Nebraska Interlude

I left North Platte on June 6 and drove to the home of my brother’s son, Mitch, who lives with his family in Ralston, a suburb of Omaha. While some folks fuss about the evils of Facebook, I prefer to ignore the snarky stuff and enjoy the joys, not the least of which is keeping up with far-flung family members in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, and Tennessee.

Mitch and Annette met as students in Sioux City, Iowa, at Dordt University, which was founded in 1955 and is affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church of North America. Many denominational church histories are complicated webs, but this one seems to trace back through the Dutch Reformed Church to the Protestant Reformation in the early 1500s. The university takes its name from the 1618 Synod of Dordrecht (a city in the western Netherlands).

I first encountered Mitch and Annette as a couple when our family gathered in the Ozarks for what we called “The 60/80 Celebration” of my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary and 80th birthdays. At that gathering in May 2001, these two were still students, and it was easy to see that they were smitten with each other. They are still smitten, which is wonderful.

Mitch’s official job title is Communication Manager for the nearby City of La Vista, but he’s been an enthusiastic cheerleader for La Vista in one official capacity or another for a number of years. He’s organized events, written a town history, and encouraged positive, forward-thinking development. Annette describes herself on Facebook as “Beaumont Household Manager,” which she certainly is, but she’s also active in the community in a variety of ways.

With my nephew Mitch in front of a city park and community complex in La Vista, Nebraska

When I arrived in Ralston in early afternoon, I was greeted by the two creatures you see below. I’m not sure what these “costumes” are called, (Do any of my readers know??), but Lucas and Trenton were having a great time stretching them out, rolling over in them, trying out dance moves, and giggling all the while.

The Welcoming Committee in Ralston

Annette’s parents, who live in the area, dropped by, and it was fun swapping Nebraska/Alabama/Ohio stories and customs with them until time to head for the airport.  I’d met the Elgersmas in 2002 at Mitch and Annette’s wedding in Sioux Falls (South Dakota), but though I hadn’t seen them since, they felt like long-time friends, as I would guess is often the case with people they meet.

After fetching my older son and his wife from the airport, we continued a relaxing and fun visit into the evening. Next morning, after Roger and Meredith and I figured out the most efficient way to arrange our luggage in the back of my Encore SUV—along with all the packages my other son had left for me to take home when he flew off to Alaska—we met Mitch and Annette and their boys for lunch at 72 Table & Tap, a great choice.

Precision packing the Encore
With Mitch and family at 72 Table & Tap

A large round table made for easy conversation, and the menu ran the gamut among burgers, salads, bar food, flatbreads, wings, and pizza. Though I didn’t order it, I was intrigued by one item on the menu that I’d never come across before. The Threeway Chili Burger sounded normal enough until I read the description—“Topped with house chili, cheddar & diced onion and—get this—served on a warm cinnamon roll with cream cheese icing.” Apparently, this unusual combination is quite popular in the area. Right below it on the menu was the “Fat Elvis,” a concoction of peanut butter, grape jelly, bacon, and a fried banana.

It turns out, a Cinnamon Roll Burger can be had in Florida as well as Nebraska. On your next DisneyWorld trip, locate the All-Star Movies resort on premises, head for the World Premier Food Court, corner a cast member at the ROXY counter, and whisper that you’d like to see the “secret” menu. You will then be handed an old-fashioned Viewmaster. (You’re as old as me if you remember those!)  With it, you can order such “gourmet” items as a bacon ‘n mac ‘n cheese dog, poutine (a famous Quebec “delicacy” I can’t bring myself to describe) or the Cinnamon Roll Burger—this one made with white American cheese (whatever that is) and candied (??) bacon.

No one at our big round table in Nebraska ordered the Threeway Chili Burger with the cream cheese icing, but everything we did order was delicious. Following a fun lunch and hugs all around, Roger and Meredith and I set off for home, looking forward to two more stops along the way.

Stay tuned for Clinton, Missouri, and Memphis.

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