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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Total solar eclipse - August 21, 2017
Tuesday - July 1, 2017: We had supper at a new Lenexa, Kansas Restaurant - Rumman Mediterranean Restaurant, which moved into the space vacated by Carlo's Copa Room. We tried the chicken kabab and lamb qedra. Both were good, but not outstanding. My favorite dish was something I didn't even know I liked, lentil soup. Rumman Mediterranean Restaurant - Lenexa, Kansas Rumman
Thursday - July 3, 2017: We had a pleasant evening at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri as guests of KCTV-5. The weather was perfect and it was a great game, with both teams playing well. The Royals broke a recent losing streak with a 6-4 victory against the Seattle Mariners. Kauffman Stadium - Kansas CIty, Missouri Kauffman Stadium
Friday - August 4, 2017: For lunch, we revisited the Santa Fe Cafe in Overland Park, Kansas. We go there about once year to update its listing in our Overland Park Restaurant Guide. This really is more of a breakfast place than a lunch place, but the lunches are good.

We made a second visit to the new Shawnee, Kansas restaurant, Sam's Southern Eatery. They didn't have oysters when I tried them last week and I really wanted to try their grilled oysters. Unfortunately, they were out of oysters again. With them being one of the 4 main items on the menu, they really need to post a sign or tell people when they are seated.

I went with the fried chicken gizzards, which were fairly good and inexpensive, though not as good as the nearby Stroud's or Go Chicken Go restaurants.


Santa Fe Cafe - Overland Park, Kansas Santa Fe Cafe

chicken gizzards - Sam's Southern Eatery Sam's chicken gizzards

Wednesday - August 9, 2017: I paid a repeat visit to Rajmahal, an Indian restaurant in Olathe, which is nearly 2 years old. The owner and Executive chef Mr. Rajendra Rana formerly headed the Indian Restaurant, Nirvana in New Orleans, Louisiana. This is the second Indian restaurant at this location and the only Indian restaurant in Olathe. 

I haven't looked at the menu, yet, but the lunch buffet is very good and less expensive than most Indian buffets in the metro. It has a nice balance with several mildly spiced dishes and a couple that have a pretty good kick. The spicy house chicken curry is very good.


Rajmahal - Olathe, Kansas Rajmahal
Thursday - August 10, 2017: We learned of a new sunflower field which is open to the public and drove to Berryton, Kansas (just south of Topeka) to check it out after work. When we returned home, we added a new page devoted to Berry Hill UPick Farm. The farm is new just this year and with the popularity of the Grinter's Sunflower Farm in Leavenworth County, this seemed like a great way to gain visibility.

Before returning home, we stopped for supper at Specks Bar and Grill in Topeka. It had been over a year since my last visit to Specks and I had a quarter pound Bomber hot dog and a Two Alarm Spicy Chicken sandwich.


Saturday - August 12, 2017: We drove to Lawrence to photograph the new display of Dr. James Naismith's 13 Original Rules of Basket Ball in the DeBruce Center. The original rules are in the side of a hallway, opposite the "Wall of Quotes," and can be easily missed as you walk down the hall. They are not visible until a button is pressed next to their display case.

Our page about the Booth Hall of Athletics at the University of Kansas has been updated to include original rules. in the adjacent hall. 


Dr. James Naismith's 13 Original Rules of Basketball - Lawrence, Kansas Original Rules of Basketball
Sunday - August 13, 2017: Our page about Specks Bar & Grill in Topeka, Kansas has been updated with the August 2017 menu and some other changes. The half pound Bomber Hot Dog, which was one of my favorites has been eliminated, but they still offer a quarter pound Bomber hot dog, smothered in Swiss cheese, jalapeno peppers, sauerkraut and onions, for $5.49.

Rajmahal Indian restaurant in Olathe, Kansas was added to our Olathe Restaurant Guide.

We learned today that the T-Rex Cafe at the Legends in Kansas City, Kansas closed last night.


Bomber Hot Dog - Specks Bar and Grill Bomber Hot Dog at Specks Bar & Grill
Saturday - August 19, 2017: Linda and I had lunch at Q39 which opened just 5 days earlier. This location was originally the site of Hayward's Pit Bar B Que, which moved here from another Overland Park location in the 1980s and, just moved to Lenexa in 2016. The interior has been totally redone, with an open dining room where there used to be multiple rooms. Even the bathrooms have been relocated.

When walked into Q39, there was a sign on the door saying that "Delicious Destinations" and the Travel Channel were videotaping. We saw a couple being taped at a table on the far side of the room. During our meal, they finished taping and the couple moved to a table near us, where they finished their meal.

The based on the food and service, no one who didn't already know, who have guessed that they had just opened the restaurant.

We learned today, that Sam's Southern Eatery has closed after just a few months. This is quite disappointing. The food and service had been mixed so far, but this restaurant offered food that we haven't found in Johnson County.


Q39 restaurant - Overland Park, Kansas Q39
Sunday - August 20, 2017: I have wanted to see a total solar eclipse for many years and this year's event had been on my calendar since 2013. Wanting to be where there would be clear sky, in May I booked safety hotel rooms up the path of totality in Kearney, Nebraska and down the path in Paducah, Kentucky.

The Kentucky room was released on Friday, 3 days before the eclipse, but we held on to the Nebraska room another day, while we watched the weather forecasts. With predictions of 66% cloud cover in Kansas and nearby Missouri, we kept the second room and drove to Kearney on Sunday.

The only stops on the way were supper in Lincoln and a revisit of Wyuka Cemetery in Nebraska City. I had previously visited this cemetery in 2005, but somewhere along the line, the original photos were lost. There are so many unusual memorial markers that the cemetery has a walking and driving tour. Many of the markers feature tree trunks and books. A few of them weight tons!


Wyuka Cemetery in Nebraska City roll top desk headstone Harding family roll top desk

Judge Daniel Gantt grave - Wyuka Cemetery in Nebraska City Judge Daniel Gantt

Monday - August 21, 2017: I was up early on Monday morning, prepared to drive another couple of hours to find a more clear location, but the forecasts showed Kearney to be as good as anywhere within that distance, with a prediction of 42% cloud cover at the time of totality.

Kearney had many Eclipse Watch parties and we were going to attend the one in the University of Nebraska at Kearney football stadium, but as we left our motel, we saw people setting up to watch the eclipse from the parking lot behind the hotel and decided that it made more sense. We had a small tree for shade, could use our own chairs and have our cooler.

The eclipse began at 11:33AM and we slowly noticed the covering up of the sun, viewing it though eclipse glasses. Shortly thereafter we saw that the sun filtering though the leaves of the tree above us was forming crescent bright spots in the shadows on the ground.

As the eclipse progressed, there was a definite change in the quality of light and the day started getting a little cooler, instead of hotter.

Finally, only a tiny edge of the sun was still visible and the partial eclipse quickly passed through the "Diamond ring" effect to total eclipse at 12:57PM. There were perhaps 50 people scattered around the area where we were and over half of them cheered.

With the corona of the sun flaring out around the moon, the moon looked even darker, like a hole in the sky. I took three quick photos with the camera I was holding, but it was not focusing properly and I switched to a second camera which was already mounted on a tripod. Not wanting to take the time for more careful photos, I picked the camera & tripod up and took 14 photos in about 20 seconds, than sat the camera back down to just watch the sun.

About that time, I heard someone shout "look at the horizon!" The horizon was outside the totality and was the color of a sunrise or sunset in all directions. I took a quick 15 second, 360 degree video of that effect, noticing that nearby street lights had come on. I returned to looking at the sun for the few remaining seconds, calling out, "put your glasses back on" when the diamond ring started to appear again.

We watched the now partial eclipse through the glasses for a couple of more minutes as the thin spot of sun expanded on the opposite side. The area around us quickly became brighter as our eyes had adjusted to the darkness.

With the remainder of the eclipse being a mirror image of the first half, we soon packed up and were on I-80, heading east ahead of the traffic from Kearney and points west. Traffic was light until we reached the Hastings/Grand Island exit. From there on, there was heavy traffic, several times dropping to a complete standstill. People could still be seen watching the last of the partial eclipse at rest areas and other spots along the way.

We left I-80 at Lincoln, just as it was starting to really back up and had good travel the rest of the way. 



Waiting for the eclipse in Kearney, Nebraska Waiting for the eclipse

Total solar eclipse - Kearney, Nebraska Total solar eclipse - click on the image to see the planet Mercury at the left.


Saturday - August 26, 2017: We added a new page about Q39 to our Kansas City Barbeque Restaurant Guide.


Tuesday - August 29, 2017: The review of the Mid-America Air Museum in Liberal, Kansas has been updated with changes to the fees and hours.  
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