Kansas Travel Blog

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

Bear Pit fountain and statue - Merriam, Kansas
Sunday - September 1, 2019: We replaced our page devoted to Sam's Tasty Treat in Olathe, Kansas, with a new one about Tasty Foodz, which replaced it earlier this summer. The exterior is almost identical, even keeping the old sign with "Drink Coca-Cola" and "Tasty Treat." The inside changes are dramatic. It as gone from cramped and old to spacious and modern. The menu is much smaller, but we enjoyed what we sampled, more than we did at the old restaurant.


Sam's Tasty Treat - Olathe, Kansas Sam's Tasty Treat
Monday - September 2, 2019: We revisited Char Bar in Kansas City, Missouri. It is a Missouri restaurant, but we include restaurants from both sides of the state line in our popular Kansas City BBQ Restaurant Guide. Today we had chicken wings (red eye coffee-brined whole wings, spicy bbq drizzle, buttermilk-chive dressing) and CBGB burger (house ground smoked brisket, smoked gouda schmear, smoked bacon, caramelized onion, duke’s mayo, egg bun). 

I enjoyed the wings a lot. The burger didn't really come together in a way which worked for me.


Jumbo chicken wings at Char Bar in Kansas City, Missouri Chicken wings
Thursday - September 5, 2019: We were pleased to see that there was no line when we went to get Grange Pups at Johnson County Old Settlers (in Olathe) today. but were disappointed to learn that the power was out for that whole group of vendors and there were no grange pups available at that time.

The pups (which look like corn dogs, but do not contain corn) were invented for Old Setter's in 1948 and this weekend is the one time each year that they are offered. They are made by Morning Grange #227 from Spring Hill, which uses the money to support the Johnson County Fair 4-H Project auction. They have also established a scholarship fund for college students who have attended high school in the Olathe, Gardner, and Spring Hill areas. They have awarded over $100,000 in scholarships.


Grange Pup Stand -  Johnson County Old Settlers Grange Pup Stand
Friday - September 6, 2019: Following this morning's Facebook Post about victims of William Quantrill's attack on Olathe, 157 years ago tonight, we learned of small cemetery which is believed to originally have held one of those graves.

After work, I went by the Williams Family Cemetery in a quiet residential area of southeast Olathe. Although there were at least 3 times as many burials, only 4 complete standing stones remain, with a 5th laying on the ground behind one of these stones. This cemetery in on the east side of Quivera Road near 148th Street.


Williams Family Cemetery - Olathe, Kansas Williams Family Cemetery
Saturday - September 7, 2019: This afternoon, I visited another small cemetery which has had Johnson County develop around it. While small, Antioch Pioneer Cemetery in Merriam, Kansas is at least an order of magnitude larger than yesterday's Williams Family Cemetery and is still active. It was established in 1873, but this was a burial site for at least 20 more years. The burials includes some of the Quakers who settled the areas and there is a replica of the Antioch Cumberland Presbyterian which was originally built here in 1873. 

While in Merriam, I drove on up to Shawnee Mission Parkway to one of the newest fountains in metropolitan Kansas City. 

The Bear Pit is a lovely fountain which most people have never seen. It is next to the Merriam Visitors Bureau at Merriam Historical Plaza, at the intersection of Shawnee Mission Parkway and I-35. It commemorates the bear pit at Merriam Park, which opened at this location in 1880 and operated for nearly 20 years.

The sculpture is the work of Kwan Wu.


Antioch Pioneer Cemetery - Merriam, Kansas Antioch Pioneer Cemetery

Bear Pit fountain and statue - Merriam, Kansas Bear Pit

Saturday - September 12, 2019: For lunch, we checked out the food at The Boardroom, a family pub and table top game place in Overland Park, Kansas, which opened in February. When first greeting us, our server asked if it was our first time there. We were a little surprised that although we said that yes, it was our first time, she told us nothing about the gaming aspect of the pub.

She did tell us that everything is locally sourced and made to order, from scratch, in house. When I asked if that meant that they have fresh cut fries, she said, no. She did go on to say they were still something special, large fries and extra crispy. They were regular sized, battered fries, that I ate only a handful of. 

Toad's burger (1/3 lb hamburger with sautéed mushrooms, Swiss cheese and red wine onion jam) looked great, but fell flat. Frey Pie (beef and Guinness Shepherd's pie with crispy scalloped potatoes on top) was a better choice.

The odd thing about the menu is that although The Boardroom doesn't open until 4PM on weekdays and 11AM on weekends, a large portion of the menu is breakfast dishes. Perhaps for late night?


The Boardroom - Overland Park, Kansas The Boardroom
Tuesday - September 15, 2019: We replaced the archived review of the old, closed Brant's Meat Market in Lucas, Kansas, with a almost completely new paged describing the 97 year old market under its new owners. We are happy to say that you can still get all the favorites like beef jerky, homemade Czech bologna, and the wonderful smoked link sausages.


Brant's Meat Market - Lucas, Kansas Brant's Market
Saturday - September 21, 2019: We celebrated Smithsonian National Museum Day with a visit to the Johnson County Museum in Overland Park, Kansas. We enjoyed the temporary  "Expanding Oz" exhibit, with memorabilia from the original Wizard of Oz books, stage productions and pop culture.

While we were leaving the building, a meeting room full of white bearded men in red clothes caught our eye. We had happened across a meeting of Santa America. Christmas season is coming.

We had lunch at BRGR in Prairie Village. It had been a couple of years since I had been to the grommet burger restaurant and I was a bit disappointed. My cheese burger was OK, but I felt the bun took away from the sandwich. The bun didn't have much flavor and neither absorbed juices from the burger and didn't compress. Between them, the combined burger and bun were two thick to easily eat and the juices all ran out onto my hand, the plate and the table.

Mary & Nick joined us later in the day to drive to Atchison, Kansas to check out the 2019 version of the Haunted Atchison Trolley Tour. Atchison, Kansas was named the "Most Haunted Town in Kansas" in the 1997 book Haunted Kansas: Ghost Stories and Other Eerie Tales. The 1 hour ghost tours are offered Saturday evenings in September. Additional evenings are added through October and there are some tours in early November.

The tour changes each year and there were several homes included, which have not been on the tour the other times we took it. The stories about some of the homes which have been on other year tours have also changed. The tours are entertaining, but good still benefit from more live and less recorded narration.

For supper, we drove to Cedar Ridge Catering & Banquet Hall, in the country, about 5 miles northwest of Atchison.  We had last visited this restaurant in 2013 and were surprised how little it has changed. The Saturday night menu is unchanged, family style, all you can eat, chicken noodle soup, chicken, brisket, pulled pork, baked potatoes, green beans with bacon, and two kinds of hot cobbler with ice cream. The price is even unchanged, 

There were two changes. The meal now includes a wedge salad, and they have reduced their days open from Friday, Saturday & Sunday, to just Saturday & Sunday.

We had about a 40 minute wait for a table, and one of the things we checked out while waiting, was a large display of reasonable priced pumpkins, being offered for sale on the honor system. Large pumpkins were only $6.


Santa America meeting - Overland Park, Kansas Santa America meeting

Cheeseburger at BRGR in Prairie Village, Kansas BRGR Burger

Haunted Atchison Trolley Tour - Atchison, Kansas Atchison Trolley

Pumpkins for sale at Cedar Ridge Catering & Banquet Hall Pumpkins for sale

Sunday - September 22, 2019: We added a new page devoted to St. Joseph Catholic Church in Hays, Kansas.


Thursday - September 26, 2019: We added a new page devoted to the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, Kansas.  
Friday - September 27, 2019: I left work a little early, and headed west on I-70, turning off at Deep Creek Road, which is one of the few Interstate exits where the off ramp takes you immediately to a dirt road. I drove north, stopping to take photos of the former Deep Creek School House (built in 1892) and Chris Barr's Cabin (built before 1863).

There was much water in Deep Creek, but there were still several families wading and having fun in the low water crossing. I took some fresh photos and videos of Deep Creek Waterfall.

Continuing into Manhattan, Kansas I photographed Midwest Dream Car Collection, an automobile museum which just opened in April. The 25,000 display area has about 60 vehicles on display. The collection has no obvious theme and contains vehicles as diverse as a 1907 Henry Ford Model-R, a 1958 BMW 600 which has a 26 horsepower engine & 66" wheelbase and his and hers mustang convertibles which belonged to Sony & Share.

For supper, I checked out Keltic Star Public House in Aggieville, the popular entertainment district, just south of Kansas State University in Manhattan. I liked the atmosphere, service and menu and was pleased to try several items on The Pub Platter: Bangers & mash, fish & chips, shepherd's pie and Cornish pasty. Unfortunately the only one of the four that I enjoyed was the shepherd's pie. It was the smallest serving on the plate, and although I could have had a meal of the balance of the sampler, I rarely get to Manhattan and decided to cut my losses and try a second restaurant.

The second restaurant I tried was Bourbon & Baker, in the downtown Manhattan, about a mile away. The trendy small plate restaurant was full, but they were able to seat me at the end of a long table, away from another party.

I tried two appetizers, starting with duck fat French fries. The fries were made with Kennebec potatoes and served with a broiled egg and Mornay sauce. I was sure about the egg, but left it in place while pouring the sauce over the top. I wouldn't have believed it, but the combination of flavors and textures was fabulous!

The second dish was called "Ain't no thing but a chicken wing." Jumbo wings, with citrus herb brine, buttermilk, deep fired, with citrus almond pecan hot sauce. The dish reminded me of the wonderful Korean fried chicken wings at BLVD Tavern in Kansas City, Missouri. I enjoyed them, but think I would have liked them better with a different brine. The leftovers were good a couple of days later.

I spent the night at the Hampton Inn in Manhattan. It was a nice motel room with a comfortable bed and total price under $100. Something that is getting harder to find in Kansas.


Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area and Deep Creek Waterfall Deep Creek Waterfall

Midwest Dream Car Collection - Manhattan, Kansas Midwest Dream Car Collection

Keltic Star Public House in Aggieville - Manhattan, Kansas Keltic Star Public House

Duck fat French fries at Bourbon and Baker Duck fat French fries

Saturday - September 28, 2019: After a superior motel breakfast at the Hampton Inn, the first stop of the day was Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts in Clay Center, Kansas. The parts store is closed on weekends, but the owner, Randy Rundle, interrupted his volunteering at Piotique Festival, which was happening this day, to let me photograph the shop.

The auto parts store is filled with fun automobile memorabilia. The only thing keeping this different from some museum, is the lack of labels on the carious things displayed around the building. It is very cool.

The shop provides modern parts for antique cars and Randy is famous for inventing  6-volt Alternators which work better than the original charging system in old vehicles.

It was only a couple of blocks walk to the Clay County Museum, which moved into a new building, across from the County Courthouse, at the beginning of this year. The former museum building was a former hospital, which has now been torn down. 

This new building was once a furniture store. They are still settling into the new space and there is a lot of work that still needs to be done.

I was particularly impressed with what they have done with the stair case in the center of the largest gallery. They have rebuilt an old log cabin around the base of the stairs and as you up the stairs, you see into both floors of the cabins.

On the way back to the car, I checked out some of the vendors at Piotique Festival, but didn't make any purchases.

Before leaving town, I revisited Clay Center Zoo in Utility Park. The park is managed by the Clay Center Public Utilities and the park is across from the power plant. Much of the building of the park was done during the Great Depression, when utility customers would work in the park to bay their bills.

A badly needed construction project is in progress at the zoo. Although the few animals in the zoo appear healthy, they are confined in tiny 1930's cages which don't meet the needs of the animals they way we feel is appropriate today.

For lunch, I drove east to Nelson's Landing in Leonardville, Kansas. When we first visited the bar and grill in 2016, we saw a lot of sports photos on the walls and learned that the bar was owned by the parents of then Green Bay Packer and former Kansas State University wide receiver, Jordy Nelson. Although he has since retired, he is still a draw and one family posed for a photo with a life size image of Jordy before leaving the restaurant.

This visit, I tried the Buffalo chicken wings, brat with sauerkraut and fries. The wings were large, but not much different then what I heat from the freezer at home. The brat was better.

The best thing was the pie, which is baked in a separate kitchen in the same building. The chocolate peanut butter pie was one of the best slices of pie which I have ever had.

It started raining during my drive to the Wakefield Museum in Wakefield, Kansas. At the time I arrived, it was pouring, so I read in the car until it let up, only to find the building all locked up during open hours when I finally went to the door.

On a hunch, I looked up the museum's phone number on my smart phone. My call got the answering machine, which confirmed that the museum should be open, but gave another phone number for the museum president, Joy Shandy who agreed to come open the museum, from her home in a nearby museum. She said that the volunteer scheduled to work had canceled.

Joy showed me through the two story museum which is packed with items. She said they will start construction of an expansion in the near future. I hope the expanded museum will give them a chance to rework the displays. At this time, the museum is primarily preserving items and displaying them. Many artifacts have no context and are only labeled with the name of their contributor.

It continued to rain, so I limited my remaining stops to places that were primarily inside. Back in Manhattan, I stopped at Kansas State University to revisit Call Hall Dairy Bar and the Insect Zoo. Call Hall on the KSU campus has housed the KSU Dairy Processing Plant since 1964. It also has the Dairy Bar where ice cream, milk, cheese, meat and sandwiches are sold to the public. I enjoyed a scoop of good butter pecan ice cream in the dairy bar and purchased some cheeses to try later. The bar also sells eggs and frozen beef and pork from animals raised at the University.

My last stop was an early supper at 4th & Elm, a bar and grill in Wamego, Kansas which has been getting good online ratings. It is an attractive building and they were preparing for some type of outdoor event later in the day. The menu looked pretty straight forward bar food and the mushroom and Swiss burger was much like those in other bar & grills. The house made potato chips were good.


Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts - Clay Center, Kansas Randy Rundle with the 6-volt alternator which he invented

Clay County Museum - Clay Center, Kansas Clay County Museum

Clay Center Zoo - Clay Center, Kansas Clay Center Zoo

Nelson's Landing - Leonardville, Kansas Nelson's Landing

Wakefield Museum - Wakefield, Kansas Wakefield Museum

Call Hall Dairy Bar - Kansas State University Call Hall Dairy Bar

4th and Elm - Wamego, Kansas 4th & Elm

Sunday - September 29, 2019: We added a new page devoted to the Stanton County Museum in Johnson City, Kansas. A 6 building complex anchored by a handsome native stone structure which was built by the WPA in 1935.  
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