A September Afternoon of Apple Picking

The original plan? Visit the nationally renowned Schoolhouse Restaurant on Glendale Milford Rd. and then head to a “u-pick” apple orchard. But, as things often go in the busy back to school month, the mission didn’t quite happen as planned. We welcomed in the first few days of fall with a new apple-Red Ford F150, ours for the day, and a new mission with Lebanon Ford: A Seasoned Ford is a new mission in which we go on a seasonal adventure in a different Ford vehicle each month. This first adventure started out as September usually does—busy, sandwiched between school activities, but enjoyable in the crisp fall weather.

Instead of the schoolhouse for lunch, we fell back on another Food Network favorite from Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with Guy Fieri, opting for a huge grilled cheeseburger and fries, cookout style for fall. But this was no McDonalds—in price, location, speed, or quality. Instead, this was a burger that sent us almost an hour south of Lebanon near Lunken Airport, had us wait another 45 minutes just to realize we were sitting at a community dining table, and to top it off, over thirty minutes later the masterpiece arrived. Lets just say we were grazing on burgers and fries shoulder to shoulder with another couple. Not that we aren’t friendly, but I mean shoulder to shoulder. Terry’s Turf Club is not for picky eaters, impatient people, and anyone who isn’t in favor or tight or loud spaces. As the menu says, “This is not fast food—quality takes time.”

I also spent most of the lunch thirsty, as $3 lands you about two gulps of lemonade, no refills. In fact, Justin ordered a water and got just the cup of ice! Oh wait, it was just confused with our forced dining partners’ order. I couldn’t begin to finish my burger, but if you have anyone in the family with a Justin-sized appetite (he finished mine and his), this is your place.

But beware: $36 lunch for two people…maybe the Food Network highlight went to their heads? Or maybe it was the $7 Filet Mignon chili, simmered for eight hours and, as Justin put it, is a chili “that can only be experienced, not described.” But the atmosphere was everything you could hope for on a Saturday afternoon in September.  University of Cincinnati was gearing up to battle–and unfortunately lose to–the Oklahoma Sooners, and a family of seven Sooner fans (decked out in jerseys from age 2 to 72) had chosen the burger joint having seen it on the Food Network as well. They said, “We came all this way, we thought we might as well try something authentic to Cincinnati.”  The food, and the wait, were eventually worth it.

After the huge lunch, we jumped back into the truck and headed up to the Lebanon Applefest, the best alternative to standing in the bed of a big beautiful truck picking your own apples off the tree, but apparently it’s a dying activity.  The Applefest took up most of downtown Lebanon, and featured crafts, community groups, and food, yet ironically there were no apples to be found. At the Applefest! We were first met by a pack of

Alpacas “enjoying” the sticky-fingered kids pawing desperately at their fur. Next in line was the group of cloggers dancing down the main street, and behind them was massive pots of kettle corn being popped by, well, I guess he’s called the Master Kettle Corn Popper Stirrer. Still no apples.

Festivals are funny things—everyone wants to be there until they actually get there. It’s fun for a few minutes until the hot sun decides it’s not time for fall quite yet, and the sweaty people everywhere become just too much. But you still want to go, because that’s what communities do. They gather. After three streets of searching, the first apple treats began to appear. There were gourmet apple bowls, apple fritters, apple dumplings, apple crepes, and bags of apples that somebody else got to pick. Oh well.

By the time we hopped back into the truck, we felt like all the passed-out kids in strollers…ready for a nap, and a lazy afternoon at the end of summer.