Kansas Travel Blog

Chronicling changes to KansasTravel.org and Keith's exploration & photographing Kansas restaurants, attractions, museums, festivals and art. Contact him.
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Miami County Courthouse in Paola, Kansas
Saturday - March 1, 2014: We returned to Hayward's Barbeque in Overland Park, to see what changes have been made in the month since it changed hands. It appears that little has changed since our meal there on February 3. The dishes sampled were pork ribs, burnt ends, sausage, chicken, French fries, and onion rings. All were OK, but none would really bring me in. We will give it a few more months before another try.


Hayward's Barbeque - Overland Park, Kansas Hayward's Barbeque
Monday - March 3, 2014: I had lunch at Chosun Korean BBQ in Overland Park. It had been about a year since my last meal here and I had discovered that the review had not been updated in nearly 3 years.

I had nakji bokeum (sliced octopus and fresh vegetables in a spicy sauce). I enjoyed this dish, but it isn't as spicy as I like. In addition to steamed rice, the meal came with kimchi, pickled radish, tofu, sprouts, noodles and pickled cucumber.


Chosun Korean BBQ - Overland Park, Kansas Chosun Korean BBQ
Thursday - March 6, 2014: I'm off to northern Michigan. The next three days should include ice caves, frozen waterfalls, ice locked lighthouses and an ice locked Mackinac Island for my other web site - MightyMac.org. This trip will depend on the weather. It is all about winter photography. It shouldn't be TOO cold, about 20 degrees by day and 10 by night, but I want sunlight for the photography I am hoping for. 

I flew out this afternoon, changing planes in Detroit, with supper at National Coney Island in the airport. It is my 2nd favorite airport restaurant - nothing fancy, but I developed a taste for Coney Islands and chili fries when I lived in the Detroit area in the early '80s. Coney Islands are to Detroit, what BBQ is to Kansas City. Well it isn't quite that dramatic, but they are a local specialty food with a hundred year history.

The flight on up to Marquette went quickly. I sat next to a former Marquette Mayor and we talked all the way. He took the info about my travel web sites and gave me a card in case he can ever be a help.

Munising is about 40 miles away and though there was some drifting across the highway, the drive was easy. Munising has a lot of snow. Driving to my motel on residential streets, the snow at the sides of the streets was taller than the rental car.

I spent the night at the Terrace Motel, a small, older motel that has good reviews and low prices. There was trouble with the door to my room, but everything was otherwise OK.



National Coney Island chili dogs chili dogs at National Coney Island

Room Four at the Terrace Motel in Munising, Michigan Terrace Motel

Friday - March 7, 2014: I was hoping to start the day with photography of the lighthouse and ice caves about 3/4 mile off the Munising shore on Grand Island, but it was overcast and snowy. I did visit two frozen waterfalls Munising Falls (Munising Falls and Alger Falls), since they were easy to reach. One is right next to the highway and the other was only about 100 yards on a fairly well packed trail. With the poor light and falling snow none of the photos are worth bragging about.

The drive down the Straits of Mackinac was uneventful. The sky grew a little brighter and I stopped for photos at the Cut River Bridge, a 641' foot long, 147' high bridge over a river which can be jumped over with a running start.

Arriving a St. Ignace, I snapped a few quick photos of the Mackinac Bridge, then went to the Mackinac County Airport to catch the 12:30 flight to Mackinac Island. Great Lakes Air provides 5 scheduled flights daily during the period of winter when the ferries are unable to run. The fare is $50 round trip and the flight is only about 5 minutes total time. Our departure was delayed when a couple with two very young children arrived as we were about to depart. I went from being the only passenger to riding a full plane.

The flight was very quick, though we did make a pass over the Island's downtown so we could approach the Mackinac Island runway from the east. The two children were so small that they could not see out through the windows.

I had called for a horse drawn taxi to meet the flight and invited the family to share the ride into town. The taxi was driven by George Wellington, the same man who drove me during my last winter visit in 2008. He isn't very talkative, but we did confirm that we have some friends in common. George is an interesting man who retired after 30 some years of working for Mackinac State Historic Parks. He appeared in the episode of the TV show Dirty Jobs which was tapped on Mackinac Island.

After dropping the young family at the Pontiac Lodge, George took me down the main street and to the east side of town to Bogan Lane Inn. The 4 room B&B is run by the daughter and mother team of Trish and Alice Martin. I never did meet Alice, but Trish and their dog, Jake, showed me around the house and to my room upstairs in the front. Normally two rooms share a bathroom, but I was the only guest on this Friday night and had the upstairs to myself.

When I told Trish that I was on Mackinac Island for winter photography and hoping for clear & bright weather, she said that she had heard the same thing from a three person team from Midwest Living magazine a few weeks earlier.

The room was comfortable despite having just twin beds. I hadn't slept in one of them since traveling in Europe. 

I had no encounters with the ghost of a little girl who has been reported as playing the piano in the B&B.

I quickly headed back out into the light snow and walked back toward the downtown, taking photos along the way. I went to the Mustang Lounge, one of the two places open for meals on the Island this winter. The side street in front of the bar & grill was packed with parked snowmobiles and the dining areas were full of tourists who had driven over to Mackinac Island on the ice bridge.

The winter menu at the Mustang is more limited than in summer and I was disappointed to find that the only fish on the menu was cod. I settled on a $10.99 bacon and Cheddar burger. The burger was fine. The French fries which came with it had been battered before deep frying, but I can't say that it improved them any. Service was slow, but that was perfectly understandable, considering how busy the Mustang Lounge was.

The wind had picked up, adding blowing snow to the that which was falling and making the photography harder after lunch. I circled around toward the Mackinac Island Public School. School had let out while I was on the way, but some children were still leaving or being picked up by parents on snowmobiles. The wind had picked up even more and it was fun watching the children playing on top of 8' snow banks, not noticing weather which would have shut down everything at home.

After a another hour of trying to take photos in the snow and poor light, I stopped to pick up a few things at Doud's Market, a family owned grocery which has been in business since 1884, picked up some snacks and returned to the B&B for some down time.

I went back out for more photography after dark. After some photos of Fort Mackinac and the main street, I went on to the other restaurant open in the winter.

Cawthorne's Village Inn was the Village Inn for 30 years, but was renamed and taken over by the Grand Hotel in 2011. I was joined for dinner by Todd Anderson. Todd Is doing a restoration of the 18 acre grounds of Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island and has provided many photos for use on the MightyMac.org - The Mackinac Bridge Facebook Page.

We had a nice conversation, sharing our life histories and dreams, while I enjoyed an all-you-can-eat fried whitefish diner and he had smoked whitefish spread. We talked for nearly an hour and a half, but felt we should give up the table since people were filling up the restaurant for trivia night.

The snow had stopped falling while I was at supper and I headed up Market Street and then Cadotte Street doing night time photography. The 1904 Little Stone Church looked very attractive and I took several photos, one of which may be used for out Christmas Card this year.

After more night photography of the Grand Hotel, Round Island Passage Light and the Mackinac Island Harbor, I returned to Bogan Lane Inn for the night.


Cut River Bridge - Michigan Cut River Bridge

Great Lakes Air - Mackinac Island, Michigan Landing on Mackinac Island

Mustang Lounge - Mackinac Island, Michigan Mustang Lounge

Cawthorne's Village Inn - Mackinac Island, Michigan Cawthorne's Village Inn

Little Stone Church - Mackinac Island, Michigan Little Stone Church

Saturday - March 8, 2014: It was a beautiful, cold sunny morning. I was a bit slow getting out of the B&B, but after packing up and calling to reserve a taxi to take me to the airport later in the day, I left my bags downstairs and headed out with both cameras.

The first lengthy stop was at Fort Mackinac on the bluff overlooking the Mackinac Island harbor. I had contacted Mackinac State Historic Parks prior to the trip and had permission to enter the closed fort for winter photography. It was beautiful and I took many photos which I am proud of. Some have gone to my fine art website, while others have been organized into a page about Fort Mackinac in Winter.

Since I was already up on the bluff, I circled around to the Grand Hotel for more photography, but while I was there, realized that I had lost the Yaktrax ice traction devices off of my boots. Time was starting to get valuable and I was tempted to forget them, but I would really need the traction the next day, so I followed my foot prints back to Fort Mackinac and found both of them in deep snow. 

At this point I stayed above the bluff and took the road through the woods to the East Bluff for some of my favorite angles for Mackinac Island photography. I have taken this same photo with Ste Anne's church in the foreground in every season of the year, but the shot I took today may be my favorite.

Returning to Main Street, I photographed Mission Church and Ste. Anne's Catholic Church. Although no longer in use as a church, Mission Church (built in 1829) is the oldest existing church building in the state of Michigan.

The horse drawn taxi was just arriving as I returned to Bogan Lane Inn and I quickly said good bye and recovered my bags. The ride through town back to the airport offered many more photos opportunities.

I was the only passenger on the return flight to St. Ignace, but the plane was still loaded with what looked like a lot of US Mail leaving Mackinac Island.

After returning to St., Ignace, I moved my luggage to the rental car and prepared both cameras for a one hour charter flight in a 4 seat Cessna 172 Skyhawk. It is less expensive to operate than the 6 seat Piper which had brought me back from St. Ignace.

My pilot was Josh Beauchamp and we outlined the places I wanted to photograph during the flight - the St. Ignace shore line, the docked Coast Guard ice breaking tug Biscayne Bay, Mackinac Island, Mackinaw City, the Mackinac Bridge and many lighthouses. 

I sat in the back two seats so that I could photograph on both sides of the airplane and when we were at something I wanted to photograph, the right window was opened. My hands got very cold, but it was a beautiful, hectic hour flight. I photographed many sights with both cameras, but wanting to take the time to look at the photos that I had already taken. This would be much easier if there were intercom headsets. It was difficult communicating if I wanted to be higher or closer. Three pages of photos from the flight.

After the flight, it was time for a rather late lunch at Bentley's B-n-L Cafe. This restaurant has a long history, having been moved to this location in 1940. It currently looks like something out of the 1950s. I settled on the $10.95 whitefish dinner which came with coleslaw and fresh cut fries. They were out of slaw and substituted a salad, which was pretty good. The fries were also good, but the fish was nothing special.

Bentley's is also known for their pies. There were only three available today and I sampled the blueberry. It isn't one of my usual favorite flavors, but it really was quite good.

It was now mid afternoon and I hurriedly drove across the Mackinac Bridge to take some photos of the Bridge, Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse and Fort Michilimackinac while the light was still good. There were more people out on the ice than I had ever seen before. I worry that there may be some tragedy on the ice this spring. People have lost much of their respect for the ice.

I had intended to do more photography inside the fort, but the drifts made it hard to even get to the Fort and it wasn't clear if there was a gate which I would be able to open.

I spent the night at the Holiday Inn Express next to the Mackinac Bridge. They upgraded me to a large room on the 4th floor with a view of the Bridge from my balcony.

Supper was at the Key Hole Bar & Grill. The Key Hole does a few dishes very well, particularly the fried perch and the fried onion rings. Unfortunately they do not permit upgrading from fries to rings for an up charge. If I wanted to have both, I had to order a large appetizer in addition to the $16.99 fish dinner and I passed. The fries and slaw were nothing special, though the perch was quite good.



Fort Mackinac - Mackinac Island, Michigan
Fort Mackinac

Ste. Anne's Catholic Church - Mackinac Island, Michigan Ste. Anne's Catholic Church

Horse drawn taxi on Mackinac Island in winter View from the front of my taxi

Mail flight off of Mackinac Island loading the mail

Waugoshance Lighthouse - Michigan Waugoshance Lighthouse & snowmobilers

Bentley's B-n-L Cafe -  St. Ignace, Michigan Bentley's B-n-L Cafe

Mackinac Bridge with ice in winter Mackinac Bridge

Sunday - March 9, 2014: This was the final day of the trip and I had a lot which I hoped to do on the way back to the Marquette Airport. It was overcast and often snowing, not a good day for photography, but this was my only chance, so I took just a few quick photos at the foot of the Mackinac Bridge before heading back to the Upper Peninsula.

The first stop of the trip was the Whitefish Point Light House Station on Lake Superior. It is the oldest lighthouse on Lake Superior, having been first lighted in 1849. The current building was built in 1861. It is automated and the buildings at the station house the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. The museum is closed in winter, but some of the sidewalks had been plowed and it wasn't too hard getting around until I went on down to the shore. 

I went out on the ice a short distance to photograph the ice formations and to get a photo of the Light House Station from off shore. It was mostly ice, not snow on top of ice and I fell a couple of times.  It was so cold and windy out there that my camera shutter froze up.

The next stop was just a mile back down the point. Whitefish Point Harbor has some great looking abandoned buildings and fishing boats which I wanted to photograph, but it was now snowing fairly hard and I left after just a few stops. Photos from Whitefish Point.

Tahquamenon Falls is just 20 miles away. With a tight schedule, there wasn't time to visit both sets of falls, so I went to the larger Upper Tahquamenon Falls with its shorter hike through the snow. It was still overcast and lightly overcast, but some of the photos turned out fairly well.

The last stop was Eben Ice Caves, just 20 miles from the airport. The undeveloped ice caves are in the Rock River Canyon Wilderness in the Hiawatha National Forest, but the easiest access is from private land, just outside the National Forest. It was about a 3/4 mile hike each way, some of it on trails that have been packed down like a toboggan run by thousands of people visiting the ice caves earlier in the winter. The footing at the caves themselves is treacherous and I was glad to have the Yaktrax on my boots. Photos of the Eben Ice Caves.

Then a hurried drive to the airport. It is located far out of town and when I picked up my Hertz rental car, I had asked where I could get gas on the return. The instructions I had been given were not accurate and I was unable to gas up the rental car. They charged $10/gallon for a tank of gas. I bet this is a real profit center for them.


Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse - Mackinaw City, Michigan sunrise beyond Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

Upper Tahquamenon Falls in winter - Michigan Upper Tahquamenon Falls

Eben Ice Caves - Michigan Eben Ice Caves

Thursday - March 13, 2014: Linda and I had supper at the Snack Shack on Santa Fe, in Overland Park. The small family run burger joint continues to do a good job on hamburgers and a variety of other sandwiches. They recently switched from frozen French fries to fresh cut, and although I would prefer that the fries were cut a little larger, this is a nice improvement.

The menu has been updated. Not because the prices have gone up, but because the number of sandwiches being offered has increased and the number of side dishes as decreased.


Snack Shack menu - Overland Park, Kansas Snack Shack menu
Friday - March 14, 2014: Linda and I attended the semifinal games in the Big Twelve Tournament on March 14, 2014. The opening game was the University of Kansas versus Iowa State and the second game was Baylor versus Texas. We were pleased to be invited to watch the games in the Channel 5 suite where we had seen KU beat Western Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament last March.

The photo opportunities at this location are much better than at Allen Fieldhouse. The seats are in a great location and there is plenty of room to operate a camera without interfering with other people. The lighting is bright enough for lower ISO, though the lights add an odd tint to the photos which I have only partially been able to compensate for in post production.

Iowa State got off to an early lead, but Kansas more than compensated in a 23-5 run which had the Jayhawks up by 10 points in the first half. The Cyclones came back to within 2 points at the end of the first half. Iowa State scored first in the second half, took the lead, and led for the rest of the game.

Over half of the overflow crowd left the Sprint Center following the game, but we remained for the Baylor/Texas game. Baylor dominated the first half and we called it a night at their half time. Baylor went on to win 86-69. 

A page of photos from this night has been added to our sister website, MightyMac.org. http://www.mightymac.org/14bigtwelvebasketball.htm


Big 12 Basketball Tournament University of Kansas team during the playing of the national anthem
Saturday - March 15, 2014: Today was a beautiful day and I wanted to at least get out of town a little ways. I decided on driving down to Paola, where I had lunch at Beethoven's 9th: The Restaurant. I really like this German restaurant, but it is only open Thursday through Saturday, so I seldom get back there.

That makes it hard to sample new dishes and I compromised today - having an old favorite appetizer, but trying a new dish for the entree. The $10.99 German Sausage Sampler was as good as ever, with bratwurst, weisswurst, nuernberger bratwurst and knackwurst served with sauerkraut and German mustard. I think that it is best when the mustard, sauerkraut and sausage are combined in the same bite.

The new dish was the $8.99 Bieroc (Bierock), which wasn't just new to me, but new to the menu since my last visit. It came with the choice of one side and I selected onion straws. I couldn't taste the onion in the onion straws, just the fired batter, which did little to me. The Bieroc (traditional German sandwich with spiced ground beef and cabbage naked into homemade bread) was huge, with a great deal of the bread surrounding the ground meat. I probably should have requested mustard to spice it up, as it was a little bland.

I followed up with photography around the downtown, including a number of photos of the 1898 Miami Courthouse.



Bierock at Beethoven's 9th: The Restaurant Bieroc

Miami County Courthouse - Paola, Kansas Miami County Courthouse

Tuesday - March 18, 2014: Today's lunch was a Smokey's on the BLVD in south Overland Park. It had been almost a year since my last meal here, but I found that little had changed. Some of the prices are slightly changed and there are some new combinations such as the $5.99 BLVD Fries,, which is a bowl of fries, topped with pulled pork, shredded cheeses, one onion ring and BBQ sauce.

I didn't try the BLVD fries but had ribs, pulled pork and onion rings. The ribs were not as good as I remembered, but the pulled pork was every bit as good as I recall. I just wish the serving of pulled pork was a little larger.


Smokey's on the BLVD counter - Overland Park, Kansas  Smokey's on the BLVD counter
Wednesday - March 19, 2014: Three of us had supper at Thai Place on Santa Fe in Overland Park. Over 20 years ago, this was the first location for this small Kansas City area chain of restaurants.

We began with $6.95 crab Rangoon (crisp, fried wonton loaded with cream cheese) which is lighter and has less wrapper than the crab Rangoon at Chinese restaurants in this area.

For entrees, we had the $14.95 King & Ann Chicken, $13.95 Garlic Pepper Shrimp and $15.95 Crazy Salad. The chicken and shrimp tasted fine, but looked rather dull, the way they were served with a puck of white rice. The Jumbo Crazy Salad was much more interesting for the eyes and the tongue. It was made with grilled jumbo shrimp, scallops, imitation crab meat, mussel and calamari tossed with fresh lemon grass, Thai chili, fresh mint, red onions, scallions and cilantro in tamarind dressing served over lettuce. 

They ask how (spicy) hot you want this salad and I was glad that I only asked for medium. For some reason the heat it more noticeable in the salads than in most other dishes.



Jumbo Crazy Salad at Thai Place in Overland Park Jumbo Crazy Salad

Thursday - March 20, 2014: Today's lunch was at Fred P. Ott's Bar and Grill in Olathe, where I was pleasantly surprised that the menu had not changed since October 2012. I ordered the $8.89 1/2 pound burger which comes with the choice of fries, onion rings, claw or cottage cheese. upgrading it with swiss cheese, mushrooms and grilled onions for 99 cents each.

My only real complaint about this bar & grill is that no matter how you order it, the meat comes well done I don't know why the servers ask.


Friday - March 21, 2014: At lunch time I paid a second visit to Nick and Jake's, an upscale bar & grill in Overland Park. The owners of Nick & Jake's also own Wil Jenny's Restaurant, next door, but it closed earlier this month. With the second restaurant closed, Nick & Jake's was packed. There was no room in the parking lot and I had to park in the Wil Jenny's parking lot next door.

This time I had one of there most popular dishes - the $15 half rack of Baby Back Ribs. It is served with French fries and coleslaw. The ribs were great. Not BBQ, but tender and with a distinctive flavor. The fries were adequate and slaw was flavored with a mild, sweet sauce. The serving was adequate for a lunch, but seemed a little small for $15.


Nick and Jake's - Overland Park, Kansas Nick & Jake's
Friday - March 28, 2014: Tonight Linda joined me for a second visit to Smokey's on the BLVD in Overland Park. The burnt ends were very good, much better than I remembered from 2013. The onion rings are still also very good.

This was a second chance to try the pork ribs and pulled pork which I had earlier in the month. My opinion was unchanged. The ribs were tough and did not have as good a flavor has they had had a year ago. The pulled pork is still great and yes the pulled pork serving is too small.


Smokey's on the BLVD smoker - Overland Park, Kansas  Smokey's on the BLVD smoker
Monday - March 31, 2014: We paid a second visit to New York Dawg Pound in Overland Park. This trip gave us a chance to try more of the menu. Linda had a Boxer (blue cheese crumbles, bacon, onion and sweet mustard) bratwurst, while I tried the two options which include peanut butter - the Goofy Dawg (peanut butter & bacon) and the Spicy Thai Dawg (peanut butter, Asian slaw and Sriracha sauce).

I don't regret trying either dog, but I probably will not have either one again. I think the Goofy Dawg would have been better with onion.


Hot dogs at the New York Dawg Pound in Overland Park, Kansas Goofy Dawg & Spicy Thai Dawg
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