|Saturday - May
30, 2009: I had lunch at the only place in the metro area that I know
where you can order just chicken hearts - Gomer's Fried Chicken at 95th
Street and Holmes in Kansas City, Missouri. The deep fried hearts were
great with Louisiana Hot sauce, but I was less impressed with the battered
In the afternoon I
visited Har-B-Q at a home on the south side of Olathe, Kansas. It is a
backyard BBQ on steroids. This was the 8th year and there were 11 teams
competing at barbecuing, and lots of partying going on. I wasn't there
5 minutes before someone insisted on giving me a drink.
The annual party is
open to the public and free. The awards presentation and serious partying
begins in the early evening and I hope my schedule permits me to return
in the evening next year.
Supper was at Shogun
Sushi and Japanese Steakhouse in Lenexa, Kansas. I sat at the sushi bar
and sampled unagi (fresh water eel), spider roll (soft shell crab, avocado
& cucumber), shrimp tempura roll (tempura shrimp, crab, avocado &
cucumber), and dancing eel roll (toasted eel, avocado, cucumber, cream
cheese, japonnaise & caviar). All were good, but the shrimp tempura
roll ($6.95) was my favorite. Shogun may be the best of the inexpensive
sushi places in the KC metro area.
Shogun Sushi and Japanese Steakhouse
|Friday - May 29,
2009: We decided to visit Jumpin'
Catfish in Olathe, Kansas, since the kitchen is open until 10PM on
Friday and Saturday. We had the dinning room to ourselves. I had Cajun
Style catfish fillets (12 oz of catfish fillets, seasoned with cajun spices
and grilled), while Linda had Southern style catfish (dipped in a light
corn meal and fried to a golden brown). They went well with the fried potato
|Wednesday - May
27, 2009: Revisited the Burger Joint in Kansas City, Kansas. The Italian
steak sandwich isn't a Chicago style Italian steak sandwich, but the hardy
sandwich was the best item tried there so far. Linda liked the the handmade
|Sunday - May 24,
2009: This weekend was ConQuesT 40 - Kansas City, Missouri's annual
science fiction convention. I have attended every year since 1985 and have
participated on programing for a number of years. On Saturday I made a
presentation on books that people may have missed from the 1930s-60s. The
convention was at the Hyatt Regency at Crown Center and it gave me a chance
to revisit 5 Kansas City restaurants.
My first meal was at
Skies, the revolving restaurant on the 41st floor of the Hyatt. It is reasonable
for an upscale restaurant and our memberships in the convention entitled
us to a 15% discount. I had prime rib and Linda had bacon wrapped veal.
We split a very chocolate dessert.
Other meals were at
Street Car Named Desire in Crown Center, Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ (with
a party of 24), Lydia's Kansas City, and Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbeque
(with a party of 7). Genghis Khan is a favorite of some of my out town
friends and does a good job with large groups.
Lydia's and Jack Stack
are in adjoining freight houses, across the railroad tracks from Union
Lydia's was my favorite
meal of the weekend. The decor and service were impeccable. I particularly
liked the art glass chandeliers and the beautiful garden courtyard.
We were there for Sunday
brunch, where for a fixed price of $22 you get an antipasti table, a choice
of about 15 entrees and a dessert table. Everything was very good. My entree
was the Pasta Tasting Trio, which changes daily but is a selection of three
pasta dishes. A server periodically comes by with a pan of one of the pastas
and you may have as much of each one as you wish. My favorite was a bow
tie pasta with lamb that was divine.
Kansas City skyline as seen from our table at Skies
Lydia's dinning room
|Tuesday - May 19,
2009: Linda and I had lunch at the Pie Lady in old town section of
Lenexa, Kansas. I was disappointed that a place called the Pie Lady only
offered three types of pie by the slice and I didn't order pie, though
Linda shared her slice of (very good) apple pie with me. The only choices
available by the slice were apple, cherry and stawberry-rhubarb.
My chicken salad sandwich
was large and good, though a tad pricey at $7.15 with just a small bag
of potato chips.
Pie counter at the Pie Lady in Old Town Lenexa.
|Monday - May 18,
2009: Added a new page devoted to the Kansas
City T-Bones baseball team in Kansas City, Kansas, and updated the
review of The Pizza Man in Lenexa,
|Sunday - May 17,
2009: For lunch, several of us tried Rosedale
Barbeque in Kansas City, Kansas. Rosedale BBQ has been a long time
favorite of mine, and as we went in I bragged about the ladies that handle
the orders at the counter.
Of course, the lady
waiting on us proceeded to get my order wrong. Twice. But the ribs and
sausage were good and no one complained about my recommending the 75 year
old BBQ restaurant.
From there, we drove
to the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, to finally visit the
reopened National World War One Museum. The WW1 museum was as good as it
as been billed, and an hour and a half flew by. I would have liked to have
stayed twice as long, but we were there primarily for the benefit of a
teenager receiving extra credit in European history, and I was tagging
along at her sufferance.
In the evening, Linda
and I went to the the third game of the new season at CommunityAmerica
Ballpark at the Legends in Kansas City, Kansas. The Kansas City T-Bones
are in their 5th season, and were the 2008 Northern League Champions. There
are 6 teams in this independent league which was founded in 1993 as a way
for players who had been cast aside by a major league organization to continue
There are a lot of
nice things to say about going to a game at this modest ballpark. Parking
is free and we had to walk less than 100 yards to the stadium entrance.
On Mondays, they even pay you to park at the games!
The stadium is much
smaller and has fewer food options than a major league baseball stadium,
but it is still a fun location. There is green space beyond the outfield,
where people can sit on blankets and let their children play around them.
Beyond that, we could see people playing basketball. There were contests
and activities every time the teams switched between batting and the field.
We had the best seats
in the house for $16. Literally the best seats, we had the first two seats
on the aisle, behind the home dugout. At the T-Bones they still let you
put your feet up and and set food on the dugout. We could watch the play
and players, so much more than we did the night before at the Kansas City
Royals, and the players (and umpires) could hear us when we shouted.
The T-Bones didn't
do very well against the Winnipeg Golden Eyes. The T-bones opening pitcher
gave up 7 runs in the 1st inning (a 3 run homer & a grand slam home
run) and 4 more runs in the 2nd inning before being replaced. The T-bones
settled down after that, but were down 13-3 when we left at the end of
the 8th inning. The announced attendance was 3,764.
Since 2008, CommunityAmerica
Ballpark is also the home of Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wizards.
Kansas City, Missouri skyline from the Liberty Memorial
Kansas City T-Bones during the national anthem
|Saturday - May
16, 2009: Today was Art Tougeau - Lawrence, Kansas' 14th annual wheeled-art
parade and wheel-apalooza. I arrived at 11AM, as the parade entries were
setting up and spent the hour before noon photographing and chatting with
the various entries. About half of the people that I spoke with were in
the parade for their first or second time. There were about 20 motorized
entries and perhaps twice as many human powered entrees on 2-6 wheels.
My favorite self propelled
entries included a shark, dragon and giant fish. While the motored art
included Tirezilla, a flying saucer, the two unit "Don't worry - be happy,"
a car decorated entirely with mud and a folk art masterpiece from Wisconsin
Art Tougeau is a lot
of fun - a grassroots art festival on wheels. I've already placed it on
my calendar for 2010.
Following the parade,
I had lunch at the Thai House in Lawrence.
My appetizer of hot
basil wings ($6.95), was large wing thirds, fried conventionally with a
sauce that was too hot to use enough to give the wings a lot of flavor.
But the pork Pad Thai
(soft rice noodles with meat stir fried with mild spices and topped with
crushed peanuts - $9.95) was some of the best I have ever had. Very good
flavor and wonderful strips of pork.
In the evening, we
visited the newly remodeled Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
There really is a lot of other things for people uninterested in the watching
the Royals play baseball to do But the park is not as beautiful as it used
to be and the new "exciting" food choices left me unimpressed.
Sadly, the Royals lost
to the Orioles.
Art Tougeau parade
|Friday - May 15,
2009: For lunch, Linda and I had lunch at the Subway
Kosher Deli in Overland Park, Kansas. I was less impressed with the
sandwiches tried on this visit, but that is part of the reason I check
restaurants more than once.
A kosher hot dog was
OK, nothing special. Linda liked her teriyaki chicken sandwich, but the
corned beef on my sandwich was bland - nowhere near as flavorful as the
pastrami I had on my first visit. Overall, my impression on this visit
was closer to any other Subway restaurant, but without cheese of $5 foot
In the evening, I drove
to the Great Mall of the Great Plains in Olathe, Kansas to visit the Traditions
Fire Company and Museum which opened a few weeks ago. But the one room
museum was closed due to the inclement weather.
It was too dark to
take photos, but I could see the contents of the museum through the windows.
It doesn't look like it would have taken more than a few minutes to tour.
There is a 1955 American Lafrance Ladder Truck and just a handful of other
items on exhibit.
Subway Kosher Deli
|Thursday - May
14, 2009: Tonight I had supper at the Fork and Screen in the AMC Studio
30 in Olathe, Kansas. 12 of the theaters at the AMC Studio 30 have been
recently converted to fewer and better seats, with mixed drinks and a limited
menu served at the seats.
The food was OK for
the setting, but I liked the better seats and service more than the food.
The price is only $5 more and you get a $5 credit toward the food &
drink. The fish and chips were average. The peanut pie ala mode wasn't
nearly as good as it sounds. I think the best way to do the Fork and Screen
may be to order soda & popcorn and enjoy having the refills brought
to your seat.
They also have some
theaters with a "suite" option which includes assigned seating for $10,
with a $10 credit toward the food.
Following the movie,
I updated the page devoted to the Brown Mansion
in Coffeyville, adding the new higher admission prices. There was only
a dollar increase for adults. But the price for children 7 - 12 years old
tripled from $1 to $3.
|Wednesday - May
13, 2009: Tonight's supper was at The Burger Joint, one of several
restaurant I have been wanting to visit along Merriam Lane/Southwest Boulevard
in Kansas City, Kansas.
The Burger Joint as
only 3 tables and some stools at a counter that looks like it might be
home made. The specialize in 1/3 pound, hand formed burgers in single,
double or triple size. I had a double cheese burger, chili and a hand dipped
The service was friendly,
but inconsistent. Kind of like eating in the home of a careless friend.
The homemade chili
was soupy and had a lot of beans - good, but not great. Which is how I
would describe the burgers. Good, but not something I would make a special
point of having.
The shake was the best
part. While it was being made, I was even asked if I wanted it to have
normal chocolate or lots of chocolate. I voted for lots.
The Burger Joint
|Tuesday - May 12,
2009: For supper, I revisited Stroud's Restaurant & Bar in Fairway,
Kansas. I was wanting to try some items that I hadn't had before and had
the chicken fried steak. It was good and the serving was large enough,
but not as large as some of Stroud's other main dishes. The cottage fries
were very thin (almost like potato chips), but still very good.
I was going to finally
try one of Stroud's desserts, but the server never asked if I wanted anything
more and brought the check.
Added a new page devoted
to the Richard H. Schmidt Museum
of Natural History at Emporia State
University in Emporia, Kansas.
|Saturday - May
9, 2009: Today was spent in a region of central Kansas that has received
heavy rains for several weeks.
The first stop of the
day was at the Richard H. Schmidt Museum of Natural History on the campus
of Emporia State University. The museum occupies part of the hallway and
a large room in the basement of Breukelman Science Hall.
The Museum was supposed
to be open until noon, but was locked up. Fortunately I had been informed
that the ESU police could be called to unlock the room. The campus police
unlocked the room and were courteous, while making it clear that they shouldn't
have to do it.
I was quite impressed
with the collection in the Schmidt Museum which displays 600 taxidermy
mounts of Kansas birds, mammals, reptiles, and fish. The collection was
mounted by Richard H. Schmidt who was a biologist and taxidermist at Emporia
State University. Over half of the display cases are filled with birds
and this would be a great place for someone wanting to learn to identify
the birds of Kansas.
Before leaving the
building, I revisited the Johnston
Geology Museum located on the first floor of the building. Although
this museum isn't as large, the detailed, interesting descriptions of the
geologic and fossil exhibits could keep me there for hours.
But I had miles to
go before I would sleep and continued through Emporia to La Hacienda Mexican
Restaurant, which was recommended to me by Kansas Explorer Larry
Hornbaker. My favorite parts of the meal were the chile con queso and
I drove west on Highway
50, to see what the waterfall in the spillway from Kahola Lake reservoir
looked like after the heavy rains. There was a lot of flooding near the
highway and as I approached the turn off to drive back to the lake, all
of the other county roads were blocked by flood waters.
As I started photographing
the three level waterfall, the sun finally peaked through the clouds. The
total drop is about 55 feet along about 100 yards. The upper falls are
the closest to each other and rather unusual. The water dropping from the
first falls passes under boulders, almost disappearing entirely.
While I was returning
to the car, I was met by Kahola Park security The officer was friendly,
but explained that permission must be obtained from the homeowners' association
before visiting the falls.
Returning to Highway
50, I drove to Cottonwood Falls. The Cottonwood River was out of its banks
and nearly up to the bottom of the 1914 Arch Bridge. So much water was
flowing over the Cottonwood River Dam, that it couldn't even be seen.
One of my favorite
Kansas Waterfalls is just west of Cottonwood Falls in the spillway
from Chase State Fishing Lake and I wanted to revisit it during high
water plus refresh my memories for an article I am writing for Kansas
Traveler magazine this week.
I could hear the roar
of the falls as soon as I got out of the car a third of a mile away. Arriving
at the falls, it appears that several times more water was flowing than
on my previous visit. Though so much of the beauty of this waterfall is
the setting, that I actually prefer it during the normal spring flow.
On the way back toward
Olathe, I made two more stops.
The first was in Hartford,
where I had reserved almond croissants at the European Bakeshop. I actually
arrived too late (they close at 3PM on Saturday) but a note on the door
directed me to the bar next door where the pastries had been left.
The last stop was in
Ottawa, where i checked on the water conservation dam on the Maris des
Cynes River at the edge of town. It had been recommended to me by Travis
Shinkle. So much water was flowing, that it really wasn't that attractive.
Fishermen at the site, said that the flow was being cut from some of the
Kansas reservoirs and the flow would be dramatically reduced by the following
Supper was at Brobecks
Barbeque, where I had two appetizers smoky hot wings and the ham salad
dip. The wings were tiny. Most of their flavor came from the smoking with
some hot sauce added after the cooking.
The smoked ham salad
was good. When I previously tried it, it came with crackers. THis time
the serving was bigger and it also came with freshly cooked potato chips.
Really quite a large, nice appetizer for $4.50.
Johnston Geology Museum
La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant
Kahola Lake waterfall
Cottonwood River bridge
Chase Lake Falls
Smoked ham salad
|Friday - May 8,
2009: For lunch I revisited Pickering's
Restaurant and Pub in Olathe, Kansas. Pickering's has daily lunch specials
for $6.29. Friday's special is a hand breaded pork tenderloin sandwich
with choice of potato. The tenderloin has good flavor and is so big it
hides everything on the plate.
|Thursday - May
7, 2009: This is the too cute, kittens photo that I took at Wooly Works
Alpaca Ranch on Saturday.
If you know anyone that might appreciate it, please pass
For lunch, I visited the new Cafe Augusta in Lenexa, Kansas.
A new page devoted to Cafe Augusta
was posted tonight.
|Wednesday - May
6, 2009: Added a new review of Korean
Garden in Junction City, Kansas.
|Monday - May 3,
2009: For supper, I revisited Chung's
Rainbow Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas. The small Korean restaurant
has been a favorite of mine for several years, but tonight was a mixed
bag. The service was the best they have ever provided, but my NaktiBokum
(spicy octopus) had much less flavor and heat than on my previous visits.
Updated the review
of the Renaissance Cafe with new photos
|Sunday - May 3,
2009: I've had good luck with the Salina Day's Inn in the past, but
there were children's softball teams in the hotel and it was a noisy night.
Still, I was up early and in Concordia, Kansas before the Kansas Explorers
Annual Meeting at 9AM.
The first person that
I met was Larry Hornbaker, whose Travels
Notes has a lot in common with this blog. We had never met before,
but I liked him immediately and look forward to getting to know him at
other events around the state.
Marci Penner, Executive
Director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation and author of Kansas Guidebook
for explorers, led the meeting, introducing some of the long time Explorers
and the people that had worked so hard to put on the Kansas Sampler Festival.
There was a major presentation by costumed performers from Leavenworth,
which will host the 2010 and 2011 Sampler Festivals.
The meeting was over
before 10AM, and we dispersed to participate in the second day of the festival.
I visited every tent devoted to Kansas communities, counties, regions,
and attractions, putting the brochures from each tent into the same bag
so they would be organized by region.
I stopped by the Kansas
Sampler Foundation tent to pick up this year's pin - one devoted to eating
in Kansas. None of the new 2009 Kansas Explorers shirts seemed right for
me, so guess I will have to get along with the two I already have.
Just outside the tent,
I ran into Marci, but this was busy day for her and we only had time to
exchange a few words. Earlier in the day I waved at Assistant Director
WenDee LaPlant during the Explorer's meeting, but I never saw her again.
At mid-day I left Concordia
and started retracing my way home, stopping again briefly in Abilene and
then in Junction City where I intended to have lunch at Stacy's Restaurant
which located in another old Valentine Diner.
But after photographing
the exterior of the classic building, when I entered the dining room, it
was filled with cigarette smoke. I searched for a table or booth away from
the smoke, but the three vacant tables were each next to people that had
lit cigarettes. I knew I wouldn't enjoy the meal if I stayed and quietly
left. Even that brief time in the restaurant left my clothes smelling smoky
So I decided to take
extra time and go to lunch at another 8
Wonders of Kansas Cuisine finalist - Hibachi Hut in Manhattan, Kansas.
I had liked Hibachi Hut when I visited it in 2008.
This time I had a fried
oyster po boy with fries, and Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Pie. I don't believe
the oysters were fresh, but enjoyed the rest of the meal. The service was
I like the food and
and atmosphere at Hibachi Hut. Its is a good restaurant and one I will
someday visit again, but I don't really see it as a "Wonder of Kansas."
The drive home was
In the evening, I joined
Linda and Lyle at Old Shawnee Pizza in Shawnee. We split Buffalo chicken
wings and a meat pizza. The wings tasted like something I could take out
of the freezer and pop in the oven, but the pizza was quite good. It was
rolled thin, with a high crust around the sides. The flavor was good and
there were plenty of toppings.
Old Shawnee Pizza is
kind of celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The location and name
have both changed over the years, but the the owner has operated a pizza
restaurant in Shawnee for 40 years.
Marci Penner leading the Kansas Explorers in the secret greeting
Old Shawnee Pizza
|Saturday - May
2, 2009: I spent last night at the Econolodge in Junction City, Kansas.
It is nothing special but at $45 a night I can be happy with just clean
and quiet. I do wish the wifi worked a little better.
I started the day with
almost nothing planned, but still had a lot of fun and discovered several
new places. Driving straight to Abilene, my first stop was to photograph
a 1949 Valentine diner which serves as Rock Liquor Store. I was disappointed
to learn that it had been largely expanded in 2008 and the original building
can barely be seen today.
Next I took fresh "green"
photos of a couple of attractions I had previously visited in winter -
the Lebold Mansion and Bow
Studio & Gallery.
On my way to the Eisenhower
Presidential Library & Museum, I saw that Old Abilene Town Western
Museum has reopened and a Fast Draw competition was taking place. Few of
the buildings in Old Abilene Town are open at this time, but a large gift
shop and the Hitching Post Restaurant are open daily. At first glance the
gift shop didn't look very interesting, but I discovered it has arts and
crafts by many Kansans for sale.
The Abilene & Smoky
Valley Railroad Association has recently purchased the depot on the grounds
of Old Abilene Town and are operating short excursion train rides from
the tracks located across the street. I wasn't there at the right time
for a train ride, but was going to tour the museum. However the lights
wouldn't come on in the museum and I will have to save that for another
I discovered something
at the Eisenhower complex that I had never seen before, a 1960s solar collector.
The 4,000 square feet flat plate system is used to provide the Eisenhower
Presidential Museum with hot water, heat the building, and provide heat
for humidity control. It provides about 910,000,000 BTU's of energy a year.
That is the equivalent to 6,500 gallons of heating oil.
Earlier, at Old Abilene
Town, I had picked up a business card from the Wooly Works Alpaca Ranch,
and called the owner to ask permission to photograph the farm. Linda Ellison
was out of town, but gave me permission, so I headed to the farm on Old
Highway 40 on the east side of town.
The alpaca have wonderful
expressive faces. Many of them appeared to have huge smiles - almost like
clown faces. I also stumbled across a barn cat with a nest of 6 kittens.
Then lunch at Abilene's
finalist for the 8 Wonders of Kansas
Cuisine, the Brookville Hotel.
The family style chicken dinner was good, as always, but not quite as good
as I expect from a restaurant that serves only one meal. Several Kansas
restaurants serve fried chicken that is as good or better, while also serving
a full menu of other good things.
I liked every side
dish except the coleslaw, which had so much sugar that it was like a dessert.
The Brookville Hotel
may be the perfect highway restaurant. It is a couple of blocks north of
the main Abilene exit, and since they serve the same meal to everyone,
the food is ready quickly.
Continuing west on
I-70, my next stop was Solomon where I photographed the two lovely old
churches that make up Solomon Yoked Parish. First Presbyterian Church and
Solomon United Methodist Church are yoked, sharing one pastor who leads
worship at one church for four months, followed by four months at the other
church. The Methodist church building was dedicated in 1884 and the Presbyterian
church was completed in 1923.
On to Salina where
I stopped first at the Cozy Inn (another 8
Wonders of Kansas Cuisine finalist) and had just two White Castle sized
burgers. Cozy Inn is another one dish restaurant has been cooking only
hamburgers with grilled onions since 1922.
The Salina Art Center
was unexplainably closed when I first tried to visit it last year, but
it was open today. I had a nice conversation with the volunteer staffing
the front desk. She is a recent Salina resident, who moved to Kansas to
be closer to her grandchildren.
The Salina Art Center
has three galleries and each one is presently devoted to a temporary exhibit
by a different artist: Barry Anderson, Robert Bubp, and Carrie Scang.
While at the Art Center,
I found an old brochure with a walking tour of the community of Brookville,
Kansas. The weather was sprinkling and threatening to rain, but I decided
to chance it and drove west to Brookville.
feels a bit like a ghost town. There are still people living in town, but
the streets are dirt, many building ae empty and the occupied buildings
at scattered 3 or 4 to a block. I photographed every building on the tour,
starting with the original Brookville Hotel which has been relocated to
Returning to Salina,
I checked into the Days Inn before driving south to Assaria, Kansas to
have supper at the Renaissance Cafe.
This was my third visit to the restaurant which serves fine, reasonably
priced Italian food in a unique, relaxed setting.
Tonight I had proscuitto
wrapped chicken with gorgonzola garlic sauce followed by dark chocolate
bread pudding served with bourbon vanilla sauce.
I'd love to dine at
Renaissance Cafe every time I was in the area, but the need to visit other
restaurants for this website means that I must limit myself to one visit
a year. Come quickly, 2010!
Fast Draw competition
Salina Art Center
Original Brookville Hotel
dark chocolate bread pudding
|Friday - May 1,
2009: I'm on the road in north central Kansas for the weekend of the
Kansas Sampler Festival. I revisited two Korean Restaurants in Junction
I first discovered
Pusan Diner in Junction City several years ago. The tiny Korean Restaurant
has a lot of charm and I fell in love with it instantly. On this visit,
my favorite item was the beef fried rice The beef bulgogi (Korean BBQ)
was still good, but not as flavorful as I remember.
The better meal on
this visit was at Korean Garden. Little has changed at Korean Garden since
I first visited it in January of 2008. There was one service error, they
served my stir fried octopus instead of the stir fried squid that I ordered.
But it was very good and would have been more expensive than the dish I
ordered, so couldn't complain. My favorite side dishes were the cucumber
kim chee and sautéed mushrooms.
When leaving, I had
a nice chat with the Junction City family at the next table. They had noticed
my taking pictures and asked about it. They are regulars at Korean Garden
who usually get the bulgogi, but I think they may get a little more adventurous
in the future.
Dinner at Korean Garden in Junction City, Kansas
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