Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Upgrades at Library will Affect Library Patrons

This blog doesn't usually focus on news stories as much as events and things to do in the community, but sometimes like today, it affects what many us might be doing come May 1-5, 2014.  That is because the library will be closed those four days so that they can install new ATM like Kiosks to speed up checkouts.

According to the Topeka Shawnee County Public Library website, there are three major improvements this change will bring about.
Speed. Check-out is much more streamlined
Convenience. Check-out kiosks located where you are in the building
Privacy. A more discreet way of checking out
Whether it really will, remains to be seen. However, some people like the human interaction over the speed of an emotionless computer. We did call the library to find out if this change will also mean the loss of some jobs. The individual on the other end of the line said that it would not. That for the first few months that staff would be available to help patrons with the new kiosks. After that the staff not needed at the desk would help in reference, where they have been wanting to get out into the community more and this will allow them to do that.
The website also stated,
The library is adopting Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags for inventory and security. RFID is used worldwide for a variety of purposes including employee ID badges and in K-Tags used by Turnpike motorists. With RFID tags, it’s possible to check out multiple items all at once.

Library cards will not change, but the new system will require a PIN to check out. This is a great opportunity to update your PIN. Change your PIN online in your account or call the library at 785-580-4400 and we can help you.

The entire library staff will be involved in converting 450,000+ items. The library will get a head start by closing the music CDs and the DVD Dispenser on April 30.

The library says many of it's other services will not be affected by the changes in the library. Bookmobiles will run their regular schedules. The Alice C. Sabatini Gallery, will be open including for First Friday on May 2nd. In addition the Millennium Café and Chandler Booktique will be open.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Annual Combat Air Museum Pancake Feed

It's almost time once again for the annual Combat Air Museum Celebrity Pancake Feed. The 21st annual Celebrity Pancake Feed in fact. Once again it will be held in Hangar Building #602, 7016 Forbes Ave., Forbes Field. Special Event Admission includes all you can eat pancakes from Perkins Restaurant plus a serving of delicious sausage and a drink. You will also get a tour of the museum!

Only $6 per person
image courtesy of the State Library

7016 Forbes Ave
Forbes Field
Building #602

Saturday April 26, 2014
7 am - 12 pm

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Everyone Loves a Parade

The first annual Easter Parade kicked off at 10:30 a.m. this morning. Starting with a color guard in the lead, the parade consisted of floats, antique cars, business', non-profits, contestants for Miss Topeka and even someone in a motorized scooter.
One of several floats in the 1st ever Topeka Easter Parade.
photo by Kevin Surbaugh
Michelle, Manny and little Zoey watching the Easter Parade.
photo by Kevin Surbaugh
Before and after the parade there was the "Fun Festival." Which included a number of exhibit booths, food and even music on the amphitheater stage.
Vince "Moses" Bateman
photo by Kevin Surbaugh

one of several antique cars in the Easter Parade.
Photo by Kevin Surbaugh


Friday, April 18, 2014

Tulip Time 2014

With more then 100,000 tulips and daffodils in three (3) of the counties beautiful parks, one of the best events each year, especially among those that enjoy gardening (or at least looking at beautiful gardens) is the annual Tulip Time Festival. Half of the tulips are in the Ted Ensley Gardens ay Lake Shawnee, said to be the most beautiful outdoor recreational areas in all of Northeast Kansas. The next location is perhaps the most historic of the three. That being the Old Prairie Town, where you can enjoy beautiful tulips, lush gardens, and even an old-fashioned cream soda. Finally, the Doran Rock Garden at Gage Park you can literally stroll in the largest park in Topeka and literally smell the flowers. Where you see thousands of tulips during Tulip Time, not to mention the Renisch Rose Gardens, which is also in Gage Park.
Daffodils at Lake Shawnee
Photo by Kevin Surbaugh

2014 Event Dates:
April 4-April 20, 2014
Times may vary depending on location, but all will be during normal park hours at the respective parks.
Photo by Kevin Surbaugh


Tulips at Lake Shawnee
Photo by Kevin Surbaugh

  • Ted Ensley Gardens at Lake Shawnee
    SE 37th and West Edge Road
    Admission Free for self guided tours. $5/person for group tours (available weekdays only). For more information contact dave.bartels@snco.us or call 291-2617;

  • Botanical Garden at Old Prairie Town
    124 NW Fillmore
    At Old Prairie Town visitors can enjoy a self-guided tulip tour for a suggested donation of $5 per person. Historic building tours are available daily beginning at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm for $4 per person. For more information contact john.bell@snco.us or call 368-2439. Park hours during Tulip Time at Old Prairie Town are 9:00am-6:00pm (gates close at 5:30pm).

  • Doran Rock Garden at Gage Park
    601 SW Gage Blvd
    Free Self Guided tours
  • Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    Topeka Easter Parade and Family Fun Fair

    Gage Park is going to be a busy place come Easter Weekend. Especially the day before Easter. That is when the first ever Topeka Easter Parade and Fun Festival will be held. The Capitol City Christian Chamber of Commerce (C5) will put on the event on Saturday, April 19, 2014, the day before Easter. The Fun Fair portion of the day will take place from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., while the Parade itself will start at 10:30 a.m.
    With activities geared toward children and families, as well as booths, exhibits, bands, etc. Activities planed will include children’s games, scavenger hunts, egg hunts, facepainting, and a number of other activities in and around the Westlake Shelterhouse, the Carousel "Party Room", the Childrens Party House, and the Amphitheatre.
    Sponsors of the event include WIBW-TV, WREN Radio, Solid Rock Sound Machine,  Kansas Koyotes Football and NuSound Hearing Center, among others.

    Saturday, April 12, 2014

    Bobo's Drive In

    We are on the search for the best burger in Topeka. Here is how we rate the burger joints that we will review. First we put heavy emphasis on where the joint is headquartered, Local (Topeka) will garner an automatic 10 bonus points. Kansas owned chains (headquartered in Lawrence, Wichita, etc) an automatic 5 bonus points and National chains (those headquartered outside the state) will garner an automatic 0 bonus points.  The ten categories that we will use in our search for the best burger in Topeka will be 1.Burger Patties Quality, 2. Bun Quality, 3. Customer Service, 4. Garnish Quality, 5. Fries Quality, 6. Atmosphere, 7. Order Accuracy, 8. Cleanliness (Restrooms, Dinning area, Entrance, etc), 9. Building Accessibility and 10. Price. All categories will earn a score between 1 and 10, with 10 being the highest and 1 being the poorest.

    Drive-in restaurants may not be seen as often as they used to be, but that hasn't stopped Bobo's Drive-In from attracting customers for more then 65 years (since 1948). Bobo's  has even been featured on the Food Network's popular program; Diner's, Drive-In's and Dives back in 2008. Recently, my wife and I made our way to this beloved restaurant.  Even though we both have been there, this was the first time since we started our search for the best burger in Topeka.

    photo by Kevin Surbaugh

    1.Burger Patties Quality: 8
    I am a lost for words on how to describe how much we loved the great homemade taste of the steak burgers that we ordered. But, what more would you expect from a dinner that is considered one of the "Eight (8) Wonders of Kansas Cuisine"?

    2. Bun Quality: 7
    The bun itself was nothing spectacular. It was just an ordinary bun from a package. While it tasted fresh it didn't seem to be steamed or toasted.

    3. Customer Service: 10
    I was truly impressed with the excellent customers service. This being one of the very few places still set up like the drive-ins of old. Including the car hops that come to your car to take your order and then bring it to you.  What's more when I accidentally dropped our drinks, I expected to have to pay again, but they happily replaced them. 

    4. Garnish Quality: 10
    The garnishment was all very fresh, consisting of lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. Even better, there was plenty of pickles, not just 1 or 2 like most places.

    5. Fries Quality: 7
    I enjoyed the fries. Though they weren't the best fries, I've ever had but they very tasty. Plus, they fries were plentiful, in fact was actually to much for the two of us. 

    6. Atmosphere: 9
    Truly reminiscent of a 50's style dinner, we ate in the car although people can go inside to eat at a few tables or the counter.
    photo by Kevin Surbaugh

    7. Order Accuracy: 10
    They made our order exactly as we requested. The wife ate everything on her burger I had my burger made ketchup only.

    8. Cleanliness (Restrooms, Dinning area, Entrance, etc): 8
    We didn't visit the restroom so we cannot speak to how clean it was.  The dinning area appeared very clean as did the entrance. The only issue was the extension chord stretched across a portion of the parking lot to the portable sign. This could be a trip hazard for those with mobility issues, particularly since it crosses the only path between the handicapped parking and the only available entrance.

    9. Building Accessibility: 5
    For those with mobility issues could find it hard to access the building with a step up into the only available door.
    photo by Kevin Surbaugh

    10. Price: 10
    At $10.86 it was a very good value for the amount of food we received. 

    Bonus Points: 10
    Bobo's is one of the most loved and long standing local Burger places in Topeka

    The over all points for this review was 9.4 points

    photo by Kevin Surbaugh

    2300 SW 10th Avenue
    (map link courtesy of Wheelmap.org)

    (785) 234-4511

    Hours of Operation:
    11 a.m. - 8 p.m.

    Friday, April 4, 2014

    First Friday Poetry Crawl

    One of the main things Topeka has is the First Friday Art Walk. For those unfamiliar with what an Art Walk is, let me give you a brief explanation. There is number Art Exhibits around town that stays open later on a specific day, in this case the first Friday of each month, to encourage the public to visit and appreciate the arts and often times enjoy some simple refreshments. 
    Now as part of the First Friday Art Walk is a new feature that is being called the First Friday Poetry Crawl. At each participating location a poet is there reading a few selections of their poetry.  Once they read a few selections they mingle with the attendees until the next time they read.  My wife and I only attended one (1) of the fifteen (15) locations for tonight's Poetry Crawl.
    The location we chose was Oddfellows Books and the poet we heard was Annette Billings. The crowd seemed to be a good size, perhaps 15-20 in the small amount of space.  All of whom seemed to enjoy the selections that she had chose to read.
    Perhaps next month the wife and I will be able to participate in more of the various exhibits and readings.  See you all there.

    Burnet's Mound - Highest Point in Topeka

    View from the Top.
    Photo by Kevin Surbaugh

    Recently my wife and I made our way to Burnett's Mound. However, it is not accessible to those with mobility issues, so I had to make the trek up the side of the mound by myself in order to take these photographs. Burnett's Mound is the tallest point in Topeka and is sight worth taking in. It was also heavily devastated by a tornado that swept through Topeka in June, 1966.

    There has been many legends surrounding the mystical Burnett's Mound that have been handed down and told by spiritual and traditional ritual leaders of the Pottawatomie tribe. Wis-Ki-Ge-Amatyuk, a holy man of the Pottawatomie tribe, had told the story of Burnett Mound and the origin of its legend. In his story, he tells that long ago a quick moving tornado swept harshly across the prairies, killing and injuring many of the Pottawatomie people. He told stories of the extreme poverty that had left many of his people unprotected and un-sheltered from the powerful spinning winds. The tornado's anger left many bodies scattered upon the land along with cattle and horses. Preparation for burial took many days of prayer and upon the ceremony, it was asked that the Great Spirit of life watch over and bless the large mound with the ability to stop the powerful spinning winds. It was asked that the mound protect the people of the land and watch over the dead that had been laid to rest upon her shadow. Protected, the people of the Kansas valley will be, only by respecting and leaving the resting place of the dead undisturbed.

    It was told that seven Pottawatomie's that had perished to the might of the angry wind were of personal and direct family relations to Chief Burnett. A traditional Pottawatomie song telling the story of the tornado sings, "The grass is moving, the trees are moving, the whole earth is moving..."

    A portion of the Trail
    to the top of Burnett's Mound.
    Photo by Kevin Surbaugh

    Chief Burnett often said that the mound must never be disturbed because it was a sacred place that was watched over by the Great Spirit and those who have past on, must always be respected. The people of Kansas believed that by respecting the Chief's wishes that the mound would protect the city of Topeka from the devastating power of tornadoes.

    Water tower on Burnett's Mound.
    Photo by Kevin Surbaugh
    However, in 1960, Chief Burnett's mound was disturbed with construction at its base for an interstate bypass. Upon Burnett's Mound itself, it was cut into at the top of its north side, perfectly visual for all Topekans to view as its desecration continued to fit a 5 million gallon steel drum reservoir water tank. In the following years, building began to slowly progress around Burnett's Mound. At 6:55PM on June 8, 1966, an F5 tornado of immense power struck the city of Topeka, destroying all within its path. It lasted a total of 34 minutes ending at 7:29PM. The tornado was a half mile wide, as about 820 homes were destroyed and 3,000 damaged. Entire blocks were leveled to splinters in seconds. The tornado's violent winds was estimated at around 300 mph. Total cost was put at $100,000,000.00 making it at the time the costliest tornado in American history. Even to this day, with inflation factored in, the Topeka tornado still stands as one of the costliest on record. The tornado claimed 16 lives, injured over 500 people, and left over 3500 homeless.
    View of I-70 from the highest point
    of the highest point (Burnet's Mound) in Topeka.
    Photo by Kevin Surbaugh

    The park, Skyline Park has since become trashed and all but closed. Motor Vehicles can not enter the park beyond the gates at the entrance. They are spread apart enough that a wheel chair could be pushed through, however, in the end the highest point is not accessible to those with mobility issues. The easiest for an able bodied person is to climb one of the many trails is to park along Skyline Drive and to make the hike up the side.  The view from the top is beautiful as you can see from the pictures here. 

    Burnet's Mound is a part of Skyline Park.
    Photo by Kevin Surbaugh
    Trail to the very top. Photo by Kevin Surbaugh

    Gates leading into park.
    It's all on foot from here.
    Photo by Kevin Surbaugh

    Panoramic View - photo by Kevin Surbaugh
    Burnett's Mound taking shape again
    Burnett's Mound Returning to it's Roots
    Burnett's Mound Story and Legend
    Burnett Mound - June 2007

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

    Washburn University - What is an Ichabod

    This video is a great answer to what many outside Topeka ask. To understand one has to know the very basic history. For the purpose of this article we will give you a more detailed answer. A more complete history if you will.
    Founded in 1865 as Lincoln College in Downtown Topeka. Three years later, in 1868, Ichabod Washburn donated some land at the present day location. In recognition to his support, the college renamed themselves after the New England
    philanthropist Deacon Ichabod Washburn. Becoming a municipal university in 1941, and today it receives partial funding from the state of Kansas.
    Photo by Ron Lopez-Reese
    Topeka History Geeks (on Facebook)
    Present Day Washburn University
    Located at:
    1700 College Ave (17th and Washburn)
    Historical Marker
    Located at Original College Location
    (10th and Jackson) 120 SW 10th Avenue