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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Waterfall Park - Merriam, Kansas
Thursday - October 1, 2020: We had supper at Brobeck's Barbeque in Overland Park, Kansas. Although we ordered carry out here in May, this was the first time dining at the restaurant in over a year. They have added several tables outside their strip mall storefront and we dined alfresco. There are have been no changes to the menu or product and I enjoyed a meal of smoked ham salad with house made BBQ potato chips.

 

 
 
Sunday - October 4 2020: This afternoon, we participated in the Kaw Valley Farm Tour, starting out at Davenport Orchards Vineyard and Winery on the west side of Eudora. After a brief tour of the wine making facility, we waited a a socially distanced line for an opportunity to sample wines. After sampling the semi-sweet wines, we purchased 3 bottles of Traminette. We bought it for the taste, but after we got home, I noticed the wonderful science fiction theme label. Davenport uses the art of local artists on their labels.

Our second stop on the tour was at Country Road Farms, southeast of Eudora. A number of other vendors had sat up tents and tables selling products from other businesses in the region. We purchased fajita seasoning from Kansas City, Kansas based Grammy Tammy Creating in Kansas.

Country Road Farms has a small building devoted to selling their meat and other products. We purchased frozen beef sticks and a whole chicken to try sometime this fall.

We headed south toward Baldwin City and went to Vesecky Family Farms, which I first visited on the Kaw Valley Farm tour 4 or 5 years ago. After talking to the goats, we purchased another whole chicken to roast when the days get colder.

After driving through Baldwin City, we visited Ad Astra Alpacas where we looked through the selection of clothing made from from alpaca fiber. Then we fed the alpacas, which were split into a group of boys and a group of girls.

Our final stop was Clearfield Schoolhouse, northeast of Baldwin City. The one room school was built in 1900 and operated until 1946. The Clearfield Grange met in the building until the 1990s, It was placed on the National HIstoric Registry in 2014.

Volunteers have restored and furnished the schoolhouse, so it looks like it did about 1908. They host programs for children in the school. This school is a little unusual, with two entrances in the front. One for boys and one for girls. It is also unusual in the the front of the classroom is on the same end as the entrances.

 

Davenport Orchards Vineyard and Winery - Eudora, Kansas Davenport Orchards
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ad Astra Alpacas - Baldwicn City, Kansas Ad Astra Alpacas

Clearfield Schoolhouse - Baldwin City, Kansas Clearfield Schoolhouse

Monday - October 5, 2020: We added a new page about Benny's Burgers and Fries in Cheney, Kansas.

 

 
Wednesday - October 7, 2020: At lunch time I made my third recent trip to Edwardsville, Kansas to get another carry out meal at Roscoe's Barbeque. Today' meal was a burnt end dinner with onion rings and baked beans. I thought it was a little expensive at $16. The burnt ends were slightly fatty and had a good flavor from the smoking, but would have benefited from just a touch of crisp on the outside. The onion rings and beans were both slightly above average, The beans are sweet and have just a slight bit of meat.

From Edwardsville, I circled north to Wyandotte County Lake in Kansas City, Kansas to take some photos and videos with the early fall colors and then south to to Merriam to take more of the same at Waterfall Park.

 


 
 

Waterfall Park - Merriam, Kansas Waterfall Park 

Thursday - October 8, 2020: We picked up a carryout lunch at Herman's Meat & Smokehouse in Topeka, Kansas, getting pork spare ribs, beef burnt ends, beef brisket sandwich, beans, fries, horseradish pickles, and cherry cobbler. The meats were generally good and worth getting again. The pickles are reminiscent of those at C W Porubsky Grocery & Meats in Topeka, though not quite as hot from the horseradish. They also offer extra hot pickles in the meat market, which may have taken it to another level.

The beans were really the only thing I didn't care for.

We also bought meats from the meat counter. The ham salad was quite good, and a bargain at $3.99/pound. The meat prices seemed reasonable in general.

 

Herman's Meat and Smokehouse - Topeka, Kansas Herman's Meat & Smokehouse
Monday - October 12, 2020: We added a new page devoted to The Shepherd's Mill in Phillipsburg, Kansas, which is one of only two fiber processing facility in Kansas. About half of the facility is devoted to turning hair from sheep, yak, alpaca, goat and other animals into thread and yarn. There is an attractive gift shop and the mill shares a wall with several windows where the work can be watched.

 

The Shepherd's Mill - Phillipsburg, Kansas The Shepherd's Mill
Tuesday - October 13, 2020: I drove to Leavenworth, Kansas to see the improvements which have been to Little Stranger Creek Church and photograph the fall colors at Fort Leavenworth. 

An amazing amount of work has been recently done to Little Stranger Church, the oldest remaining wood frame church in Kansas. Since our first visit last year, there is new siding, windows and doors. The outhouse has also been restored. We plan to arrange to photograph the interior when work has been done in there.

We drove on into Leavenworth to have a light early lunch at Nu-Way Drive-In, which originally open in 1934, was closed, but reopened late last year after being purchased by the owner of Homer's, which is on the south side of town. I love the Nu-Way interior with a counter, booths and fixtures that look like the 1950s. 

Although they share a heritage with the Original Nu-Way Cafe in Wichita and serve a loose meat burger, the menu and food have little in common with today's Wichita restaurant. The Nu-Way sandwich was bland and they do not make their own root beer. The fries were made from frozen.

My favorite item was the chili dog, but it could still use more spice for my taste.

Other than a bottle of sanitizer at the cash register, there was no apparent effort to limit the risk of COVID19. The staff did not wear masks and the menus were being reused without sanitizing. No seating was closed to allow distance between diners, but at 11AM, business was slow enough that I was able to sit away from other customers.

The prices are reasonable. A small NuWay was $3.79, chili dog $3.49 and fries $2.49.

I continued to Fort Leavenworth and stopped at the Visitor Control Center to get a pass to go on the base, but that is as close as I could get. Although the post web site still says, Visitors are always welcome to the “Best Hometown in the Army,” visitors are now only permitted for official business. The person in the Control Center apologized saying they have no control over the web site. Our page about visiting Fort Leavenworth has been updated to help get the word out.

The Frontier Military museum is still open to people who are on the post.

With extra time, I went to the The Richard Allen Cultural Center, which opened in 1992 to highlight African American history in Leavenworth, Kansas. Unfortunately, I learned at the door that photography is not permitted in the museum. I explained that I was there to do photography to create a web page promoting the museum and would abide by restrictions on what things might be photographed, but was told that absolutely no photography would be permitted in the museum.

I decided to check out a second Leavenworth restaurant and called in a to go order at Ava's Island Cafe, a darling little restaurant which opened in 2018. I got a jerked chicken wing appetizer and curry chicken meal, photographing and sampling both items at a nearby park before putting them in the cooler to eat later.

The final stops of the trip were at the Chapel of the Veterans and the National Cemetery at the south end of town.

 


Little Stranger Church - Leavenworth, Kansas Little Stranger Church
 
 

Nu-Way Drive-In - Leavenworth, Kansas Nu-Way Drive-In
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ava's Island Cafe - Leavenworth, Kansas Ava's Island Cafe

Wednesday - October 14, 2020: We added a new page devoted to Jesse James Cave, near Pomona, Kansas is one of the few caves in Kansas where the public is welcome to visit. It is more of a large overhang than a cave, but still interesting to visit. It is more of an overhang than a cave, but it is an interesting spot, with a creek running through the cave from right to left.

 

Jesse James Cave - Pomona, Kansas Jesse James Cave
Thursday - October 15, 2020: We added a new page devoted to the grassroots art of Chainsaw Larry, east of Alta Vista, Kansas.

 

 
 
Friday - October 23, 2020: We are off on an overnight trip to central and south central Kansas.

We had a 10:30 reservation to tour the Pioneer Adobe House, Friesen Dutch Windmill, Kreutziger School House and Schaeffler House in Hillsboro, Kansas. Tour the first three took almost an hour and were were quite interesting. I particularly liked the replica windmill and will try to be there if they decide to operate it again.

Driving over to the Schaeffler House and touring it took another half hour.

On the way out of town, we stopped by Dale's Supermarket and bought a few packages of their house made smoked sausage.

McPherson no longer requires wearing masks and we couldn't confirm that any of the restaurants in town were taking COVID19 related precautions, so we ordered carry out from J D's Kwik Burger. Normally we would have driven to a nearby park to dine at a picnic table, but it was cold and windy, so we dined in the car.

The onion rings and French fries were pretty ordinary, but we we were happy with our Hickory Burger and Double Jalapeno Cheeseburger. Linda said the Hickory Burger reminded her of the ones from Smaks in the 1970s.

We took photos of several McPherson murals and the recently dedicated relief sculpture of the 1935-1936 Globe Refiners basketball team, which was called the "Tallest Team in the World." Six members of the Refiners were on the 1936 United States men's Olympic basketball team, the first team to win the Olympic Gold Medal. The new sculpture has life size representations of everyone on the team in bronze.

We drove up Old US-81 to Lindsborg, to photograph the mural of a row of books which is being painted on the back of the library. We also photographed the dugout where Gustaf and Maria Höglund lived in 1868.

We headed west to Kanopolis Lake, with stops at Cooley’s Crossing, 2 person Gile Family Cemetery and Mushroom Rock State Park. It had been 11 years since I was last at Mushroom Rock State Park and although we had it to ourselves, it looks like it has been getting a great many visits.

We headed back east to Salina where I attempted to photograph the Smoky Hill River Falls from the east, the opposite bank from where I have photographed it in Indian Rock Park. Although the land along this stretch of the river is public and there is a street nearby, it tuned out that the bank is very steep and quite grown up. It wasn't a climb I felt like tackling and the trees largely blocked the view.

We also toured the grounds of the former St. John's Military School, which was a private boarding military school for boys from 1887 until 2019. A museum is being created there, but we couldn't spot where it will be located.

We had a 6:15PM reservation for supper at Barolo Grille, which Chef Kevin OBrien opened in Salina at the beginning of this month. Kevin did a fabulous job when he was at the Renaissance Cafe in Assaria, which we really loved, and he emailed a few weeks back to tell me that he had opened this new restaurant specializing in steak, seafood and sushi.

We were pleased to see that the staff were all wearing masks, but did not like the lack of distance between the tables.. We decided to stay anyway. The food was very good, but the service was very disappointing. That isn't unexpected in a three week old restaurant, but I'm not ready to recommend this restaurant yet. My rib eye was extremely good.

We drove to Haysville, Kansas, south of Wichita and had a pleasant overnight stay at the Sleep Inn & Suites.

 

Schaeffler House - Hillsboro, Kansas Schaeffler House
 
 

J D's Kwik Burger - McPherson, Kansas Jalapeno Cheeseburger

Globe Refiners relief sculpture - McPherson, Kansas Globe Refiners
 
 
 
 

Mushroom Rock State Park - Marquette, Kansas Mushroom Rock State Park

Smoky Hill River Falls - Salina, Kansas Lower Smoky Hill River Falls

 

Saturday - October 24, 2020: We headed south to Arkansas City, with no stops along the way. As we drove west from I-35 on US-166, were were surprised to see bright, white fields of what looked like flowers, but we soon realized that they were fields of cotton.

On our return drive, we stopped to take photos of several of the fields and collect a few of the cotton balls that lined the road, almost like a light snow.

We have since researched Kansas cotton growing and learned that there have been several times that cotton has been crown in Kansas and this most recent period began about 1995. Cotton uses less water than many crops and does well in poor soil.

But getting back to Ark City... We drove straight to the Cherokee Strip Land Rush Museum, where the museum director is leading Etzanoa tours each Saturday morning at 10AM. Etzanoa was a large Native American community that was at this location from the mid 1400s until the mid 1700s. The location of the community was just determined a few years ago, after researchers finally resolved a 1601 map with the local rivers. At that time the community had at least 20,000 residents.

The $10 tour includes a presentation at the museum and the showing of a documentary which was produced by The Archaeology Channel for the Etzanoa Conservancy. Then there is a caravan of vehicles going to some locations in the community. It was all quire interesting, although there really isn't much to see from the time that the people lived here. The Spanish explorers called them the Rayados. They were part of the Wichita nation.

The first stop was at Spring Hill Golf Course, where we drove golf carts to the back of the course to look out from a high point. This part was pretty cool, but unfortunately we were taken to the wrong area and didn't see exactly what was intended.

The next stop was more interesting, as we visited a ravine where the first evidence that the Spanish had visited this area was found and where there was a small battle in 1601 between the Spanish and the Excanxaques from what is now Oklahoma.

The final stop of the tour was at Arkansas City Country Club, where two Etzanoa production mounds remain and there were originally 10 or more.

The tour took about 3 1/2 hours.

We had a carry out lunch from Burger Junkie in Arkansas City, which opened in 2017 in the former location of Burger Shack. The interior has an attractive 1950's style decor. There were no people dining in, but none of the seating had been eliminated and tables and booths are quite close to each other and we didn't want to chance dining in. We had a two burgers, a Screamin Flea (Bottom bun, House made Sriracha spread, Burger patty, American cheese, Fresh grilled jalapeños, Burger patty #2, Ghost pepper cheese, Grilled onions, Sriracha spread, Top bun) and a Bacon Blue (Dijon mustard, bacon, blue cheese cream spread and grilled onion). Both were quite good, as was the seasoned fresh cut "Fryz," though the Fryz might be too spicy for some tastes. It was cold and windy, so we ate in the car.

Before leaving Ark City, we photographed several old buildings, downtown Halloween light pole decorations and murals.

We drove west to Drury Dam Waterfall in the unincorporated community of Drury, Kansas, just a few miles from the Oklahoma State Line. I had photographed this lovely waterfall a couple of times before, but it was the first time that Linda visited this spot. There was a sign that the park was closed for construction, but no work was in evidence and we made a brief visit for videos and photos.

Visitors to the park who stay more than 30 minutes are asked to deposit a $2 fee to help with the maintenance of the park and dam.

We took US-81 north to Wellington, Kansas. to photograph the exterior of the new building housing the National Depression Glass Museum. The front facade of the old museum building collapsed in July 2019, but they were able to secure and move into this new, larger facility a block away, within a few months.

We also visited Woods Park, to see the Slate Creek Dam Falls. It is an attractive overflow dam, similar, but smaller than the Drury Dam. We were particularly taken by a group of ducks which stood on the top of the dam.

We made just one stop on our way home. I had been wanting to try Do-B's in Emporia, Kansas for a couple of years, but they have been closed when we tried before. They were open for drive through only and with a cold evening, we dined in the car again. 

Having had burgers twice already this trip, I decided to put off specialty hamburgers for a different visit. We had a Loosey (Classic loose meat with grilled Onion, Jalapeno and American Cheese) and a Chicken Philly. Both sandwiches and the seasoned fries were quite good, though I didn't care as much for the onion rings. We both look forward to trying Do-B's again. In addition to the burgers, I particularly want to try the Hot Wing (Chicken, Onion, Blue Cheese Crumbles, Chef's own Wing sauce and American Cheese).

 

Cotton field - Arkansas City, Kansas Cotton field
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Spring Hill Golf Course Etzanoa tour Spring Hill Golf Course
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Burger Junkie - Arkansas City, Kansas Burger Junkie
 
 
 

Drury Dam Waterfall - Drury, Kansas Drury Dam Waterfall
 
 
 

Slate Creek Dam Falls - Wellington, Kansas Slate Creek Dam Falls
 
 

Do-B's - Emporia, Kansas Do-B's

Friday - October 30, 2020: Today I took a short day trip to revisit some of the communities around Lake Perry.

I stopped for lunch at Biemer's BBQ on the west side of Lawrence. Sales was at the drive up window only and I bought chicken wings, onion rings and burnt ends, then pulled into the adjacent Centennial Park to enjoy the nice weather and dine at a picnic table.

The burnt ends were juicy, fat and full of smoke flavor. The onion rings were crispy and tasty. The wings were smoked, then finished in a deep fryer. They were a bit tough, but still tasted good.

Before leaving Lawrence, I stopped at Robinson Park to photograph a cannon and Founder's Rock, a large Sioux quartz boulder with a plaque listing 143 Lawrence founders who came from Massachusetts in August & September 1854.

The next stop was at Old Jefferson Town in Oskaloosa, Kansas, to get updated photos for our page devoted to the Jefferson County Historical Society's museum. The grounds were pretty with the fall colors. The mst memorable building the collection of buildings which have been moved to this site is the boyhood home of John Steuart Curry, Curry was a painter, whose most famous work, Tragic Prelude, hangs in the Kansas State house and depicts Kansas John Brown standing in front of front of living and dead Union and Confederate soldiers with a Bible in one hand and a rifle in the other.

After some downtown Oskaloosa photos, I drove west on K-92, stopping at Old Town Park for some photos of Lake Perry and the military vehicles in front of American Legion Post #225. Across the lake, I took a few photos in Ozawkie.

As I approached Meriden, Kansas, I spotted an old wooden church. As I pulled in to the church, I saw that there were other old buildings and a sign for the Meriden Antique Engine and Threshers Association. At first, it looked like about three buildings and a shed, but the farther I walked, there were more and more buildings, with plaques explaining when they were built. The buildings include a flour mill, sawmill, and blacksmith shop.

Before returning home, I drove south to Topeka, to purchase several containers of the hot pimento spread at C W Porubsky Grocery & Meats. I would have bought ham salad at Herman's Beef & Sausage House, but they had none made up.
  
  

Centennial Park - Lawrence, Kansas Centennial Park
 
 
 
 

Old Jefferson Town - Oskaloosa, Kansas Old Jefferson Town
 
 
 
 

Meriden Antique Engine and Threshers Association - Meriden, Kansas Meriden Antique Engine & Threshers Association

 
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