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Just Cheesecake Please...

Traveling with family with whom you don't normally travel can be a fun treat. And a little stressful. It is quick to point out how uniquely we all approach things on the road. This is one such story...

We took a short trip to Omaha this weekend to meet my mom, my brother, my aunt, and my cousin with a goal of hitting the zoo on Saturday. Zoo it we did, despite the rain. Thankfully it was nice rain. No lightning. No wind. Mild temps.

After a long, moist day at the zoo, we headed to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. My Mom had never eaten at one, and had mentioned that fact several times during planning our gathering, so to the Cheesecake Factory we went. I realize there were a couple of factors that contributed to my near meltdown once we got seated in our booth and I opened the menu.
  • I was tired. I do not sleep well in hotels, especially the first night. I finally turned off the light to settle in at 11:45 Friday night after a full day. I remember seeing 3:00 on the bedside clock. I was awake for the day by 6:30. Even though I'm generally good on short night's of sleep, a full day at the zoo is tiring even when you go into the day on a full night's sleep. 
  • I really could have used a moment to freshen up between animal gazing and food consuming. The rain at the zoo didn't bother me, it was actually beautiful and, except for a little stress over keeping my camera dry, it made for kind of a romantic day as I strolled around hand in hand with my hubby. But my hair was a frightful wet hairspray mess by day's end and my tired feet were filthy having walked for hours on end in my favorite Chacos. Filthy.
  • My brain was ready to rest. Scott and I, as the parents of the youngest kiddos on the trip, spent a good portion of our day keeping tabs on our girls who wanted to be with everyone in the group BESIDES mom and dad. We were the herding dogs keeping track of the flock. Herding sheep can be exhausting. That catalog of choices they call a menu at CF takes a ridiculous amount of decision making brain energy. I made the mistake of trying to start that process BEFORE ordering a drink. 
  • I had not properly prepared myself, or our budget, to spend as much through the weekend as we ended up spending on just food. We eat well when we travel, but we eat well on a budget. We generally spend a little less at some meals to allow us to spend a little more at others. We also tend to stay away from chain restaurants in favor of local establishments. That approach is a  little harder to do when you're not the only ones making the decisions about when and where to find nourishment for a party of 8.
Needless to say I opened the menu, started adding up the bill in my head as I helped my picky, also tired daughter who no longer qualifies to order off the kids menu at CF (Ten is a ridiculously young age to cut off the kids menu, by the way...especially given the HUGE serving of food that my 7 year-old couldn't even come close to finishing when it was set in front of her.) figure out what she might want to eat at full adult prices, and then had to will myself not to cry. In the end we all left full. And we sorta ate balanced meals. (French fries count as a veggie, right?) The food was okay. Nothing really stood out as particularly special. We got cheesecake to go, which I will be enjoying after I finish writing this post. Whether she planned to or not, my mom picked up the check. (THANKS MOM!) I'm feeling quite guilty about that fact given our total with tax and gratuity worked out to be about $30 per person. Our family's portion of that total bill would have fed the 4 of us 3 meals the way we normally approach on the road food gathering. I'm a lover of food, but I have a really hard time throwing down that amount of cash on any single meal experience unless it's a SPECTACULAR experience. The Cheesecake Factory is not.

The whole experience was a good reminder about why Scott and I tend to go local rather than chain when we eat out, at home or on the road. The only reason I'll be going to The Cheesecake Factory in the future is for cheesecake. It's really the only thing I've eaten there that really lives up to it's inflated price tag...and even that seems a bit much knowing the mean cheesecake making skills I myself posses. It's also made me question how we are going to afford our whole doing plan for summer 2013. The rest of our doing will just have to be on a tighter budget than planned. It will be a good lesson in flexibility.

Obviously I still have some work to do in that area of my life.

I'll post some pics from our zoo visit, and the more lighthearted part of our trip, later in the week. It really was a good trip.



Unknown said…
It was a fun weekend. I loved the Cheesecake Factory!! Living so far from the city it is a special treat for us to checkout what we can usually only hear about on TV. Syd and I totally enjoyed the experience! I guess I didn't realize I was in need of being herded at the zoo. I thought I was a responsible adult with children of her own - that I have yet to lose anywhere. Sorry a weekend with us was so stressful for you.

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