|Saturday - January 31, 2009: Saturday several
friends joined me at WheatFields Bakery and Cafe in Lawrence, Kansas for
lunch. Although I had purchased baked goods to go, I hadn't dined at Wheatfield's
is a few years and it is due for mention on this site. I had fairly good
acorn squash soup and a cordon bleu sandwich (shaved ham, fresh spinach,
caramelized onions and Maytag Blue cheese grilled on fresh sourdough).
The Sandwich was good, but could have benefited from an interesting mustard.
Everyone seemed to enjoy the restaurant.
Then we went to Allen Fieldhouse on the University of
Kansas campus to tour the Booth Family Hall of Athletics before the KU-Colorado
basketball game, The Booth Hall is a museum devoted to KU sports history.
It is billed at 26,000 square feet, but the museum is less tha a quarter
of that space which includes a smaller gift shop.
The display case with national championship trophies always
had a large crowd packed in front of it and I will need to return on a
non-game day to photograph that.
We had reserved seats, but they were only benches. Still
it was nice not having to stand the entire game like we did in GA 2 weeks
ago. KU was supposed to blow out Colorado, but went from a 21 point lead,
to a 2 point lead, before recovering and winning by 5.
That was KU's 36th consecutive home win, which is the
longest active streak in the NCAA. Most of KU players graduated last year
(5 were drafted by the NBA), and there is only one player on the team who
has lost a game in Allen Field House.
We were please to see Scott J. Jones, resident bishop
of the Kansas Area of the United Methodist Church, and his wife Mary Lou
Reece saitting just 3 rows in front of us.
Following the game, two of us had supper at Gran-Daddy's
Barbeque in Lawrence. It recently relocated and shares its entrance with
a liquor store. The menu was very limited, just ribs, sausage, 6 sandwiches
and 4 sides. The sausage was spicy and good, band the ribs were probably
the best item we tried.
The fries and BBQ pork were average.
Hall of Athletics
|Friday - January 30, 2009: Preparing to
launch a new page devoted to Kansas City BBQ, I revisited LC's BBQ in Kansas
City, Missouri. The ribs were slightly crunchy on the outside, but still
juicy and well flavored.
The fresh cut fries are big, perhaps three times larger
than a typical French fry. They taste good, but I believe they would be
better if they were smaller. The little slivers that were more cooked,
were the best. I think they add a bit of sugar to their fries.
The sauce is too red. It looks almost like ketchup. At
first taste almost too sweet. but I think the sauce does a nice job of
complimenting the meat.
LC's BBQ ribs and fries
|Thursday - January 29, 2009: Lunch today
was at the Stonewall Inn in Lenexa, Kansas. I last dined there in July,
shortly after it changed hands.
I have long loved the feel of the Stoneswall, which reminds
me of an old English pub. I don't think there are two straight lines in
the building. The building has a tradition of being haunted and staff have
shared some of their stories in the past.
The food was always very inexpensive, but uninspired.
During my last visit, the prices had crept up, but the food seemed the
same. But that has changed.
I was very happy with the Signature Patty Melt which I
had today. It was cooked to order correctly, and getting a medium rare
burger in this area is not easy. The fresh cut shoestring French fries
were also good. Not cheap at $7.95, but not out of line. Iced tea was only
Looks like I will need to go there again.
Today's Kansas City Star reports that Amor de Brazil in
Overland Park closed a couple of weeks ago and has filed for Chapter 7
bankruptcy. Amor de Brazil was created by the late Al Copeland, founder
of the Popeye's Chicken chain. Former Kansas City Chief Neil Smith was
one of the investors.
I am sorry to see this steakhouse close. At $45 a person
before drinks, I didn't go there often, but I thoroughly enjoyed the food
and experience each time.
The Star says there are nearly $50,000 in unredeemed gift
certificates held by former customers.
|Monday - January 26, 2009:
My contributor's copies of a couple of publications arrived today.
One of my photos of Rock City
near Minneapolis, Kansas was included in the 2009 textbook Math Concepts
Course 2 by McGraw Hill.
Meanwhile the entire article about the Butterfield
Trail Museum in Russell Springs was reprinted in the February Newsletter
of the Western Plains Arts Association.
|Sunday - January 25, 2009: Each January
I review and update every page on this website. As KansasTravel.org gets
bigger, that takes more time and I may not be able to compete it in one
month this year.
One of the interesting changes I discovered this day is
that the U. S. Center Chapel at the Geographical
Center of the United States was destroyed last summer when a car missed
the turn at the T intersection. If anyone knows if it has since been replaced,
please email me.
For supper, two friends joined me at Wallabys Grill &
Pub Restaurant in Lenexa, Kansas. The food was good (if a bit slow) and
my friends were impressed at how reasonable the prices were.
I had the Sydney Sizzler, a grilled to order filet with
fried mushrooms, onions & peppers, which came with the choice of two
sides and garlic toast for $8.99.
of the United States
|Saturday - January 24, 2009: I joined friends
for supper at the newest pizza shop in Lenexa, Kansas: Mafia Mike's Pizza
at 87th Street and Lackman Road. My friends were fairly happy with the
Mike's All Meat pie and a custom pizza (olive oil, sun dried Roma tomatoes,
and provolone) but we were a bit disappointed by the meat combination (pepperoni,
canadian bacon, sausage & beef) and thought regular bacon might have
Also there was only a little provolone on the build your
own pizza, most of the cheese was mozzarella so it didn't have the flavor
we were hoping for.
Mafia Mike's has a weekday pizza buffet.
Pizza at Mafia Mike's
|Friday - January 23, 2009: Today I tried
Ping's Chinese Restaurant in Olathe for the very first time. It is one
of the few restaurants near the courthouse and downtown. There is no buffet,
but they have many lunch specials at $4.95-5.50 complete. For only $5,25
I had General Tso's Chicken, choice of soup, choice or rice, crab Rangoon
and egg roll. With iced tea and tax it came to only $7.26!
The soup was a bit bland, but the rest was all good. The
service was also good.
They offer 38 different complete lunches for $5.50 or
less. On Monday - Thursday, Ping's offers 16 carry out complete dinners
|Thursday - January 22, 2009: For lunch today,
a friend joined me in trying the Longbranch Steakhouse Saloon in Lenexa,
Kansas. It was the first time I have dined there in about 20 years. I had
the Thursday lunch special, an open face prime rib sandwich. It came with
potatoes and green beans. My friend had a steak sandwich (1/2 lb. Sirloin
on a sourdough bun).
The meat was properly cooked on both sandwiches, but the
sides were only so-so. The service was very good.
|Wednesday - January 21, 2009: For lunch
today, I made a second visit to the Old
56 Family Restaurant in Olathe, Kansas. I tried the open face cheeseburger
topped with chili and an order of waffle fries. The burger was fairly good.
The fries are frozen and average.
Old 56 doesn't bake its own pies, they are made by Golden
Boy Pies in Overland Park. I tried the sour cream raisin, but wasn't impressed.
In the evening saw the national tour of Jesus Christ
Superstar at the Midland Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri.
Ted Neeley was reprising the role of Jesus, which he played
in the movie 36 years ago. I was willing to overlook a 65 year old man
playing someone half his age, but found his performance mediocre and the
overall production disappointing. Even costumes and lighting were poorly
Craig Sculli (Pontius Pilate) was probably the best performer
and Darrel Whitney did a good job with the very low notes sung by Caiaphas.
Mark Bartelli's performance of Herod seemed popular with
the audience, but was my biggest disappointment. Herod's song was more
spoken than musical and he was a just a stereotype. The number was so much
fun in the original cast album and the movie.
Of the four people who saw the show with me, and another
couple who went the same night. I probably liked it the most. Three said
is was the poorest professional live show that they had ever seen.
Part of the audience did respond enthusiastically. I can
only guess that they are fans of Neeley or have seen few professional theatre
I did appreciate Neeley breaking character and speaking
to the audience for a couple of minutes at the end of the curtain call.
It has been a while since I have been in the Midland and
I was sorry to discover that the comfortable seats have been replaced with
folding chairs. It is still a beautiful building, but the seats are inferior,
are crammed together and have no arm rests.
BTW: ACDC was performing at the nearby Sprint Center the
same night and all of the parking garages had signs saying "Event Parking
$10." But the person who took our money asked us where we going, and when
we said "the Midland" only charged us $2 to park.
|Monday - January 19, 2009:
This evening I attended my first basketball game at the University of Kansas'
Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence. Prior to the game, I toured part of the Booth
Family Hall of Athletics, a 26,000 square foot museum attached to the east
side of the arena. The museum is only three years old and is a must visit
for serious college basketball fans.
Although I took a number of photographs, there wasn't
time for me to properly tour the facility.
The game against Texas A&M was expected to be close,
but Kansas dominated from the start. I enjoyed observing the many traditions
of a KU basketball game, though I would have preferred not having to stand
to watch the game over the tops of the many students standing in front
of me in the general admission section.
The half time featured Krystal Liu of The Red Panda Acrobats
on a tall unicycle. Her brief performance was very good and received a
|Tuesday - January 13, 2009: I was going
to have lunch today at Tannahs Asian Fusion in Olathe, Kansas. But when
I arrived at the restaurant, there were signs saying that Tannahs would
be closed temporarily starting Monday, January 12.
But it doesn't look encouraging. When I looked in the
window, I could see that the furnishings were gone - and I think this place
was too new and nice to need a remodeling.
|Sunday - January 11, 2009: I had lunch at
the Kansas City Public House in Overland Park, Kansas. This used to be
WJ McBride's Irish Pub & Restaurant, but McBride's closed 18 months
ago and this bar and grill opened just before St. Patrick's Day. They are
still going for Irish in the decor, but a little less so.
When I learned that Public House has half price appetizers
all day on Sunday, I changed my order and ended up with three appetizers:
Public House Wings, Public House Buffalo Queso, and shepherd's pie potato
The potato skins were my favorite and a dish I want to
The wings were available in Guinness BBQ, mild, medium,
hot and wild. They were big wings like those at the Peanut and the flavor
was good. I had hot, but think next time I will try the BBQ. They were
3 for $5.50, or $2.25 on Sunday.
They describe the queso as aged cheddar cheese with a
touch of hot buffalo sauce, topped with apple wood smoked bacon, and served
with fresh homemade kettle chips. The chips were great, but I didn't think
the queso had much flavor. Perhaps it would have better with the bacon
(which was missing).
The service was good.
|Saturday - January 10, 2009: Saturday morning
was cold but clear.
My first stop was at the 1887 St. Joseph's Catholic Church
in Hays, Kansas. But a service was in progress, so I left without taking
Next I went to First United Methodist Church of Hays.
Although much newer (1949) this church is large and beautiful. A brochure
about the churches in and around Hays said First United Methodist Church
was open daily, but the brochure was wrong. However, I got lucky and the
pastor was in the building and let me in. Pastor Jerry showed me around
the main floor and turned on the sanctuary lights for better photos.
Then I traveled about 3 blocks to the Stone Gallery where
the artist Pete Felten showed me around his two story gallery and studio.
Felten is a self taught artist who sculpts, makes pottery, paints, takes
photographs, and works in other media.
Felton moves from project to project with many things
going at once. Two of the most interesting current projects are a bathroom
that he is decorating with tile, and a fence on the edge of the property
that he has been working on for years. Pete is interesting as well as creative.
Leaving Hays, I headed southeast, stopping briefly in
Munjor, Kansas to photograph the exterior of St. Francis Catholic Church.
This lovely 1890 stone building is only open for mass or by appointment.
Then farther southeast to Pfeifer, Kansas where the magnificent
1918 Holly Cross Church towers 165 feet above the 20 or so homes surrounding
it. Although the parish was dissolved in 1993, the Pfeifer community still
maintains the building and keeps it open daily.
There was some scaffolding in the sanctuary for painting
to be done, but it did not take away from the beauty of the structure.
I was particularly taken with a smaller stain glass window which showed
the church, wheat, and a sunflower.
Before leaving Pfeifer I stopped at the Holy Cross Church
Cemetery, a couple of blocks away at the edge of the community. The neat
small cemetery has grave markers dating back over 100 years. Many of them
are ornate Volga German iron crosses. The "Wolgadeutsche" who settled much
of this area of Kansas were German speaking people from the Volga River
area of south Russia.
Driving north to Victoria, Kansas, I made a point of visiting
more of the community, not just the Cathedral of the Plains which I had
photographed the night before. The first stop was a tiny cemetery with
memorials to railroad workers who were killed by Cheyenne Indians in 1867,
and to the 5 brothers and sisters in the Seth family who died of Typhoid
Fever in 1873.
Although I hadn't planned on visiting quite so many cemeteries,
I next visited Victoria's slightly larger English Cemetery which includes
a large memorial to George Grant who founded Victoria and brought the first
aberdeen angus cattle to the United States. In addition to the monument
with a cow on top, there are two head stones for Grant. One says he lived
from 1823-1879. The other says 1822-1878. This might make a good Kansas
Then across town to a cemetery I had planned to visit,
the much larger St. Fidelis Cemetery. Although this one had many more of
the Volga iron crosses, I think the Holy Cross Cemetery setting is worth
driving farther (from I-70).
All of that was done by 1PM!
Now back on the freeway, I drove east to Wilson, Kansas
where I had lunch at Made From Scratch. This was my second visit to Made
from Scratch and I enjoyed the food more this time.
The Saturday German buffet lunch was already being taken
down, so I ordered from the menu. The hot roast beef sandwich was good.
The mashed potatoes that came with it were homemade, but they were lumpy
and I didn't care much for them. For dessert I had a slice of raisin cream
pie. The pie wasn't very fresh, but the flavor was great and I would get
I visited two specialty food businesses in Wilson. Wilson
Family Foods is a small market and hardware that has its own specialty
smoked meats. I purchased beef stick, spicy beef stick, ring bologna, and
die alte landjaeger. The die alte landjaeger was my favorite meat of the
bunch. Although I haven't cared a lot for milder German sausages, this
one had great flavor.
The other stop was a few doors away at Sincerely Yours
Gift Shop. It is a combination flower shop and bakery, but I was disappointed
to learn that the bakery is only open on weekdays. The nice young woman,
in the flower shop, unlocked the bakery to show me around. They had a few
frozen baked goods and I purchased a scone which proved very good when
I ate it later in the weekend.
Back on I-70, I photographed the Smoky Hills Wind Farm
which runs along the north side of I-70 for many miles in Lincoln and Ellsworth
East of Salina, I turned north to drive to Longford, Kansas.
I followed back roads southwest of town to photograph Smithalo, a 60 ton
concrete buffalo crowning a ridge. Ray Omar Smith built this monument and
some other oddities that cannot be seen from the public road. I hope to
get permission to return and take closer photos on another day.
My last stop in Longford was the Coachlight Restaurant.
The restaurant currently has no sign, and I drove past it twice before
finally picking it out on the south side on the main street. I liked their
fried chicken much more than the chicken I had the night before, but the
French fries and roll were just average
Pete Felten reflected in
the bathroom mirror
Holly Cross Church
|Friday - January 9, 2009: Friday afternoon
I left work a little early and headed west to Hay's Kansas (260 miles).
I made only one stop along the way in Bunker Hill, a community of about
100 people, that is just a mile north of I-70.
The Bunker Hill Cafe
was one of my first discoveries when I started exploring Kansas. It is
a steak house in a somewhat disreputable looking old limestone building.
The Cafe is open just 4 evening a week and specializes in beef, elk, buffalo,
and seafood. Cuts of meet are available from 2 ounces to over 16 ounces
and it easy to add a second meat to a meal.
I was planning on sampling a second restaurant later in
the evening, so I settled of a 7 ounce elk filet. It was well done, rather
than the medium I requested. But it was still juicy and I have no complaints.
The fresh baked bread was hot and wonderful, as usual.
As I neared Hays, I decided to make a quick stop at the
of the Plains in Victoria to take some night photos of the church.
I was disappointed to find that no flood lights light this beautiful structure,
but did experiment with photos of the church and nearly full moon.
After checking into my motel. I visited Al's Chickenette
in Hays. The little 58 year old chicken restaurant has a wonderful old
neon sign and a lot of history. The chicken was a bit better than I recalled
from my last visit in 2006, but not a real standout. I thought the spicy
chicken wings were a bit better than the fried chicken. The fresh cut,
shoestring French fries were my favorite part of the meal.
Bunker Hill Cafe
Cathedral of the Plains
two piece fried chicken
|Wednesday - January 7, 2009: Finally tried
Smokin' Guns BBQ in North Kansas City. Some people have suggested that
this is the best BBQ in the metropolitan area, but their limited hours
10AM - 6PM Monday through Friday had kept me from getting there before.
The neat old building is filled with trophies and ribbons
from many BBQ contests the owners have won. I ordered at the register and
the food was brought to my table within 3 or 4 minutes.
I had a combination of baby back ribs with two meats and
two sides. I chose beef & sausage, and French fries and beans. All
of the items were good, but none were real stand outs. The baby back ribs
were my favorite item.
There were two sauces on the table - regular and mild.
I found both of them mild, with little to tell between them. In addition
to salt and pepper, there was a shaker with Smokin' Guns rub on the table.
The rub has brown sugar, paprika, salt and spices. It did add flavor to
the meal. The rub and sauce are available to order on Smokin' Guns web
The BBQ combination meal was $14, which seemed a bit high
for a meal that you eat with a plastic fork.
Following the meal, I went to the Kansas City Boat and
Sportshow at Bartle Hall. This show has shrunk in recent years. It appeared
there was a bit less than 1/2 the exhibit space there was 2 years ago.
I found only 4 booths with Kansas related displays.
Smokin' Guns BBQ
|Tuesday - January 6, 2009: Added a new page
devoted to the Animaland children's
playground near the Topeka Zoo.
For lunch I returned to the Thai Treasure Restaurant in
Overland Park. This is definitely the best Thai food I have found in metropolitan
Kansas City. Although it lacks the features that would place it on the
Kansas Restaurants list, it will receive a separate page and be added
to the Overland Park Restaurant Guide.
Only problem is they are shorthanded. Service was extremely
slow through the whole meal. After waiting a very long time, I still hadn't
received my bill, so I went to the bar to get the server's attention. It
still took another 10 minutes to pay.
|Saturday - January 3, 2009: Visited Bilski's
Bar and Grill near the intersection of Merriam Drive and Johnson Drive
in Merriam, Kansas. Although I haven't seen any reviews of this neighborhood
bar and grill, Charles Ferruzza has said nice things about Bilski's on
the Walt Bodine radio show.
He has particularly recommended their daily Polish specials,
but there was none this day. So I had a cup of chili, pork tenderloin and
French fries. The tenderloin was hand breaded, but not really special -
very thin and the coating was a bit too hard.
The best things were the quirky local atmosphere and the
chili. Although I added hot sauce to spice up the chili, I would definitely
get it again.
The most unusual feature was hanging on the wall behind
me - a divorce decree from March 2006. When I asked my waitress about its
significance, she said it was hers. She put it on the wall at her brother's
Added a new page devoted to the Henderson
family Christmas display in Lawrence, Kansas.
Bilski's Bar and Grill
|Friday - January 2, 2009: My first meal
of the new year was going to be at Big
Bubba's BBQ in Olathe, Kansas, but I arrived only to find that Big
Bubba's has permanently closed. Although Olathe still has three fine BBQ
restaurants, I am sorry to see any restaurant fold.
This is a reminder to make a point of at least visiting
a few of your favorite restaurants during these poor economic times. Otherwise,
they may soon close.
Instead, I had lunch at Austin's
Bar & Grill. The Friday special was a generous serving of chicken
tenders and French fries. I chose to have the tenders Buffalo style with
bleu cheese dressing on the side. This is one of my favorite meals at Austin's.
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