. The greens sounded great, "collard, turnip and mustard green braised
and served with ham hocks and simmered in their savory potlicker juices."
I am sure that some people love this dish, but it didn't work for me. I
could not find the meat, and the greens had a flavoring which I didn't
like. I usually like ginger, but think that was the spice I didn't like
in this dish.
The chicken looked
ordinary, but I was in for a big surprise when I bit into the first piece.
It was tender and wonderful. I've had fried chicken many times in the past
few weeks and this was definitely my favorite. The skin was battered in
gluten free, rice flour, crispy and very flavorful
At the end of the meal,
the proprietor, Nancy Nguyen, stopped by my table. We talked about the
chicken and the difficulties of promoting a small restaurant. I asked about
the coating of the chicken and she said that is was flavored in part by
a medicinal herb from Asia, whose name I didn't catch. Whatever it was,
it was great.
Before leaving Lawrence,
I made one more stop, at the Lawrence Art Center. The 36 year old art alliance
is involved in a wide spectrum of the arts. The youth theater is currently
performing Jason and the Argonauts; the lobby has a display of cardboard
& zip tie art by Juniper Tangpuz; the galleries had other exhibits
by Akiko Jackson & Tanya Hartman; and they have recently conducted
workshops and classes on art as diverse as jewelry making, metal working,
stained glass, sketching, painting, comic book art and prop making.
In the evening we drove
to Paola, Kansas planning to have German food at Beethoven's
9th, but they were closed this weekend for a vacation. Our second choice
was Hillsdale Bank BBQ in Hillsdale,
which we had not visited in over a year.
We had burnt ends,
pork ribs and spicy sausage and I thought every meat was very good. The
fresh cut fries were better than most French fries, but not stand out for
fresh cut. The coleslaw was good, but the baked beans and potato salad
were only average.
Prairie Acre performing at the Lawrence Farmers' Market
Turbines at Bowersock
Orient Vietnamese Cuisine
Juniper Tangpuz art
Hillsdale Bank BBQ
|Friday - July 22,
2011: Lunch was at Mom's Kitchen
in Olathe. I decided to go with the fried chicken. The menu and the waitress
both said that it would take 20 minutes, but I hoped it would take a little
less. It took 27.
The fried chicken was
slightly over done, but was still pretty good. So was the mashed potatoes
and gravy. The salad would have been decent, but I didn't like the "Chef's
Choice" dressing that came with it. I don't care to have their salad again.
|Thursday - July
21, 2011: Added a new page devoted to the Central
Park Springs & Waterfall in Marion, Kansas.
At noon, I paid a second
visit to Talk of the Town Grill & Bar in Overland Park. This time I
had the fish and chips for $9.99. I used to really like the coleslaw that
came with the fish & chips, but recipe has changed and there was too
much of a second vegetable which I didn't care for.
The chips were seasoned
waffle fries. They tasted pretty good, but I think they should warn people
that the fries will be seasoned. The fish was four small chunks of lightly
Service was very good.
It continues to be the best thing about Talk of the Town.
For supper, we tried
Dean & Deluca in Leawood, a market best known for expensive cheeses
and specialty foods. This location also serves ready to eat food and has
places to sit in the store and outside. It was a little confusing and the
cooked items we selected were all cold. They didn't offer to heat them,
so we took them home. With many of the meat dishes running $20-$32 a pound,
it is expensive leftovers.
Central Park Spring
Fish and chips
Dean & Deluca
|Tuesday - July
19, 2011: Added a new page devoted to Wright
Park Zoo in Dodge City, Kansas.
I revisited Smokin'
Joe's B-B-Q in Olathe for lunch today. The half smoked chicken was good
and I like the garlic coleslaw a lot.
Smokin' Joe's has a
new $12.99 sandwich, the Big Bad Joe - a 1 lb sandwich with beef, turkey,
pork, sausage, 2 pieces of bacon, pepper Jack & American cheese, spicy
sauce and French fries on the sandwich.
For supper I went to
Talk of the Town Grill & Bar in Overland Park for the first time in
a couple of years. Talk of the Town has a little better than average bar
food, good service and free wifi. Since this evening all appetizers were
$5, so I tried two of them - the chicken wings and the onion rings. The
rings were huge (the ranch dipping sauce in the photo is twice as big as
it looks) and quite good.
The wings were both
good. The North Carolina BBQ wings tasted of honey mustard and the Caribbean
Jerk were were sweet ginger.
Wright Park Zoo
onion rings at Talk of the Town Bar & Grill
|Sunday - July 17,
2011: The menu at the Peach Tree Buffet on Eastwood Trafficway in Kansas
City, Missouri is different each day of the week. Sunday isn't my first
choice, but I hadn't been to this down home restaurant for a couple of
years and today was a good chance to see if things had remained the same.
The building is very
plain. You pay for your meal before being seated and the service is so-so,
but the food is so good. The fried chicken and baked chicken were both
good, but I really liked a meat which I couldn't identify. It obviously
came from a large animal, but the taste reminded me of roast turkey dark
I finally asked someone,
and learned that it was beef neck bones. It was tender and tasted great!
No one else in my party was willing to try it.
Some of the sides weren't
as good as I remembered, but I can recommend the cornbread stuffing, candied
yams, and incredible peach cobbler.
Than we drove a few
miles to Starlight Theatre for the last night of the performance of the
musical Guys and Dolls. It was so hot and humid! There was no air movement
in the theater and a quarter of the audience didn't return after the intermission.
However, it was the
best show that I had seen performed at Starlight. The female leads were
weak, but the male performers (including the supporting cast) more than
made up for them.
Added a new page about
the Carnival Heritage Center
in Kinsley, Kansas.
Peach Tree Buffet
Carnival Heritage Center
|Saturday - July
16, 2011: After hearing more positive things about Char House on Johnson
Drive in Shawnee we decided to give it another try. We had their BBQ meat
before and was unimpressed.
The fried chicken was
very good. The pieces were fairly small and they were lightly coated -
more like pan friend, than the cast iron pot fried chicken at some of the
more famous Kansas chicken places. We had to return the bacon burger because
they forgot to put on the bacon, but it was otherwise fine.
The green beans were
also cooked with a little bacon. I know some people like them this way,
but they were overcooked for my taste. The corn bread was sweet and very
good. The onion rings were an unexpected treat - very good.
For supper, we had
our first meal at Avenue's Bistro in Leawood. We hadn't made a reservation,
but called as we were leaving the house and even on a Saturday night we
were seated in less than 5 minutes.
We decided to order
tapas, selecting five dishes. We thought they would come a bit scattered
in time, but our table was covered with dishes. Our favorite dish
was the Crab Rangoon dip. The warm dip reminded me of the whitefish spreads
from northern Michigan.
The Filet Tips &
Mushroom Cabreles (Spanish bleu cheese) was also very good, but I wouldn't
repeat any of the other dishes.
The Fiery Garlic Shrimp,
was very sweet, rather than hot. Too sweet for me. The Bacon Wrapped Dates
which the menu described as a "top 3" selling tapas was very rich. We each
enjoyed the first one, but didn't want more than one.
The Avenues Style Pomme
Frites were just ordinary French fries. I realized afterward that we were
supposed to get our choice of which dipping sauces came with it, but our
server didn't ask what we wanted. Linda cared for none od the sauces they
brought. I liked the BBQ Mayo.
The service was inconsistent,
regularly bringing me a new Diet Coke, but having to be asked to refill
Linda's iced tea.
The pricing was reasonable,
our total bill was $52. We will try Avenues Bistro a second time.
Fried chicken at Char House
|Friday - July 15,
2011: We paid a second visit to the new Rub Bar-B-Que in Olathe, Kansas.
ALthough the restaurant was busy on this Friday evening, the line to order
food moved fairly quickly. The brisket may have been better if it had been
hot. The smoked meat loaf should also have been warmer, but tasted pretty
good anyway. The onion straws and cheesy corn were both very good.
Updated & expanded
the review of the Kansas
Underground Salt Museum.
smoked meat loaf & brisket
|Thursday - July
14, 2011: Today's lunch was at Napoli's Italian Restaurant in Olathe.
The chicken parmigian and eggplant parmigian were both good, but the appetizers
continue to be the stand outs. We tried the $10.99 Napoli's Sampler: fried
mozzarella cheese, stuffed mushrooms, shrimp scampi, mussels marinara,
calamari and toasted ravioli. It was all good, with the creamy sauce on
the stuffed mushrooms being the best.
It was a lot of food.
Most of the entrees went home with us. The eggplant parmigian was better
the next day.
Updated and added new
photos to the review of Roy's
Pit BBQ in Hutchinson, Kansas.
|Wednesday - July
13, 2011: We had supper at Rice House Chinese Restaurant in Lenexa.
Rice House opened as a carry out restaurant about 3 years ago. The Subway
Restaurant which shared the small building with Rice House closed and they
have recently expanded into the whole building, adding a dining room and
The food was fairly
good. Even though we were a little late in the evening, most of the dishes
on the buffet seemed fresh and hot.
|Tuesday - July
12, 2011: We had our second lunch at the Santa Fe Cafe in Overland
Park. The lunch items on the menu are pretty much limited to sandwiches
and salads, but they continue to do a good job with everything I have tried.
I really need to get back here and try the breakfasts.
Supper was at KC Grill
and Kabob in Lenexa. Although most people go to KC Grill and Kabob for
their lunch & weekend buffet, I am more impressed with the items ordered
off of the menu. The salmon and lamb were both very good.
Learned today that
Waxy O'Shea's Irish Pub in Shawnee has closed. Their Branson, Missouri
location is remaining open.
KC Grill and Kabob
|Monday - July 11,
2011: For supper we paid a second visit to Saints Pub in Lenexa. There
AC was malfunctioning and it was in the mid 80s in the dinning room, but
we stayed. It was a little cooler by the time we left.
The Cajun onion rings
were and impressive presentation. 11 rings were stacked on a 10 inch rod
with two dipping sauces. The pork tenderloin was thick and tasty. The shoe
string fries were limp, but they were seasoned with garlic and still pretty
Added a new page devoted
Wind Farm in southwest Kansas.
Calamari at Saints Pub
|Sunday - July 10,
2011: We checked out the brand new McGuire's Tavern in Overland Park.
It has moved into the location recently vacated by the second location
of Hayward's Pit Barbeque. This is the third restaurant to go into this
location in less than 3 years.
The menu is somewhat
limited: 7 entrees, 4 salads & 9 sandwiches. But the food was very
good. I had a wedge salad and fish & chips, while Linda had the house
salad and shepherds pie. The shepherds pie came with fresh biscuits.
Added 4 pages of photos
from Friday night's Campbell
Awards Dinner to the MidAmercan
Fan Photo Archive.
|Saturday - July
9, 2011: We tried Bar West in Shawnee, Kansas for a second time. They
were very busy, with almost every table taken, but just one woman was waiting
on all the tables and tending the bar. Given the circumstances, she did
a great job.
Overall, the food is
average, but I was impressed with the hot chicken wings. Although they
look pretty conventional, I would say their flavor was unique, but they
do remind me of the great spicy chicken wings at Smokin' Babes in Gardner.
We had supper at Kauffman
Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri where we saw the KC Royals defeat the
Detroit Tigers 13 - 6. Yes that sounds like a football score. With so many
at bats, it was a long game, but it had started at 6:10PM so if wasn't
too late when the game ended. We had BBQ from the outlet in the outfield
and it was pretty good for ballpark food.
hot chicken wings
Kansas City Royals
|Friday - July 8,
2011: Lunch was at another brand new restaurant, Napoli's Italian Restaurant,
which just opened in the Olathe location recently vacated by Ari's
Greek Restaurant. The menu is long and varied.
I started with the
$4.99 Italian sausage appetizer - a generous serving of meat in a garlic
lemon sauce which I was tempted to lick off the plate.
I returned to the University
of Kansas, for the Campbell Awards Dinner where the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial
Award for best short science fiction in 2010 was presented to Geoffrey
A. Landis for "The Sultan of the Clouds" and the John W. Campbell Memorial
Award for the best science fiction novel of 2010 was presented to Ian McDonald
for The Dervish House. Both authors were there to receive their
The dinner and awards
ceremony were held at Mrs. E' Kitchen and followed by a party in a nearby
Added two pages of
photos from the previous night's Theodore
Sturgeon Reception to the MidAmercan
Fan Photo Archive.
|Thursday - July
7, 2011: I attended a reception and program held at Watson Library
on the University of Kansas campus where it was announced that the definitive
collection of late author Theodore Sturgeon's books, papers, manuscripts
and correspondence will be established at the Kenneth Spencer Research
Library at KU, which also is home to the Center for the Study of Science
Fiction. The Sturgeon collection, valued at $600,000, had been privately
held in two parts.
Before leaving Lawrence,
I had a late supper at the Burger Shack at the Casbah on Massachusetts.
The Burger Shack was originally at Dempsey's Irish Pub a few blocks away.
This new location has more room and works much better.
"The Brat" was very
good. The $4.95, 1/4 lb brat was covered with grannysmith sauerkraut, Budweiser
mustard & cracker jack cheese. The "Smoke Burger" was almost as good.
The $8.50 1/2 lb gourmet burger was topped with apple wood smoked bacon,
smoked gouda cheese and chipotle cocoa ketchup.
The onion rings were
good, but not up to the caliber of the sandwiches.
Theodore Sturgeon Reception
Burger Shack at the Casbah
|Wednesday - July
6, 2011: Lunch was at Mom's Kitchen in Olathe. It had been over a year
since the last time I was at Mom's Kitchen and it has made several nice
changes. There is now art on the walls and they have upgraded the service.
Meals come with the
choice of garlic toast or a warm loaf of good bread. I ordered the most
expensive item on the menu - the $11.99 hand cut char broiled KC Strip.
It was cooked medium rare, exactly the way I had ordered it, which many
finer restaurants fail to do. It was fairly heavily seasoned, which I liked,
but some people might be happier without it. In addition to the bread,
it came with a large salad and the choice of two sides. I went with corn
(fairly ordinary) and the fried potatoes (thin like potato chips, good!).
I sprang for grilled mushrooms and onions for an extra dollar.
Steak dinner at Mom's Kitchen
|Tuesday - July
5, 2011: Today, I tired Great Panda Buffet & Grill in Lenexa for
the first time. It is another of the large Chinese buffets that are common
in Kansas City. I took only one photo of the interior when the hostess
told me that photography is not permitted.
I'm not prepared to
evaluate the restaurant on just one visit. A number of the dishes have
a different twist, others are different than we have been seeing on the
other buffets. Several of them worked fairly well for me, but Linda was
less pleased with the dishes. They do not serve several of the ones she
likes best and is used to seeing.
Great Panda Buffet & Grill
|Monday - July 4,
2011: Though not very interesting, the Dodge House was more comfortable
than the more expensive B&Bs we had stayed at the previous two nights.
The breakfast included with the room was a fairly large buffet in the hotel
restaurant, and was the best breakfast of the weekend.
It has been 25 years
since I have visited the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, but I hadn't been
that impressed with it before and wasn't prepared to spend the $36 to $58
in fees for the two of us on admission and other activities just to view
it again. I emailed the museum a few days in advance to see if they would
waive admission, but never heard back from them, so we skipped the museum.
Before leaving Dodge
City, we revisited the Wright Park Zoo. It is one of the smallest zoos
in Kansas, but was larger than I remembered from my previous visit. Much
of the zoo is old, but there is more room and better facilities for the
animals than many WPA zoos.
Starting toward home
on US 56, we stopped again in Spearville for more photos, than turned off
a few miles to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. The ornate brick building
is no longer used as a church, but a small group of people preserve the
building and keep it open daily. It may be the most ornate church interior
that I have seen in Kansas.
Back on US 56, we stopped
briefly for more photos, but the only real stop along this stretch was
at Pawnee Rock State Historic Site in the community of Pawnee Rock. It
was the only attraction in two days where we saw other visitors. It is
a shame that more people aren't seeing this beautiful state.
We had lunch at Page
An American Bistro in Great Bend. The sports bar shares a building and
rest rooms with a Perkins Restaurant. It was one of the better meals of
the weekend. I liked the garlic roasted mashed potatoes and the unusual
sausage & beef meat loaf.
After lunch, we stopped
at the Great Bend Zoo. I have been there a couple of times before, but
not since the Raptor Center opened. The Center doubles as the zoo entrance
and the public areas are devoted to bird of prey education, rather than
seeing the birds. We went through part of the zoo, but it was about 100
degrees and we passed cage after cage where the animals were invisible.
Before leaving Great
Bend, we drove past the home of Grassroots Artist, Bob Mix, whose are we
had seen at the zoo. There are fewer of his unusual metal sculptures on
display in the yard than there had been when I was there before, but the
work is still very interesting.
US 56 heads east from
Great Bend and we stayed on it, with another stop at The Well in McPherson.
The Well is a large Christian bookstore with lots of seating and a good
beverage & pastry area where we got refreshments for the road.
Continuing east, we
finally left 56 and drove along the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway from
Strong City to Council Grove.
Our supper was at the
Trail Days Cafe & Museum in the oldest stone building on the Santa
Fe Trail. It had been three years since our previous visit and the menu
has changed and expanded with sections devoted to food from the American
Indian, Old World, Early American, 20th Century and vegetarian.
We both ordered dishes
from the American Indian section: roast buffalo and elk. Though they need
a little salt, they were quite good, as were our side dishes: corn, squash,
homemade apple sauce and Indian Bread. I had their last bowl of chili.
It was a little tame, but was served with chili powder on the side so I
could spice it up.
We waited until after
I had paid, to identify ourselves. I have exchanged emails with Shirley
McClintock. She follows my blog and wanted to congratulate us on last year's
marriage. She is a lot of fun and so enthusiastic about the museum &
It was hard tearing
ourselves away, but it was getting late and we wanted to return to Lenexa
The total driving during
the 3 day Kansas weekend was over 1,000 miles.
Wright Park Zoo
Immaculate Heart of Mary Church
The view from Pawnee Rock
Yawning Tiger at Great Bend Zoo
Shirley McClintock showing off Trail Days new chickens
|Sunday - July 3,
2011: Sunday morning's breakfast at Hedrick's
Exotic Animal Farm Bed and Breakfast was the kind of meal typical of
a larger motel restaurant. There was cereal, bagels and fruit, along with
a station to make your own waffle. There was also sausage and scrambled
At 10AM, there would
be a longer tour of the animal farm and a chance for rides, but we had
to go on the road for an appointment in Kinsley. When I booked the trip,
it looked like the evening and morning tours were the same.
We had a little trouble
locating the Carnival Heritage Center, but finally found the building where
most of the collection has moved. It is normally closed on weekends, but
John Ploger generously agreed to meet us on a Sunday morning. He had to
leave before we had seen most of the collection, but handed us off to Shirley
Watson who finished our tour. Both know a great deal about Kinsley's Carnival
history and are passionate about it.
Between 1907 and the
1980s Kinsley was home to six carnival companies. The Heritage Center is
assembling artifacts related to those companies. They have all of the parts
of a double deck carousel, except the horses, and local artists have recreated
classic carousel horses which will someday be used when the carousel is
Large portions of the
collection are not set up in organized displays at this time, but our guides
made it all interesting and we stayed much longer than I intended.
Now slightly behind
my schedule, we pushed southwest with only a brief stop to photograph the
Spearville Wind Energy Facility.
This section of the
state has few restaurants that have recommendations on-line, and many of
the restaurants are closed on Sunday. We had lunch at Norma's Antonio's
Cafe (not a typo). Norma's was busy and the service was slow. The server
forgot to bring chips or tortillas, but with the meal taking a long time,
we didn't demand them. The shrimp basket and the beef fajitas were OK,
but the meal wasn't a treat and I felt like this meal was a lost opportunity
- I don't get to this part of the state very often.
We continued to Elkhart,
Kansas, then headed west on State Line Road to Eight Mile Corner where
a windmill marks the intersection of Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas. Linda
posed for the obligatory photo standing in all three states. We saw mule
deer (perhaps the same one) both coming & going and saw just one prairie
dog at the prairie dog town east of the Colorado border. I'm sure we would
have seen many more it we could have tarried more than a few minutes.
I loved the combination
of the colors and light in this area, which made several of my photos look
We drove back to Elkhart,
then turned north into the Cimarron National Grassland, which is the only
one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas which I hadn't previously visited. We
made a number of stops in the Grassland, following the ruts of the Santa
Fe Trail for several miles. We found that a long stretch of wooded area
along the Cimarron River had been burned just a few weeks ago.
We returned northwest
to spend the night at the Dodge House Hotel Convention Center in Dodge
City. I had called Mariah Hills Steak & Ale a couple of days earlier
to check their holiday weekend hours, but when we arrived at the country
club restaurant it was closed. Local restaurant options were limited and
with it getting late, we had supper at an Applebee's. The food was fine,
but once again, it was a wasted opportunity.
This baby zebra was born the day we arrived
Carnival Heritage Center
Eight Mile Corner windmill
mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus)
Point of Rocks
|Saturday - July
2, 2011: The Historic Elgin Hotel B&B is a restored 1886 hotel
in Marion, Kansas. The owners live on the the third floor and the second
floor has been turned into an eight room bed and breakfast. The hotel is
gorgeous! We had the largest room - number 205, which is called a suite,
but is just a slightly larger room with a large Jacuzzi tub.
It was all beautiful
and fun, if not necessarily comfortable. There is no place to hang clothes,
open suitcases, lay down toiletries in the bathroom, etc. There is no telephone
or hair dryer and the TV is in a parlor near the kitchen. The wifi did
not reach our room, so I used it in the parlor and got to know some of
the other guests. We also enjoyed reading a photographic history of Marion
which has had many floods over the years.
Breakfast was a little
limited, compared to other B&Bs I have visited. There was just a good
pecan French toast and ordinary breakfast sausage links.
We explored Marion
this morning. The 1906 Marion County Courthouse was beautiful, but hard
to photograph because of the trees on the grounds. The nearby Marion City
Library is in an old Historic Santa Fe Depot.
Marion's Central Park
was hosting the community's Sesquicentennial Car Show and the annual Marion
County Antique Flea Market. There were only 5 or 6 exhibitors in the flea
market and they had mostly crafts for sale. Considering the many antique
shops in Marion, that was a bit of a surprise. The car show was much larger,
with many vehicles in place by 10AM and more arriving.
The east side of the
park has a small waterfall above a spring which has been used since 1860.
There is also a recently added manmade waterfall which feed into the spring
from the side. Thank you to Judi Stewart to telling me about these falls!
The corner of the park
also houses the in an 1887 Baptist Church. This is the nicest historical
museum of its size that I have found in Kansas. It is roomy and well lighted
with attractive, clever displays. I wish we could have spent more than
a half hour there, but there was much more of Kansas to see this day.
We continued on to
Hutchinson, arriving at Roy's
Hickory Pit BBQ a little before noon. The line waiting to order food
was the width of the main room and 3/4 of the length of the exterior of
the restaurant when we arrived. We made friends with other people in line
and discovered we might as well have arrived a little bit later. We were
inside the building before more people got in line behind us.
The small family run
restaurant is 29 years old and is just open on Monday - Saturday, from
11AM until 3PM or "until the meat is gone." When we left the restaurant
neat 1PM, they were out of everything but the hot links.
I'm not impressed with
the side dishes at Roy's, but the meats are very good. My favorite was
the mild Polish sausage, which surprised me, I am a "hot" food lover. I
also liked the brisket & ribs. Linda and other people we spoke with
were fans of the turkey. The Texas toast is fried on a grill and very good.
The price is quite
reasonable One meat and all you can eat of the side dishes is $9.50. Two
meats are $10, 3 meats are $10.75 and four choices are $12.50.
We did the 2PM tour
of the Kansas Underground
Salt Museum. The tour begins with a safety briefing and everyone is
issued a hard hat and an emergency breathing apparatus. Then the tour goes
down 650 feet in a crowded, dark double decked elevator. The guides will
leave the elevator lights on if someone has trouble with the 90 second
After a brief welcome
to the Permian Sea, everyone is free to do things at their own pace. There
are mining galleries and an interesting large display of movie memorabilia
from Underground Vaults & Storage. a company which uses portions of
the mine as secure storage.
The main purpose of
this visit was to ride the Salt Mine Express, which just open in March.
The narrow gage railroad formerly operated at the Hutchinson Zoo and was
converted to run on electricity when the zoo purchased a new train.
We had an enjoyable
2 1/4 hours in the Museum. A typical visit including all the options would
run 1 to 3 hours depending on how much time is spent reading displays,
riding tours and watching videos. Admission runs From $13.25 to $18 for
adults, depending on if tram & train rides in the mine are included
in the visit to the museum.
We had just a little
time remaining before supper and stopped at the Hutchinson
Zoo. I was disappointed to learn that the new Cargill Wildcare Center
is not open to the public. The $350,000 building is used for animal rehabilitation
and at (least at this time) has no provision for letting visors see the
animals or work. Additionally, large portions of the zoo are torn up for
construction and I would postpone visits to the zoo this summer.
We had supper at Skaet's
Steak Shop, a diner on the edge of the Kansas State Fair Grounds that opened
in 1949. We had been impressed with the breakfast we had there last year,
but were a little less impressed with this meal, particularly the Kansas
City Strip. The ham steak and baked potato were good, though the loaded
baked potato was a little unusual. There were a about 5 toppings, but they
were all on the side. There was even a paper cup with large pieces of bacon.
Then we drove a few
miles northwest to the small community of Nickerson, to Hedrick's
Exotic Animal Farm Bed and Breakfast where we had reserved the ostrich
suite. I toured Hedrick's farm years ago, but had never stayed at the B&B.
In addition to having the farm, Hedrick's has several petting zoos in the
state & county fair circuit and supplies animals to other events such
as camels for Radio City Music Hall.
Our suite was attractive
and came with a hot tub in one end of a side room that is described as
a sitting room. I can't really imagine anyone using the sofa in that hot,
The evening kicked
off with a tour of part of the farm with other families staying at the
B&B. The three other couples each had two children in the 4-7 year
old age range and they had a ball with the kangaroos including one with
a Joey in her pouch. Following the tour, we walked the rest of the grounds
on our own and saw camels, emus, giraffes, ostriches, zebras and other
animals. One of the zebras had been born that morning, but we were not
able to get very close. The giraffes were quite friendly.
Returning to the community
room in the B&B, we found fresh baked cookies waiting and got to know
some of the other guests. The room had quite few games and Linda and I
played ping pong before calling it a night.
Historic Elgin Hotel B&B
Marion City Library
Central Park Spring
Marion Historical Museum
Waiting to order at Roy's Hickory Pit BBQ
Our Engineer and the new Salt Mine Express
Cargill Wildcare Center
Skaet's Steak Shop
Linda & giraffe
|Friday - July 1,
2011: July 4 is one of only two holidays my employer is closing in
2011, so we decided to take advantage of the 3 day weekend to travel to
the far southwest corner of Kansas.
Our trip began late
Friday afternoon and we headed out of the Kansas City area on I-35, turning
west at Emporia and making our first stop at the bridge and dam in Cottonwood
Falls. The water flow over the dam was about average and it was a lovely
evening as the temperature started to back down from the day's high. The
temperature would peak near or above 100 degrees every day of the trip.
My favorite thing at
the Cottonwood Falls Dam and Bridge
is watching the catfish and turtles in the Cottonwood River below.
Our supper was at the
Grand Central Hotel & Grill, a couple of blocks away. The Grand Central
is the only hotel in Kansas to receive Triple A's 4 diamonds. I like the
the neat brick building, which has been a hotel since 1884.
A piano was being played
in the corner and the setting was very pleasant. Unfortunately, for the
second time the service did not live up to the diamonds. We were ignored
for long periods and the kitchen was slow. The food was good, but not outstanding.
My rib eye was the best of the items we sampled. It was cooked more than
the medium rare I had requested, was still juicy and tasted great.
The onion rings were
huge and attractive, but suffered from comparison to better tasting similar
style rings at Fiorella's Jack Stack in Kansas City. The chicken
kabob had a good flavor from the marinating, but the bits of meat were
tiny. I don't think they totaled more than 3 ounces of meat.
After dinner, we walked
up and down Broadway where musicians were playing outside the Emma Chase
Cafe near the Chase County Courthouse.
We drove on to Marion,
Kansas where we spent the night at the Historic Elgin Hotel B&B. There
will be more about the Elgin Hotel in tomorrow's blog.
red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans)
Grand Central Hotel & Grill
Listening to music outside the Emma Chase Cafe
Month Kansas Travel
April May June
October November December
April May June
February March April
May June July
August September October November
April May June
April May June
April May June
April May June
June July August