Vivian and I have been having a lot of fun together this week, and we were able to see each other every day for the first time since we started dating, which was a special milestone.
On Friday night, we celebrated our friend Venche’s birthday at P.F. Chang’s, a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try for a while now. They served some very nice Chinese food and served it family-style, so we all got to share dishes and try a little bit of everything. They did the same with the desserts, and Venche had some of the most heart-stoppingly sweet chocolate I’ve ever tasted. It was a great time, though we had to watch out for Jim and some of his bizarre mixed drinks. Those special bottles on the table apparently weren’t meant for beverages.
On Saturday, Nebraska City was holding its annual Applejack Festival, so Vivian and I got to drive down to participate in the festivities. We started off with the Waffle Feed at the firehouse, getting a couple tasty waffles with syrup and whipped cream on top. After stuffing ourselves, we took a walk around town, stopping by a pet shop and a used book sale put on by the library.
At one o’clock came the parade. Vivian hadn’t seen a parade since she’d moved to Nebraska (though she did get to march in a couple), and I hadn’t seen one since the Wayne Chicken Show a few years ago. We joined Jenny and some of her family who enjoyed beating her sister with inflatable Windstream promotional balloons.
The parade was quite nice, though 90% of it seemed to be marching bands and Shriners tooting around in miniature cars. There was a marching band competition going on, so that would explain why we got to see several bands from all sorts of schools from around the area. The most impressive was Blair, naturally, marching in lockstep like the armies of Mordor down central Avenue. Since we stood at the end of the parade, we didn’t get to have quite as much candy tossed our way as we would have liked.
After the parade, Vivian, Jenny, Hugh, and I went down to the Arbor Day Farm to get some appley-sweet treats such as apple butter, carmel apples, and even such odd creations as Cheesecake in a Jar. The place was packed, as expected, and there were plenty of things to look at while we were there, including some of the old machinery they used to sort and process the apples grown there. I’d heard an early freeze had killed all the apple blossoms, so the apples they actually had available here were imported from Missouri.
We took a walk around the grounds afterwards, looking at the beautifully manicured gardens outside the Arbor Day Lodge, former home of J. Sterling Morton, the founder of Arbor Day. Now it’s something of a museum, showcasing such things as old carriages, one of which was driven by Buffalo Bill Cody. Vendors with hot dogs, funnel cakes, and kettle corn lined every street, of course, so we were never in want for unhealthful snacks. We did have to watch out for some of the hawks lurking overheard, ready to swoop down on any field mouse who might be tempted to grab a fallen roasted almond.
On Sunday, Dori Umphreys (née Toavs), my friend from high school, got to celebrate her 30th birthday with her family and friends at the Upper Room church in Lincoln. I hadn’t seen her or a few of the others there since our 10 year reunion last year, so it was definitely good to see them again. They had a few band leaders play happy birthday for them with guitars and bongos, and I got to meet a few of Dori’s five adorable children for the first time.