on the road again

Elephant in the room:  My book launched just over two weeks ago and, no, I still don’t have a copy.  I know it’s out there, I know people are buying it, talking about it, and checking their mailboxes looking for it, but I have yet to get my hands on one.  Talk about high demand, right?  The author can’t even get one!

Seriously, though, that all changes tonight.  I took some time off work, spent all my profits on new tires, and have taken to the road, as it were, in order to pickup my first run.

But, first, a little detour.

With my tires literally ready to pop at any second, I loaded up Jolt with 9 days worth of luggage, podcasting equipment, my big cousin Wally, his chef knives, and his two kids and hit the road for Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  Why?  To cook food for a 300+ person wedding of course!

That’s right.  I’ve thrown my hat into the ring as a prep cook apparently.  Just another skill set for LinkedIn right?

Actually, it was a favor for a great friend/former coworker of mine, McFizzle.  And it was almost more a favor to me.  Road trip opportunity?  Free hotel stay?  You can’t ask for a better vacation!  (Don’t tell him that, of course.  If he asks, tell him it was a personal hell for me, filled with toil and longing.)

Channeling my dad, Wally and I got to town two days early to “get the lay of the land.”  We scoped out all the hot spots (Taco Johns, movie theater, liquor stores) and hit the grocery store for essential “room snacks.”  I was in paradise.  I felt 10-years-old again, stocking up on pop, popcorn, and Pop-Tarts.  I even bought a Ninja Turtle action figure–Leo!–just to stick with the theme.

After we were all checked in and filled up with dinner from the allegedly legendary Sawmill Inn, it was time to record a new episode of 2 Dudes in the Woods.  This would prove my greatest challenge.  Setting aside the fact that I would have to edit and mix this episode on the fly in between cooking for a wedding to have it a go for Monday, we needed a quiet, private room to record in that wasn’t occupied by two sugar-buzzed kids watching Nickelodeon.  Luckily I was able to sweet talk the nice front desk lady of the hotel into letting us use an unoccupied room.

Just a couple hours, ma’am.  

We’ll be out by 8, I promise.  

No, ma’am, just us two dudes, honest.

Cut to about 10 p.m. when she comes to check if we’ve vacated the room, and finds not 2 dudes, but 4–the groom and the best man stopped in–bottles everywhere, chugging Captain Morgan, debauchery afoot.  Absolute anarchy.  dude count ep 4

We smoothed it all over and the final product is going to be a rollercoaster of big laughs and manly, clandestine–mandestine?–tears.  Our best episode yet, for sure.

From there, we were all business.  Mostly.  We got up hella early the next morning, eschewed the continental breakfast entirely, and headed to the local YMCA kitchen to start prepping for the dinner.

Good morning, Grand Rapids!

Let me assure you: I am strictly front-of-the-house when it comes to restaurant work.  I’m a pretty good little chef when I’m cooking for myself, but this was going to be a whole new monster.  My cousin hands me one of his uber sharp chef knives–I have the knicks to prove it–and I go to work.  Dicing peppers, julienne-ing onions, and then cutting, flouring, eggwashing, and breading about a billion chicken breasts.  We put in about 9 hours in the kitchen that day, with only a TJ break to recharge us.  I guess if you count the countless times we helped the senior citizens piling in for a Bingo Potluck as a break, there were a few more.

When we’d wrapped up there, I headed back to the hotel, tore into my poison of choice (Poor Man’s Long Islands) and did a bit of editing before “hitting the town.”

Then the gong went off and it was bright and early Saturday morning.  Wedding Day.  Team Wally had nearly quadrupled and we hit the ground running.  Loading hotboxes, shuttling them across town, just in time (more or less) to fill the chafing dishes.  Man, wedding guests get squirrely when they’re hungry.  I know the pasta is getting low, that’s why I’m refilling it. It was a beautiful wedding, and an honor to help out one of my best buds, but there was a hairy few minutes there where I thought I was going to be dismembered and boiled for stew.

I think it’s safe to say the magic of Grand Rapids has worn off.  It’s an awesome little town, but…you know that thing where you go to a wedding in a new city and you end up navigating it like 87 times?  Pretty soon, over the long weekend, you kind of start to feel like you live there.  And just when you’re about to buy that Don’t Hassle Me, I’m Local t-shirt, you remember you have somewhere to be.

You’re an author now, Mikel.  Don’t forget it.

So, now, I hit the road again.  And it’s very fitting that my next stop is my hometown to spend Father’s Day with my dad.  I feel very fortunate that I get two Father’s Days in a row with my old man, as I rarely saw him during those years following college where getting off work was nearly impossible.  And, no matter what we do tonight–I think pizza is on the docket–it will sure beat last year’s Father’s Day outing.

Plus I got my dad the most awesome present:  The Lego City Flatbed Truck.  Sssh, don’t tell him, but, really, this thing is, like, the perfect gift.  According to the box, this is the toy version of my dad:

The likeness is uncanny.
Here’s my dad hooking up a winch (That sounds right) and towing a sweet convertible, signature coffee in hand.
“Hey! Hey, please don’t tow my car! I’m a sexy young business professional and I’m late for a meeting!”
“Tough, lady. Maybe next time you won’t park in a Tow-Away Zone.”

Okay, maybe I was embellishing a little towards the end there.  Clearly, I’ve been watching too many Parking Wars.  Plus, my dad’s too much of a softy to do something like that.  But, seriously, is that not the brick version of my dad?  My Father the Lego, I tells ya.

I love you, Dad, and I can’t wait to see you tonight for a little R&R before my class starts on Monday.

What’s that?  I forgot to mention I’m going back to college Monday morning?  Well, guess you better stay tuned!  Hasta la vista, baby!





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