Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Kansas Guidebook

Today was a very important day for Kansas, and most Kansans don't even know it.

Marci Penner released her new book, "The Kansas Guidebook," which details what there is to see and do in Kansas. It's more than 400 pages long and chock full of cafes, museums, art, architecture, and dozens of other things you can see in Kansas.

She had a book signing today at what is affectionately referred to as "The Barn," where her office is.

Marci traveled 40,124 miles over two years to gather the information. The book includes nearly 700 restaurants, cafes and soda fountains, and I'm looking forward to trying out some of them.

Trish, Linda and I rode over together for the book signing. When we arrived, we saw Molly was already there.

There were other faces in the group that I recognized - some from Kansas Dialogue and some from other events.

I'm a proud member of the Explorer's Club, a project of Marci's foundation, which encourages people to "do dirt" and take back roads.

Martha was helping out today, of course. She has been on the board of the Kansas Sampler Foundation for years, which is Marci's organization. She believes strongly in the foundation and its purpose - and also in Marci.

That's Trish (blonde) and Linda getting their books signed by Marci. You can also see Martha in the background at the cash register.

Marci did a brief presentation before the book signing, talking about doing the book. She visited all 627 incorporated towns in Kansas to produce the book. She didn't make appointments, she just took off and found what she found in each community.

The Sampler Foundation ( encourages people to appreciate rural Kansas and what's special about it. And, there is plenty that is special. I'm sure that's true of all states, but we're blessed to have Marci to show us the way here.

Marci looks at eight elements of rural culture; architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography, history and people. She is on the governor's Rural Task Force and is a tremendous supporter of Kansas.

Marci's mom and dad are two of her biggest supporters. The barn is built on their farm and there's a path between it and their home.

One of the great bonuses if you go to an event where Marci is featured is that you're likely to get some delicious cookies, compliments of her mom.

Today was no exception. I ate three and finally removed myself from the building and went outside to sit near the beautiful arrangement on the porch to keep from making a fool of myself with the cookies. Maybe Marci and her mom should write a cookbook.

I don't think Marci is too interested in another book of any sort right away. This has been a major project.

I am honored to consider Marci a friend.

I cannot urge you strongly enough to purchase a book if you live in Kansas, or if you plan to visit. This will keep you from missing out on the gems that are the things you find little references to after you get home and kick yourself for having missed.

It's a bargain at only $24.95 - printed on nice slick paper with color photos throughout, and with a spiral binding that lends itself to being road worthy. Order at

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