Blog | Research duo completes statewide tour

Research duo completes statewide tour

Marci Penner and WenDee LaPlant of the Inman-based Kansas Sampler Foundation have recently completed their statewide journey to each of the 626 incorporated cities and 131 unincorporated spots on the Kansas map. Starting in Marquette in June of 2012 and finishing in Garden City on November 12, the purpose was to research for the 2005 Kansas Guidebook for Explorers update.

Writing, doing more research, and confirming facts will keep Penner and LaPlant busy over the next eleven months with a goal of having the book ready for the 2016 holiday shopping season. As with previous Kansas Sampler Foundation books, Penner's sister Liz King will design the book, Bobbie Pray, Lawrence, will edit, and Mennonite Press, Newton, will print the book.

Much like the popular 2005 guidebook, this one will be approximately 432 pages in length with hundreds of color pictures and about 4,000 entries. The entries will feature everything from restaurants and scenic drives to architectural gems and indoor and outdoor art. 

Penner said, "Since the middle of May, we've been on the road every Monday through Friday. We've eaten two to four meals each day in locally-owned restaurants, went through two cameras to capture 127,000 images, and the odometer on our wrapped GMC Terrain, loaned to us from Midway Motors of McPherson, has 105,000 miles on it.  We went through three sets of tires and had only one encounter with a deer. The car, affectionately known as ERV (Explorer Research Vehicle), side-stepped major ruts at remote scenic areas, endured thousands of miles on stony back roads, and survived rickety bridges.  It was a magnificent four years."

Though it was Penner's second trip to every town in the state it was LaPlant's first such adventure. She said, "I was surprised at the diversity of geography, the beauty found on the back roads, and how big our state is. It was wonderful to meet the people of Kansas and hear the pride they have in their communities. I can't wait to share all of this with the public."

As they did throughout the four-year trip, the research duo will continue to share pictures and comments on Facebook and through e-blasts and the Kansas Explorer Club newsletter. Information will be available on

"After seeing the state up close and personal, we can't wait to make it easy for others to see the beauty, the character and characters, and the fun quirks of the state, too," Penner said.