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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Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park
Wednesday - October 2, 2019: My day job took me near Metcalf and 135th Street in Overland, Park, Kansas, and I took advantage of that to revisit Taste of Africa, which has a listing on our Overland Park Restaurant Guide. I had the Goat Pilau Platter, which has bone in goat cooked with aged Basmati rice in spices, particularly fresh ginger and garlic. It is served with two beef samosas, a farmer's choice sausage and Kachumabari salad for $18,95.

Neither the salad or sausage did very much for me, but goat was wonderful and samosas were the best I have had in at least a couple of years.


Taste of Africa - Overlnad Pakr, Kansas Taste of Africa
Thursday - October 3, 2019: We had a family gathering scheduled at Stroud's Restaurant in Fairway, Kansas for tonight, but it permanently closed a few days ago. Because of the size of our group, we had reservations, and they never called to warn us they were no good, but fortunately one of our party had seen a news article and we were able to make new reservations at Stroud's 135th Street location in Overland Park.

The menu was much changed from my last visit at at any Stroud's location, and I decided to try the new spicy hot fried chicken. The two piece dark meat was only $12.95. Stroud's meals are family style, with a lot of food, but this chicken was so good that I wished I had ordered more. It wasn't that hot, but it had a wonderful, spicy flavor!

Writing about this has me planning my next visit to Stroud's!


Spicy hot fried chicken at Stroud's in Overland Park, Kansas Spicy hot fried chicken
Friday - October 4, 2019: We had lunch at Porky's Blazin Bar-B-Q in Grain Valley, Missouri.

Porky's is open only Friday to Sunday. Food is ordered at the counter. There is a selection of 8 smoked meats, but sides are limited to beans, potato salad and cole slaw. Other than a $40 platter which serves 4, there are no combination plates available. We tried a half slab ($13.99) and a small burnt end sandwich ($4.50) The burnt ends were the better one of the two. The ribs had very little meat.

My favorite dish was house made chocolate peanut butter pie.


Porky's Blazin Bar-B-Q - Grain Valley, Missouri Porky's Blazin Bar-B-Q
Sunday - October 6, 2019: We were passing through Independence, Missouri on the way back from Illinois and took advantage of the opportunity to revisit A Little BBQ Joint, which is in our Kansas City BBQ Restaurant Guide.

I enjoyed the burnt ends and ribs much more than Porky's on Friday. The spicy meat loaf sandwich didn't live up to expectations. The cheesy corn was good and the hot potato salad was a very pleasant surprise.


A Little BBQ Joint - Independence, Missouri A Little BBQ Joint
Monday - October 7, 2019: We checked out the new Plowboys Barbeque in Overland Park, which opened just a week ago. it is their third location. The other 2 locations are in Missouri. I'm not sure about the location, which is just two blocks away from Wyandotte BBQ #2.

We tried the Royal Crown (brisket, pork & 4 ribs with 2 sides & toast $16.95) and regular smoked sausage sandwich ($6.79). The food was fine, but nothing stood out as a reason to select this restaurant in the crowded Kansas City BBQ market.


Plowboys Barbeque - Overland Park, Kansas Plowboys Barbeque
Saturday - October 12, 2019: We drove to Baldwin City to visit the Old Castle Museum on the campus of Baker Museum. The museum is in the first building at Baker University, which was built in 1858. The museum focuses on the history of Kansas, Methodist, and Baker University.

On one side of the museum is a replica of the Kibbee Cabin. The original cabin was where a group of Methodist ministers gathered and decided to form a college in Palmyra, Kansas, which later became Baldwin City. On the other side is the building which housed Blood’s Grocery and the post office in Palmyra, Kansas from 1857-1862. It was a stop on the Santa Fe Trail. The final touches are being made on the preservation of this building and it will be open for the Maple Leaf Festival in Baldwin this weekend.

One of the men working on the building said it isn't really a restoration, that the building is probably nicer than it ever was when in use.

The building was relocated several times over the years and moved to the Baker University campus in 1976. It was moved to its present location in the 1980s to make room for the Sports Complex.

We drove north to Vinland, where I took fresh photos of Coal Creek Library, the former Vinland Presbyterian Church (where the Inventor of Basketball, James Naismith preached for a couple of years), and the Vinland Grange Hall.

We continued to Lawrence, where we had a nice meal at the Mass Street Fish House and Raw Bar. We had pan seared salmon, chowder, and mussels & fries.

We also photographed a nearby monument to the late Leo Beuerman. Leo was 36 inches tall, deaf and unable to walk, but determined to be independent. He had a modified tractor which he would drive into Lawrence and then transfer to  a four wheel cart to sell pencils on the sidewalk in the 1950s and 1960s.



Palmyra Post Office - Baldwin City, Kansas Palmyra Post Office

Leo Beuerman Monument - Lawrence, Kansas Leo Beuerman Monument

Sunday - October 13, 2019: We had supper at the newly opened Third Coast Pizza in Lenexa, Kansas. This is a location which has had many restaurants. I have been to at least 5 restaurants in this store front in the past.

I discovered Third Coast Pizza while searching online for chili dogs. I got excited when seeing that they have "The Detroit Coney," but was skeptical, since the "The Chicago Dog" photo on their site only looked similar to a Chicago dog.

We tried a 10" regular crust pizza with crushed garlic and pepperoni ($12.60) and The Detroit Coney with French fries ($7.99). The pizza was pretty good, not stand out. 

The coney and fries were average. As I suspected, it wasn't that close to a Detroit Coney Island, in fact, it sounds like the owners have never had a coney in Detroit. They would probably do better, if they just called it a chili dog. That way the customer expectations would be different.

I do plan to return to try the Italian Beef Sandwich.


Third Coast Pizza - lenexa, Kansas Third Coast Pizza
Friday - October 18, 2019: We took a day off from our real jobs, to travel to western Kansas and check out the new Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park, which opened just last Saturday.

We stopped in Topeka to pick up my father-in-law and to drop by C.W. Porubsky Grocery and Meats, a 72 year old family market in the Little Russia neighborhood in North Topeka. They only sell their popular chili on Monday - Thursday, but I had called the day before and they sat aside a quart for me to pick up today. I also got ham salad for a friend at work, a quart of the wonderful hot pimento cheese spread and some unusual hot sauces. 

Our next stop of the day was in Alma, Kansas, where we picked up peach turnovers at Alma Bakery and Sweet Shoppe and several cheeses at Alma Creamery. The dairy store only offers samples of a few of the cheeses and I haven't been willing to buy some of their more expansive products without having sampled them. My wife decided to get some of the $12.99 extra sharp cheddar without tasting it. It was sharper than she likes, but I like very sharp cheeses and loved it. I will be a regular purchaser in the future!

Lunch was at Mattie's Grill and Chill in Salina, Kansas. The fired catfish and chicken fried steak were good. The peach crisp was fabulous. The server was nice, but every step of the meal was so slow that I probably will not return. Although they were not particularly busy, there was a long wait to be greeted and given menus, an even longer waits to order and get the food. The waits for the dessert, check, and payment were similar. Our lunch took about an hour and forty minutes.

Now running late, we pushed on, dropping a couple of planned stops, to get to the Lane County Historical Museum in Dighton, Kansas before it closed for the day at 5PM. The small museum has very nicely done exhibits, though it doesn't take very long to see all the displays. There is a large museum store and one out building which the docent unlocked for us, a reproduction sod house which was built in 1961.

Has we continued west, we turned a couple of miles off K-96 to drive past Ehmke Seed and photograph the 42' diameter grain bin which was converted in to offices and guest rooms. While I was taking pictures, a pickup pulled up next to us and the driver asked, "Are you tourists?"

I said, "In a way," and the driver asked if we wanted a tour. Vance Ehmke proceeded to show us around the interior, which is far more interesting than the building itself. It is furnished with antiques collected by Vance and his wife, Louise, and with rustic furniture created by Vance from scraps, fallen trees and found objects.

We had supper at the Majestic Theater Restaurant in Scott City, Kansas, which we had previously visited in 2007, but I had never gotten around to reviewing. It an elegant restaurant in an old movie theater, which still looks like a theater. The menu is fairly short, but we selected rib eye steak ($26.95), grilled shrimp, (2.95) and fettuccini Alfredo ($12.05). The salad and bread which came with the meals were very good. The shrimp, Alfredo, and fried potatoes with onions were also very good. The steak was average. No desserts had been baked this day.

While waiting for our entrees, the server showed several customers the upstairs, which had been converted to law offices, before the building was turned into a restaurant. Those rooms are now available for private dinning. The original projection room is still there, along with the old projectors. When I asked if there was a tradition of the building being haunted, we were told that while she has worked there many years and never experienced anything thing,, there were other employees who had experienced, light touches and sounds and one employee will not work there alone.

We stayed the night at the Best Western El-Quartelejo Inn & Suites, where we have stayed before and will be happy to stay again in the future.


C.W. Porubsky Grocery and Meats - Topeka, Kansas C.W. Porubsky Grocery and Meats

Alma Creamery - Alma, Kansas Cheese samples at Alma Creamery

Lane County Historical Museum - Dighton, Kansas Lane County Historical Museum

Ehmke Seed - Lane County, Kansas Ehmke Seed

Majestic Theater Restaurant in Scott City, Kansas Film projection room at Majestic Theater Restaurant

Saturday - October 19, 2019: After an above average free breakfast at the Best Western El-Quartelejo Inn & Suites, we drove to Historic Lake Scott State Park, which is a surprising oasis nestled in the prairie of Western Kansas. We made several stops for new photography, particularly of El Cuartelejo, which is the only Indian pueblo that has been discovered in Kansas and the northern most pueblo in North America. On previous visits, I missed noticing that the ruins are reconstructed, rather than original.

We drove on to Keystone Gallery, a unique combination of art gallery, fossil museum and souvenir shop in and old stone school house which is off the grid. It was nice catching up with Barbara Shelton & Chuck Bonner, who own the gallery. Chuck has created much of the art and they have both collected many of the fossils.

This was the first time that we heard the story of their turning the building into a gallery. They bought it in 1980 and it had been used for storage. When they converted it a couple of years later, it was so full of sand that they cleaned it out with shovels.

There was only time for the briefest stop and a few fresh photos of Monument Rocks, as we needed to be at Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park by 11:30. The park, gallery, and Monument Rocks are all within a few miles of each other.

This state park opened just a week ago today. The only way to get off the trails and into the badlands, is with a tour. Otherwise, you are limited to looking down at it from three lookouts. Our free tour was led by Naturalist Sara Kay Carrell, who took about 15 of us into the actual badlands. She has no set route, and enters and leaves a different way each time, to limit the damage done to any particular area. She probably knows the badlands better than anyone, but still is learning ways through it.

I believe that our route wasn't quite as challenging as it usually is, because there were people from 1 year old to 85 years old, but it still included quite a bit of climbing up and down somewhat challenging slopes. The rock formations were quite beautiful on this cool, sunny day. You need to wear long pants and closed toe shoes, so this was probably much better weather than summer. 

Our visit took a bit over two hours. The only wildlife we saw in the badlands was insects and a couple of small birds, though many sand hill cranes flew over on their way south.

We had a late lunch at Buffalo Bills Bar and Grill in Oakley, Kansas. The service, cheese burger, curly fries, chicken tenders, and fried shrimp were all good. The onion rings were stand out. We would definitely eat here again.

Other than gasoline, there were no stops on our drive back across Kansas on I-70. We made it to Bradley's Corner Cafe just before they closed for the evening and I had great fresh fries, chicken fried steak sandwich and sour cream & raisin pie.


El Cuartelejo - Historic Lake Scott State Park El Cuartelejo 

Keystone Gallery Keystone Gallery

Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park - Kansas Tour at Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park

Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park


Sunday - October 20, 2019: Added a new page devoted to Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park.  
Monday - October 21, 2019: An appointment left me close to Rye Leawood in Leawood, Kansas, so it seemed like a good time to revisit this popular upscale suburban restaurant. 

Rye's fried chicken gets raves, so I had the fried chicken with mashed potatoes, ham gravy and greens ($15.35 at lunch time). It wasn't the treat that I hoped for, particularly at that price point. The fried chicken looked great, but there was a spice in the chicken batter which I  didn't recognize. It didn't ruin the chicken, but I for me, it made it average. The potatoes were closer to a purée than masked and I would have preferred chicken gravy. 

A small salad with a vinaigrette dressing came plated with the chicken and gravy. It wasn't bad, but my experience would have better on a separate plate. The salad, chicken and potatoes were all up against each other and the mixture of flavors was not as pleasant as the individual flavors.


Rye Leawood - Leawood, Kansas Rye Leawood
Wednesday - October 23, 2019: Added a new page about Kitchen Table in Fredonia, Kansas.


Friday - October 25, 2019: I revisited BBs Grill and Bar in Olathe, Kansas which opened over a year ago in the location which had been long occupied by Fred P. Ott's. The experience was poor when it was visited in September last year and I hadn't returned until this summer, on a day that the gas line had been shut off and I had to eat elsewhere.

The experience was much better this time. The pork tenderloin, which was badly over cooked the last time, was very good. The French fries were above average. BBs is worth another visit in the near future.


BBs Grill and Bar in Olathe, Kansas Hand breaded pork tenderloin at BBs Grill and Bar
Saturday - October 26, 2019: We revisited the Wilson County Historical Museum in Fredonia, Kansas. The museum has recently been upgrading and rotating the exhibits, some of which had not been changed in nearly 60 years. They have also added Saturday hours.

For lunch, we went to Kitchen Table, a nice Mennonite owned restaurant which moved into the old Western Diner location in Fredonia in early 2018. You order and pay at the counter and the food is brought to your table when ready. The desserts are already sliced and displayed next to the cashier. Almost everything in the restaurant is made from scratch. Even the sausage and the excellent buns that sandwiches are served on.

Everything we sampled was good. The biggest treats were the sliced cucumber & onion "relish" and the rich banana nut cake. 

After a few photos at the Fredonia City Cemetery, we followed back roads to Buffalo, Kansas and then took US-75 north to Burlington to photograph some historic building which have been turned into private homes.

Just outside New Strawn, we visited Wilson Cadman Environmental Education Area and climbed to the top of Eagles Nest Tower, a wildlife observation tower which was made from an old farm silo.

The little known park has five nature trails, ranging in length from .4 to 1.5 miles. Prairie Lake Trail and South Pond Trail are each .5 miles long, are asphalt and have gentle slopes so they are highly accessible. The Marsh Island Trail has over 500' of boardwalk through wetlands,

The final stop of the trip was Luigi's Italian Restaurant in Ottawa, Kansas, which we last visited in May 2018. The fresh bread and dipping olive oil were better than I remembered from the previous visit.

We had Shrimp Champagne (shrimp in white cream champagne sauce, with fresh herbs, spinach and garlic $17), Chicken Pomodoro (breaded chicken sautéed with fresh tomatoes, basil, spinach, olive oil & garlic, with light marinara sauce served over penne $11.95), and Linguini with Clams ($15). All of the food was very good and a fantastic value. The atmosphere is also nice.


Wilson County Historical Museum - Fredonia, Kansas Wilson County Historical Museum

The Kitchen Table - Fredonia, Kansas The Kitchen Table

Eagles Nest Tower - Wilson Cadman Environmental Education Area Eagles Nest Tower

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

Tuesday - October 29, 2019: I had lunch at Mom's Kitchen in Olathe, Kansas, to update its review in our Olathe Restaurant Guide. I really enjoy this restaurant and find it to be a good value, but somehow get there only about once a year. Today I had the chicken fried steak, which was good, if not outstanding.

Today was the first time that I noticed that one of the options is fired potatoes. The pan fried, house sliced potatoes were very good.


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