Dudes trips. It has certainly been a while since I took a good old fashion dudes trip somewhere. So when my friend Geoff asked if I wanted to go with him to Toronto to run in a Zombie Apocalypse 5K, I immediately said "let me ask Caitlin.". Listen, u gots to get the okay from the woman. That is just a fact of life. But she said YES! Love that woman.
The day finally came. I was amazed that we were able to round up 6 dudes to drive 9 hours to Toronto as part of a 36 hour trip to run a crazy whack 5K. But these aren't your typical dudes either...homies: Matt, Geoff, Jake, Brayden and Jason all packed into Matt's Suburban and we began our ascent into hell (interpret as zombie apocalypse or Canada, however you deem appropriate).
Matt and Jake commanded the rear for the first leg. We all drove and we all took turns in the caboose. It's how gentlemen behave, really.
You know how dudes trips go. It just takes a little time to break the ice, stop concerning ourselves with being responsible dads/husbands and to start getting crazy. Geoff planned a masterful schedule that included insane food to get the ball rolling. We pulled into Grand Rapids, MI around 11:30. This is our master planner Geoff and the man responsible for this trip.
Our stop was Yesterdog...a celebrated hot dog joint of the Midwest. No Chicago dogs here, they made that clear very quickly when they realized we were from the other side of the pond. We didn't care...we wanted to take in the culture of GR, MI...which apparently is juicy, slimy, fatty and delicious.
See what I mean. A slab of dogs, one of two huge slabs that would soon be in our belly.
Lunch. This is where stuff really started kickin off nicely. Not only were we fat and happy, but we started to let the controversial and semi inappropriate conversation flow. No offense was taken on this trip...but we certainly danced on the lines of offense. It's crucial on a dudes trip.
My second dog, half consumed.
The other half, about to meet its maker! Go to your home weenie! My belly!
Several hours and Night of the Living Dead later, we ended up in Canada. Toronto was a pretty dope looking city in general. Very new, very glassy. We pulled up right around sunset, so the view was postcard money.
The second we got out of the car, Jake did what any reasonable God-fearing American would do...he urinated all over Canada's face. Jake lost some his morals on the drive when we forced him to watch the Human Centipede trailer. I believe in that moment his faith in the goodness of humanity had a heart attack.
Our dinner stop was this - The Burger Priest. Geoff had done his research and we were all pretty amped to get some of this in our mouf.
While there was nowhere to sit inside, we didn't care. Word on the street was that the meat was fresh daily and had been connected to a cow that morning. Wow. I needed it now. We ordered The Priest and fries without hesitation (well, first we had to dig up enough cash, which we barely had).
Cuteness. They had pictures of "Saints" on the walls, which were just other amazing burger places in the US. I had been to all but one.
Much anticipation. I referred to the moment as belly immersion.
The crew, getting their burger on.
Here is The Priest. It made The Burger Joint, Shake Shack and In and Out feel like they were made from fecal matter when compared to the meet in this burger. I am not joking. I give this meet the highest endorsement I can possibly give.
Geoffs tongue was moving faster then his brain could get his mouth to the burger, that's how good it was.
After that we hadn't had enough food, so we went to The Pie Shack in the Beaches neighborhood of Toronto.
Each piece was 1/4th a pie. Awesome.
We tried to reenact The Human Centipede for Jake, just to reinforce his disgust.
The pie was great, the ambience cosy, and the Congo didn't die for a minute.
A quick picture of me to prove I was still on this trip. I had trip hair, obviously. It was at this time that we googled our hotel and realized we had an hour or more to drive, so we picked up our gigantic middles and waddled over to the car.
Not without leaving our mark...Beaches, we claim you as ours!
More territory marking. We got to our hotel and slept well, despite nervous anticipation of the race looming. We got up early, breakfasted, and then headed over. Now I don't have a lot of photos of the event as not to destroy my camera, but let me say the race was epic and hard. It consisted of you running with three flags attached to your waist. As you run, hundreds of zombies try to get your flags. So basically, you end up running 3 miles like this:
This is Jake juking a zombie who is after his flag. Many zombies would chase you full speed for a hundred yards while you simultaneously avoid other zombies. The key was to stay in groups to confuse and draw the zombies to the side to create pockets of space to sprint full speed.
There were also obstacles, including a gigantic slide into blood died freezing water. This is Jason, Matt, and randomly a girl named Cheyenne. Just like in zombie movies, we all made random friends along the way to help get through the race alive. Cheyenne apparently sacrificed her lives for these men. Amazing the bonds you create when facing death.
Out team (Zombie Bait) and three zombies. In this take only 21% of people survived and of that 21% we were in the top 10% for speed. Not an easy race - physically but also mentally.
I got chased full on by a zombie for 50 yards, only to eat it hard in some mud as I struggled to fly around a corner. Bloody knee, chest and arm. Fantastic. It was totally worth the drive and all the fun. After the race we headed home to back in time for Sunday.
We had to stop in Kalamazoo for some Indian food in a strip mall. It was surprisingly delicious. The perfect end to a killer weekend. We all dipped into some serious emotional immersion and came back stronger and a bit damaged. That's what dudes trips are really all about.