Kansas Travel Blog

Chronicling changes to KansasTravel.org and Keith's exploration & photographing Kansas restaurants, attractions, museums, festivals and art. Contact him.
Art Prints

Sculpture at Erie Dinosaur Park
Friday - July 3, 2015: We had supper at Snack Shack on Santa Fe. It was a beautiful evening and we dined on one of the tables outside. I had the "loaded hot dog," which included grilled onions, jalapenos, tomato and cheese. I didn't find it to be as special as some of the other sandwiches on the menu. I think it could be improved by dicing the tomatoes and briefly grilling the dog.


Loaded hot dog at Snack Shack on Santa Fe in Overland Park, Kansas Loaded hot dog at the Snack Shack
Saturday - July 4, 2015: A little follow up on the Best Kansas Burgers Page which I launched 10 days ago.

The first 5 days, 38,984 people viewed the page over 43,000 times. By yesterday it was down to 137 views.

Downtown Diner is the only place on the list where the owners know who I am. They had a special I wanted to try and I was in there for lunch a couple of days ago. The owner said that they started hearing about it on Thursday. Thursday through Sunday they sold 900 burgers, about double normal. So many people ordered the Sheboygan Burger which I listed as my 3rd favorite, that they ran out of the house made Italian sausage.

Yesterday we had supper at Snack Shack on Santa Fe. It was also on the list, but the staff does not know me. I casually mentioned their being on the list and they said there was a big response. Much more business than you would expect. 


Saturday - July 11, 2015: Late Friday night, while watching the KU/Lithuania basketball game, I decided to do some Kansas exploring and after a little research early on Saturday morning, I headed south on US 69. There are many hamburger and waterfall leads to follow up on. 

As I headed south, I made a very quick stop at Mine Creek Civil War Battlefield for some fresh exterior photos. Mine Creek was the site of one of the largest cavalry engagements of the Civil War (and the largest west of the Mississippi River.

Continuing to the community of Fort Scott, it was a chance to photograph the county courthouse, Crooners Lounge (where we ate during Mary's graduation weekend), and an overflow dam/waterfall on the Marmaton River. As I passed the historic fort the community is named after, there was a small farmers market and I couldn't resist photographing the horses in a parking spot near an Amish wagon.

The next stop was at Chancy's Grill & Shake in the community of Moran. It is one of the many new places I learned of when my Best Kansas Burgers page was published. Chancy's opened in 1969 and has been under the same owner since 1991. It has a fairly large menu and serves breakfast all day.

My server asked if I had been there before and when she learned I had not, spent about 5 minutes talking about the menu, what was good and what was special. The 1/3 lb. hickory burger (pepper jack, hickory BBQ sauce, pickle and onion) was good, but they don't ask how you want the burger prepared and it came cooked to the point of being crispy. The house made curly fries were very good. I had them with chili & cheese. Without the cheese, they might have been the best chili fries I have ever had.

I headed on toward Erie, but realized that I would be passing near one of the tallest Kansas waterfalls and stopped briefly at Bourbon Lake Falls. This late in the summer it might have been dry, but we have had a lot of rain and it was beautiful. 

Dinosaur Not-So-National Park was a collection of fairly large dinosaurs made from found metal parts by a retired man who lived outside of Erie. He died a few years ago. This past winter his family donated many of them to the community and they have been moved to a new Erie Dinosaur Park in town. It was locked up, but I was able to photograph all of them through the fence. There is quite a bit of work to do before this coming weekend's grand opening of the park. 

Driving back through town, I stumbled across the Mem-Erie History Museum, a small community historical museum, which didn't really have much to offer to someone without ties to the community. They had some Erie postcards for sale and one was of an unusual old bridge. I learned that I could reach it following the street in front of the museum south.

Portions of the Old 59 Neosho River Bridge may date from the 1870s. It is in poor condition, a one lane bridge used by about 100 vehicles a day. The 360' long bridge has multiple spans, none of which are the style as the others. There is also a waterfall created by an overflow dam which also dates from the 1870s. 

There was one last stop on the way back. The Country Diner in Colony has moved two blocks and changed to Colony Community Diner & Convenience since I was last there and I wanted to find out what had happened and if the food was the same. It turns out that the old restaurant burned about a year and a half ago. They ,moved to a new building and changed the name. The food is pretty much the same 



Amish wagon - Fort Scott, Kansas Amish wagon

Chancy's Grill and Shake - Moran, Kansas Hickory burger & chili, cheese fries

Erie Dinosaur Park - Erie, Kansas Erie Dinosaur Park

Old 59 Neosho River Bridge - Erie, Kansas Old 59 Neosho River Bridge

Tuesday - July 13, 2015: This large moth was flying into our window tonight. A quick search shows it to be a Luna Moth, a member of the Saturniidae family, also known as the "Giant Silkworm Moths." The have a wing span of 4.5". This appears to be a female. They lay eggs on the bottom of Black Walnut leaves and we have many walnut trees.


Giant Silkworm Moth - Lenexa, Kansas
Saturday - July 18, 2015: We are on our way to northern Michigan where we will take literally thousands of pictures for our sister web site www.MightyMac.org. On our way north, we stopped at a field north of Clear Lake, Iowa to view the memorials left at the place where the music died on February 3, 1959.

This is still private property, but there are memorials to musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, together with the pilot, Roger Peterson.

We entered Michigan's Upper Peninsula at Ironwood and stopped at several waterfalls before stopping for the night in Ontonagon. This area has over 150 named waterfalls. The falls to the right is Manabezho Falls, it is near the mouth of Presque Isle River in Porcupine Mountain State Park. There are two more large falls just above this location. 


Clear Lake, Iowa field where the music died Clear Lake, Iowa field

Manabezho Falls - Porcupine Mountains, Michigan Manabezho Falls

Sunday - July 19, 2015: We traveled to the tip of Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula today and are spending the night on the shore of Lake Superior in Eagle Harbor. We saw many lighthouses and waterfalls, plus an amazing lift bridge, but the coolest discovery was  the village of Calumet in the Keweenaw Peninsula, which was once the center of the UP mining industry. Much of the community is national park and there are many gorgeous red stone buildings which were built in the late 1800s. 


Calumet Fire Station - Calumet, Michigan 1898 Calumet Fire Station
Monday - July 20, 2015: Today we continued to visit waterfalls and lighthouses as we traveled back down the the Keweenaw Peninsula and east through Marquette and spending the night in Munising. There were two highlights today.

Canyon Falls and Gorge near Baraga. We saw a roadside park with parking and Linda decided that she could walk farther than we had allowed up until then. The hike was about 2 miles round trip, but much of the route was flat trail or boardwalk over marshy area. We walked along a long stretch of the Sturgeon River, sometimes on its rocky bank and sometimes high above a narrow gorge. There were many rapids and waterfalls, with the highest falls being about 20 feet.

The last stop of this segment was Lakenenland, which I read about years ago. There were dozens of welded metal sculptures spread along a couple of narrow two rut roads which visitors are invited to drive through in summer and snowmobile through in winter. It is quirky grassroots art and very fun. 


Canyon Falls and Gorge - Baraga, Michigan Canyon Falls & Gorge

Lakenenland - Marquette, Michigan Lakenenland

Tuesday - July 21, 2015: After stopping at Seney National Wildlife Refuge, we moved into the second part of the trip, leaving our car in Mackinaw City and taking a ferry to Mackinac Island.

We really wanted to stay at the Chippewa Hotel, but because of the Port Huron to Mackinac Island sailboat race, it was unavailable. So we stayed at Mission Point, which was originally built by Moral Re-Armament (MRA) from 1942-1965. It later became Mackinac College and was briefly owned and operated by the Cathedral of Tomorrow and Rex Humbard. Today it is a resort, which recently changed hands and will see a lot of improvement in the next couple of years.

We had a nice two room suite, but a view of only a rock face just a few feet from the windows. 



Mission Point Resort - Mackinac Island, Michigan
This was our view at Mission Point for over $300 a night

Wednesday - July 22, 2015: This trip was timed to let me be on the Island on a Wednesday morning, the only day that tours of the Michigan Governor's Summer Residence are permitted. I was disappointed to learn that photos are not permitted in the residence, but took many on and from the porch.

We also visited 235 year old Fort Mackinac and took a private carriage tour to areas of the Mackinac Island interior which are not on the standard tours and less often visited by tourists. The best part of the tour was the conversation with our driver, Jeremy Crawford, whose family has been on the Island for generations.


Michigan's Governot's Summer Residence - Mackinac Island View from the porch of the Michigan Governor's Summer Residence
Thursday - July 23, 2015: After one last morning on Mackinac Island and lunch at my favorite restaurant on the Island (The Chuckwagon), we returned to Mackinaw City for the third major portion of the trip. We toured Fort Michilimackinac and the new Straits of Mackinac Lighthouse Museum at Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, before checking into our room at the Beach House.

The Beach House is a set of small cabins on the shore just west of town. They have a good online reputation and I have been wanting to stay in one of the their lakeshore cabins for a couple of years. We had unit #25 and were right on the beautiful beach. It has a great view, though primarily of the Straits of Mackinac and the islands. The view of the Mackinac Bridge is marginal.

We had supper at Legs Inn in Cross Village, about 20 miles away. Legs Inn was built in the 1920s by Stanley Smolak, a Polish immigrant. The large building, its furniture and furnishings are all folk art at its finest. Today it is run by the 3rd generation of the Smolak family. When I was growing up, I thought the building was neat, but couldn't appreciate the Polish food. My palate has matured since then and Legs Inn is now one of my favorite restaurants.

The best part of the meal was the "Old Fashioned Polish Berry Szarlotka" - a crumble cake baked with a blend of fresh apples, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries.



Old Fashioned Polish Berry Szarlotka - Legs Inn in Cross Village Old Fashioned Polish Berry Szarlotka

Friday - July 24, 2015: Today was spent photographing Mackinaw City attractions, starting with the Headlands International Dark Sky Park. Emmett County recently acquired the Welcome, a 1970s reconstructed sailing vessel which was originally constructed in Mackinaw City in the 1770s. It is presently in long term storage, but we received access for photography.

Other stops were at Mackinaw City's Heritage Village and the Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park.

The evening was spent at a reception that was part of a reunion for all classes which graduated from Mackinac City Public High School in the 1970s.


The Welcome - Mackinaw City, Michigan Armed Sloop Welcome
Saturday - July 25, 2015: We began the day with photography in St. Ignace and went on to Sault Ste Marie to tour the Historic Water Street Homes where Schoolcraft and Baraga once lived. Then back to Mackinaw for another evening of class reunions. I saw old friends from many classes and between the two nights, we had half (9) of the remaining members of the class of 1972.
Friday - July 31, 2015: We had supper at Wallaby's Grill & Pub, a restaurant and bar in Lenexa, which it had been several years since I last visited. Linda had a bacon, cheese burger and I had two appetizers: the chicken wings and pub chips.

The burger was dry and nothing special, but both appetizers were better. The wings were tossed in their homemade buffalo sauce and then charred on the grill to lock in flavor. The wings were a little small, but had some heat and a great flavor. The house fried potato chips loaded up with cheddar & Jack cheeses, bacon & chives. They could have used more bacon and chives, but still were above average.


Appetizers at Wallaby's Grill and Pub in Lenexa, Kansas Chicken wings and pub chips
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