Three o’clock on a Sunday morning is an unusual hour for nine Northwestern men to be seated around a table at a White Castle restaurant location in Minnesota.
Even stranger than the unearthly time is the fact that just four and a half hours before, the same West Hall residents left NW after spending several hours sitting in the grandstands cheering on the Red Raiders.
These West men departed Orange City with the singular goal of obtaining a tower of those grease-covered pieces of mystery meat placed delicately between two buns.
Brandon Ogren, Bradley Smith, Tyler Gleason, Jeffrey Hubers, Aaron Galloway, Philip Hilla, Zachary Hankel, Scott Van Ravaansway and Jordan Starkenburg traveled over 230 miles to the burger joint in Minneapolis, Minn.
While in Minneapolis, the men consumed over fifty of White Castle’s signature sliders, a feat they considered worth the mileage.
“No offense to White Castle, but it’s pretty disgusting,” said Hubers. “It was all about the journey. We traveled for eight hours and were there for probably 15 minutes.”
Originally, they had planned to make the trip last year but were delayed due to a raging blizzard the week they intended to go.
The group got back to West Hall at 7:30 on Sunday morning, crashing from the caffeine pills and energy drinks they had bought earlier that night.
“At the time, you think, ‘This is pretty stupid,’” Hubers said of the experience. “But you look back on it and say, ‘That was brilliant!’ We’ll go just about anywhere as long as we’re together and fueled by caffeine and a love for God, life and each other.”
However, gas tanks have been stretched and energy drink consumption increased even further in the search for venues even farther away to stimulate the taste buds.
In the past, trips have been made to Stroud’s Chicken Place in Wichita, Kan., Hard Rock Café in Chicago, Ill., and the food courts of the Mall of America in Minneapolis.
Senior Nathan Kuik remembers going all the way to Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken in Memphis, Tenn., his freshman year. Kuik went along with then-freshman Aaron Appel, as well as several West Hall seniors.
He recalled reaching Memphis at 9 in the morning and wandering around the city until the restaurant opened at 11 a.m.
“It was great spending so much quality time with upperclassmen,” said Kuik. “We ate there twice in one day, which was bad for the body but good for the soul.”
Significantly closer to home, Sioux City is one of the most frequented road trip destinations by students on campus who want a taste of the world outside the area.
Popular eateries include HuHot, Olive Garden and Famous Dave’s Barbecue.
Perkins is one of the most popular late-night destinations for NW students. Most weeks, at least one group of students makes a pilgrimage to one of two locations in Sioux City.
Sophomore Hannah Olson is one student who has enjoyed these long-distance outings with her wing.
“It’s something crazy you can do when you’re young and able,” said Olson. “It’s a good chance to get out of town, free from school and free from distractions.”
Olson fondly remembers a recent “Perkins run” where the waiter gave her and each of her friends a straw color-coordinated to the drink they had ordered.
“Our waiter was a hoot. They’re way more funny at night,” Olson said.
La Juanita is another favorite destination of senior Matthew Bodensteiner and junior Ryan Rydberg.
“You don’t go to La Juanita’s for the food; you go for the atmosphere, but the atmosphere’s not that great anyway,” said Rydberg. “Orange City gets a little dry and where are you supposed to go eat? What aren’t you going to see in a Mexican restaurant in Sioux City at 2 a.m.?”