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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Marci Penner Stumping for Kansas in Protection
Friday - May 4, 2018: We started out on our way to the Kansas Sampler Foundation's "Big Kansas Road Trip" (BKRT) in Barber, Comanche and Kiowa Counties. Stopping at Bomber Burger in Wichita for an early lunch. They were sold out of meat when I tried to visit them last year, so it had been at least 2 years since we had been there.

Linda had a 3/4 pound cheeseburger and I had the Roethlisberger - double 3/4 pound cheeseburger with grilled onions, jalapenos, mayo, mustard and pickle. I actually managed to finish it, though Linda and I shared an order of the fresh cut fries and didn't quite finish them. I like the burgers here, but would like them even more if they were not cooked well done.

The owner of Bomber Burger has cultivated a reputation of being difficult, but he treated us both with respect.

Continuing to the southwest, as we passed through Kingman County, we started noticing fields of beautiful yellow flowers and stopped to photograph them a couple of times. We asked about them when we visited the Kiowa County Historical Museum in Kiowa, and learned that they were canola fields.

The museum occupies an old fire station and the building is probably the neatest thing about the museum. Most of the displays will primarily interest people with ties to the community. The biggest exception may be the small display of Carry Nation materials, including one of her hatchets.

We next photographed the nearby rock fountain and plaque to Carry Nation and large piece of petrified wood on Main Street.

We were extremely impressed by Bob's Printing and Old Time Clock Shop. Bob Cox demonstrated the 1917 Linotype machine which he still uses to prepare lead plates for printing today and presented me with one with my name on it. The small print shop is also filled with Bob's collection of old clocks. Bob will repair clocks for you, but these are not for sale.

Before leaving town, we stopped to photograph the Land Rush Statue and chat with local volunteers who had set up an info station for the Big Kansas Road Trip.

Our next stop was at the Gypsum Hills Nature Museum in Hardtner, also known as Bill & Janet's Nature Museum. Bill and Janet Smith have filled a couple of classrooms in a former school with their private collections of insects, taxidermy birds and a model railroad. Another classroom is used for etymology training. Others have memorabilia from the school and a gift shop. The gymnasium is still set up for use.

6 miles west of town, we toured a historic round barn. It is no longer in use and is normally closed, but the owner, Lee Sternberger, and his dog were welcoming people today.

Back on the road, we drove north to Medicine Lodge. We would have liked to photograph the Barber County Heritage Center Gallery, but it closed for the day at 3PM. We did visit the Sagebrush Gallery of Western Art and had a nice conversation with artist Earl Kuhn.

We drove to Lumber Yard Steakhouse in Zenda, which has been on our list to investigate for a couple of year. The server and staff were very friendly.  Linda had the steak filet and shrimp special. After confirming that the mountain oysters on the menu were not scratch made, I settled on Doc's Rib Eye Steak. The 16 ounce steak was well seasoned and char-broiled, a very good steak. The French fries were so-so.

On our way to the Comfort Suites in Pratt, we made a couple more stops. The first was the Thornton Adobe Barn, an adobe barn in the Isabel Wetlands.

The second stop was unplanned and one of the coolest stops of the day, Family Food Store in Sawyer. We thought it was a market, but it turned out to be a combination bakery, deli, specialty food store which is open just three days a week. It is operated by the Wolf family, who are members of the Old German Baptist Brethren, who dedicate themselves to a simple life and God. We got some ice cream, baked goods and canned goods. I want to return when I am not already full, to try their signature sandwich: a warm sandwich of cream cheese, bacon, roast beef, cheddar, smoked turkey, and Swiss cheese. We enjoyed getting to know the Wolf family and learning that we have friends in common.


Roethlisberger hamburger - Bomber Burger in Wichita, Kansas Roethlisberger

canola field in Kansas canola field

Bob Cox - Kiowa, Kansas Bob Cox

Lumber Yard Steakhouse - Zenda, Kansas Doc's Rib Eye Steak

Family Food Store - Sawyer, Kansas Family Food Store

Saturday - May 5, 2018: The first top of the morning was the Heart of America Science Resource Center in Haviland. There are many fossils, minerals and a lapidary lab in the creation/gospel center. The labels on the displays tended to have just the fossil's name and location, with no background information or dates of when the creatures lived.

The back of the building houses a Haviland Heritage Museum, a small community historical museum which did  pretty good job of describing its exhibits and putting them in context. I liked learning about Laura Haviland, who the community was named after.

After photographing some of the points of interest in Haviland, we stopped at the Haviland City Park and shopped at the Treasures in the Park Craft Show.

We arrived in Coldwater about 11:15, just in time for "The Stump" Kansas trivia contest and the following "Bring Your Own Lawn Chair" meeting outside the community owned grocery store, Protection Venture. We learned how the community had come together to keep the small market, Protection Venture, which is now owned by the community.  Following the meeting, we and many others made a point of shopping at Protection Venture. Over the course of the weekend, 12 people doing the BKRT purchased shares in the market.

Lunch was across the street at Don's Place. Comanche County has just 6 restaurants and this was the only one which had already been on our list to investigate. We got the last table in the restaurant and since they are known for their house made pies, we ordered pie first (they were already out of at least one kind). We split the peanut butter pie, which was quite good, though a friend later told us we should have had the cherry.

Linda had the chicken fried steak special, which came with salad, choice of starch, vegetable and house made spice cake for only $6.45. I sampled the steak, which was very lightly breaded & quite good, and the spice cake, which was just OK.

After learning that they only have chili in winter, I had the Reuben burger and fresh cut fries. The fries were the best part of the meal and cost only $1.85.

Before leaving town, we toured the Stan Herd Gallery at the Protection Township Library and Twisted Sisters gift shop. Stan is a local artist known across Kansas for his large installations, such as the Amelia Earhart Earthworks in Atchison, Kansas.

Our next stops were in Coldwater, Kansas, where we shopped at Venture Foods, photographed some murals and toured the Comanche County Historical Museum. The museum was the only place we visited during the BKRT where we didn't feel particularly welcome. The part of the museum which I found the most interesting was the Comanche Cattle Pool, which was a combination of many cattle herds for 5 years in the early 1880s, creating a single ranch which spread across several counties in Kansas and Oklahoma.

Driving northwest from Coldwater, we were soon on dirt roads, driving to Wilmore, Kansas, where we felt very welcome. In addition to the lovely carousel that was already in the town, the 53 residents made a new Welcome to Wilmore sign, had a display of quilts and other local collections, had a nice driving tour of the community, a lemonade stand, placed barn quilt signs on every utility pole, and the fire department got visitors into fire gear and operating the fire hoses.

We took barely maintained dirt roads north and east from Wilmore to Belvidere, a route that had Linda kiddingly asking where I was taking her. In Belvidere we found a community center in an old schoolhouse, Soldier's Creek Cemetery, and Halley's Junction, an old store with tools, antiques and collectibles. Hank Halley was present to talk to visitors as much as sell antiques and it was a pleasant visit. 

Soldier's Creek Cemetery has many hand made markers including some made from petrified wood. 

Staying on primitive roads, we headed southeast, paralleling Soldier's Creek, to Sun City to have supper at Buster's Saloon. The doors stood open at Buster's and it appears that there is no air conditioning. The saloon wasn't very busy and we took seats at the bar with the bar tender told us what food was available this day. She sounded disappointed that we weren't getting the big fishbowl glasses of beer that Buster's is known for. The smoked brisket was very good, though the only side was large wedges of potato.

The best part of the meal was when Big Kansas Road Trip volunteers started arriving for a private meal in the adjacent storefront. It was great seeing Marci Penner, WenDee Rowe and Erika Nelson.

Our day concluded at the Fromme-Birney Round Barn south of Mullinville, where there was a free concert by Jeff Davidson from Eureka, Kansas. Jeff sang western songs and a bit of a western Kansas history lesson.



Marci Penner - Kansas Sampler Foundation Marci Penner on The Stump asking questions

Caroucel - Wilmore, Kansas Wilmore Carousel

Hank Halley,  Halley's Junction - Belvidere, Kansas Hank Halley

Buster's Saloon - Sun City, Kansas Buster's Saloon

Jeff Davidon singing at Fromme-Birney Round Barn in Mullinville Jeff Davidson


Sunday - May 6, 2018: We drove to Greensburg to sign "guest book" on the cement walk to the WPA swimming pool bath house, then drove over near the Big Well for annual meeting of the Kansas Explorers. It was good seeing old friends before the meeting where the people who worked so hard on this years Big Kansas Road Trip were acknowledged and thanked.

The highlight of the meeting was the announcement of next year's Big Kansas Road Trip, which will be May 2-5, 2019 in Cheyenne, Sherman and Wallace counties.

The meeting concluded with the singing of Home On The Range.

After the meeting, we visited the Big Well, where we encountered a couple who said they had been just a little behind us all weekend. They are also from Lenexa and kept seeing our names on the guest register at various attractions.

We photographed a few other Greensburg attractions and had lunch at the Crazy Mule Food & Brew, where they were running out of food after a record weekend. I had the peanut butter burger, which was a little dry and could have used more peanut butter. Linda had the friday fried chicken special, which was a little unusual in that it it consisted of a chicken tender and a drumstick.

Driving east, our first stop of the afternoon was the Pratt County Historical Museum in Pratt, Kansas. It is one of the largest county historical museums we have visited and has well done exhibits with much better labeling and explanations of the artifacts than we usually find. Visitors will find that an hour isn't really long enough to few the museum and some people will want to spend 2 or 3 hours.

Continuing back across Kansas to Lenexa, our final stops of the day were in Ottawa, we photographed the outside of the Carnegie Cultural Center and had a good supper at Luigi's Italian Restaurant. We enjoyed the Shrimp Champagne (shrimp in white cream champagne sauce, with fresh herbs, spinach and garlic) and Luigi's Special (breaded chicken and sausage sautéed with roasted green peppers, spinach, ham and black olives in a white wine cream and marinara sauce over spaghetti). They accommodated my request to not include the olives.

We met a couple having dinner at Luigi's who like to drive around Kansas and visit the small towns, so we told them about KansasTravel.org, the Kansas Explorer's Club and the Kansas Guidebook 2 for Explorers. I even brought our copy of the guide in from the car so hey could see what it was like.


2018 Kansas Explorers Meeting - Greensburg, Kansas Marci Penner conducting the annual Kansas Explorers' Meeting

Crazy Mule Food and Brew - Greensburg, Kansas Crazy Mule Food & Brew

Pratt County Historical Museum - Pratt, Kansas Pratt County Historical Museum

Luigi's Italian Restaurant - Ottawa, Kansas Luigi's Italian Restaurant

Friday - May 11, 2018: I revisited the Fred P. Ott's Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas to update its review on our Guide to Olathe Restaurants. The chili dog was very good, particularly for a restaurant not known for its chili dogs. It was much better than the dogs I recently had at Chi Town Original in Overland Park.

The prices have crept up a little from our last visit.


Fred P. Ott's Bar and Grill - Olathe, Kansas Fred P. Ott's
Thursday - May 24, 2018: I went to Downtown Diner in Olathe, Kansas to try the Jalapeño popper burger which was the daily special. It was fine, but I like several of the other specialty burgers at Downtown Diner more.

While there, I learned that they have finally published a new menu, which we have added to their review.


Monday - May 28, 2018: We had supper at Hibachi Go in Lenexa, Kansas, which bills itself as part of a new trend in restaurants coming to the Midwest from the East coast. We didn't see anything new about it. The small restaurant serves sushi and entrees which have been cooked hibachi style in the kitchen, rather than at the table.

The best part of the meal was salad, which had a sweet dressing which we both enjoyed. My "summer roll" (Deep fried shrimp, white fish, cream cheese, jalapeno with chef's special sauce) sounded spectacular but was surprisingly bland. The Hibachi chicken and shrimp was fine, though nothing special.

One thing that seemed unusual, though fine, even though it was table service, the servers placed a number on a stand on the table after taking the order and used it to know where to take the food, like what you might be handed if you ordered food at a counter.


Hibachi Go - Lenexa, Kansas Hibachi Go
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