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June 15, 2012
Liz King, Atherton, CA

The digital age started with a man from Great Bend

Great Bend, Kansas
ERV took a day off from the statewide journey to deliver Marci and WenDee to the Kansas Association of Retired School Personnel convention in Great Bend.  Marci presented a WenDee-made power point on the 8 Wonders of Kansas.

It was exciting to see the new Jack Kilby Memorial!  It's positioned in front of the 1918 Classical Eclecticism stone courthouse.

In 1958, Texas Instrument engineer Jack Kilby invented the monolithic integrated circuit, known as the microchip, which paved the way for the modern information age. 

He won a Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention.

Eleven years in the making, the memorial plaza was dedicated in April 2012.

The plaza includes plaques with donor names as well as a variety of quotes.

One of the plaques at the plaza reads, "How many towns could claim as their native son a man whose invention changed the world?"  Jeanene (Cook) Hoover, Great Bend High School 1954.

The Barton County Historical Museum (South 281) also has some Kilby information.


A caramelized BLT sandwich

Lindsborg, Kansas

The Brick House Grill is located in an old-fashioned Standard filling station at 201 Harrison in Lindsborg.  It's a little crowded because 1) it's small and 2) it's full of satisfied customers.

Among other things, Bob McCall's place has specialty burgers and sandwiches.  The "Sloppy German" is a Reuben burger (no corned beef) topped with ham, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, sauteed onions with 1000 Island dressing.

I ordered the Brick House BLT.  The description touts the signature bun but I'm telling you it was the bacon, the caramelized bacon.  Each bite was like candy.  When I was done, I was ready for another.  And I would have ordered one but we were coming back in a few hours to order carry-out pizza.

Famous for their red sauce or white sauce specialty hand-tossed crust pizzas, some of the pizza names include "The Thor" and "Viking."  A "Viking" pizza has to be hearty right?  This one features pepperoni, Italian sausage, pork sausage, Canadian bacon, bacon and beef.  We took home half "Crazy Garden" and half "Chicken Parmesan." 

Oh my.  The pizza leftovers were even better the next day (for breakfast).  People drive in from all over for the pizza.

Open daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m. but Tuesday just 11 a.m.-2 p.m.  Pizza available after 4 p.m. and all day Saturday and Sunday.

Try it sometime!

Written by Marci Penner.  We're going to every town in the state to research for a guidebook.  We want to share some information with you now!  This is a project of the Kansas Sampler Foundation.


Day #2: Valkommen to Lindsborg

Lindsborg, Kansas

The welcome starts on the one-lane bridge at the south entrance of Lindsborg. 

People often ask what we do when we first get into a town.  Most often we look for someone that can give us a town overview.  Knowing the convention and visitor's bureau office was busy with preparations for Midsummer's Festival, we got all we needed from the ladies of Small World Gallery.  Thanks Kathy, Jan, Briana, and Twyla!

One starts to get steeped in the colors of Lindsborg when in the Small World Gallery, 127 N. Main.  Just looking at Jim Richardson's racks of notecards makes you happy--and pleased with images of Kansas.  Then the color of Kathy's beads add a different yet stimulating dimension.

The multi-colored delicate glass balls invite a person in to the Courtyard Gallery,
 125 N. Main, a shop selling Kansas art.

The polished wooden chutes, belts and levers at the Smoky Valley Roller Mill (120 Mill at Old Mill Museum) make you feel like you're stepping into a beautiful 3-D picture of rugged function.

Shirley's hands and work table are where those neatly painted Dala horses get their start. (Hemslöjd, 201 N. Main).

Birger Sandzen's thick brushstrokes are just plain rich.  To look at them close up delivers one view.  Stepping back produces quite another perspective, almost as if it is a completely different painting.  (Birger Sandzen Gallery, 401 N. 1st).

You feel like you're swallowing color when you walk into Elizabeth's handwoven artwork shop.  You just want to soak it all in the best you can.

Even the place settings are beautiful, like at the Swedish Country Inn.

Everyone loves the Wild Dala Horses.  Especially the one you can ride.

And, here's the color of fun!  You can rent these quadricycles at the Hemslöjd -- and we plan to do just that next week.

Lindsborg, ERV will be back next week.  A short visit just made us want more.  Can't wait.  See you then.


The ERV trip has started and it started in Marquette!

Marquette, Kansas
Today was the very first day of ERV (Explorer Research Voyage), otherwise described as the journey to every one of the 626 towns in the state.  Our mission - to research for the next Kansas Guidebook for Explorers.

As a researcher, you come to town to look for guidebook entries - like museums, shops, the cafe, maybe an interesting stone in the cemetery.  But here's what happens.  You become part of the town.  You get to know the people.  You fall in love.

Nothing like a classic rural community.  That's what we found today.

We stepped out of ERV (Explorer Research Vehicle) and were taking pictures of the unique lamp post -- a lamp post that had Mri-Pilar's name all over it.  And that's when everything started to happen.

City Clerk Fred stepped out of his office on his way to coffee.  He saw us and gave us a huge smile of surprise and delight.

On our way to City Sundries with Fred, Mary greeted us in the middle of the street and invited us to her store, which was closed today.  We told her we'd come find her later at the grocery store.

Before we could even order a cherry limeade, the table of city workers started an animated conversation with us. 

The most important thing we learned was that Braxton does the mowing and drives the mower to coffee each day.

We also learned that the owner of City Sundries was working at the post office so we went over there to say hi to Kris.

Seeing the three museums was next but they were closed.  As expected, Fred had a key and we got a tour of all three -- city museum, Range Schoolhouse, and Falun depot.

As we were eating a delicious hot roast beef sandwich and a "Just a Plain Ol' Burger Fried on the Grill" (meat ground fresh from the grocery) at the Valley Cafe, we were told to eat fast and get to the barber shop before it closed at noon.

This place predates Floyd's Barber Shop in Mayberry!  Kenny's grandfather started it in 1906 and at one time his Mom, Emma, sectioned off part of the front room and had a beauty shop in there, too.  Kenny just never got around to changing the window sign.  A swirling barber pole and the screen door make this place impossible to resist.  It'll be in the guidebook.

Kenny and customer Chris were good sports about us invading their space and gawking and asking a million questions.  But then we had to put up with their lies and jokes. 

To the grocery store (Piper's Fine Foods)...  Behind the checkout counter was owner Steve holding his new grandson...big ol' Steve just as sweet as could be.  Later when we went back, Steve was cutting meat while the customers were taking care of the newborn.  Perfect.

Mary opened the Washington Street Emporium for us and told us about a robbery in this former bank.  As she pulled on the primitive alarm system she explained how it would've worked so many decades ago but the workers at the shop where the alarm connected were out for lunch!  At the library, another former bank, Donna took us in the vault and showed us all sorts of fascinating details.  We were then compelled to go to the present bank and find Steve and talk about his family's connection to the two former banks. 

While we were at the bank, we saw Grocery Store Steve at the teller window.  As we both left the bank, he handed us a check for $100.  Last week the chamber had voted to be a day sponsor for ERV.  Thank you.

We hoped to catch a domino game at the Marquette Hardware Store but owner Kay told us that only happens on Saturday.  But we saw all the evidence.

We asked about the store hours. Kay said they vary depending on when they are out camping with the RV. 

Fred told us that Rich was at the dentist today so we didn't think we'd be able to get into ArtSpace.  But, leave it to Fred!  He found Rich so we met him at the gallery.  While we were visiting with Rich, Catherine came in.  She had seen ERV and tracked us down.  Then, Pilar heard all the racket and joined us with her latest art project in hand.

LaVona was next.  LaVona, 84, is the face of the Kansas Motorcycle Museum.  We all wish husband Stan was still alive to tell stories but LaVona does pretty well, too.  She might look quiet but, boy, does she have some stories to tell.

We were leaving town in ERV when Fred flagged us down.  Had we been to the Butterfly Boutique yet?  We hadn't so Fred introduced us to Phil.  Phil and his wife had moved here from Kansas City as they had always wanted to restore an old building.  What a job they have done!  Before we knew it, we were upstairs in their loft apartment meeting Phil's wife. 

Our last stop was the cemetery.  Fred has told us a story and we were looking for corresponding gravestones.  We were at opposite ends of the cemetery when a car drove over to WenDee and the guy got out and asked if we needed help.  Turns out the guy was Dana, the cemetery sexton!  Good thing he stopped.  We were in the wrong cemetery.  He gave us directions to the Lutheran cemetery and before long he joined us there with the directory and we finally found the Blomquists!

This was our day in Marquette.  You just can't orchestrate something like this.  They just happen. 

625 towns to go.  The journey will result in a guidebook...but if you read between the lines you'll see that it really is a love story.

Thanks, Marquette, for giving the ERV journey a great start.

Written by Marci Penner.  We're going to every town in the state to research for a guidebook.  We want to share some information with you now!  This is a project of the Kansas Sampler Foundation.