All it takes is an impetus -- a reason to get out on Kansas roads. Explorers choose quests for such a reason. Sometime the reason can be a meeting.
In the case of our "Very Good Road Trip" yesterday, it came about because we went to the Kansas Sampler Festival volunteer luncheon in Concordia hosted by local festival directors Susie Haver (see her in the picture and in real life) and Tammy Britt. They served a great meal that came from a combination of locally-owned businesses in the area. It's always good to see them.
We really hadn't planned a route in advance except we knew that we wanted to end up at Fat Boyz in Little River for their chicken-fried steak night. The journey just unfolded.
First stop was the stone arch bridge at Rice, a tiny unincorporated spot in the road between Concordia and Clyde on K-9. There are stone steps around the big ol' cottonwood at the base of the 1911 bridge. Since the creek was dry it was easy to get some good shots.
We were anxious to go to Clyde to see all the flower pots. They had won one of the $1,000 Grand Idea prizes at the We Kan! Conference for their plan to put out 125 pots or hanging planters to celebrate their 125th Watermelon Festival. People are even putting out flower pots on their home porches. All the flowers makes Clyde look very friendly.
We were out in the street taking pictures when a car stopped just in front of us, in the middle of the street. She got out of her car and left the car door wide open, came over to us, and pointed to the mortuary to make sure we saw the flowers on the second floor windows. She was the friendly owner of the mortuary. There wasn't lots of traffic so our middle of main street visit was very pleasant.
Many windows were painted with a watermelon theme. Great job Clyde!
Next stop was the unincorporated town of St. Joseph. We later found out from the men's coffee table at the Kountry Kafe in Miltonvale that the St. Joseph Church is slated soon for demolition. What a shame...you could easily imagine it in its glory years.
The cemetery behind the church is a reminder that this was a French settlement. Almost all the names on the stones sound like French names and some of the words are even written in French.
Miltonvale was founded by Milton Tootle. Tootlepark has a tremendous playground for kids, a swimming pool, a stone walking bridge, and a bandshell built by the WPA in 1936. Miltonvale's population is just over 500. We also found some buildings from the former Milton College.
I've long wanted to visit Tricia Remley's Grassland Gardens located between Miltonvale and U.S. 81, out in the country. It's so impressive! We'll try to let you know about her Fall Open House and urge you to go. She has a variety of areas on this showcase farm. Ornamental grasses are grown in one lot, flowers and plants in another, and a regular garden in the ruins of an old building. That's just the very short of it. She has paths through the prairie, a greenhouse, and a shop for cut flowers and a drying room.
We even ate some blueberries off the vine!
The last stop of the day was Fat Boyz in Little River. It was chicken-fried steak night. They buy their meat from the next door Garden of Eden grocery story and hand-bread it before they deep-fry it. It was so very good. Fat Boyz Steaks are featured every night. If you go on the weekend call for reservations. They do a very brisk business. 620.897.5216. Though they still allow smoking here, the room is big with a tall ceiling so it's not too noticeable.
Can you read this sign on a Little River storefront? Barber Shop. Painless dentistry and blood letting. You gotta love the fun.
All it takes to have "A Very Good Road Trip" is an explorer mindset and the desire to enjoy the journey. Once you have these valuable tools you'll "Get Kansas" by stopping in towns of every size.
KE #2 Marci Penner