Monday, September 7, 2009

Howard and Elk Falls

On Saturday, Sept 5, I spent a day in Elk County in the towns of Howard and Elk Falls. The Kansas Sampler Foundation had arranged another of the special "Bring Your Own Lawn Chair" events in Howard.

I arrived in Howard about 10:15 AM and checked in on the courthouse square and began meeting many of my Kansas Explorer friends. Then, I walked over to the downtown area to do some shopping and exploring.

At 11:30 AM, the event started on the courthouse square. We gathered our lawn chairs to hear speakers share about the local museum with it's doll collection, from the Batson's who operate the local drug store/grocery and soda fountain, about Poplar Pizza, which has operated since 1995 in Howard, about the recently opened Traci's Trends which offers wedding dresses and tuxedo rentals, as well as alterations and Kansas gifts, and about projects for a new clock in the courthouse tower, for a new Veteran's Memorial, and for renovation of the historic Howard National Bank building.

I then headed for Poplar Pizza for lunch and shared with some other Kansas Explorers there. While enjoying my New York style pizza, I shared with my friend Bonnie Dainley about my "Dare to do Dirt" quest and her quest of photographing at church in each Kansas County.

Before leaving Howard, I checked out the new Veteran's Memorial and Hubble's Rubble, a unique collection of "creations". I then headed southeast to Elk Falls by the backroads.

A group of perhaps 25-30 gathered at Elk Falls Pottery shop at 2:30 PM and were welcomed by Steve and Jane Fry. Then we were treated to an impromptu demonstration with Steve Fry helping Marci Penner make a bowl as we watched.

Then, Steve took us over to another property they bought 5 years ago and have been renovating. After they began removing the overgrown vines from the yard they found an amazing rock garden which we all explored extensively. The Frys' plan to eventually move their living quarters and shop to this location and open another bed and breakfast here.

Before leaving Elk Falls, I did make a stop at the falls, then headed west on US-160, which is always a beautiful drive thru Moline, Grenola, Cambridge and Burden. I stopped in Douglass, in southwest Butler County for some a Mexican food dinner on the way into Wichita.
Elk Falls Pottery Shop:
My photo gallery of "Bring Your Own Lawn Chair - Howard":

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Weekend in Rooks County

On August 29 and 30, I spent some time exploring rural areas of Rooks County in northwest Kansas.

Saturday morning, I went to Damar for the "Bring Your Own Lawn Chair" event sponsored by the Kansas Sampler Foundation. I was truly impressed with the people and the town. St Joseph's Church is a beautiful church and the decorated Main Street area was special. I shared lunch in the Damar Cafe with a group of Kansas Explorers. For a report of the event, see the Kansas Sampler Foundation's blog entry:

My photos of the event can be found at the following gallery:

After leaving Damar, I spent the afternoon exploring the northwestern part of Rooks County, first travelling around Webster Reservoir, then heading north to the Rooks / Phillips county line and following the beautiful Bow Creek valley east to US 183. Bow Creek is aptly named for it winds back and forth. In one place along Road A, the creek crossed the road 4 times in one mile.

After reaching US 183 north of Stockton, I headed back to Hays for the night. I had an excellent KC Strip steak dinner at Professor's Steakhouse in Hays.

Sunday morning I again headed north to explore the eastern half of Rooks County. I headed up and over the bluffs north of the Saline River and came into Codell from the south. I noticed a beautiful old limestone school in Codell.

I headed north from Codell through the very beautiful Medicine Creek valley. As I understand it. the first homesteaders in the county settled in this area south of Woodston. I visited a couple of cemeteries in this area also.

After looking around the town of Woodston, I explored some areas north of US 24, then headed to Stockton for lunch. I had a good hot roast beef sandwich at the Hometown Cafe.

I then left Stockton and headed south along the Elm Creek valley and eventually found the Twin Mounds area and the cemetery of the same name. After a few more miles I joined up with KS 18 and began my journey back home to Wichita.

To see my favorite photos of Rooks County, visit my gallery page at: