changes to KansasTravel.org and Keith's exploration
& photographing Kansas restaurants, attractions, museums, festivals
and art. Contact him.
- May 2, 2014: This evening we drove to Wichita, where friends met
us for supper at Mediterranean Grill, across from Towne East Mall. The
food was OK and the servings were quite generous, but although it had received
some rave comments online, we found it to be nothing special. The service
was erratic, with some long waits earlier in the meal, but although the
restaurant wasn't that busy, our server stood and waited for our credit
card at the end of the meal, rather than leaving the bill until we were
followed up with gelato at Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolate, a couple of miles
away. It was a much more comfortable place to continue to catch up with
our friends and with four people, we were able to sample a nice selection.
The triple dark chocolate gelato was very good. The candies were beautiful,
but tasted less impressive.
is Cocoa Dolce's flagship store. A second location is opening in Overland
Park, Kansas, later this month.
Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolate
- May 3, 2014: This was mostly a day of revisiting attractions which
I had last visited 6-8 years ago. Linda really enjoyed taking pictures
at Tanganyika Wildlife Park.
While not a large zoo, it has a nice layout and many opportunities for
visitors to interact, such as petting kangaroos and feeding giraffes, lorikeets
or Ring-tailed lemurs. We spent a lot of time watching a pair of siamangs
(gibbons) which were extremely active and loud.
has lot of great places for burgers and we had lunch at my favorite, a
tiny dive named Bomber Burger.
It is a 63 year old bar with about 7 stools and 3 tiny tables. The owner
is usually the only employee, working the bar while cooking and keeping
it open only from 10AM-5PM. The 3/4 pound burgers are sprinkled with a
little garlic powder and the toppings & buns are high quality. I had
warned Linda that the owner has an attitude, but she pointed out that he
was still polite.
toured Botanica (the Wichita Gardens) and
the Great Plains Nature Center, which Linda had never been to before. There
were several new features, such as the Downing Children's Garden which
includes a farm with raised beds & a working water pump, a giant tree
& tree house, and a musical maze.
new model railway garden appears to be a big hit.
visited a second chocolate shop, Cero's
Candies, which was started by Pete Cero in 1885, and was still
by the Cero family until 1999. It has since changed hands twice and recently
moved to a new location which I hadn't been to before. While this shop
isn't as sophisticated as the one we visited the night before and the selection
of candies was much smaller, we both enjoyed them more.
was a good thing we had a cooler along. We stumbled across a satellite
location of Yoder Meats, where we bought
some of their house made sausage and buffalo jerky. A large trailer mounted
smoker was operating in front of the store and we were told that they bring
it to this location once a month.
Seafood Shop, right next door, us a fresh fish market where we picked
up some house made smoked fish spreads.
had just recently learned of the Wichita Center For the Arts, which is
about both performing and visual arts. We
there to tour the galleries. They are large, but mostly open space and
the largest area is used for temporary exhibits such as the current one
on pastels. We were more interested in the more intimate galleries which
displayed a small sampling of the permanent collection.
trolley with a wedding party pulled up to take pictures on the bridge leading
to the Center, as we were leaving.
Plains Nature Center was mostly unchanged since my first visit in 2006.
Our favorite part was the Bob Gress Wildlife Observatory which looks out
onto the wetlands of Chisholm Creek Park. The area immediately outside
the windows is landscaped with a recirculating stream, bird feeders and
plants attractive to butterflies and birds. A mallard duck family was exploring
a "Koch" Habitat Hall seems like a but of a role reversal.
north from Wichita, we stopped for supper in Newton and I had a long overdue
return to the Mennonite Bakery, The Breadbasket, which has a German buffet
on Friday and Saturday evenings. I really need to get back here more often!
have never liked borscht, but their borscht was made with cabbage and no
beets. It was one of the best soups which I have ever had.
sausage was great, both on its own or with a little horseradish and sweet
mustard. I was being bad and had two desserts. I first had cherry moos
(creamy cherry soup) at the Mennonite Relief sale last year, and enjoyed
it again. My favorite was bohne berroggi. I wouldn't have tried it from
the description, but it looked so good. It was a warm pastry with sweet
pinto bean paste inside and topped with a wonderful sweet, creamy sauce.
we continued north to spend the the night in Junction City, we saw a sign
about an arboretum as were passing Hesston and pulled off to discover the
13 acre Dyck Arboretum which was started in 1981. The visitor's center
has very limited hours, but the grounds are available all the time.
arboretum is part of Hesston College.
Wichita Center For the Arts
Great Plains Nature Center
- May 4, 2014: We drove on to Wamego first thing in the morning. It
was the Kansas Sampler Festival weekend - a fair which showcases Kansas
rural culture and attractions across the State. The Kansas Explorers Club
has its annual meeting before the Festival opens for the day on Sunday.
It was great seeing old friends Larry Hornbaker, Marci Penner, Wendee LaPlant
and Melba Rigg.
following 5 hours were spent visiting booths, shopping, eating and touring
the museum the Festival surrounded. We caught up on changes at places we
have already visited and picked up leads on new places. Some places have
changed a lot and we learned that it is time to return to Galena and see
the changes at Four Women on the Route,
which is now called Cars on the Route.
were hot and feeling a little worn out by then, and headed home, with just
brief stops to photograph the newly restored State Capitol dome in Topeka
and a couple of art environments. The first of those was a little known
"fire hydrant garden" in Topeka, where a large yard is lined with fire
hydrants of all colors, shapes and sizes. Perhaps 50 or 60 of them.
final stop was at Nick
Schmiedler's folk art environment in his family's yard in Lawrence
which has made some changes since I photographed it before. Actually, I'm
not sure that changes would be that obvious to the casual visitor, but
I was still happy to update the info.
Kansas Explorers Meeting
Fire hydrant garden
Schmiedler's folk art
- May 11, 2014: We visited Shawnee
Mission Park to exercise my step daughter's dogs in the 53 acre dog
park. The off leash area is very popular, despite the ticks.
- May 15, 2014: For lunch I revisited Master Wok in Olathe for the
first time in about a year. The attractive Asian Restaurant continues to
offer some outstanding lunch specials. They have gone up slightly in price,
but are still a bargain with many combination complete meals for $5.95-6.95
including an appetizer and soup.
own web site still lists the old pricing, which was about 50 cents cheaper.
Pork with garlic sauce
- May 17, 2014: We stayed at the Best Western Holiday Manor in McPherson
the previous night. I stay at 15-20 motels, hotels and B&Bs a year
and this one one of the poorest rooms I have had. And for $100/night at
that. I will not stay there again.
were a little slow getting away in the morning and were among the last
to arrive at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge
at 7:30 for the Babies and Wildflowers Photographers Tour. There are nearly
300 wild American Bison in the refuge and the fund raising event spread
about 30 photographers across three trams and took into into the center
of a herd of over 100 of them. The herd included about 30 calves which
had been born in the past few weeks. Many of them were within a few feet.
was hoping for elk photography opportunities, but they will not drop their
young for a few more weeks and we saw only one elk at a distance.
to McPherson, we photographed the new facility housing the McPherson
Museum and Arts Foundation. They have built a nice brand new facility,
but still need another $100,000 for new exhibits. There wasn't much to
see at this point and I need to consider how to update their review to
say nice things, while encouraging visitors to put off their visits until
there is more to see.
had lunch at the Trail Days Cafe and Museum
in Council Grove on the Santa Fe Trail. It had been nearly 3 years since
we visited this cool combination of museum complex and mom & pop restaurant.
Actually, it is currently just a pop restaurant. Mom is recovering from
lung cancer. The menu includes American Indian, Old World, Early American,
and 20th Century foods that are made from scratch. Linda had roast elk
and I had Toad in the Hole (a traditional British dish of sausages in Yorkshire
went on to Topeka, to buy specialty foods at Rees
Fruit Farm for an upcoming promotion.
also had a snack so I could update the review of Bobo's
Drive-In. It is a 66 year old restaurant which has been on Diners,
Drive-Ins, and Dives. In addition to finally trying the Spanish burger
and retrying the apple pie, we learned that the prices have gone up since
my last visit a few months ago.
a change of pace we went to Sk8away, to watch Roller Derby. The Capital
City Crushers soundly defeated the Salina Sirens. An old family friend
was one was one of the referees.
had a late supper at Royal Buffet, a Chinese buffet, before heading home.
In January it opened in the space which had housed another large buffet.
It is the fourth location for this small chain, which has another location
in Wichita and two in Nebraska. I felt it was slightly improved over the
previous restaurant, but not really a place I would single out for visitors
Trail Days Cafe
Bobo's Drive-In menu
- May 24, 2014: This weekend we are taking photos at ConQuesT 45, a
science fiction convention in Kansas City, Missouri, for our sister site,
the MidAmerican Fan
Photo Archive. A small group from the convention asked me to select
a good nearby BBQ place where they could get in without a long wait on
a Saturday night.
took them to Rosedale Barbeque
in Kansas City, Kansas, which was founded in 1934. I enjoyed the ribs and
was able to update the menu for the Rosedale listing on this site.
- May 31, 2014: We investigated the new Prairie Fire Museum at the
new retail development of the same name in Overland Park. The most popular
exhibit appears to be the Alive Experience, where you can design and name
a dinosaur then step out into the Great Hall and look up at the screen
showing you and your dinosaur in real time.
the Great Hall is free, but there isn't very much there so far. There is
a fee to view rotating temporary exhibits. They need to do a better job
of selling those exhibits.
a lunch at Hillsdale Bank BBQ, where
we sampled a couple of dishes we hadn't had before, we stopped at KC Watersports,
where several people were water skiing on Cable Lake. An automated ski
tow pulls skiers around the small lake with no need for a boat.
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