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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All Veterans Museum Complex - Pratt, Kansas
Friday - October 1, 2021: We spent last night at the Best Western Airport motel in Wichita.

Our day started with a leisurely drive southwest to Argonia, Kansas to take some new exterior photos of the Salter House Museum, which looks much nicer than when I first photographed it in 2011. While we were in town, we checked on a waterfall, south of town on the Chikaskia River, but the ground was soft and the trail leading east from the Argonia RIver RV Park looked poor, starting with a collapsed bridge near the park.

We headed north and west back toward K-400, with brief stops for photos in Danville and Harper.

On our way into Kingman, Kansas for lunch, we made a pass by Glenn Stark Park and were stunned to find all of the wonderful folk art statues missing. During our wait for our food, we managed to learn that they have been moved to storage, while the park landscaping is significantly changed. The intend to replace the art in about 8 months.

Lunch was at Smitty's Carry Out, which is on our list of Best Kansas Burgers. It was been 6 years since I last dined there. I finally tried the hand breaded pork tenderloin and house made potato chips. The house made chips were quite good, but I wish they had a seasoning option. They do have dips, which many customers have with their chips or fries.

The pork tenderloin was fine, but nothing special. Linda had excellent onion rings and a hickory bacon cheese burger. On our way our, we saw chocolate chip cookies from Bighorn Bakery, which the young woman at the counter said were baked by her twin. We got one to split later in the day. The chocolate was my favorite, but the cookie itself was so good that I would definitely get one again.

We continued west to Pratt, Kansas where we toured the Vernon Valley Art Museum. Most of the museum is taken up by two galleries of rotating exhibits. Presently they both house an exhibition of the art of Virgil Penner. mostly bright, colorful acrylic landscapes where many vertical lines swing to the left as if wind blown.

There are just a few pieces of other art on display, plus an attractive enclosed patio and a nice gift shop. We purchased a children's book, but could have easily selected some art by regional artists.

While we were in Pratt, we revisited the little changed Pratt Education Center with its Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks nature exhibits. North of Pratt, we photographed the All Veterans Museum Complex at the airport. We haven't managed to get by here on Sunday afternoons when the B-29 Museum is open, but did photograph the memorial and nearby helicopter and fighter jets.

We detoured to drive through Greensburg, but saw nothing new worth stopping and continued to Mullinville. We would be returning to town tomorrow for the ribbon cutting for the new Visitors Center at the Kanza Art by M.T. Liggett, but feared is would be raining and wanted to take some outside photos. There was a team of volunteers preparing for the next day's event and Ann Dixon (whose daughter Stacy Barnes we met at the Shoe Tree during the Big Kansas Road Trip) let us inside for a few quick photos to post to Facebook this evening.

On our way into Dodge City, we stopped at the Coronado Cross which is believed to be in the area where Father Juan de Padilla held a mass of thanksgiving after Francisco Vasquez de Coronado crossed the Arkansas River in 1541. There isn't much left of the roadside park these days, but there is a marker about the people who contributed to the park and the cross on a hill.

We had supper at Central Station Bar & Grill in Dodge City, an attractive restaurant in an old train depot. Our dinning room was an old dinning car and the rest rooms were in a former freight car.

We had mountain oysters, ribeye and grilled pork chops, with sides of French fries, green beans, corn, and potato tracks. We finished with Churros con Chocolate.

The hand breaded calf fries were over cooked and tough, served with ketchup rather than cocktail sauce. The less cooked ones were not too bad, but they were not a treat. The pork chops had been marinated in a whiskey sauce, a little different than usual, but good. The ribeye was heavily seasoned with black pepper, I would have preferred garlic.

The Potato Tracks were our most liked side dish. They were crisp potato skins topped with mashed potato, cheddar cheese and bacon bits, then oven toasted.

The Churros con Chocolate were only $3.99! Three deep fried double twisted donuts filled with Bavarian Creme, sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with chocolate dipping sauce. The server asked if we wanted chocolate sauce, caramel, or both. I'm glad I said both, as I didn't care for the chocolate, but enjoyed the caramel a lot.

We spent the night at the Confront Suites in Dodge City. We had a large comfortable room. The price of the room seemed fairly high for a motel in western Kansas, but was less expensive than the other well reviewed places in Dodge City.
 

 

Salter House Museum - Argonia, Kansas Salter House Museum
 
 
 
 
 

Smitty's Carry Out - Kingman, Kansas Pork tenderloin & hickory bacon burger
 
 

Vernon Valley Art Museum

All Veterans Museum Complex - Pratt, Kansas All Veterans Museum Complex
 
 
 
 
 

Coronado Cross - Dodge City, Kansas Coronado Cross
 

Central Station Bar and Grill - Dodge City, Kansas  Dinning Car at Central Station Bar & Grill

 
Saturday - October 2, 2021: There had been heavy rain overnight and we took our time getting started. At 10 AM we visited the new Ford County Legacy Center which opened in Dodge City, Kansas a few months ago. It will have rotating exhibits and the first one is a collection of vintage race cars and racing memorabilia. This inaugural display was supposed to run from June 5th to Labor Day, but it sounds like it will remain on display for some time. The owner of the collection, Roger Burnett. helped show us around. In 1934 Dodge City a dirt track for automobile racing was built in Wright Park at the Ford County Fairgrounds and local automobile enthusiasts embrace that heritage.

From there, we went directly to the Dodge City Carnegie Center for the Arts. The sign on the door said it was open 9:30AM - 2PM, and when I called two days ago the person said they would be open 9AM - 2PM, but they were closed and there was no sign. This is the 2nd time we have gone there when the Center was scheduled to be open, but was not,

With extra time on our hands, we stopped by the Wright Park Zoo, for some new photos. The zoo had expanded the last time we visited, but that appears to be over.

We had lunch at Kate's, a Dodge City restaurant and bar which we first visited in 2019 and is on our Kansas Best Burgers list. We had a catfish plate, calf fry basket and a beef taco. The $4 taco was huge and had a very good, slightly crispy, fresh made corn tortilla. The ground beef appeared to be unseasoned.

The calf fries (mountain oysters) were much better than we had the night before. Tender, about the texture of a fried real oyster, and served with cocktail sauce. The catfish had a good, cornmeal coating and came with great fresh cut fries.

Before leaving Dodge City, we stopped by Boot Hill Museum to photograph the new building which open in November and to shop in the gift shop.

We needed to be in Mullinville before 2PM, but there was still time to take a short detour through Bucklin, where we photographed what I assume is an 1800's mural of Bucklin, a new Veterans Memorial Park in front of the mural and several attractive older buildings.

There were many people in Mullinville for the opening of the new Visitors Center at the Kanza Art by M.T. Liggett. The first person we met turned out to be MT's nephew, Max Liggett and we had a nice conversation about his history. We saw old friends Erika Nelson, WenDee Rowe and Marci Penner. 

The Kohler Foundation has funded the restoration and preservation of the late M.T, Liggett's art and built a visitor's center to help people understand MT and what was behind the art. Several members of the foundation were present as well as Bridgette Jobe (Kansas Tourism Director) and journalist Larry Hatteberg. We met Larry Melker, who has a collection of MT's art in Lake Quivira, Kansas and are invited to come see that art sometime.

After the ribbon cutting ceremony, I photographed the exhibits in the center and then went on a 45 minute tour of the art led by Erika Nelson and the lead artist on the restoration.

We finished our trip with supper at The Breadbasket in Newton, Kansas on the way home. I enjoy their German buffet on weekend evenings. In particular the sausage with german mustard and the desserts. The staff was all masked and they provided plastic gloves to wear while serving yourself, but few other customers appeared to be making an effort to not infect others.

 

Ford County Legacy Center - Dodge City, Kansas Ford County Legacy Center
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Kate's - Dodge City, Kansas
Catfish, calf fries & taco
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

M.T. Liggett Art - Mullenville, Kansas Kanza Art Tour

Monday - October 4, 2021: Lyle & Dean joined me for lunch at Bradley's Corner Cafe in north Topeka, Kansas. We were delighted to find that they have added a second dining room in the attached storefront, doubling the space in the restaurant. Service was quite slow. The server did everything right, but there were long delays between the times we saw her.

We had Hot Meat loaf Sandwich, Phily Steak & Cheese, and Turkey Delight (Slices of smoked turkey served on grilled sourdough bread with Swiss cheese, bacon and tomato. My Phily had an excellent bun and was so much better than a much more expensive cheese steak which I had the day before at a chain restaurant. The fresh cut fries were also much better.

The meat loaf was serves open faces with mashed potatoes and covered by a good, rich brown gravy. Two of us had too much to finish and all of us decided to get Bradley's wonderful pies to go. I got sour cream and raisin.

Before leaving the NOTO neighborhood, I photographed some new public art, including a giraffe statue which is on load, but will eventually be at the Topeka Zoo and a magnificent mural with three large elephants.

We stopped at Porubsky's Deli & Market in the nearby Little Russia neighborhood, getting ham salad and hot pimento cheese spread to take home. We also explored some west Topeka neighborhoods and discovering statues of three wonderful dinosaurs in the front yard of a home on Pembroke Lane.

 

Bradley's Corner Cafe - Topeka, Kansas New dinning room at Bradley's Corner Cafe
Friday - October 15, 2021: I drove to De Soto, Kansas to check on the status of Grandpa's Ford Garage, a 1918 Model A Ford garage which housed Dean Weller's shop and antique car collection. Dean passed away this summer and most of the collection has been sold or at least moved. It looked like there were still 6-8 restored vehicles in the cool old building. Another man cam to look in the windows as I was leaving.

I also checked out Steve's Meat Market, a few blocks away. Steve's isn't just a full service meat market and deer processor, they prepare many specialty meats, including bratwurst, sausage, slim Jims, pickled pig's feet, and pickled polish sausage. The market is still going strong and there was no sign of the fire they had a few years ago.

Before leaving town, I took a video of the Kansas River from Riverfest Park and photos of Kill Creek.
  
   

Grandpa's Ford Garage - De Sotto, Kansas Grandpa's Ford Garage
Saturday - October 16, 2021: It had been a few years since we last visited Rees Fruit Farm in Topeka, Kansas, so we took advantage of the beautiful weather to stop by there this afternoon. It was by far the busiest we have ever seen it and almost every parking spot was taken. There was a DJ playing music and lots of people shopping or eating indoors and out. We got Apple Slush, which were cold and delicious. We were surprised and pleased to discover that Rees was also selling apple cider without preservatives.

We found a nice Halloween display in the 1800 block of SW McAlister Avenue in Topeka.
 
 

Rees Fruit Farm - Topeka, Kansas Rees Fruit Farm
Monday - October 18, 2021: It was time to update our review of Gate's Bar-B-Q in Leawood, Kansas. Other than the prices, this restaurant is little changed since my first time there in the 1980s and there was even less change from my most recent visit in 2019. 

Even with the leftovers I would bring home, I feel like the combo plate has grown too expensive at $26.50, so I ordered two items I don't remember having before - the burn end sandwich and yammer pie. With fries the meal was still over $20.

Gate's burnt ends are only available as a sandwich on a hoagie bun. They are mostly chopped up, not the cubes popular in Kansas City, but have a great flavor from the rub and smoking. They really don't need sauce and I wished I had ordered it unsauced.

The Yammer (sweet potato) Pie tastes much like pumpkin. Not bad, but I'm not sure the small tart is worth $5.50.

 


 
 

Gate's Bar-B-Q in Leawood, Kansas Combo - fries, yammer pie and burnt ends

 
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