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Dec. 16th, 2006

I was going to post this last night but I was so exhausted that I went to bed early. Well, early for me.

Yesterday, Mom and I went on a big (for us) shopping excursion. First, though, we needed lunch.

The Cheesecake Factory just opened a new restaurant in Omaha November 1st. I've heard that Omaha has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the country. I don't know if that's true, but I believe it. Dining out is the local pasttime here. And when restaurants, especially national chains, first open here, they're packed.

So, The Cheesecake Factory's been open a month and a half. Thankfully, Mom and I got there at 11 AM, just as the place was opening. There was a short line, but we got a good table in no time. Right after we were seated, the line was huge. Mom, who has been to The Cheesecake Factory in other cities, said that the best times to go there for lunch are 11 AM or 2 PM.

This was my first time at a Cheesecake Factory. I liked that the waitstaff wore white uniforms (white button-down shirt and pants with black ties). Our waiter, Justin, was very nice. The restaurant's decor was part Egyptian, part Pennsylvania Dutch, and part too much HGTV. I liked it, but I'm big on the eclectic look.

I decided on soup and salad and Mom had soup and salmon steak. The soup of the day was New England Clam Chowder. It was good, but a lot spicier than I was expecting. The carrots in it were so bright orange that I'm positive they glow in the dark. The mixed-greens salad was good too, and I loved that the dressing arrived in what looked like a mini gravy boat.

For dessert, Mom had Vanilla Bean Cheesecake and I had Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake. Oh, it was like I had died and gone to chocolate heaven.

Drinks, lunch, and cheesecake for two came to $49.06, including tax. A bit ridiculous, but what can you expect from a restaurant chain whose first restaurant was in Beverly Hills?

On the way out, Mom and I had to practically fight our way to the front door, it was so packed with people wanting to sit down.

Next, Mom and I went to a music store, where I finally got more paper and a beginner's book about reading music (the amount of stuff I don't know is embarrassing). Then we went to a Catholic bookstore, where I bought two little 4" statues of St. Lucy (you can tell it's her by the plate with two eyes that she's holding) and St. Martha (who has the French dragon she'd tamed at her feet).

Then came Cabela's, hallowed ground for all camping, hunting, and fishing enthusiasts. The place is huge. It's so big that at the center of the store, there's enough room for a two-story (at least) man-made mountain covered with taxidermied animals from all over North America. Two rattlesnakes, a fox, prairie dogs, prairie chickens, ptarmigans, a coyote, a mountain lion, a black bear that was attacking a beehive and had bees all over his face, a grizzly bear, a polar bear, quails, and every antlered animal native to this continent. I felt really sorry for the animals, but if I didn't know any better, I'd swear the mountain lion's tail twitched. I kept thinking about that upcoming movie, Night At The Museum. Forget Teddy Roosevelt and a T-Rex skeleton, imagine being alone with these guys overnight. Mom bought Dad a pair of leather gloves and a new pair of slippers.

Target was next. I have to remember to go there next year, since they have the cutest little Christmas boxes, perfect for giftcards.

Finally, we went home. I think by that time it was 4:30. I can't remember the last time I spent that many hours shopping.

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