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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9/11 Memorial - Overland Park, Kansas
Tuesday - February 2, 2021: Linda joined me for lunch at 4th Street Cafe in Edwardsville, Kansas. The 5 year old restaurant is adjacent to the Post Office in a little stone building which first held a cafe in the 1930s. They have a small, narrow dinning room and are only open for carry out during Covid. 

The menu is on a chalk board which runs the length of the wall, but is unchanged since our first visit, 2 years ago. They were a bargain then and are even more of a bargain today. Hot sandwiches with fresh cut fries start at $4.95 and most of them run $5.50 to $9. 

We each had new sandwich. The $7.95 Red Hot Burger was dipped special Buffalo sauce and served with the choice of blue cheese or ranch dressing. 4th Street Cafe encourages customers to ask for what they want and added grilled onions at my request. It was a juicy flavorful burger. The best I have had so far this year.

The other sandwich was an $8.94 Grilled Chicken Bacon Sandwich (with onion, lettuce and tomato). There is less you can do to make this sandwich a stand out, but it was was very good and smelled great.

I requested that the thin, fresh cut fries be extra crispy and they were very good, much like the fries at Bates City BBQ, but not so scrappy looking.


4th Street Cafe - Edwardsville, Kansas 4th Street Cafe

Chicken sandwich and burger & 4th Street Cafe Grilled Chicken Bacon Sandwich & Red Hot Burger

Wednesday - February 3, 2021: I added a new page devoted to Lane County Historical Museum in Dighton, Kansas. In addition to the museum, there is a 1961 reproduction sod house and an old farm machinery display on the grounds.

I drove to south Overland Park, Kansas to try out 11 month old Tay's Burger Shack off US-69 at 151st Street. It is the second location for Tay's which has been in Kansas City, Missouri since late 2014. Tay's advertises that they do not use microwave ovens or freezers. The buns are made daily and the French fries are hand cut.

The menu is very short: burgers, hot dogs, chili, fries and fresh baked cookies. The smashed down burgers come with single, double and triple patties or a "homerun" with 4 patties.  They are made from organic, grass fed beef.

I arrived early and since there was only one other occupied table in the dining room, I decided to get a table at the far side of the room and dine in. I had a single combo with drink and fries for $8.79. The cheeseburger was smashed flat, cooked very well done and was brought to my table in about 5 minutes. The counter person made a point of saying my name and continued to use my name when checking on the customers in the dining area about every 5 minutes.

First the bad: I did not particularly care for the buns which I found bland and a little thick in relationship to the smashed flat hamburger paddy. To my taste the burger was over cooked losing some of its flavor and juice.

The good: Grilled onions were included as a no charge option. There are premium condiments like sriracha ketchup, sriracha mayonnaise and Guilden's spicy mustard (must ask for the Guilden's). The thin fresh fries were very good, as good as a fast food restaurant ever has.

I also tried a $7.89 chili chz dog. It was made with a Nathan's hot dog. I found that the house made buns worked better with the chili dog. The sandwich was good sized. The chili is made with beans and is not very spicy, tasting primarily like the hamburger. I ordered it without cheese and enjoyed the chili dog.

Tay's serves Pepsi products plus a house special orange drink which was good, though a little sweeter than I would choose.

While on the south side of Overland Park, I photographed the 9/11 Memorial, located next to the entrance to the city's Fire Training Center. It has several elements including a 14 foot tall beam from the World Trade Center, a list of all the fatalities, paving stones from the Trade Center and others.

Before returning home, I revisited the Memorial to the Six Million at the Jewish Community Center, to photograph it with sunlight and with no snow on the ground.



Tay's Burger Shack - Overland Park, Kansas Tay's Burger Shack

Cheeseburger - Tay's Burger Shack Cheeseburger & fresh cut French fries

9/11 Memorial - Overland Park, Kansas 9/11 Memorial

Thursday - February 4, 2021: I added a new page devoted to Buffalo Bill's Bar & Grill in Oakley, Kansas.


Friday - February 5, 2021: I added new pages devoted to the 9/11 Memorial and Tay's Burger Shack, both in Overland Park, Kansas.


Saturday - February 6, 2021: I bought carry out from Bates City Bar-B-Que in Shawnee, Kansas. The 21 year old BBQ restaurant is particularly known for inexpensive, falling off the bone pork ribs and large servings of shoestring sized, scraps of fresh cut French fries. The fries are so short and irregular, that they always look like dregs left over from other servings.

We got a $13 short end of pork ribs, a $6 1/2 pound of sausage, a $9 1/2 pound of mixed beef & pork burnt ends and a $3.50 order of fries. The meats are normally drenched in sauce, so we ordered the meat "dry" with sauce on the side.

The fries were great as always and the serving fed two of us with a decent sized portion leftover.

The sausage was my favorite meat by a wide margin. I don't think that it needs sauce at all. The sausage is nicely spiced and has a full smoky flavor from the pit.

The ribs were falling off the bone. Something that is popular with many people, but less popular with most people who are big BBQ fans.

The burnt ends, which were still drenched in sauce, are cut smaller than most KC area burnt ends and a little chewy. I still enjoyed them.


Bates City Bar-B-Que - Shawnee, Kansas Bates City Bar-B-Que

Bates City Bar-B-Que dinning room

sausage and burnt ends at Bates City Bar-B-Que sausage & burnt ends

Sunday - February 7, 2021: I added a new page devoted to Solar Calendar in Wichita's Central Riverside Park.


Monday - February 8, 2021: I added a new page devoted to Lost Acres Ranch on the northeast side of Hutchinson, Kansas. It is a grassroots art environment of cement and rebar cement sculptures by the late Richard Brown which is drive by only.

Today I did winter photography in and around Old Town in Lenexa, Kansas including Lenexa Cemetery, Lenexa United Methodist Church and Holy Trinity Catholic Church.


Holy Trinity Catholic Church - Lenexa, Kansas Holy Trinity Catholic Church
Tuesday - February 9, 2021: I added a new page devoted to the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit in the Wichita, Kansas Central Riverside Park.


Wednesday - February 10, 2021: I drove to Leawood Kansas to revisit Fritz's Smoked Meats, which is one of the places on our Kansas Specialty Food Guide. Getting there at 9:30AM, I was the only customer in the market, though meats were already cooking on the smoker out front.

I picked up salami sticks,  BBQ pork sausage, Italian sausage, and knackwurst. So far we have had the BBQ pork sausage (surprisingly tough) and the salami sticks. The sticks are a little thicker and shorter than beef sticks. The salami has a mild flavor.


salami sticks at Fritz's Smoked Meats salami sticks
Friday - February 12, 2021: I added new pages devoted to Asylum Bridge in Osawatomie and Altoona Mill Falls in Altoona, Kansas.


Saturday - February 13, 2021: We had dinner at Wandering Vine in the 1907 Caenen Castle in Shawnee, Kansas. The meal began with a shared French onion soup and concluded with a shared hazelnut cheesecake. The soup had a nice crusty bread and was very good. The cheesecake was enjoyable as well and large enough to take half home with us.

There were only 6 entrees on the menu.

Linda had the pasta of the day red, heart shaped lobster raviolis. The serving was small, but it was enjoyable. 

My 14oz Smoked Black Angus KC Strip was cooked well done, rather than the medium which I ordered. That was surprising with a steak that was over 2" thick. It came with gratin potatoes, bordelaise sauce and green beans, The gratin potatoes were cut into wedges. The cheese had a slight after taste. 

The staff worked had to make it an occasion, with couples taking home the rose on the table and with red rolls & heart shaped butter.

We appreciate the Plexiglas shields which separate many of the tables in the main dinning area.


Wandering Vine - Shawnee, Kansas Wandering Vine

French onion soup - Wandering Vine French onion soup

Sunday - February 14, 2021: I added a new page devoted to the Chetopa Historical Museum in Chetopa, Kansas.


Monday - February 15, 2021: I added a new page devoted to the Ennis-Handy House in Goodland, Kansas which we toured in 2019 during the Big Kansas Road Trip.


Wednesday - February 17, 2021: It was time for a trip to western Kansas for some winter photography. I headed west about noon, stopping for carry out lunch from Free State Brewery in Lawrence. I tried to order the Nashville Hot Chicken Wings which were listed on the menu on their web site, but they no longer serve the wings, so I ordered fish and chips, stressing that I wanted tartar sauce.

When I picked up my meal, the bartender made a point of saying there was plenty of tartar sauce. The fish and French fries were good, but there was only one small container of tartar sauce.

Before leaving town, I stopped along the north bank of the Kansas River for some photos below Bowersock Dam. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and there were many geese taking advantage of the open water, but there were no eagles about.

In Topeka, I made a brief stop at C.W. Porubsky Grocery and Meats to get the house made hot pimento cheese spread and Fanestill Meats beef sticks.

Driving past Manhattan, I decided at the last minute to revisit Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area and Deep Creek Waterfall. There was little snow, but I was still able to take photos of the mostly frozen waterfall, nearby Deep Creek Schoolhouse and Barr Cabin.

I spent the night at Best Western El-Quartelejo Inn & Suites in Scott City, Kansas. It is the second time I have stayed there and I recommend it. Clean, modern, well laid out and taking Covid precautions.

I usually dine at Majestic Theater in Scott City, but they are closed on Wednesday evening so I had carry out from Tate's Frontier Foods, across the street. Their chicken fried steak was fairly good, if a little pricey. I don't know how their soup is, they failed to put in the bag.

The house made peach cobbler was rather dry and tasteless. It could use more sugar, cinnamon and peaches.

The restaurant appeared to be taking no Covid precautions whatsoever.


Fish and chip - Free State Brewery Fish & chips

Deep Creek Waterfall - Manhattan, Kansas Deep Creek Waterfall

Tate's Frontier Foods - Scott City, Kansas Tate's Frontier Foods

Wednesday - February 17, 2021: I was early to visit attractions before the snow melted and the dirt roads became a problem, but there was little snow in the area. It was an overcast day and there was no sun until mid afternoon.

The first stop was just a few miles north of Scott City, at Battle Canyon, which was the site of the Battle of Punished Woman's Fork, the last encounter between Native Americans and United States Troops in the State of Kansas. The road is a barely improved two rut and the ranger at Lake Scott State Park had advised it could be treacherous, but there wa no problem at all. There were were just patches of now, but it would been perfect for photography with just a little sunlight.

Next stop was just up the road at Lake Scott State Park, where I took winter photos of El Cuartelejo (the only Indian pueblo that has been discovered in Kansas and the northern most pueblo in North America) of mallards on Big Springs, and a large number of Canada Geese on the one small patch of open water on the Lake.

The ice fisherman in the photo at the right were the only other people I saw at attractions or state parks during the trip.

The light got a little brighter at Monument Rocks, but was dark and gray by the time I arrived at Little Jerusalem State Park

There had been no fresh snow in a couple of days and there were just two sets of footprints on the Overlook Trail. The only tracks on the Life on the Rocks Trail were from animals.

Lunch was carry out from Buffalo Bills Bar and Grill in Oakley. I had the Prime Time (prime rib topped with jalapeno cheese, grilled onions & sriracha on marble rye). There are multiple thin layers of well done prime rib. I like this sandwich, but would love it if was cooked medium and had a little more cheese, onion and sriracha. The fresh cut curly fries were great.

Heading back east on I-70, I decided to try Castle Rock Badlands as well. It has the least improved road of any of the attractions I was visiting on this trip, but all the roads had been good and I felt comfortable going there. The road is just two ruts and very uneven. You need to drive carefully and it helps if you have high clearance underneath. I had no issues driving and the sun came out while I was taking photos.

There was very little snow at Castle Rock and I knew from driving through the area the day before, that there was even less snow ahead of me. Since snow photography was the point of this trip, I decided to cancel tonight's motel and head toward home.

Along the way, I stopped in Wilson, Kansas to purchase beef sticks and bratwurst at Wilson Foods. I also discovered that there are small decorated eggs in front of businesses around town, which are new since the last tim I was in Wilson.

I drove into Salina for supper, I got carry out at Hickory Hut BBQ, which is one of my favorite Kansas barbeque restaurants. Actually, they had closed half of the tables and were doing a great job of Covid precautions and I would have felt comfortable dining there. I hot Polish sausage and French fries. The sausage was spicy and a real treat. The fries were previously frozen and have added spice to try to dress them up. I think they would be better unspiced.



Battle Canyon - Scott City, Kansas Battle Canyon Monument 

Lake Scott State Park Ice fishermen

Little Jerusalem State Park Little Jerusalem

Buffalo Bills Bar and Grill Prime rib sandwich

Castle Rock Castle Rock

Hickory Hut BBQ - Salina, KansasHickory Hut BBQ

Friday - February 19, 2021: I added a second page devoted to Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park in the winter.


Saturday - February 20, 2021: I added a second page of winter photos of Battle Canyon in Scott County, Kansas.


Tuesday - February 23, 2021: I revisited Brown Sugar Chicken & Donuts in Kansas City, Kansas which we last dined at when it was new in January 2020. Unfortunately the door was locked and a sign said that they had frozen pipes.

Instead, lunch was at Slap's BBQ, on the south side of the Strawberry Hill neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas. There were only about 12 people in line ahead of me, but it took about 15 minutes to get my food. People were being good about wearing face masks and social distancing.

There are now three areas for dining, all outside. The adjacent covered space has temporary plastic walls and heaters. A second area with picnic tables is on the roof of a one story brick building and there are picnic tables in what used to be a parking lot in front of the building.

I had The Cattleman, a combination plate which consists of beef brisket, beef burnt ends and beef Polish sausage with the choice of two sides for $16.95. The beef brisket and Polish sausage were very good. The burnt ends were inconsistent, with some pieces very good, but others having the taste and texture of cubes of roast beef. The French fries were previously frozen and covered with a batter which I wish was left off. The cheesy corn had a nice distinct cheese flavor from a creamy sauce.

Before leaving Kansas City, I took photos of the confluence of the Missouri River and Kansas River at Kaw Point. There was little ice on the Missouri River and even less on the Kansas. It was interesting the way they came together, as the demarcation of the two was obvious on the surface, which looked like the Kansas River just stopped and the Missouri flowed on, rather than then the two mixing.



Slap's BBQ - Kansas City, Kansas Slap's BBQ

Kaw Point - Kansas City, Kansa Kaw Point

Thursday - February 25, 2021: I had lunch at Snack Shack on Santa Fe in Overland Park, Kansas. They had opened the inside seating and eliminated being able to order at the outside window since we were last there. It is a crowded little place and it didn't look like any of the seating was removed or closed to allow distance between parties. 

They have switched from hand cut French fries to frozen curly fries.


Snack Shack on Santa Fe - Overland Park, Kansas Pork tenderloin sandwich & curly fries
Friday - February 26, 2021: I added a new page devoted to Hickory Hut BBQ in Salina, Kansas. I've been dining here since 2010 and the review is long overdue.


Saturday - February 27, 2021: We had carry out lunch from peck's Bar & Grill in Topeka, Kansas. This place isn't much to look at, but it has a great tradition and every time I eat there, the food is even better than I remember. Speck's is famous for there burgers (up to 3 pounds in size) and the house made buns, but I love their other sandwiches.

We had the Chicken Club, Bomber Dog and pork tender, with house made chips and fresh cut fries. The Bomber Dog ia one of my favorite all time sandwiches, with a grilled quarter pound all beef hot dog on a bun, smothered in Swiss cheese, jalapeno peppers, sauerkraut and onions. The chips were very good. The fries tasted good, but would have been better if they were crispier.

We also visited Stone Pillar Winery in Olathe, Kansas. The winery was very busy, with many people in both the store and tasting room. Although it doesn't say so on their web site, tasting is by appointment only, so we did not get to try any of their wines, though we were given a taste of one of  their hard ciders. We bought two growlers of cider and some bottles of wine to try later.


Sandwiche from Speck's Bar and Grill in Topeka, Kansas Bomber Dog and pork tender

Stone Pillar Winery - Olathe, Kansas Stone Pillar Winery


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