changes to KansasTravel.org and Keith's exploration
& photographing Kansas restaurants, attractions, museums, festivals
and art. Contact him.
- September 5, 2020: The day started overcast, but by 8:30 it showed
signs of clearing and drove to Grinter's
Sunflower Farm, between Tonganoxie and Lawrence. As we left I-70, we
could see a fairly steady stream of cars heading for the farm. The primary
field is at a new location from the past few years and they have cleared
a nice parking area across the street.
took photos at this location and then headed to the Grinter's "Sunflower
General, where they sell crafts, T-shirts, local honey and baked goods.
This space was changed this year in an attempt to allow for social distancing,
but there were still more people than we felt comfortable with.
was a second smaller sunflower field behind Sunflower General, with plants
which were a few days behind the main field.
Grinter's Sunflower Field
- September 6, 2020: After postponing Lenexa Kansas' concert series
early in the summer, it has started back up with several Sunday night concerts
in Sar-Ko-Par Park in the next few weeks. Tonight the performers were Sisters
and Strings and there was a large appreciative crowd.
Lenexa concert series
- September 14, 2020: I drove to Mission, Kansas to have lunch at Town
Topic, a 20 plus year old restaurant serving drive-in style food in
a 1950's Valentine Diner. The first Town Topic was opened in Kansas City,
Missouri by Claude Sparks in 1937 and there are three locations today.
it is temporarily closed during COVID19.
in Mission, I stopped at Cross Cemetery, a tiny family cemetery at the
busy intersection of Lamar Avenue and Johnson Drive. Two grave stones are
mounted in a red brick wall: Nancy Cross who died in 1886 and
Cross who died in 1872. There is also a flat marker, "Dedicated to the
pioneers of this community."
have found little information about this cemetery online. Find A Grave
says the bodies which were interred here were moved to Cornith Cemetery
in Prairie Village, but does not list Nancy or Washington as buried there.
Other sources say the burials are still here, with one claiming that this
was the corner of the cemetery, with the other graves having been paved
- September 15, 2020: I visited several places in Kansas City, Kansas,
starting with Bichelmeyer Meats,
a family meat market which has been in operation since 1946. I bought Old
World Polish and Barbecue sausages and had a nice conversation with one
of the butchers who wondered why I was taking photos.
photographing former Fire Station Number 9, several murals and a statue
of an antique sad iron, I stopped by Spicin
Foods in the Rosedale district of Kansas City, Kansas. The name and
signs have been updated changing the name from the former Original Juan
Specialty Foods. The salesroom has been largely cleaned out to allow for
social distancing. The area for free samples has also been changed and
moved, though I'm not sure exactly how it is used, as there were no employees
was just up the street, a few blocks across the state line in Kansas City,
Missouri at Danny Edwards
Blvd BBQ, one of my favorite bbq restaurants and listed in our Kansas
City BBQ Restaurant Guide. I planned to eat on their outdoor patio,
but they have removed most of the seating and the tables are well spaced,
so I dined inside. I had a quarter smoked chicken with with fresh cut French
fries and spicy jambalaya. All was good, with the jambalaya being even
better than I remembered. I almost got a larger serving to take with me.
of the employees noticed my taking photos of the food and invited me to
photograph their smoker, but I had already photographed it while here with
a Roadfood Kansas City BBQ tour a couple of years ago.
- September 17, 2020: I drove to Edwardsville, Kansas to dine at 4th
Street Cafe for the first time in a year and a half. The restaurant
is in a small, old stone building and there isn't room to socially distance
the dining area, so it is carry out only. I got a double cheeseburger with
grilled onions and fresh cut fries for only $6.95! It really is a good
burger and I enjoyed it at Edwardsville City Park.
in the area, I revisited Jones
Bar-B-Q to what changes have been made. This small BBQ restaurant was
catapulted from obscurity to national visibility when Netflix released
season 3 of Queer Eye in March 2019. The "Fab Five" did a
makeover of the restaurant the Fall before and made it much more visitor
friendly. Those changes are still in effect, but the huge line that waited
for food when we last visited is gone and there was no line today. I don't
know if that is because it is a week day or business has slowed. The BBQ
vending machine which they added earlier this year looked well stocked.
4th Street Cafe
- September 22, 2020: I returned to Edwardsville, Kansas. This time
to get carry out at Roscoe's Barbeque. I ordered a half slab of pork ribs
($13.50) 1/2 order of fries ($1.99) and cheesy corn ($2.99). The ribs tasted
pretty good, smoky with a good flavor, but were cooked a little too long.
I like the meat tender, but not falling off the bone. The cheesy corn was
some of the best I have ever had.
- September 24, 2020: Today I visited two sunflower fields which are
north of Edgerton, Kansas. Several weeks earlier, I had learned that Gieringers
Family Orchard & Berry Farm has had public sunflower fields for several
years and their Facebook page said that the field will be opening to the
public this weekend. I sent a request through their Facebook page and they
gave me permission to come out this morning.
is a busy "u-pick farm" farm from April through October. They added sunflowers
to the mix in 2015. A $10 fee includes the sunflower field, corn maze &
kids mini maze, combine slide & truck slide, kids play area, picnic
area, food trucks and more. They made a point of planting later in the
season, to have sunflowers after most fields were done. There are 3 more,
smaller fields which will bloom after the present one. The pumpkins next
to the sunflower field give even more photo opportunities.
the drive to Gieringers, I passed another sunflower field which was in
bloom. On the way back, I stopped by Lewis Farms, which has a large field,
right next to Edgerton Road, with better parking than most of the public
sunflower fields. They are open dawn to dusk. Taking photos is free, though
there are donation boxes. The sell cut sunflowers (leave the money in the
box) and mums & pumpkins are for sale after 3PM and all day on weekends.
added a new page devoted to Gieringers
Family Orchard & Berry Farm and added both sunflower fields to
our Public Kansas Sunflower Fields
Gieringers Family Orchard
- September 25, 2020: Today we started a two day exploration of central
Kansas. Our first stop was Jesse James Cave, just south of Pomona, Kansas.
I visited this cave in August, but it was a very overcast day, with a thunderstorm
coming and it was very dark that day, as well as filled with cows. It is
an interesting spot, with a creek running through the opening from right
to left. Linda is in the picture to provide scale.
the way west from Pomona, we stopped to photograph a 51 ton, 36 foot tall
in Pomona's Woodlawn Cemetery which marks the graves of Dr. Henry Benton
Johnson and Agnes Charlotta Johnson. Johnson was a doctor in Pomona for
stop was in Vassar, Kansas, where we photographed the 1912 Little Red Schoolhouse
and then drove downtown to make a short video of my pumping the old hand
water pump which is in the middle of the intersection of Main and Topeka.
was a short drive on to Osage City, where we had an 11AM appointment to
photograph the Railroad & Mining Museum. There are no regular hours
and the museum is rarely open for visiting, but Cathryn Houghton and Richard
Youngers There really are no exhibits about mining, but the old depot has
a number of railroad exhibits and a model railroad which was built by Richard.
Fe Park is located just west of the railroad depot and has a waterfall
and picnic tables. We understand that the City has recently taken over
the park and will develop it and a route connecting the park to the nearby
Flint Hills Trail, which passes north of town.
photographed several other old buildings in town and also stopped at Rapp
School five miles west of Osage City on highway 56.
another stop to photograph Admire Memorial Bridge, west of Admire, Kansas,
we had lunch at Keianna's Dive in downtown Allen, Kansas. Few of the customers
and none of the employees were wearing masks and there tables were not
distanced from each other. The cheese burger, fresh cut fries and Kayla
sandwich (grilled chicken with grilled onions, mushrooms, bacon, Swiss
cheese and Cheddar cheese) were fine, if not standouts. I would have liked
to have had a burger with all the toppings that ore on the Kayla sandwich.
review of Keianna's Drive had said how good the pies were, but none were
available. When I asked why, the server said that people had stopped ordering
pie this year and they didn't like throwing them away.
Council Grove, we visited Alexander ArtWorks which produces stained glass
art and custom metal items ranging in scale from jewelry to highway signs
and life size silhouettes. We learned that they have been not been producing
stained glass recently, because it is time consuming and there is a better
return on their metal work. They were putting the finishing touches on
a metal sign which will go atop Legion Stadium in Council Grove.
returning to our car, we noticed Rock Fish Art Gallery across the street.
We were impressed by the variety and quality of works displayed and plan
to revisit the gallery. The gallery is also the home of Carlin Carpentry
& Design, which specializes in custom designed furniture using reclaimed
woods and new & unusual materials.
continued on to Woodbine where we photographed some interesting structures,
then drove southwest of town to photograph the West Branch Lyon Creek pony
truss bridge. The 49' long bridge is closed to vehicle traffic, though
we could see that at least one vehicle has recently crossed it.
Enterprise, Kansas, we visited the Hoffman Grist Mill which is at the end
of the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad line. The equipment looks quite
interesting and this would benefit from having someone present to explain
how the equipment operates.
adjacent gift shop offers wheat, pancake mix, rolled oats, corn meal, grits
and buckwheat flour which was milled at Hoffman Grist Mill. There is also
meat, cheese, honey, hard candy and gifts.
next stop was at Jason Wiebe Dairy, a family farm on the Santa Fe Trail
near Durham, Kansas. They primarily sell their farm made cheese online
and at assorted markets across Kansas, but will also sell the cheese at
the farm by appointment.
most popular cheese is the Cottonwood River Cheddar Reserve, an aged, raw
milk cheese which contains tyrosine crystals. Several east coast restaurants
buy it in 5 pound blocks.
had supper at Main Street Cafe in Durham. It has a reputation for a good
German buffet on Friday nights, but the ownership changed a couple of years
ago and they had a mediocre BBQ buffet instead. None of the employees wore
masks, though many customers were. We managed to find a table which was
fairly far from others and went ahead and dined in.
was a cooler near the register where Wiebe Dairy cheeses were offered for
sale at about $3 more per pound.
into Hillsboro, we photographed Ebenfeld Mennonite Brethren Church which
was the first organized Mennonite Brethren congregation in North America,
and nearby Salem Orphan's Home Cemetery.
like to support local businesses when visiting small Kansas communities
and stocked up on a few things at Dale's Supermarket. We also bought a
couple of packages of their house made smoked sausage, which we have since
discovered is quite good and we will get more the next time we are in Hillsboro.
had originally planned to spend the night in Hillsboro, but Country Haven
Inn had double rooms remaining for two people and we spent the night in
McPherson, 25 miles farther west. The sun went down while we were driving
west, and was very orange sue to West Coast wild fires. I started looking
for something interesting to line up for photos and finally found a nice
grain elevator, a little west of Canton, Kansas
Jesse James Cave
Railroad & Mining Museum
West Branch Lyon Creek Bridge
Hoffman Grist Mill
Cheese aging at Jason Wiebe Dairy
Central Kansas Sunset
- September 26, 2020:
At 9:15AM we had an appointment to tour the Center for Mennonite Brethren
Studies in the Tabor College Library. We were met by Peggy Goertzen, who
I think was ready to cancel, when she learned that we are from Johnson
County, with its relatively high level of COVID19, but she was polite and
gave us a masked and socially distanced tour of the Heritage Alcove and
explained the history of the Mennonite Brethren Church.
leaving Tabor College, we photographed the 1893 historic church across
the street. The country church was moved twice, arriving at this location
in 1990. It is used for Wednesday evening worship during the school year.
left town on US-56 and as we were crossing over Mud Creek, just north of
Marion, Kansas, spotted an overflow dam on the Creek and a concrete pony
arch bridge over another smaller creek. It took a long drive through Marion
to circle around to this area. It turned out that railroad tracks and the
lay of the land kept us from seeing the dam, but we did cross the bridge.
There we no signs or markers on the bridge, but searching online, we learned
that it is Clear Creek Bridge. We could not learn the history of the bridge.
on the road, we drove to Burdick to photograph the United Methodist Cemetery
and shop at the Burdick Meat Market & Locker, which turned out to be
closed this day.
lunch we went to Trail Days Cafe and Museum in Council Grove, Kansas It
had been several years since we had been to this cool restaurant in the
1861 limestone Terwilliger Home. The restaurant's grounds contain a small
complex of old buildings is a combination museum, cafe and bakery. Dining
is currently only permitted on the porch or carry out and we selected the
table on the porch which was furthest from the rest. I had a Buffalo (Bison)
Joe curly oven fries and Linda had baked ham with strawberry sauce, mashed
potatoes and applesauce. We enjoyed our meal, though for me it is more
about the history the are preserving and presenting.
headed north to Alta Vista, Kansas, where a rickety old wooden bridge carries
A Avenue over the Rock Island Railroad. Linda called this bridge scary,
but I thought it was really neat.
of Alta Vista on K-4, we stopped at Frese Farm's Chainsaw Larry. A long
stretch of fence posts are topped with Larry Frese's chain saw folk art
and we stopped by the workroom to photograph more of his work. There was
no sign offering the work for sale (though we believe that it is) or encouraging
stopping at the nearby home, so we took our photos and continued on our
farm, a bit farther east had another art environment with dozens of bird
houses topping fence posts.
continued to head east and then north, passing through Alma, Kansas, where
we happened across a new public sunflower field at Munchkins Pumpkin Patch,
just south of I-70. Admission to all of the grounds is $10 for ages 2-16
and $5 for those older. We learned that this is the first year the sunflower
field has been open to the public. They had planted sunflower last year
at the time recommended for this area, and they came and went before sunflower
season. This year they waited much later. The field was the smallest public
sunflower field we have seen. Although Munchkins Pumpkin Patch was busy,
we saw no one taking photos with the sunflowers.
drove on to Mount Mitchell Heritage Prairie Preserve, a 50 acre hilltop
with untouched native prairie grass, which is dedicated to Captain William
Mitchell and the Connecticut Kansas Colony. Despite the unseasonable temperature
in the upper 90s, we ascended to the top of the hill to enjoy the view
north toward Wamego.
on to Wamego, we sampled the wines at OZ Winery. They provide only two
samples of wine per person, selling sampling flights of three or five full
glasses of wine. Two apiece was enough for as to sample the wines we thought
we might like. Our favorite is called Yellow Brick Road.
was time to start heading home, but we made two more stops. The first was
Topeka State Hospital Cemetery. The hospital operated from 1872 to 1997.
Although 1,157 individuals are known to have been buried in the hospital
cemetery, there are only 19 grave markers. But 2006, two granite monuments
were erected at the cemetery with the names of everyone known to have been
a couple of miles away, we had supper at Bobo's Drive-In which opened in
1948, and has been at this location on 10th Avenue since 1953. It had been
3 years since we were last there, but the Spanish burger and onion rings
were both as good as I remembered. Their corn dog was just a corn dog.
The indoor dining area is closed and masked servers take the orders and
bring the food to the cars, packaged to go.
Clear Creek Bridge
Lunch at Trail Days Cafe
Wizard of Oz folk art
Munchkins Pumpkin Patch
View from Mount Mitchell
Topeka State Hospital Cemetery
- September 28, 2020:
Today was a day trip to to southeast Kansas. I drove straight threw to
Pittsburg, to have lunch at Bob's Grill,
a small diner which is open for breakfast and lunch only. I sat at the
counter, as far from other customers as I could. I and some other customers
wore masks coming and going, but the servers and the majority of the customers
love the burgers at Bob's and usually get them, but to try something new,
I went with the Beef Philly, a large cheese steak which came with a huge
serving of fresh cut fries and a drink for only $8.50. It was a great sandwich!
used the rest room before leaving and it was the first of two disgusting
rest rooms I was in during this trip. It was in really poor condition and
there is no sink.
on through Pittsburg, I spotted a church spire and followed it to Our Lady
of Lourdes Church, a large Catholic parish with adjacent elementary and
high schools. The building was unlocked and I also photographed the beautiful
first planned attraction for the day was Colonial Fox Theatre on Broadway
in downtown Pittsburg. I stopped by the Colonial Fox Theatre Foundation
office next door and asked if I could photograph the theater. The Marketing
Coordinator, Casey McCafferty, locked up the office and let me into the
impressive old theater.
foundation was started in 2006 by five local general contractors. After
14 years, it looks like they are about half way through the project. It
takes real vision to work on a project that will take a generation! It
still looks rough, but the bones of a fine building are still here.
continued on down to Historic Route 66 and made brief stops in Baxter Springs
and Galena. My only extended stop was at Schermerhorn
Park & Southeast Kansas Nature Center, where I took videos of Shoal
Creek and Schermerhorn Cave.
the way back north, I stopped at Pickled Pete's in Frontenac. Masks were
required, sanitizer was available and some booths were closed to allow
customers to be separated from other parties. I was happy with the chili
fries and how accommodating the bartender/server/cook was, making me a
cheeseburger with fried onions and jalapeños, even though that isn't
listed on the menu.
men's rest room was in terrible shape and didn't have a seat on the toilet.
Nice as the service and food were, I still can't recommend this restaurant.
final stop of the day was at Rock
Creek Lake Waterfall, just west of Fort Scott. I recently re-posted
a video of the falls from 2015 and it looked so nice I wanted to see it
again. It was a nice afternoon and a very pretty setting.
Our Lady of Lourdes Church
Colonial Fox Theatre
Rock Creek Lake Waterfall
- September 29, 2020:
For supper, we tried out the new Seafood Island, which is located where
a Ryan's was long at 75th and Nieman in Shawnee, Kansas. They do a lot
of seafood boils and gumbo, but we went with fried oysters, catfish, shrimp,
onion rings and Cajun waffle fries. All enjoyable, but nothing which stood
out as special. I got carry out, but took a quick look at the dinning room,
where the tables didn't appear to be very distant from each other.
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