Kansas Travel Blog

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

Jesse James Cave - Pomona, Kansas
Wednesday - July 1, 2020: Our Kansas photography designer face masks selection has been greatly expanded. There are nearly 200 Kansas images available. They machine washable, manufactured in the United States and come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

 

Kansas designer Face Masks Face masks
 
Thursday - July 2, 2020: We added a new page about The Historic Ritchie House in Topeka, Kansas. It was built by John and Mary Jane Ritchie in 1857 and was a stop on the underground railroad. It is part of Topeka's "Freedom's Pathway," which includes Brown v. Board National Historic Site and the Kansas State Capitol Building.

 

The Historic Ritchie House - Topeka, Kansas Ritchie House
Saturday - July 4, 2020: We celebrated Independence Day with a trip to Lecompton, Kansas to try Aunt Netters Cafe. It is a breakfast and lunch restaurant, serving supper only on Friday. The food is good, but they are known for their desserts, particularly wonderful pies. For our meal, we had fried catfish and a burger. Both were good, though not standout. The fresh cut fries were my favorite part, and grilled onions and jalapenos are a nice option on the burgers.

We split a slice of peanut butter chocolate of pie. The chocolate is rich and is not runny. The whipped cream has something extra, maybe cream cheese? It is topped with bits of peanut butter cup. Linda said it might even be as good as the chocolate peanut butter pie at Bradley's Corner Cafe in Topeka.

We took home chocolate chip & peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, a cinnamon roll and a slice of caramel apple pecan pie (which I liked even more than the chocolate peanut butter). The pecans compliment the apple, giving it extra flavor a a nice crunch! The other items were also good, with the chocolate chip cookies being our favorite.

While we were in town, we photographed the relocated and reconstructed 1892 Lecompton City Jail. It was unlocked and ad furniture and a prisoner mannequin inside. Next we visited the post office, which has a mural of early downtown Lecompton which was painted by Ellen Duncan. There is also a display of 19th century Lecompton. 

Our last stop was Kroegers Country Meats & Deli which we like for hot sandwiches, the house made beef jerky and fresh meats. Today we got smoked ham from Fanestil Packing in Emporia and two newer house made sausages. The sausages are made using Free State Beer: Ad Astra Ale and Garden Party with feta & sun dried tomatoes. So far we have had only the ale sausage, and enjoyed it.
 

 

Aunt Netters Cafe - Lecompton, Kansas Aunt Netters Cafe

Caramel apple pecan pie at Aunt Netters Cafe Caramel apple pecan pie

Post Office mural - Lecompton, Kansas Lecompton post office

Kroegers Country Meats & Deli - Lecompton, Kansas Free State sausages

Wednesday - July 8, 2020: We added a new page about Aunt Netters Cafe in Lecompton, Kansas. We also updated the review of Beethoven's #9 The Restaurant in Paola, Kansas to show that it has permanently closed. 
 
 
Saturday - July 11, 2020: Today's day trip was spent exploring Kansas Counties which require the wearing of masks in public spaces. 

The first stop was Grinter's Sunflower Farm, east of Lawrence, Kansas. They stopped saying anything about growing sunflowers this year and have not been responding to inquires. Neither of the fields where they have grown sunflowers in recent years had been touched and all signs have bee removed.

(Follow-up: Grinter's silence has ended. They are now talking about this year's season and sunflower seeds were planted later in the day)

I returned to Aunt Netters Cafe in Lecompton, Kansas for lunch, wanting to try the chicken fried steak and more desserts. Much like our previous meals, the chicken fried steak was fine, but not a standout. The desserts are still the stars of the show. I had a chocolate peanut butter cupcake and it was spectacular. The cake was good, but it was the frosting (pilled high, with a tiny peanut butter cup on top) that made all the difference. It was thick and rich, so good that I took small bites to savor. I believe that is is made with cream cheese.

I got two slices of pie to do, peach & Dutch apple. The peach was quite good, but the Dutch apple rivaled the caramel pecan apple from the previous week. The cup cakes are only $2 and the pie is $3.
 
The staff were masked, as were all of the customers.

I drove on to Berry Hill UPick Farm in Berryton, Kansas, just south of Topeka. They planted their sunflowers early this year and this week is the peak of this year's bloom. The plants are shorter than previous years and the blooms aren't as plentiful as a couple of years ago, though more full than last year. This is early then the public sunflower fields have bloomed in this region and I don't think the public is ready for them yet. There were only 3 or 4 other parties present in the time I was there.

Berry Hill recently planted more sunflowers, so we can hope for another bloom in September.

Staying in Kansas counties which require the wearing of masks in public spaces, I drove down to Franklin County and revisited the Old Depot Museum in Ottawa. When I arrived at the door, a sign said, "We Are Open By Appointment Preferred," but it turned out there were no visitors in the museum at the time and I was permitted to enter. The two docents on had were both masked parts of some exhibits were blocked off, since they could not properly sanitize them between exhibits.

The main thing that I remembered from my last visit to the museum was the large model train set up. It is still there and was operating. What I found most interesting were exhibits devoted to some businesses which had been in Ottawa, particularly that of William H. "Dad" Martin, who made many exaggerated postcards, including things like ears of corn large enough to sit on or enormous fish.

As I left, it was getting quite dark, so I raced to my next stop before the storm hit, Jesse James Cave, on the south side of Pomona, Kansas. It is on private property, but open to the public and only a few dozen yards from the road. There is no sign, just a red pedestrian gate in the fence.

I got there just before the storm, but it was too dark for very good photography. Many cattle had taken refuge in the cave, and although some of them moved out while I took photos, many stayed in place. They were very dark cattle and some photos with a flash showed only the glow of their eyes.

It started lightly raining while I was at the cave and rained harder as I headed back to Ottawa, but stopped by the time that I reached Buck-U Distillery on the east side of Ottawa. The micro distillery started with the name Monster Buck distillery and has been producing flavored liquors in 2017, primarily vodka, brandy, rum and whiskey. They have also produced a large amount of sanitizer in the past few months.

There were two large parties tasting the liquors and making purchases, so I waited until they were done. The sign on the door said the face masks are at your discretion. One party was masked and one was not. The owners were not.

I couldn't begin to sample all of their products at one time and still drive, but I did have small tastes of apple brandy, Monster Buck Bourbon Mash, blackberry flavored whiskey, peanut butter flavored whiskey, Some of the products were out od stock and others will become available soon. The whiskey must be aged at least two years, but many of the products can be turned out in a short period.

Owner, Daryl Kleitz, took time to explain how they made the liquors and told me about their partnerships with local farms, getting peaches from Pome on the Ranch and apple cider from Louisberg Cider Mill. He also gave a brief tour of the distillery and told me about the adventure of suddenly moving into the production of FDA registered liquid formula hand sanitizer in the past few months. 

Daryl and Trudy Kleitz have purchased a former Stuckey's Restaurant off I-35 on Tennessee Road, east of Ottawa. They plan to move into the much larger facility and add a restaurant.

I drove south to Princeton, Kansas to have supper at Brand N Iron Bar and Grill. It is tucked behind a gas station and a little hard to find.

My heart sank when I walked in and saw not a single person wearing a mask. The tables were not spaced out to allow distancing, they were reusing menu without sanitizing them or sanitizing the table. Not a single visible effort to protect customers or staff. I should have turned around and left, but had been planning to try this restaurant for some time.

I had chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes, white gravy and chopped asparagus. The potatoes and gravy were fairly good, the coating on the steak was not crisp or particularly seasoned. The same with the asparagus. The "Texas toast" was ordinary toast.

I had high hopes for the house made pie, but the chocolate peanut butter pie couldn't hold a candle to the chocolate peanut butte pie at Aunt Neuter's Cafe the week before.
 
 

Grinter's Sunflower Farm - Lawrence, Kansas Grinter's Sunflower Farm
 
 
 
 
 

Aunt Netters Cafe - Lecompton, Kansas chocolate peanut putter cupcake, Dutch apple pie, peach pie
 
 

Berry Hill UPick Farm - Berryton, Kansas Berry Hill UPick Farm sunflower field
 
 

Old Depot Museum - Ottawa, Kansas Old Depot Museum
 
 
 
 
 

Jesse James Cave - Pomona, Kansas Jesse James Cave
 
 

Daryl and Trudy Kleitz - Buck-U Distillery Daryl and Trudy Kleitz
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Brand N Iron Bar and Grill - Princeton, Kansas chicken fried steak

 
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