Kansas Travel Blog

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

Gepard 1A1 at House of Tank in Wichita, Kansas
Saturday - July 1, 2023: After a decent motel breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express in Chanute, we drove north to Humboldt. Our first stop was Neosho Valley Woodworks, whose website says it is open 8AM - 5PM, but it was closed at 9:30AM. We decided to check out the other things we intended to photograph in town and check once more before leaving town.

We passed by a building which said, Orcutt Backyard Museum, though it was not open this morning. I had done a lot of research for this trip and had not encountered this museum. A new search using the name brings up only a handful or references. This place is below the radar. We will visit it sometime in the future.

On up the street we photographed the Lander's Wagon and Carriage Shop, which is no longer in use, but is a really interesting looking building, which needs some love.

We drove by the Humboldt Historical Museum. We haven't been to the museum since 2007 and I had wanted to revisit it to update its review, but they had been unavailable to show the museum today. I took a few exterior photos and then continued north of town to the site where baseball legend Walter Johnson was born. The monument at the farm had been defaced the last time I saw it and I was happy to see that it has been repaired. Someone had left a baseball on top of the monument.

Back in town, it was great to see the front doors were open at the Neosho Valley Woodworks. Walking in, we saw master carpenter Pat Haire making a kitchen cabinet. He generously stopped working to show us around the very interesting furniture and millwork shop. It is filled with vintage machinery from the late 1800s. These aren't what you would normally think of as power tools, but belt driven, with leather belts running between the equipment and various other pulleys. Pat has found and restored this machinery from places all over the midwest. He started up some of the machinery briefly so we could see, hear and video them in operation. It would be bad if someone accidentally touched the moving, open belts.

Pat shared the history of his woodworking shops. That he had first developed one in Iola, Kansas but found himself needing to sell the machinery to pay off the building. He restarted in Humboldt at the Landers Wagon and Carriage Shop which we photographed earlier in the morning. He moved into this location on the Humboldt Square a couple of years earlier.

In addition to woodworking machinery, the two store fronts are filled with some of Pat's finished works, a few pieces of antique woodwork (including a secretary which had been manufactured in the 1800s at a factory in Humboldt owed by Utterson and McLeod), and Pat's art made from Kansas prairie grass.

We enjoyed over an hour of exploring the shop with Pat. I was concerned about his taking so much time away from his carpentry, but learned that has been cutting down on the number of projects he is doing and lately has limited them to work for the local community, where among other things, he has been making a lot of doors for building restoration. He explained that the kitchen furniture he is working on today is for his own country home.

Lunch was at the Prairie Nut Hut in Altoona, Kansas. We last dined there in August. After many years they have finally made a new menu. The prices have gone up about 10%, a small change after so long, and the prices are still quite reasonable. We had a small cheeseburger with onion rings, a Rohr burger with home (fresh cut) fries and a side order of mountain oysters.

The food was just as good as I remembered, but the look of the restaurant has changed over time. There are no longer photos of customers on the walls and over all it feels cleaner. There are still T-shirts for sale, but they have changed designs from the ones they once had. Their are still peanuts in the shell on the tables and customers are welcome to drop the shells on the floor.

We next revisited the Norman No. 1 Replica Well and Museum in Neodesha. It has had much more change since our last visit. An additional building has been opened and more items are on exhibit. At the same time, less of the wonderful circus clown memorabilia is on display and what is displayed is scattered in three locations across the two buildings. It had been my favorite part of the museum, but now I would say it is the large collection of  Works Progress Administration dolls from the 1930s.

Continuing on to Independence, Kansas we visited the Independence Science And Technology Center. Although it is primarily of interest to young people, we still found the hands on exhibits and activities center interesting. The exhibit which particular stood out to us was one on space shuttle thermal protection which includes original tiles from a NASA space shuttle.

Surpassingly there was no exhibit about Able, a rhesus monkey which was born at the Ralph Mitchell Zoo in Independence, Kansas in 1959 and was one of the first two experimental animals to be shot into space and recovered alive.

While we were in Independence, we also drove by an photographed Alf Landon's House. Belmont Castle, and the impressive 1905 First Presbyterian Church.

Continuing southeast, there was a brief stop at the Little House on the Prairie Museum for new exterior photos and a longer stop in Caney, Kansas to photograph several chain saw sculptures in Wark Park. They are in deteriorating condition, but some of them are still rather nice and I hope they will have preservation work soon.

We had a 4PM appointment to see Caney Valley Historical Society Museum and were met by Board President, Dale McBride and Treasurer, Gina McBride, who gave us a thorough tour. The main museum is in a handsome two story building on 4th Street, but the museum has 3 other nearby buildings including an old school house and a lovely stone building which is operated my the society as Sandstone Event Center.

The museum has many exhibits from historic Caney businesses, a large display about Cicil War Veteran, Captain J. B. Stone, and a number of old keyboard instruments including a 150 year old melodeon and a player piano.

Leaving town, we drove north to the nearby community of Niotaze to photograph the Niotaze United Methodist Church (formerly known as Odell Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church and Niotaze Methodist Episcopal Church). The congregation was established in 1895 and the building was built under the direction of architect Benjamin Price in the same year. It appears that the church is no longer in use, but other than the front steps, it still looks like it is in pretty good condition.

In Coffeyville, we went to supper at The Yoke Bar and Grill. Saturday night on the holiday weekend turned out to be very slow and we nearly had the place to ourselves. The staff were spending the free time cleaning (but not disturbing us). They also spent more time talking with us than may be normal.

We liked the way the old building was finished and particularly like the photos of local attractions with small signs saying what they are. Some of the walls were lined with dollar bills which had been signed by the person who donated them. The surface of the long bar is made of Lincoln head pennies.

I had ribeye ($28.83 with side salad, choice one side, vegetable and roll), while Linda had beef tips ($17.99 with same sides). Both meats were grilled over open flame. The tips were marinated 48 hours before cooking and served with sautéed mushrooms, which made me happy since Linda gave me the mushrooms.

The salad was good (and the have blue cheese dressing) though I enjoyed the salad the night before more. The ribeye was much better. It was a real treat. Linda was quite happy with the tips. Both the fresh cut fries and baked potato were good. The corn was ordinary, but much I like it more than the cheesy potatoes the night before. Tonight we boxed all the leftovers for later in the week.

We usually share a dessert, but tonight we both had root beer floats ($3.79) made with hand dipped ice cream and the house made Death Alley Root Beer. It was a nice finish to the meal. Iced tea and soft drinks with our meal were only $2.29.

Before checking in to our motel, we revisited the 1911 Onion Creek Bridge, which is on the southwest edge of town. The bridge is immediately next to one which replaced it. The surface of the bridge has been long removed and trees actually have grown up through the bridge. 

Returning to town, we saw many white-tailed deer. I caught 6 of them in one photo, but there were at least a couple more in the field and Linda spotted more deer farther along.

We checked into SureStay Plus by Best Western on the east side of . The clerk was inexperienced, but trying hard and it took a long time to check in, but that was no big deal.

What was a big deal, was going into the room at 8:30PM and finding that the AC was turned off. The thermostat showed the temperature as 90 degrees. We knew the room would take many hours to cool down and went to the desk. The clerk said the owner tells housekeeping to turn off the AC when they finish cleaning a room (at the Kansas/Oklahoma border in July!). The clerk said there was just one room which might be cool. We checked. It was 86 and had been smoked in.

By the time we got our things out of the original room, 25 minutes had passed since we first turned on the AC. The temp was still 90.

We moved to the Best Western Coffeyville Central Business District Inn And Suites where we checked into a room which was 71 degrees. In general the 2nd hotel was in much better condition and the clerk was much more knowledgeable.



Lander's Wagon and Carriage Shop - Humboldt, Kansas Lander's Wagon & Carriage Shop

Walter Johnson Birthsite - Humboldt, Kansas Walter Johnson Birth Site

Pat Haire - Neosho Valley Woodworks
Pat Haire

Neosho Valley Woodworks - Humboldt, Kansas Neosho Valley Woodworks

Prairie Nut Hut - Altoona, Kansas Burgers & Mountain Oysters

Norman No. 1 Replica Well and Museum in Neodesha, Kansas Norman No. 1 Replica Well & Museum

Independence Science And Technology Center Space Shuttle Thermal Protection System

Caney Valley Historical Society Museum - Caney, Kansas Caney Valley Historical Society Museum

Niotaze United Methodist Church - Niotaze, Kansas Niotaze UMC

The Yoke Bar and Grill - Coffeyville, Kansas Yoke Bar & Grill

Beef tips and Ribeye - The Yoke Bar and Grill Beef tips and Ribeye

Making root beer floats

White-tailed deer - Coffeyville, Kansas White-tailed deer


Sunday - July 2, 2023: After a pretty good motel breakfast, we started the day with a visit to the sculpture garden located at the corner of 8th & Beech Street in Coffeyville. The lot is filled with chain saw sculptures done by students of Coffeyville Community College. The art has been added to the lot for years, so some of the pieces have significantly deteriorated. The sculptures all seem rather simple.

We went on to visit another sculpture garden which was supposed to be at 2002 N. Buckeye, far from downtown Coffeyville, but there is no such garden. That is the address of the Coffeyville Aviation Heritage Museum. Apparently one website used the wrong address the 8th & Beech garden and many others of copied and repeated the info over time. It has been many years since I visited the museum, so I took some new exterior photos so we can freshen the page the next time it is updated.

Returning to the heart of town, we stopped at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The 1907 Romanesque Revival building appears to be in good shape, but is no longer in use. Although the sides of the building facing the streets had their stucco removed and are now exposed bricks, the back side is still covered.

We stopped by Walter Johnson Park to photograph the Walter Johnson Monument outside the Coffeyville Community College baseball field. Johnson was one of the most successful baseball pitchers of all time. The monument is a replica of one which was erected in 1946 at the long gone Griffith Stadium in Washington, DC. Nearby, we found a moving memorial to Conner Taylor, a Coffeyville Community College baseball player who died by suicide.

On the way out of town, we also visited the historic marker devoted to the Votaw Colony was was settled by African Americans relocating from Texas. The community existed from 1881 - 1915. The marker is difficult to read, but is very informative, including a plot of the names of those people who were granted lots on the 160 acre area.

In Independence, Kansas, we checked out the Pennsylvania Avenue Rock Creek Bridge over Rock Creek a mile south of downtown. The concrete arch bridge was built in 1911 and added to the historic register in 1985. It isn't very impressive from the roadway, but is more interesting when viewed from the side.

Lunch was a mile north at Fish & Shrimp Diner. which opened this spring in the old Brothers Railroad Inn location. I didn't realize it, but this restaurant is a new restaurant from the owners of the Sam's Southern Eatery restaurant where I dined in August on the east side of Independence. They are no longer a franchise and have a new menu, but the food is similar.

We had fried oysters, catfish, shrimp, red beans & rice, and corn. The oysters seem more fishy than I remember, but perhaps I was comparing them to the mountain oysters the day before:-) I liked the catfish with hot sauce, but didn't care for sauce that came with them. We shared a fired apple pie, which was good.

I had confirmed on the phone that the Cherryvale Historical Museum in Cherryvale, Kansas was open 1-3PM today and we arrived there a little after 1, only to find that it was closed and the sign on the door said 2-4PM. With an hour to kill we drove by several Cherryvale attractions, including two homes where Vivian Vance lived and two homes where silent film actress Louise Brooks lived.

Returning to the museum at 2PM. we saw most of the things that I expected, including an entire room devoted to the Bender family, a group of 1870's serial killers who lived nearby and are called the Bloody Benders. There are also large displays devoted to Vivian Vance & Louise Brooks and a nice small display devoted to the many brick manufacturers who were one located in town. What I didn't notice (and forgot to ask about while at the museum). was an exhibit about Frank Bellamy who may have written the Pledge of Allegiance (it is uncertain).

Heading north from Cherryvale, we stopped to photograph the badly deteriorating historic Benders marker at a rest area, then continued much farther north to Dodson International Parts in Rantoul, Kansas (southeast of Ottawa). Dodson sells airplane parts and has an enormous airplane junkyard. It isn't open to the public, so we could only see the portions visible from the road, but it is still rather impressive. It made me think of photos of the place in the desert where aircraft are mothballed. I bet it is really cool to see from the air!

For supper, we went on into Ottawa, to revisit Smoked Creations BBQ. The 13 year old restaurant is very popular and their customers raised up in protest after I posted on Facebook that it was good, but didn't rave about it. We sampled traditional BBQ the first time and still had pork ribs with fried corn on the cob tonight. I went a little different direction this time, chicken fried steak with fresh cut French fries.

Once again, it is good, but I don't feel the level of attraction to the food that many do. This time I won't post about it on Facebook.


Coffeyville Community College - Coffeyville, Kansas CCC Sculpture Garden

Conner Taylor - Walter Johnson Park Conner Taylor

Votaw Colony - Coffeyville, Kansas Votaw Colony Marker

Fish and Shrimp Diner - Independence, Kansas Fish & Shrimp Diner

Cherryvale Historical Museum - Cherrycale, Kansas Bloody Benders

Dodson International Parts in Rantoul, Kansas Dodson International

Smoked Creations BBQ - Ottawa, Kansas Smoked Creations BBQ

Monday - July 4, 2023: I made a new page devoted to Neosho Valley Woodworks in Humboldt, Kansas.


Saturday - July 8, 2023: We are off to Lawrence, Kansas to Monarch Waystation #1 on the West Campus at the University of Kansas. It began as Monarch Watch in 1992 and then started the Monarch Waystation program in 2004. an international program that now numbers 37,000 registered waystations. The waystations provide locations when monarch can rest and feed during their annual migration.

The parking lot is subject to KU parking regulation, but there are three spots reserved for Monarch Watch guests and there are instructions on the sign for how to pay by telephone.

There are several small gardens and plantings by the building, but back to the left are larger garden areas and the pollinator garden that is Waystation #1. Although the space is surrounded by college buildings, it is large enough to take you away from all that and is quite peaceful. We didn't find any monarch butterflies in the garden, but we saw a variety of other butterfly species as well as may other pollinators.

Returning to the building, we tried the door and found that it was unlocked. There were a couple of people working. One of them checked if we needed anything and also alerted us to the active bee colony in one of the rooms where the lights were currently turned off. In addition to displays and many beautiful photos of butterflies, we found two rooms with multiple cages of monarchs and also found a woman who was removing tiny monarch larvae from milkweed plants and transferring them to small containers of media. The shelves of the room were lined with more containers with larva and cocoons in various stages of development.

Just a half mile away, we went on to The Dole Institute of Politics, where the papers of the late Senator Robert Dole's are housed along with exhibits and meeting rooms. This year would have had Bob Dole's 100th birthday and the Institute has commissioned famous Kansas artist, Stan Herd, to create an earthworks of Senator Dole which will be completed by July 22 and remain in place until October.

As we pulled up, we saw that people were working on the piece and as we got closer, one of them started a conversation with us. He turned out to be Evan Hurd, son of Stan and I wasn't surprised to learn that one of them was Mr. Herd himself. Stan spoke with us for about a 15 minute, some while he continued working and some while taking a break, saying that talking to visitors is part of what they are paying him to do. He spoke at length about Prairie Henge, the rock sculpture he created on Bill Kurtis' Red Buffalo Ranch near Sedan. Dropping briefly into an impersonation of Bill's voice, he told us the Bill called him from Mongolian to say he was looking at a rock formation and would like Stan to make one on the ranch.

Bill was thinking of something very prominent, but Stan convinced him to place it on a hill top in the interior of the ranch where people have to be intentional about going to see it and have it unveil before them.

We went to downtown Lawrence to have supper at Free State Brewing Company. which was closed the last time we tried to dine there. With the exception of iced tea, I found the prices quite reasonable, but when we paid for the meal they had charge of either the iced tea or my soft drink. 

We had Spanish Baked Goat Cheese ($10.95 garlic tomato sauce, Wisconsin goat cheese, Swiss cheese & fried capers with toasted baguette), Cheddar Ale Soup ($6.85), onion rings ($4.95) and  Bavarian Burger (13.25 house bratwurst sausage on a farm to market pretzel bun with jalapeño kraut, hot dijon & Swiss Cheese). I got fries as the side with the burger, but we had much more food than we needed and if I was doing it over, I would have had the soup as my side dish.

It was all very good, I need to get to Free State more often than once every year or so.

On our way out of Lawrence, we headed northeast, past the airport and turned off north on to 1600 Road to the University of Kansas Native Medicinal Plant Research Garden. The garden features Midwest and Great Plains plans which have been used traditionally for medicine, food, dye and other purposes. It is open dawn to dusk and free.

There is a demonstration garden where more than 50 species are used in informal landscaping. There are also garden rows which highlight native species used for medicinal and other purposes and the KU Community Garden where community members and KU students, faculty and staff grow vegetables, fruits and flowers.

While looking at some flowers, I realized the one of the bumble bees pollinating flowers was not a bee but flew like a hummingbird. I'm used to the White-lined Sphinx hummingbird moth, but this was much smaller. By the time I figured that out, it was too late to get a very good photo. I believe this is a Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis) also called the "Flying Lobster." They are supposedly fairly common, but people don't usually notice that they aren't bees.



Monarch Waystation #1 - Lawrence, Kansas Monarch Waystation #1

Butterfly Cages - Monarch Watch Monarch Butterfly Cages

Bob Dole Earthwork - The Dole Institute of Politics Bob Dole Earthwork

Stan Herd - Bob Dole Earthwork in Lawrence, Kansas Stan Herd

Free State Brewing Company - Lawrence, Kansas Bavarian Burger, Onion Rings & Goat Cheese

Snowberry Clearwing moth - Kansas Native Medicinal Plant Research Garden Snowberry Clearwing


Tuesday - July 12, 2023: I made a new page devoted to Sixth Principal Meridian Initial Point near Mahaska, Kansas.


July 13 - July 24, 2023: We took a 12 day road trip to northern Michigan. Wanting to visit family in Columbus, we drove out by way of Ohio with an overnight stop in Detroit where I revisited Greenfield Village.

The the core of the trip was 6 nights in Mackinaw City book ending 2 nights on Mackinac Island. Highlights included a flight over the Straits of Mackinac, a trip to the top of the south tower of the Mackinac Bridge and a private charter boat from Mackinac Island. We took literally thousands of photos to use at our sister website MightyMac.Org and its Facebook Page.

We returned through the UP, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri, staying overnight in Mineral Point, Wisconsin.

The Trip Report is live at http://mightymac.org/2023MichiganRoadTrip/index.htm

My trip to the top of the Mackinac Bridge is at http://mightymac.org/2023MichiganRoadTrip/23michigan06.htm



Mackinac Bridge Tour Tour Mackinac Bridge Tour Tour

July 27, 2023: I had lunch at Lulu's Thai Noodle Shop which opened in downtown Overland Park about 2 months ago. The chicken Pad Thai had a great flavor and I will definitely dine here again. The recipe comes from Lulu's father. They also offer a dish they call Khun Ma Pad Thai which they describe as the variation found most often in US THai restaurants. It includes bean sprouts and peanuts

Lulu's offers 5 spice levels: No spice, mild, medium, hot and blazing. They recommend ordering medium or higher.

I eat lots of hot sauces, but know that Thai restaurants can make things hotter than I can eat, so I ordered my food just hot. It was a nice level of heat, not pushing at all near my limits so I will probably try blazing the next time. The leftovers didn't seem at all hot the next day.

Reviews of this location have not been as high as I would expect for this restaurant and I think that the atmosphere has hurt them a little. It was very noisy, but more to the point, a wall of shelving filled with canned and dry goods blocked my view of most of the restaurant.

But I think the atmosphere needs to be taken for what it is. This isn't the place to go for a romantic dinner or a business lunch. They do get cool points for the robot which helped deliver dishes to another table.

Lulu's first opened in Lawrence, Kansas in 1997, but moved to Kansas City, Missouri three years later. They have two locations in KCMO.


Lulu's Thai Noodle Shop - Overland Park, Kansas Lulu's Noodle Shop

View from my table

The Robot

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