Kansas Travel Blog

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

Big Well Museum - Greensburg, Kansas
Friday - June 1, 2012: We had supper at RowHouse Restaurant in Topeka. We had been trying to get there for nearly a year. The restaurant has a very limited menu, which changes weekly. For $37 you can choose one of three entrees or do a tasting including all three. There are about 5 tables on each of the three floors (including the basement).

Tonight's menu began with a very good salad of greens, blueberries and feta with wasabi lime vinaigrette. I was less pleased with the chilled cucumber soup. The entrees were potato croquette with fennel pickled vegetables, mahi mahi with pineapple and radish salsa over lima bean rice pilaf, and beef tenderloin with spiced tomato puree over chickpeas. They didn't ask how we wanted the tenderloin cooked and it came rare. I puree worked well with the beef and I preferred it to the fish. Bit the potato pancake (croquette) was my favorite of the three.

The meal ended with three very small dessert servings. Strawberry cobbler, topped with chile ice cream, top by thin crispy cashew oatmeal cookie. The habanero ice cream did seem the hot when you took it into your mouth, but had a hot finish. We both enjoyed the dessert a great deal.

RowHouse has an extensive wine list and a menu of house specialty drinks. There were wine pairings suggested for several of the entrees for $9 - 13 for a full glass or $5 - 7 for a half glass. Linda liked the $ 7 "tea thyme," thyme syrup, lemon juice, jasmine tea and vodka.

 

RowHouse Restaurant - Topeka, Kansas RowHouse Restaurant
 
Saturday - June 2, 2012: We spent the night in Wamego, Kansas. On our way out of town in the morning, we made a point of driving by the the home where Walter P. Chrysler was born. A few years ago, it was moved to the intersection of U.S. 24 and K-99, where it will become a visitor's center for Pottawatomie County. Wamego is also known for The OZ Museum, and a pair of witch's feet stick out from underneath the building.

We drove south and west, passing through Wabaunsee, where I stopped to photograph the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church. The history of the source of the name is more interesting than the building itself.

Our next stop was at Geary Lake Falls in the outlet from Geary State Fishing Lake, south of Junction City. Despite the recent rains, there was no water flowing in the outlet and over the top of the falls, but there was a little water flow from springs coming out of the rock face. When there is water, this is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Kansas and it was still interesting at this time.

We had been intending to visit the Kansas Auto Racing Museum in Chapman for a couple of years and we finally made it this morning. Much of the private museum is what you would expect from its name, Auto racing isn't an area of my personal interest, but I know that there are many people who would find it interesting. The owners, Doug and Connie Thompson, are a Christian couple who have formed the Covenant Racing Team.

The museum is also the studio for a TV show which is broadcast on Eagle Cable Local Channel, the Grassroots Racing Show.

Lunch was at the Hickory Hut, a 29 year old BBQ restaurant in Salina. In general, the meat were better than the side dishes and would hold their own in Kansas City. My favorite of the smoked meats which we sampled were the sliced pork and the hot Polish sausage. I will definitely return to Hickory Hut in the future.

Continuing to Lucas, we found the downtown filled with people attending the "First Flush" grand opening of the new public rest room, shaped like a giant toilet. There had already been several other events and we hurried to the Lucas Theater to attend "Here's the Poop," a hilarious slide presentation by Erika Nelson.

Erika's program was followed by the recognition of the many people who had labored so hard to build the new rest rooms. Next was the auctioning of the opportunity to be the first to flush each of the toilets. The winners were outwitted like royalty and led between the lines of cheering and bubble blowing throng to Bowl Plaza.

The flushes were even broadcast live on a Russell radio station!

Before leaving Lucas, we checked out the temporary toilet related art exhibit and contest in the Flying Pig Studio and Gallery, bought beef jerky at Brant's Meat Market, and took photos of the newly reopened Garden of Eden.

Driving south, we stopped and made some purchases at Kansas Originals Market & Gallery, before checking in to the Midland Hotel in Wilson. The 1899 hotel was one of the settings used in the 1973 movie, Paper Moon, with Tatum and Ryan O'Neal.

Wilson, Kansas bills itself as the Czech capital of Kansas and has many handsome native stone buildings. We walked to the nearby shopping district and purchased sausages and other house made meats at Wilson Family Foods.

The day finished with a great meal at the Bunker Hill Cafe in Bunker Hill, Kansas. The Cafe is located in a 1917 limestone building that was originally a drugstore and soda fountain. Linda's fried catfish was so-so, but the Buffalo rib eye was very good.

 

Walter P. Chrysler birthplace - Wamego, Kansas Walter P. Chrysler birthplace

Geary Lake Falls - Junction City, Kansas Geary Lake Falls

Kansas Auto Racing Museum - Chapman, Kansas Kansas Auto Racing Museum

Hickory Hut - Salina, Kansas Hickory Hut

Erika Nelson - Lucas, Kansas "Here's the Poop" by Erika Nelson

Bowl Plaza - Lucas, Kansas Bowl Plaza

MIdland Hotel - Wilson, Kansas MIdland Hotel

Buffalo steak - Bunker Hill Cafe Buffalo steak

Sunday - June 3, 2012: The breakfast at the Midland Hotel was minimal. Less than we have been seeing at most motels.

Our first stop of the day was at Indian Rock Park in Salina where we photographed two sets of waterfalls on the Smoky Hill River. This stretch of the river passes between 30' tall cliffs. The upper falls is about a 4' drop. but the lower falls is semi horseshoe shaped and a more impressive drop.

The park has nature trails with very scenic overlooks, including one that overlooks the rock which the park is named after. Tradition is that the rock marks the site of the Battle of Indian Rock in 1857, the last significant skirmish between the Kansa, Delaware and Pottawatomie Indian nations.

We continued on to Manhattan where we checked out the new, second location of the Cozy Inn. The Manhattan location opened almost a year ago in the Aggieville neighborhood near Kansas State University. This small store front is set up much like the Salina location, with the only seating being the 6 stools at the counter. There are two changes from my past visits to the Salina location: they do delivery and they offer a second dish - a steak sandwich which is calls a grinder.

The highlight of the day was visiting the Flint Hills Discovery Center which opened in Manhattan two months ago. Rather than being located in the Flint Hills outside the city, the Discovery Center is the focal point of the South End Redevelopment in Manhattan. The displays are very well done. Much of the museum is devoted to children, and it is priced to be reasonable to families. A party with just adults is likely to be satisfied with a one hour visit and may find the $9 fee a little high.

The most innovative thing we found was an interactive kiosk at the main entrance to the building. The "Flint Hills Gateway" lets you use a touch screen to plan a visit to attractions and businesses in the Flint Hills, then print or email it.

Supper was at the Hibachi Hut in Manhattan. It had been a few years since I had been there and I was disappointed to learn that they had remodeled the facility and closed the Texas Star Cafe that had shared the same roof and kitchen. The new menu did not offer as much as the old and the meal was average, rather than the superior that it had been in the past.

 

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

Cozy Inn - Manhattan, Kansas Cozy Inn

Flint Hills Discovery Center - Manhattan, Kansas Flint Hills Discovery Center
 
 
 

Hibachi Hut Restaurant - Manhattan, Kansas Hibachi Hut Restaurant

Monday - June 4, 2012: At lunch time, I revisited the Talk of the Town grill & bar in Overland Park. It had been 6 month since the last time I had checked it out. I had an assort of the chicken wings: Caribbean jerk Atomic and honey garlic. The Atomic was good for wings at the hot end, but the Caribbean jerk were my favorite.

 

Talk of the Town - Overland Park, Kansas Talk of the Town
Tuesday - June 5, 2012: I paid a second visit to the Szechuan Dynasty Chinese Restaurant in Olathe. The lunch buffet was average, with only a couple of dishes standing out. I will give it one more try in about a month.

 

 
Wednesday - June 6, 2012: Two friends joined me in investigating the new Talk of the Town grill & bar location on 135th Street in Leawood. This location was a former Ted's Montana Grill. It is about 50 percent larger than the original location.

The decor and food at the new location duplicate the original. The burger were good, but the grilled salmon was the top dish sampled today.

 

Talk of the Town - Leawood, Kansas Talk of the Town - Leawood
Saturday - June 9, 2012: Linda and I had a good lunch today at Mr. Epp's KC Barbeque in Kansas City, Kansas. The last 2 or 3 times that we had dined at Mr. Epp's they had been out of most of the meats, particularly the chicken wings which they feature, but they had everything today.

We had the chicken wings, sausage and ribs. All three meats had a good smoky flavor and were very good. The sausage no longer has the cheese inside, but is still one of the best bbq sausages around. The thick cut fresh French fries were little under done.

 

Mr. Epp's KC Barbeque wings - Kansas City, Kansas Mr. Epp's KC Barbeque wings & fries
Sunday - June 10, 2012: Five of us went to Happy Banzai - a Japanese Steakhouse where we had good experiences in the past. On of our party lives in a small rural town and had never experienced the teppanyaki style cooking at the table.

The food was OK, but the experience was not what we expected the chef did none of the tricks and performance that we are used to, and was seeing at other tables. He didn't even flip shrimp in our mouths. We were quite disappointed.

This evening I updated the page devoted to the David Traylor Zoo in Emporia.

 

 
 
Thursday - June 14, 2012: Linda and I departed for northern Michigan today, stopping to check out Smokin' Guns BBQ in North Kansas City, Missouri on our way out of town. We split a combination dinner with baby back ribs, sausage and burnt ends. The good sausage was a little unusual - split length wise and made with meat ground large. The other two meats were average. Onion rings were ordinary, cooked from frozen, but the thick cut fries were well prepared and worth getting again.

Smokin' Guns is building a new, larger building next door. They plan to open the new facility in August, but that may be overly optimistic.

Our drive took us though Ames, Iowa, where we stopped for diner at The Cafe, an international restaurant. The menu was fairly short (listing as many specialty drinks as dishes), but we did find some interesting dishes. things we liked. 

The Vietnamese Shrimp Wraps, were 5 chilled shrimp in lettuce cups with julienne carrots, bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro, mint, basil and crispy noodles. I loved the first one, but 5 was too many. Linda's surprisingly good Cafe Burger was made with local beef, white cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and pickled onion on a rosemary kaiser bun. 

But the highlight was the $10.95 Korean Steak & Egg. The beef was marinated and wood grilled, then served with house made kimchi, steamed rice, asparagus, spicy chile aiole and an over easy egg. A wonderful dish a very reasonable price.

 

Smokin' Guns BBQ - Kansas City, Missouri. Smokin' Guns BBQ
 
 
 
 

The Cafe - Ames, Iowa The Cafe

Friday - June 15, 2012: We stayed overnight at the Best Western Plus in Dubuque, Iowa. We were offered cookies and popcorn when we checked in and were very impressed with the hotel, furnishing, and the size & quality of the rooms, the large breakfast buffet in the morning. Even the towels were plush and nice.

We crossed the state of Wisconsin with just one stop, at the Brooklyn Grill, a cosmopolitan bar & grill in Oshkosh. I liked the atmosphere and menu, but the food we tried (shrimp, onion rings, perch) were just so-so.

Crossing the Menominee River in Michigan, we could see a large, newly constructed vessel on the river bank at Marinette Marine. We circled so I could photograph it and the US naval vessel which was already in the river. Researching this evening, I learned that the vessel awaiting launch was the 205' NOAA research vessel, the Rueben Lasker, and the one in the water was a 378' littoral combat ship which will be commissioned as the Fort Worth in Galveston in September. The Lasker will be "splash" Launched Saturday, the 16th. I wish I could be there!

We continued across Michigan's Upper Peninsula with a short stop at Palms Book State Park to enjoy the peaceful and beautiful Kitch-iti-kipi. It has been many years since I have been at the Big Springs and it was Linda's first visit. The water is so clear that you can easily see the bottom 40' down and the many large trout. There is a raft with holes in the center for looking down into the water.

As we approached the Straits or Mackinac, we were looking for a restaurant with a view of the water and settled on the Bayview Inn in Epoufette. We had the deck with its beautiful view over the trees to Lake Michigan all to ourselves. The food was average. The deep fried whitefish didn't taste as fresh as we would get later in the trip.

The sun was setting as we crossed the Straits of Mackinac and Linda was snapping many pictures from the 5 mile long Mackinac Bridge. I particularly like her shot that includes a freighter which had just passed under the bridge and it has been added to Fine Arts America.

 


Brooklyn Grill - Oshkosh, Wisconsin Brooklyn Grill

Ships Rueben Lasker and Fort Worth in Marinette, Wisconsin Rueben Lasker & Fort Worth

Kitch-iti-kipi - Big Spring Kitch-iti-kipi
 

Freighter ans sunset on the Straits of Mackinac 858' Great Lakes freighter Roger Blough

Saturday - June 16, 2012: This is not a vacation, but a working trip, to empty out my late parent's home. Six of us would work until Friday, emptying the home and having a huge yard sale on Thursday. It is also a chance to update restaurant reviews and photographs for our sister web site www.MightyMac.org.

Our first meal in Mackinaw City is at Darrow's Family Restaurant and we are joined by my brother and sister-in-law. Darrow's began as a drive in in 1957 and I grew up visiting Darrow's. Today it is has little atmosphere, but it is a great place for whitefish, salad, soups and pies. They usually have around 15 different pies, all made in house. 

Today's special is pasties and Donna & Gary are very happy with theirs. Linda had Signature Raspberry Chicken Salad, which is one of my favorite salads anywhere. 

I had the $11.99 whitefish fingers basket. Just deep fried, very fresh fish, fries and coleslaw. The fries and slaw are nothing special, but the fish is so much better than I had in Epoufette last night.

Supper was a long planned visit to Leg's Inn in Cross Village. Leg's Inn was built by one artist, Stanley Smolak, who began constructing the restaurant and its furnishings in the 1920s and continued working on it while it was in operation into the 1960s. The structure and fixtures are truly unique.

But so is the food! We started with smoked whitefish spread, then had Golabki (Cabbage Roll), Kielbasa (Polish Smoked Sausage), sauerkraut and Pierogi (Polish Style Dumplings). If you travel to northern Michigan, you really should visit Leg's Inn.

 


 
 

whitefish fingers basket - Darrow's Restaurant whitefish fingers basket
 
 
 
 
 

Leg's Inn - Cross Village, Michigan Leg's Inn interior with some of the furniture made by Stanley Smolak

Sunday - June 17, 2012: Today's lunch was at another Mackinaw City favorite - Scalawags Whitefish & Chips. This small place has just a few tables inside and out, or takeaway. The menu is simple (whitefish, perch, walleye, shrimp, chicken fingers, 3 or 4 sandwiches, fries slaw, hush puppies and chowder), but they do the fried fish very well. The perch was much better than I had in Oshkosh two days ago and the whitefish was as good as Darrow's. The sides were adequate, with the hush puppies being the best. 

Scalawags is only open May - October, and a trip to Mackinaw City in the summer is not complete without a Scalawags meal.

Supper was at the Key Hole Bar, a block away. I've ben going there for 40 years, but the food didn't start standing out until the last 10 years or so. This is a good place for burgers of fried perch. They have very good onion rings.

The photo at the right is from the balcony of our room at the Clearwater Lakeshore. That is the Mackinac Bridge in the distance and the SS Keewatin docked in the foreground.

 

Scalawags restaurant - Mackinaw City, Michigan Scalawags Whitefish & Chips
 
 

Mackinac Bridge and SS Keewatin Mackinac Bridge and SS Keewatin

Monday - June 18, 2012: Lunch was at another old Mackinaw City restaurant - Audie's. Audie's Restaurant began as Downing's Restaurant in the early 1960s, but has been Audie's for nearly 40 years. They have two dining rooms, with very different menus. Our meal was in the family dining room, and I had smelt. The tiny fish aren't necessarily one of my favorites, but I can't get them at restaurants in Kansas and they were today's special. They had too much batter, I could hardly taste the fish. 

We took a break in the afternoon to bury my parent's ashes in Mackinaw City's Lakeside Cemetery. Mother died 18 months ago and Dad died this past winter. The brief service was upbeat and I was doing well until one of their friends broke down while sharing a story. I think we could have gone on longer, but light rain brought the service to a conclusion.

My cousins joined us for supper at the Dixie Saloon. The Dixie was first a tavern in the 1890s. The name of the place came from the Dixie Highway, which terminated in front of the saloon. For a period in the 1980s, the building was used to house the only seasonal McDonald's in the United States. But the McDonald's eventually closed and the building was extensively remodeled before being reopened as a bar and grill. It is a handsome building and has about the only view of the water (kind of) from a Mackinaw restaurant.

The food doesn't measure up to the building. It isn't bad, but it is in the second tier of Mackinaw restaurants and it is a little more expensive.

There was a storm while we had dinner. Latter in the evening, the weather mostly cleared and I took the photo at the right of a freighter in the fog, approaching the Mackinac Bridge.

 


Audies restaurant - Mackinaw City, Michigan smelt special at Audi's

Funeral at Mackinaw City Lakeview Cemetery grave side service
 
 
 

Mackinac Bridge - Mackinaw City, Michigan Mackinac Bridge & freighter

Tuesday - June 19, 2012: All six of us drove to Levering to have lunch at the Levering Cafe, but the power was off following a storm which had passed though the area. Our next choice was to check out the new restaurant which has opened in the Pellston Airport, but we called and found out that their power was also off. 

So we returned to Mackinaw and returned to Darrow's. It was another good meal. I had forgotten how good Darrow's onion rings are. They were this good years ago when it was a drive-in.

In the early evening, the SS Keewatin departed Mackinaw City. The 1907 cruise ship had been a museum ship in southwest Michigan for many years and is being towed to Port McNicoll, Ontario to be the centerpiece of a major real estate development. Many photographers were present to photograph the departure.

Linda and I crossed the Mackinac Bridge to have supper at Clyde's Drive-In in St. Ignace. There are three Clyde's (the other two are in Sault Ste Marie and Manistique) and they have been open for decades. Although they do include some surprises like perch, Clyde's has good typical drive-in fare, including a huge 3/4 pound Big C burger for $6.10. The food was a good as I remembered though we did have to guard it from the aggressive seagulls.

 


 
 
 

SS Keewatin ferry in Mackinaw City SS Keewatin

Clyde's Drive-In - St. Ignace, Michigan Clyde's Drive-In

Wednesday - June 20, 2012: It is rare that we are in Mackinaw City for enough days that we go through all of our favorite places and have time to visit ones we don't know as well. Today's lunch was at the Historic Depot Restaurant which is in the only surviving railroad building in Mackinaw and surrounded by the Mackinaw Crossings shopping area. It is a nice setting, particularly for a train buff, but the food is average, the selection is short and the prices are a little too high.

Supper at the Blue Water Grill & Bar was much better, although the AC was having a hard time keeping up on this rare 90 degree day. The bar was nicely decorated with memorabilia from the ferry companies and other old ships which once sailed the Straits of Mackinac. Linda enjoyed the broiled whitefish and I was happy with the fried lake trout. Years ago, most restaurants in Mackinaw offered both whitefish and trout.

We crowned the day with a sunset cruise on the Ugly Anne, a former New England deep sea lobster boat. We received the tickets in exchange for the use of a photograph of the Ugly Anne which I took last summer.

The boat is the right size for this kind of use and I had high hopes, but they fall short of making the cruise what it could be. They crew didn't respond to changing conditions or pass near and describe interesting ships which were passing through the Straits. The narration is all prerecorded, rather than live. It wasn't a bad time, just not a special treat. Other people on the cruise seemed to enjoy it enough.

 

Historic Depot Restaurant - Mackinaw City, Michigan Historic Depot Restaurant
 
 
 
 

Ugly Anne - Mackinaw City, Michigan Ugly Anne

Thursday - June 21, 2012: This was the day of our yard sale and we were up a little after 5AM to set up the items in the yard. The sunrise photo at the right was taken from the shore in front of our motel. The sun is raising over Round Island. The larger Island at the left is Mackinac Island.

Thanks to a couple of our parent's friends and the Lion's Club, we had eleven large tables and were able to display much of the items in our front yard. The sale was amazing, people came back 3 and 4 times, sometimes bringing other people. Not just people who live or work in Mackinaw City, but people who were on vacation. Some of our best customers were the young women from Jamaica who work in Mackinaw through the summer and ship many things home. In just one day, we managed to dispose of the majority of the contents of my parents house. 

For a late supper, we returned to the Levering Cafe. The Cafe is another restaurant which has been open for many decades. It is worth driving out of your way. The food is good, the servings are huge and the prices are quite reasonable. Between us, we had broasted chicken, fried perch, whitefish and a $11.95 chicken Alfredo that could serve a family. It was a nice way for the 6 of us to unwind and share our experiences of the day.

We had met many people who knew our parents and had stories to share, or people who had never met them but said they would think of them when they used what they were purchasing. It had been a special day.

Returning to Mackinaw City, we saw that another storm had gone through the region. After another hour's work, we headed back to the motel, stopping to take the photo at the right on the way. It has been added to Fine Arts America.

 

Mackinaw City Michigan sunrise
Sunrise over the Round Island in the Straits of Mackinac

broasted chicken at the Levering Cafe broasted chicken at the Levering Cafe

Mackinaw City Michigan sunrise

Friday - June 22, 2012: This is our final full day in Mackinaw City and we spent it disposing od the remaining items in the house. We threw out or gave the rest to a couple of local churches and the house is now empty and offered for sale.

Linda and I worked until after 7PM, packing our van for the trip back to Kansas and taking care of things that had been missed. A couple of the Jamaican women came by looking for tools to buy and I gave one of them a 6 foot aluminum stepladder which she will ship home.

Today is my birthday and we wanted to celebrate it with supper on Mackinac Island. We just got the 7:30PM ferry, with the crew undoing the lines as we boarded. On the Island, we walked the main shopping district and around to Ste. Anne Catholic Church, which has been closed when I have tried to visit it before. 

We worked our way back along the Main Street until we came to the Chippewa Hotel. We had supper in the Pink Pony Dining Room, which has a lovely view of the water. We enjoyed the starter of baked, smoked white fish spread with pita chips. My broiled whitefish main dish was very good, but the tequila line perch was a waste of an expensive fish. The fish itself couldn't be tasted under the Caribbean cracker meal, garlic, tequila lime butter sauce and roasted corn black bean salsa.

After supper, we walked around to the west side ot town to watch and photograph the sunset.

We took the 10PM ferry back to Mackinaw City. The ride back at dusk was wonderful - cuddling with Linda in the cool wind on the back of the fast ferry and looking at fading light in the west and the moon setting over the Bridge.

 


 
 

Ste. Anne Catholic Church - Mackinac Island, Michigan Ste. Anne Catholic Church

Pink Pony Dining Room - Chippewa Hotel View from the Pink Pony Dining Room

Moon and the Mackinac Bridge Moon setting over the Mackinac Bridge

Saturday - June 23, 2012: Today we headed back toward home, driving across US-2, with a turnoff into the Garden Peninsula to Fayette State Historic Park, a 19th Century ghost town that was an iron smelting community. This little harbor and surrounding buildings provide dozens of great photo opportunities.

As we were leaving the park, we saw a sign for Sherry's Port Bar & Family Restaurant, a mile and a half away in Garden. Sherry's turned out to be a an interesting little place with a lot of character. The dishes we tried (whitefish and perch baskets) were average, with the fires being the best part.

Back on the highway with continued across the UP (Michigan's Upper Peninsula) and south through Wisconsin, stopping for supper at Tabbert's Diner in Rosendale. Linda's calzone had an unusual shape, but tasted very good and my fried smelt was better than I had in Mackinaw earlier in the week.

We stayed the night in Madison, Wisconsin.

 

Fayette State Historic Park - Michigan Fayette State Historic Park

Sherry's Port Bar - Garden, Michigan Sherry's Port Bar & Family Restaurant

Friday - June 29, 2012: This evening we drove to Pratt, stopping for supper along the way at Dog N Shake on the west side of Wichita. This local fast food chain has 4 locations around town.

The dogs were pretty good, as long as I ignored what they were called. For example the "Chicago dog" didn't come close to having the correct ingredients to bear the name. The chili dog (see photo at right) has so little chili that it is completely hidden by the dog.

I had read a lot about the homemade onion rings, and they were pretty good, as was the large Polish sausage, which had been split down the middle and grilled.

 

Dog N Shake hot dogs - Wichita Kansas chili dog on top, "Chicago dog" on the bottom
Saturday - June 30, 2012: We drove on to Greensburg where we joined Marci  Penner and WenDee Rowe LaPlant on a Kansas Explorer's tour of the community and some of its new LEED Platinum certified buildings.

Two vans of Kansas Explorers were led on a tour of Greensburg by the Greensburg Greentown Site Manager, Ruth Ann Wedel, and the Big Well Manager, Stacy Barnes. We were chauffeured through most of the town, with stops to go through the combined Kiowa County High School, the Junior High & Grade School; the BTI John Deere Dealership; and the Kiowa County Memorial Hospital.

We spent the most time at the school - a facility which would be the pride of any city. In addition to being very modern and functional it uses such features as heat pumps, a wind generator, reclaimed cypress wood from Hurricane Katrina, a recycling center, and lockers built from recycled plastic. The building collects the water from the roof of the school and stores it in 5 tanks with 221,000 gallons of storage capacity for landscape use.

The tour concluded at the Kiowa County Commons building which houses the library, Kiowa County Historical Museum and Soda Fountain. The new museum has attractive displays, but they were mostly photographs, there were hardly any artifacts. The roof of the Commons building is a green roof, with sedum growing on it - 1 of 4 such roofs in Greensburg.

Following the tour, we visited the Big Well on our own. The new Big Well Museum & Visitors Center opened just a few weeks ago. I wasn't that impressed with the Big Well facility prior to the 2007 tornado, but this new building is very nice. The displays showing the history of Greensburg, the Well and the Tornado are very good. 

The World's Largest Hand Dug Well was completed in 1888. It is 109 feet deep and 32 feet in diameter. Over three million visitors have descended the metal stairway into the Well.

We also toured the Silo Eco-Home, a demonstration home built using 6" thick concrete walls which can withstand the high winds of a tornado and including a variety of green features. The home serves as a bed & breakfast, GreenTown’s administrative office and Greensburg's "Green Visitors Center."

We also stopped at the Studio 54 which produces and sells stained glass and tornado fused glass art.

We took advantage of being near Haviland to run out in the country and revisit the Kansas Meteorite Museum. The owners of the museum, Don Stimpson and Dr. Sheila Knepper, were both present, talking to visitors and showing off some of their most recent meteorite discoveries.

Then back through Greensburg and west to Mullinville to check on the current status of of the Kanza Art Studio and see if the artist M. T. Ligget was working today. The art is an unique collection of junk metal folk art, windmills and signs which lines several of the streets of Mullinville. Unfortunately, Mr. Ligget was not around, but I did take some fresh photographs.

We returned east, then headed north on US 183 through Kinsley and north to Larned. We investigated the Central States Scout Museum, but the curator was not around.

For supper, we went to a new restaurant, Grumpy's Steakhouse & Bar, which opened at the Larned Country Club in February. The ribeye ($25 with salad & potato) and Kansas City Strip ($22) were both good. The salad & fries were less appealing. Baked potatoes were not available and I think the kitchen may be rather limited.

We had bull fries (mountain oysters) as an appetizer. They were a daily special. The $8 serving was rather small. They did appear to be fresh, rather than frozen, but had little flavor.

After checking in to our motel, we picked up a brochure for the Historic House Auto Tour. It was rather difficult, since we did not have a city map and no map or directions were included in the brochure, but we found most of the homes on the tour and concluded at Sibley's Camp, where larned was visited by a survey team in 1825, and the nearby former rock quarry, and the Little Red House (reconstruction of the first building in Larned).

 

Kiowa County High School - Greensburg, Kansas tour of Kiowa County High School
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Big Well Museum - Greensburg, Kansas Big Well Museum & Visitors Center
 
 
 
 
 
 

Dr. Sheila Knepper - Kansas Meteorite Museum Dr. Sheila Knepper

Kanza Art Studio - Mullenville, Kansas Kanza Art of M. T. Ligget
 

Grumpy's Steakhouse - Larned, Kansas Grumpy's Steakhouse & Bar

Historic quarry - Larned, Kansas Historic quarry

 
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