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& photographing Kansas restaurants, attractions, museums, festivals
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|Sunday - July 1,
2012: With another 100 degree day coming, we drove out to Fort
Larned National Historic Site, first thing in the morning. There have
been a few changes since I visited the Fort in 2006. There is now a mockup
of the Fort cemetery, and a memorial marker which had been moved to the
Larned Cemetery has been returned. Those soldiers who had been buried at
Fort Larned were moved to the National Cemetery at Fort Leavenworth, years
There were also living
history exhibits which I hadn't seen previously. Pete the blacksmith was
at work and he made us a wall hook, explaining the steps he took along
the way. There was also a young woman portraying an officer's wife, who
was playing the piano as we entered the officer's quarters, and then showed
us through the building.
On the way back toward
Larned, we also visited the Santa Fe Trail Center, a locally run museum
devoted to the history of the Santa Fe Trail. The Center was created by
the Fort Larned Historical Society, who originally had a museum at the
Fort, but lost the space when the Fort became a National Historic Site.
In addition to a museum
and gift shop, the grounds have a collection of old buildings which have
been moved to this site or recreated. More recently, the Trail Center has
added additional buildings with exhibits of historic farm equipment and
automobiles. The structure which I found the most interesting was the cooling
house which was originally built about 1870.
There was just one
more stop on our way back to Johnson County, we had lunch at Diane's Diner
in Great Bend. Our experience was mixed. Linda's cheeseburger and onion
rings were good, but overall, the buffet was just so-so. With one exception,
the fried chicken was very good. This chicken tasted so good after sitting
for sometime, that I would like to return to Diane's and order fresh made.
We arrived at 1:30
and the restaurant was going to close at 2PM. Most of the staff were eating
their lunch at the next table, which would have been fine, except they
were loudly talking about bad experiences that they had with other customers.
It was inappropriate.
Returned 1867 Fort Larned monument
Santa Fe Trail Center
|Monday - July 2,
2012: Linda joined me in checking out Backfire Barbeque at The
Legends in Kansas City, Kansas. It was the first time I had been there
in over a year. They have made a few changes to the menu, but the restaurant
is otherwise mostly unchanged. The best of the four meats sampled were
the sausage and the smoked chicken. The grilled corn on the cob was very
good. The fries were the best item of the remaining sides.
The three year old
restaurant could use a little sprucing up. Things are starting to look
a little worn and there was a broken water fixture in the men's room.
|Thursday - July
5, 2012: I photographed The Sole of Downtown cowboy boot
by Diane Porter Triplett that is now displayed at the Olathe, Kansas City
Street Maintenance facility. It is the fourth giant boot from the 2007
Home! Cowboy Boots! exhibit around Olathe in 2007.
Thank you to Pastor Ryan K. Nelson for telling me where
this boot is displayed.
|Friday - July 6,
2012: Tonight was the annual presentation of the Theodore Sturgeon
Memorial Award for the best short science fiction of the year and the John
W. Campbell Memorial Award for the best science fiction novel of the year
at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The awards banquet and presentations
are the opening event of the Campbell Conference.
This was the first
year that the conference was held at the new Oread Hotel.
This year, only one
of the award recipients was present to receive their award. Joan Slonczewski
was there to accept the Campbell Award for the novel, The Highest Frontier.
In the photo to your right, she is posing with Science Fiction Grand Master
Games Gunn, who is a professor emeritus of English at the University of
The second photo at
the right is the sun setting over Memorial Stadium at the University of
Photos of the Award
Ceremony at our sister web site, the MidAmerican
Fan Photo Archive.
James Gunn, Joan Slonczewski
|Tuesday - July
10, 2012: Updated the review of the Shawnee
Indian Mission in Fairway, Kansas with the new shorter hours and higher
|Friday - July 13,
2012: Tonight's supper was at Cafe Casbah in Overland Park. I had just
recently learned of this Mediterranean restaurant on Central Standard Friday
on KCUR (Kansas City Public Radio). THe restaurant offers a "fine dinning"
experience, but we were not out of place being there in shorts.
We began with the seafood
bisque, which was highly recommended. It was thick, rich and full of seafood,
including two huge shrimp in each bowl. It was super good.
We sampled three entrees
- Shrimp Casbah, Shrimp Fettuccine and rack of lamb with garlic sauce.
The fettuccine was good, but nothing special. The Shrimp Casbah had a lobster
sauce and was better. The stand out was the lamb, both for flavor and value.
That was a lot of lamb for $29.99 (including salad, vegetable, saffron
rice and a really good fried zucchini.
We will be making a
second visit to Cafe Casbah, soon!
rack of lamb
|Sunday - July 15,
2012: We paid a third visit to Joy Wok in south Overland Park. We first
tired this enormous Chinese buffet in February and were blown away with
the selection and quality. But a second visit in March had not been nearly
Tonight's visit was
somewhere in between. This was good food, but it wasn't as well kept as
I wan to give the restaurant an outstanding grade. The short ribs, appetizers
and tradition dishes were fairly good. The seafood that justifies the higher
($13) price was less consistent. The snow crab was hot, good and not overcooked.
The frog legs had a good flavor, but they were not hot and were not replenished
when they ran out. The spicy shrimp cooked in the shell was also just luke
|Thursday - July
19, 2012: I went to the Downtown
Diner in Olathe to check out today's lunch special - homemade German
Roulade - thin steak rolled around a stuffing and wrapped in bacon. Very
Updated and slightly
expanded the reviews of the Butterfield
Trail Museum and Historical Museum in Russell Springs and the Shawnee
Indian Mission in Fairway.
|Friday - July 20,
2012: I spent this evening revisiting places in Kansas City, Kansas,
starting with Christy's
Tasty Queen in the Turner District.
There are no tables
or chairs at Christy's just a window where you order and a small area to
stand while the food is prepared. There are four picnic tables behind the
restaurant for dining and the table which was in the shade was popular
on this 100 degree day.
Christy's pork tenderloin
is the best that I have had anywhere in the Kansas City area.
Then on to downtown
Kansas City to the
Huron Indian Cemetery, next to the 7th Street Casino. The years of
battle to keep this cemetery have many interesting stories, but my favorite
is that of the daughters of Andrew Syrenus Conley (who is buried in the
cemetery). Eliza Burton Conley became the first Native American woman admitted
to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. She and her sister, Helena,
lived in the cemetery for two years to protect it and Helena cursed anyone
who intruded upon the cemetery.
the cemetery, I met a man who said that he had just been released after
20 years in prison and had just learned that his family had died while
he was imprisoned.
The final stop was
Jack's Fresh Fish, about a mile away. This tiny dive is half fish market,
half restaurant. I ordered a half pound of fried oysters and they were
Jack's is mostly about
take out. The seating is limited, your food is bagged to go even if you
are dining in, and the utensils are flimsy plastic.
Christy's Tasty Queen
Huron Indian Cemetery
Mad Jack's Fresh Fish
|Saturday - July
21, 2012: I learned that today is the last day that the Mediterranean
Market & Restaurant in Overland Park will be open.
|Tuesday - July
24, 2012: I had lunch at Mai Thai, a Thai restaurant which opened a
little over a year ago in Overland Park. There were many lunch combinations
priced at $7.95 and $8.95. I selected the Massaman Curry, a thick, creamy
southern Thai dish with chicken, potatoes, onions and roasted peanuts.
I requested spicy and they hit just the right level. For $8.95 it came
with hot and sour soup, steamed rice and two tiny crab Rangoon.
|Wednesday - July
25, 2012: I drove to Overland Park to revisit the Thai Home Place,
but discovered that it has closed since my previous visit. That is sad
news. Thai Home Place was the best of the nice selection of Thai restaurants
in Overland Park.
I substituted Talk
of the Town Grill & Bar, which was so busy that I had to wait 5
minutes to get a menu. Today's special was half price burgers, so I went
with the Patty Melt, which is usually $7.69, including a side of fries.
It was good, but next time I would go with the mushroom burger with burgundy
sautéed mushrooms, sour cream, green onions and Monterey Jack Cheese.
|Thursday - July
26, 2012: Mary joined us in checking out Bo Lings, a Chinese
restaurant in Lenexa, across from Oak Park Mall. Although this is the first
time I have been to this Bo Lings location, I have been to three of the
other five locations in the Kansas City area.
We began with two appetizers,
Crab Rangoon and Crispy Chinese Eggplant. I liked the soy garlic dipping
sauce that came with the tempura eggplant. Our entrees were the Honey Walnut
Shrimp, Shrimp & Lobster Sauce, and Sichuan Gon Bao. I thought that
all three were good, better than Linda and Mary did. The Sichuan Gon Bao
(stir fried chicken with chili, peanuts and hot peppers) didn't have that
much flavor, and was my least favorite dish.
|Friday - July 27,
2012: Linda and I drove to Omaha to photograph the OSFest science fiction
convention for our sister web site, the Fan
On our way out of the
metro area, we stopped for lunch at a Kansas City restaurant which I had
never heard of before today, R & J Barbeque on Parallel Parkway, a
couple of miles from the Legends.
I really want to like
every restaurant which I visit and look for things to like, but R &
J really disappointed me. The onion rings were fairly good, but was the
only positive. The meats (ribs, pork, beef) had no flavor from the smoking.
I actually thought they had been cooked in a convention oven and had to
confirm that there was a smokestack and wood pile on the back of the restaurant
after the meal. There was.
The fries were limp
and made from frozen. The slaw was cut extremely thin and and had a sour
flavor which I found unpleasant. The "Texas Toast" was ordinary slices
of toasted bread.
The service was inattentive,
not checking if I wanted more pop or needed anything else. The server and
chef both acted outright hostile.
Supper in Omaha was
at a much more interesting restaurant. The Bohemian Cafe has been serving
Czech food since 1924. They really went with the Bohemian theme, with elaborate
hand painted tiles on the exterior of the building, music, interior decorations
and server costumes.
We had Polish sausage
and breaded sweetbreads. Those meats were the best part of the meal. We
didn't care much for the dumplings, sauerkraut or potatoes.
The meals were much
better the next two days.
R & J Barbeque
|Saturday - July
28, 2012: Saturday's lunch was at Amato's Deli, about a mile from the
hotel. The breakfast & lunch only Italian restaurant has appeared on
Diners, Dinettes & Dives, and on Man Versus Food. They make their sausage
and ricotta cheese daily. The ricotta pancakes with fruit and sausage were
both good. The bacon was better. My favorite dish was the Gut Buster Omelet
(hot Italian sausage, ham, pepperoni & pepper jack cheese).
Jesi joined us for
supper at The Dover, which was even closer to the convention hotel. It
is one of the many Omaha steakhouses which are only open in the evening.
We began with the grilled bacon wrapped shrimp garnished with small whole
mushrooms. They were good, but I thought the best part of the dish was
the creamy citrus horseradish dipping sauce.
The Dover is an old
style restaurant, feeling very 70s. When we went to the salad bar, we were
amused to spot large piles of plates with apple rings on them waiting for
entrees to be plated.
My bone-in ribeye was
very good and cooked exactly has ordered. The skin-on fries were good.
The baked potatoes were good and huge, piled high with sour cream.
The evening at the
OSFest convention included some of the best photography opportunities.
There was an art auction, followed by the Masquerade (a costume contest
held at most science fiction conventions). The Masquerade was followed
by something more unusual, a Klingon wedding. Not a performance of one,
an actual marriage. I've attended perhaps 5 or 6 weddings at conventions
and was in the wedding party of one that was pirate theme, but this was
the first Klingon wedding which I have attended. More photos of the wedding
and links to other photographs from the convention.
|Sunday - July 29,
2012: Our final meal of the trip was at Shirley's Diner. Shirley's
is in a very plain strip mall, but the interior is filled with 50s memorabilia
and toys. Every dish tried there was very good, including French toast,
chili, hash browns and onion rings. Linda was happy with the Canadian Sunrise
of homemade biscuits piled with grilled ham steak, scrambled eggs and country
cream sausage gravy.
I really wanted the
chicken fried steak, but decided on a Omaha regional dish - Cheese Frenchees.
They were originated by a Lincoln, Nebraska chain called King's Food Host.
They start as an American cheese sandwich with mayo, the crust is trimmed
and it is cut in quarters, frozen, coated with French dressing, rolled
in corn flakes and deep fried. They were very good!
I've since learned
that there was once a King's Food Host in Olathe, Kansas.
|Tuesday - July
31, 2012: At lunch I paid a second visit to Mai Thai in Overland Park.
Mai Thai does something at lunch time which I think many restaurants should
copy - they offer lunch priced appetizers. At many restaurants an appetizer
at noon costs more than a complete meal.
So I started with the
Fried dumplings. There were six dumplings stuffed with minced pork &
vegetables and served with homemade dumpling sauce. It was my favorite
part of the meal (particularly the tasty, but simple sauce) and something
I would order again.
The Thai Herbs Beef
(which name they have trademarked) is described as a touch of hot, healthy
Thai herbs made with red curry sauce, wild ginger root, green pepper, bell
pepper, green beans, bamboo and sweet basil leaves. I ordered it spicy
and it was near the limit of what I still find enjoyable. Unfortunately,
there was a spice which I really didn't care for. It might have been the
specific kind of ginger which they used.
The meal including
rice, two small crab Rangoon and hot & sour soup cost $8.95 without
For supper, Linda joined
me in revisit of Elsa's Ethiopian Restaurant in downtown Overland Park.
There had been a couple of changes since are last visit, last fall. There
was a new menu and their was a change in servers. The previous two times,
the server had very poor English and communication had been difficult.
This server had perfect English, in fact she wasn't sure how to pronounce
some of the Ethiopian dishes.
The fine chopped salad
with house garlic & oil dressing was good and I loved the Doro Wat
(spicy beef). Linda's chicken Pasta BeSiga was described as being marinated
in rosemary and awaze (spicy sauce), then pan fried with hot peppers, tomato,
onion and greens. But it just tasted like spaghetti with chicken.
Thai Herbs Beef
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