The original idea was to go on a flying jaunt from Osborne to Elkhart, Kansas, and back as part of our ongoing Explorer #Dare To Do Air" Quest across the Sunflower State. Unfortunately, ol' #4419 has a bad foot, which ruled out proper operation of an airplane at this time. So being good Explorers we segued the trip from flying to driving - but where to, who knew?
Captain 8 has his8 Wonders of Kansas shirt on and is ready to go Exploring.
Our first stop ended up at the Kansas Originals Market, located at the Wilson exit on Interstate 70. KE #4419 and Cap 8 happen to be the owners of Ad Astra Publishing LLC, and here we dropped off new several copies of Ad Astra books being sold at this great gift shop. For 20 years Marge Lawson & Company have been doing Kansas a great service here, bringing Kansas products directly to thousands of travelers over the years.
Then we decided that we might be a little hungry later, and so why not head for one of the current finalists for the 8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine, Carolyn's Essenhaus in Arlington, Kansas? With that destination in mind, we traveled south on scenic Kansas Hwy. 14. Here in Ellsworth you can see that we were stopped by a train loaded with still-unusual-to-see cargo: wind generator blades!
Each blade is 150 foot long, and this parade of blades made for a great display as it sped through town.
We hastened south through Lyons and Sterling and then at last to the Kansas community of Arlington. As you can see, the front of Carolyn's Essenhaus is modest, but don't let that fool you. Inside is one of the great Mennonite food experiences you will ever have!
It was KE #4419's first time here and my second. He ordered Olley's Plate - barbecued beef with two sides - and I asked for the Friday verenika special. After devouring those tasty meals the sight of seeing no less than 16 pies on the list boded well for dessert. But nothing prepared us for that first taste of Carolyn's 3-Berry Pie, which we both ordered. It was so good that . . . I need a moment.
Just the memory of that incredible first taste was a life altering experience.
It was that good.
All I can say is come and try Carolyn's food for yourself, and then be sure to vote for her in the current 8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine contest sponsored by the Kansas Sampler Foundation. What a great representative of Kansas cuisine!
After lunch our new mission in the Arlington area was to find Jay Yoder's Tag Tree. Jay, a legendary Kansas Explorer and promoter, lives somewhere in the Arlington-Partridge area. To find him, we used the Explorer's Friend - the postmistress in Partridge. She was a great help and showed us on a map where to find Jay's farm, cautioning us that there were "three miles of gravel road" that we would have to cover. To us Kansas Explorers that was like ringing the dinner bell! After buying a book of stamps we set off once more with renewed enthusiasm.
There just east of the intersection of Centennial & Lake Cable Roads was the fabled Yoder farm. We knocked and hollered and created general mayhem but no one seemed at home. Then we sent about the property learning all of Jay's secrets and seeking the hallowed Tag Tree, but to no avail.
Finally we started to head back to Partridge and seek further information on the tree's whereabouts, when Lo! There at the northwest corner of Jay's property was the Tree. In our haste to get onto his farm we both missed it coming in! As the photo shows, tags from all over already decorated the Tree.It was time for us to put our tag up on the tree and complete the ritual as loyal Kansas Explorers. Then we opened the nearby mailbox, which we suspected held a notebook or such for Tree visitors to sign.
KE #4419 is shown here braving nature's obstacles to retrieve the notebook, which he did without incident or even a nibble on his delicate digits. We dutifully signed our names, dates, and inscriptions and bid adieu to the Tag Tree.