Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 was a good year...

I just finished writing checks today totaling $27,500 for cancer research and to assist those that are fighting cancer. That is officially our best year yet as a 501c(3) foundation.

Thank you!

Cancer Sucks!


Monday, December 21, 2009

Health Update

Just wanted to give everyone a quick update on my health. It appears that it wasn't a seizure and was jusst a reaction to me starting blood pressure and cholesterol medicine. It made me light headed and I went down... I haven't had any other "incidents" the last 2 months. I only have another month to go and I can start driving again!!! You do not know how hard it is to try and get ready for Christmas and not being able to drive...

So all is well health wise at least! Now I am moving on to new and exciting things... Like a new competition BBQ Class, with it also being a fundraiser for my 501c(3) foundation.

See you all down the road!

Cancer Sucks!


Monday, December 7, 2009

RIP Mike

Mike passed away Saturday in Arizona. Doing what he loved. Cooking with I Smell Smoke!!! This is a picture of Mike with his bud Steve from I Smell Smoke.

You will be missed Mike.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


So many are thinking where the hell have you been? I realized real quick that being a blogger was not the easiest thing in the world to do. I was finding myself just blogging about bad judging... I didn't want that to be what I only wrote about, so I just quit doing it. I have a whole bunch of draft blogs that are all ready to release from the summer, but don't know if I will ever do that...

My intent of this blog is to update folks on what is going on with me after the Jack. My team was fortunate enough to qualify for the Jack Daniel's World Barbeque Invitational Championship last weekend in Lynchburg, TN. As many of you can figure out, it is probably my favorite contest that is going out there. I just love Lynchburg and the whole setting for the BBQ contest.

We were heading down last Wednesday with my girls and my sister. We had stopped off just South of Indy to unload my tanks and to fill up with propane and gas. I was feeling a little light headed and took a moment to catch my breath. Went inside to pay my bill and it hit me. This is where it gets cloudy for me. I am not sure if I had a seizure or if I had a seizure after blacking out and hitting my head. I had quite a knot on my head, so I am not really sure. All I know is I came too, with 2 paramedics checking me out. My sister and my girls were with me and the fear that was on my girls faces will be etched in my memory for the rest of my life. They have been through a lot with loosing their mommy at an early age and I know what they were thinking. I tried to assure them the best I could that I was alright and everything would be OK. So I was off in the ambulance to the Emergency and they followed behind in my RV.

Once at the Emergency Room they did all the tests that they could do on me, including a CT scan. Everything was coming back as being OK. After about a 5 hour delay, they released me and we were on our way to Lynchburg. I did not want to miss it and I was feeling good enough to go down and cook. I had friends coming in from all over the country and I did not want to disappoint. Not that they wouldn't of understood, but it was probably not wanting to disappoint myself either... Did I feel OK? No not really. The best way to describe how I felt was half drunk... All the time... Which probably wouldn't surprise half of you, but I wasn't drinking anything! Just because of the effects that it was doing to me. I stuck it out and got all of our categories turned in! Got a few calls with some help from ALL of my team. Thanks to you all!

Now the fun part. Part of having a seizure is you automatically lose your driving privileges... Yep, I can't drive!!! As a single dad with 2 little girls, that is a major problem for me! I have come back home and have had a CT, EEG and MRI. Nothing is alarming, but I have also not received a report from my neurologist. How are we going to survive? I have no clue. Fortunately, I can walk to my train to get downtown for my job. We have a local store about 2 blocks from our house for food. I'll be hitting up all of my friends and family to drive me around I guess. We have dealt with so much in the past, this is just a bump in road of life. I will admit it scares the hell out of me, but I guess if they found that I didn't have a brain or something like that, they would of told me. So for that, I am happy.

For now, I really do feel pretty good. I still have, for a lack of a better term, vertigo attacks. This vertigo is nothing to joke at. It will bring you to your knees. I am a big strong guy and it cripples me. Fortunately, I usually only have them when I am laying in bed. But they do freak me out. That is about the only side effect that I am feeling. Oh and being really really tired. For those that know me, I usually get about 5 hours of sleep a night. Lately, I have been getting 8-9 hours a night!!!

What will the future hold? I don't know. Obviously, if I can't drive I can't compete, which is probably my biggest concern. Not for the competition part, but for the part that I can't get out there for my cause. That is why I BBQ. Winning trophies, ribbons and awards is real nice. Giving away $25k grants for cancer research and to assist those that are fighting cancer is my real drive. Many know that I do this so my kids will have a better understanding of who and what their mommy stood for. She was not a quitter and neither will I quit. The cards that were dealt my wife were a lot worse than what I have had to deal with. So while I can complain and whine, I won't. I have my health and while it might of failed me on that drive to Lyncburg, I still have my health... Which I am fortunate for.

So all I ask is that you hug your loved one's. Give your kids a hug and tell them how much you love them. You never know when that might be taken from you. Trust me when I say that I never want to see that fear on my girls little faces ever again. So what ever I need to do to get healthy, I will do what it takes.

Hopefully we will see you out on the BBQ trail. I have already had to cancel one of my favorite contests out in Arizona with the AZ Barbeque crew. I am hoping that it will be temporary and you will see out on the circuit in 2010...

Thanks to all for the well wishes. The support that I receive is amazing.

See you all down the road!

Cancer Sucks!!!!


ps I am attaching a picture that Karen Walker took from the Jack. This was for the first BBQ call of the contest, which was for 10th place sauce! Yes, I used a Blues Hog Sauce!!! What was I doing? No clue, but I think I was excited that I was getting a bottle of Jack!!! ;-)

Friday, June 5, 2009

My Birthday

So yesterday was my birthday. To me, it's just another day. I know my girls get excited and I play along with them. But deep down, it hurts. I know it's another year that my Corliss never got to see.

I miss you Corliss.

Cancer Sucks!


Monday, June 1, 2009

Taylorville, Illinois

Got into this contest after the cooks meeting, as I had to work. So I was scrambling a little to start off. Got all my meat prepped and everything set up and by 7:30, I was ready to start relaxing... Was next to Jim and Tina Ferguson, who are from Ohio and run the Kettering BBQ contest. Which I highly recommend!!! Thanks go out to Jim for helping me set-up the couple of things that I needed to set up.

It was an uneventful evening. Had more lamb chops with Smokey Joel and Vince. We were all wise and were in bed early. We were expecting some rain overnight and into the morning. We did get to experience a nice anvil cloud. There were actually 2 of them and we were right in the middle of them both. Pretty cool and amazing.

As for the contest results, managed to get a 3rd place call in pork. Which is a nice make-up for the call that I had received the prior week in Westmont... But otherwise, I had nothing that the judges were looking for. There was nothing special in my product. You move on and get ready for the next contest. Lotta Bull won the GC, which is also the second time this year, that he has won GC and they weren't there to accept the award. As it also happened in Stagecoach. RGC went to Bruce Ring, who seems to be getting around a lot better since his back surgery...

Cancer Sucks!


Monday, May 25, 2009

Westmont, Illinois!!! Home town contest!!!

Woo hoo, Memorial Day weekend and it's my home town contest. Have worked with the contest organizer, Jim Addington to try and have this as a premier cooks contest. Jim and his crew are tireless in trying to take care of us. If they ever side, they will always side with the cooks...

I pulled in to the park on Friday night, as this is a Saturday/Sunday contest. I was over by Dr. Porkenstein, Quau, Twyford BBQ, Smokey Joel and KRE. A whole group of us went to Uncle Bub's BBQ, which is a local restaurant. The guys all know Mark and Jay as they try and compete whenever they have free time from their busy restaurant and catering business. Well, what a feast that these guys put on for us!!! Every time I turned my head, we had another platter of appetizers or food coming out. Thanks to Uncle Bub's for the feast!!!

We started the Sunday off with a service from Reverend Twyford and a offering from Phillip Brazier who brought us a special treat from Lynchburg... All I can say is ahhhh... ;-) Thanks Phillip and Kathy for coming another year! Sure is nice to get y'all up here...

My food was all turning out how I had wanted. I was real happy with all my turn-ins. The judges thought otherwise... We managed to score 40th out of 45 teams for pork... To me, that is spit out of your mouth disgusting... Oh well. I finally got a call for my 6th place brisket, so at least I wasn't shut-out!!! We did get a nice 23rd place finish in the overall..... lol I am not changing a thing, as I know that my stuff wasn't bad. The good part is that my good friend Alex from Dr. Porkenstein managed to pull the 3-peat, by winning the Grand Championship! Way to go Alex and Kate!! They just own this contest. I am very happy for ya bud!!!

Cancer Sucks!


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Steeleville, Illinois

Another contest that I am leaving after dropping of my little one at school and then me hitting the road. It took a little over 5 hours, as I was watching my speed!!! I had my sister come with me for this one.

This contest was set-up right in downtown. It was a whole town festival. We were on some side streets and parking lots. It was actually a nice set-up with water and electricity nice and convenient. We were set-up with Smokey Joel, Dr. Porkenstein, Twyford BBQ and Quau as our neighbors. The turn-in area couldn't of been closer either.

They were predicting storms coming through later int he evening, so we all prepared for the storms to come in. While the heavy stuff just missed us, we did get some nice strong winds and rain. Which managed to break my awning on my RV....

A little rain didn't stop us from our late night lamb chop-a-thon... Have I said these go really good with Joel's Mai Thais? ;-) I must admit, while I hate rain at contests, I do enjoy sitting under shelter and listening to the rain fall.

We started the next day off with a morning good luck shot with the Reverend Twyford. Which brings me to the Friday night martini contest. Man, did Randy ever make a good one. He finished high in the contest, which was won by the Smokin Scotsmen. These 2 cocktails were unbelievably good. Can say I have never had a martini that tasted like these 2!!! I had to give it to Reverend though, as he included bacon in his...

For the results, got a 4th and 6th place call for my ribs and pork and they basically spit out my chicken. Finished in 7th place overall, so I know my stuff is right there. Not sure what's going on with the judges this year, but I'll just keep plugging along. I know my recipes work, so I will tweak them a little, but not much... Talk to me in July to see if I kept to that or not! lol

Now, let's see how long it takes me to get a new awning on my RV!!!! Not too many weekends off and no time dyuring the week, as these places close before I am even home... Arghhhh...

Cancer Sucks!


Sunday, May 10, 2009

I can't drive 55!!!

This post is my tribute to Sammy Hagar!!! ;-)

Well, I am finally back home in Illinois cooking!!! Heading down to Edwardsville, Illinois, which is located in the county which I was born and lived my first 4 years of my life... It was good to be back home...

As you can see by that sign, RV's are to drive 55 MPH... I hooked up with a bus that was going 70 MPH and I thought I had finally figured out how to drive fast in Illinois, as we have this stupid rule that RV's and trailers have to drive 55 MPH... You guessed it, I got busted! When I pulled over, I also happened to stop right in front of this sign... D'oh is all I have to say... Needless to say, I now drive 64 miles MPH in Illinois....

When I arrived at the contest it was pouring down rain. Tough to get motivated to get going on a contest when that is happening! But I was fortunate to be next to Alex and Kate from Dr. Porkenstein and they got me going. The rain ended and it actually became a real nice weekend! Started a nice tradition with Joel and Vince from Smokey Joel/Cubby Bear at this contest. Joel had brought some lamb chops and he cooked them up! Man do they go good with his Mai Thai's!!!

As for the contest the judges seemed to like my food a little better got another 1st place brisket and a couple other calls and was also called for Reserve Grand Champion! The Grand Championship was called for Smokey Joel/Cubby Bear!!! Way to go Joel and Vince!!! They beat my butt by a whopping .0008!!!! We'll get him next time! ;-)

Cancer Sucks!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Stagecoach Music Fest, Indio, California

Well it has taken me way to long to finish off this post!!! I now know that when I am waiting for pictures from my camera, I am better off not waiting... I am too lazy to dump them off my camera! But I will make the best of it and I probably have some better pictures anyway, not from my camera!!!

I flew out to Indio, California for the Stagecoach BBQ Contest. Thom Emery is the organizer for this event and he has been recruiting me to come out to Cali! I flew in to Tucson, where my friends had picked up the majority of my supplies when they came out to Rio Rancho in March. As soon as I was getting my stuff ready once I landed, I realized I brought the wrong sauce!!! What do you do? You get up at 5:00 am and go to the store to try and make some sauce!!! This was after 4 hours of sleep... The sauce wasn't bad, I thought...

I hit the road on Friday morning. I wasn't moving too fast, which was OK in my books! I managed to add to my critters that I have hit scorecard! I thought that the most unique thing that I have hit in my travels would be a armadillo in Arkansas.. Nope, on my way through the desert, I ran over a rattle snake. Just to make sure that rattlesnake wasn't going to be tied with a armadillo, I also hit a baby one on the way home to Tucson... So that was 2 snakes on this trip! I will say, that with Arizona's speed limit at 75, there was no way I was swerving or slowing down for these snakes...

It wasn't a long drive over the desert, but I was greeted in California with this gated looking welcome center... I thought I was in Mexico and had taken a wrong turn! The Agricultural Officers were laughing at me that I was stopping to take a picture... Damn tourists!!!

I can also check California off my list... That is state # 21 in my quest to cook in as many states as possible.

Did I say it was warm in the desert? When I started trying to take this picture, it was reading 99ยบ in the desert. It took me a while to try and drive and take a picture at the same time and the temp dropped. The desert is really weird like that. With hot spots and cooler spots... But the weather was in the 80's the entire weekend.

This contest was 3 contests in one weekend. On Saturday, we had a KCBS and a IBCA contest. It was definitely a challenge to get all of my stuff turned in, as I was working solo. I was real happy with my turn-ins, but obviously not as happy as the judges... As you will read farther down in this post, the highlight of my weekend was to come!!! I did manage to finish 8th place Overall in the KCBS contest. The IBCA only keeps track of the top 10, but when I had looked at my tickets, I was all bunched in the top 20. Not good enough to get to the final table, but it was only my first time trying to cook IBCA, so I was fine with that. Rhythm N' Que did the double dip that weekend and took the GC in both the KCBS and the IBCA contests!!! Way to go Vince and Alexa! My highlight came before the awards even started. The California BBQ Association made a donation to my foundation for $725!!! I tell ya, as many times as I have done this, it really does tug at your heart strings. So I apologize for any ramblings that I may have been doing!!! ;-) Thanks also to Ben Lobenstein who took these shots and was kind enough to share them with me!

I was sound asleep on Saturday night by 10:30 from exhaustion. I was up and at it at 4:30 am, getting ready for the new day. I had some better luck in this one and scored a 1st place brisket and 7th place overall. Lotta Bull took the GC. Mike and Debbie had to leave the contest early, so they weren't even at the awards! They had Kathy and Phillip Brazier picking up their awards!

Probably one of the coolest things happened at this contest. On Saturday, Merl Whitebook had challenged the cooks to raise money for cancer research in Monica Bendict's memory. Merl even had the collection box being passed around in the judging tent. Well, when the amount of money was raised wasn't' enough, Merl decided to bring it to the crowd on Sunday at the awards ceremony. He had Maegan walk the crowd with a turn-in box and it was an amazing site looking at everyone holding up their money waiting for Maegan to come over and collect it!!! If I wasn't in such a state of shock, I probably would of remembered to take a picture of this, but I didn't remember... Merl called Jay and myself up to the stage to announce the results of the monies collected. It came to a staggering $1535!!!!

Folks, I have got to say this was one of the most touching moments that I have ever had raising money. All I have to say is, thank god, I did not have to speak. I wouldn't have been able to... To say it touched me, is putting it mildly... To say that it touched Jay, I think is putting it mildly... I will let the photos speak for themsleves...

I would be remiss if I didn't thank the drive behind this donation. My thanks go out to Merl Whitebook. You are the man Merl!!! It takes a lot to challenge people and you managed to do it the right way. It truly was an honor to be up on stage with you and Jay. You can tell the love that Monica and Jay have with the cooks in the Arizona/California region. Well, the whole Southwest for that matter!!! It truly takes my breath away.

Cancer Sucks!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Off to Stagecoach Music Fest in Indio, California

I will be cooking at the Stagecaoch Music Fest this weekend in Indio, California. I will be using Thom Emery's FE and will also be borrowing equipment from a bunch of friends from the AZ Barbeque. Should be a great format, as we will be cooking 2 KCBS contests and also a IBCA contest, with a KCBS and IBCA turn-ins on Saturday. Here is our turn-in schedule for the Saturday KCBS/IBCA contests:

IBCA Chicken 10:40 am
KCBS Chicken 11:00 am
KCBS Ribs 11:30 am
IBCA Ribs 11:40 am
KCBS Pork 12:00 pm
KCBS Brisket 12:30 pm
IBCA 12:40 pm

My friend Robin came out to Rio Rancho and picked up some of my meat and other supplies. Other than that, I will be living out of my van and my Ez-Up. I'll drive over to Indio from Tucson on Friday afternoon. Really looking forward to it and I hope it's not too warm in the desert! OK, mybe just a little, as I understand the girls like to wear outfits like this. Gary Notley took this one last year at Stagecoach... I can't wait!!!

Hope to meet some new friends in Indio!!!

Cancer Sucks!


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Stillwater, Oklahoma

This was our second contest on the girls spring break. It is also officially our 20th state that we have competed!!! It sorta amazes me that we have been able to cook in that many different states in a little over 3 years.

We were able to take our time in coming over from Rio Rancho and Amarillo. We took the RV for a wash and then we stopped for some Popeye's chicken. The girls had a craving. A few teams had already set-up and left from the Elk's Lodge parking lot in Stillwater. It's funny how different parts or regions are different. Some regions, everyone is there by Thursday night and a huge party is going on. Others like Stillwater, were way more laid back. Maybe it's because they are all stick burners and don't need to start cooking early? I'd probably agree with that, but there are a lot of Cookshack/Fast Eddy cookers coming out of that state too and Cookshack is based out of Ponca City, OK.

On Friday late morning the pits started rolling in. Obviously the car wash opened up and the new Geer pits rolled in too... This one is Little Pig Town's pit.

The next one, which might be the coolest looking Jambo I have seen, belongs to Buffalo's BBQ. Donny might of even smiled.. OK, maybe a little snicker showing her off. ;-) I just love the high gloss on the barrel. The ghost flames are very cool as well!!! Good job Donny!

I was exhausted from being on the road for over a week, so I was laying low. Which worked out great, as it was an early 11:00 am turn-in for chicken. I was real happy with all 4 categories. We got 6th place ribs and 4th place pork. We were also rewarded with 47th place chicken and 42nd place brisket!!??? OK, not going to complain, I obviously can't cook chicken and brisket the way that they do in Oklahoma... But to me, those are scores for spitting out your food. Oh well, we'll get them next time!!!

The Grand Champion was won by Butcher BBQ. Congrats go out to David and Martin. David sure did put the whooping on everybody that weekend. Couldn't of happened to a nicer guy though. He was also on a little run, as he had just won the IBCA cookoff in Tulsa the prior week.

We beat out of the contest, or as we like to say, I was throwing gravel... We had about 11 more hours of driving to get back home and I wanted to try and knock off as much as I could on Saturday afternoon. It was a long vacation and my bed is calling!

Until we meet again.

Cancer Sucks!


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spring Break Vacation

After the BBQ contest, we hung out in the Rio Rancho area at a RV park. We didn't do too much, as it was nice being slugs... but we did go hiking up the mountain!

the views were spectacular... Amazing what a little hiking in elevation will do for your lungs though... ;-)

I think the Rio Rancho region was approximately 5400' above sea level. Which is amazing , as the trek into Albuquerque on I-40 is not that steep of a climb. I wouldn't of guessed we were that high, until I started climbing and boy do you get winded in a hurry. Good thing I am in shape though!!! ;-)

So instead, we had a seat on a big rock and had a wonderful view of the Albuquerque valley.

After a few days of relaxation, we started on our trip over to Stillwater, OK for our next contest. There really isn't much as far as natural landscaping in Eastern New Mexico. No trees at all.

Even when you hit North Texas, there isn't much. Heck, I didn't see a armadillo, until we got into Oklahoma!!!

The girls wanted to stay in Texas, so we stayed in Amarillo. Of course when you are in Amarillo, there is only one thing to do...

that's right. We went to the Big Texan Steak Ranch. I was real hungry after a short drive over from Rio Rancho. I had originally seen an episode on Man v. Food and Adam Richman tackled the challenge. Not quite hungry enough to tackle their free 72 oz. steak. That's right free! All you have to do is eat it all in an hour!!! Honestly, I could probably do the steak, but wouldn't be able to do the shrimp cocktail, salad, roll and potato that comes with it! So instead, I had the 36 oz. Houston cut steak. I will say the steak was delicious!!! After polishing off our meal, we then headed to their fudge factory. We got 6 different samples of fudge and headed to the KOA. The fudge was a delicious compliment to the steak dinner that I polished off!

One big mistake that I made was having to trim my competition meat, after eating a 36 oz. steak. That was a real chore, even after I waited 3 hours after dinner. All I could think was my steak was almost as big as the briskets that I was trimming. Well almost...

We stayed the night in Amarillo and of course, we get hit with another slush storm. they had predicted that they were going to be getting 3 inches, but it never happened. I think it was warmer than they predicted.

The girls got Texas off their list of places that they have stayed!

Cancer Sucks!


Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I've seen a lot of things over the years that just really make me speechless. Probably the biggest one is the generosity of people. When I started my foundation in Corliss' memory. I did it to try and assist those that are fighting cancer. I also did it so my girls can have an attachment to their mommy and so they know what kind of person she was. My girls were only 5 and 1 when Corliss passed away. Zoe and Lexi don't really remember their mommy except for things that myself, family and friends tell them. I hope that they take their experiences from this and grow. I truly hope that someday, they can look back and say, I really do know my mommy. That would make me happy.... But until then, I get to write stories about others that do good.

The first person I would like to talk about is Dr. David Covington, Prairie Oak Smokers from Minnesota. Doc is a wonderful caring person. Probably why he is a emergency room physician. He has a heart of gold and is a huge supporter of our foundation. He has been supporting our foundation for a few years now. He does it all for 'Poppa Dave', David's father, who passed away from cancer. You can usually see David and Raeanna at a contest with their 20 kids...
OK, they don't really have that many children, but it just seems like it... I realized Doc's generosity back on 2007 at the Minnesota in May contest. They took Reserve Grand Champion and he came up after the awards and donated his checks that he just won to my foundation and told me he was doing it in his fathers memory. I will say that it was one of the most powerful gifts I have received and I am honored. He has continued his generosity over the years and so far this year, Prairie Oak Smokers have donated their winnings from Fire on Ice, where they took the Grand Championship. They also donated 5 contest entries that they won at the KCBS banquet to the foundation. I was able to raffle them off on eBay and was able to generate over $950!!! Just amazing.

So I lifted this photo off of the Prairie Oak Smokers web page, so you can all have a picture of David, Raeanna and Poppa Dave. Thank you Doc for all you do.

The second person I would like to talk about is Jim Ballog, from Sweet Pepper out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is Jim holding up the phone.

Jim built a drum smoker and decided to raffle it off in the memory of Monica Benedict from Odis and The Bird BBQ team. Monica passed away from cancer a few months ago and Jim wanted to do something in her memory. Jim had exchanged emails and asked if it would be OK, as Jay had requested any donations be made to my foundation. (Jay and Monica have been supporting my foundation since 2006.) I thought it was a great idea and I knew that Jim knew a lot of folks, as he travels all over the Southwest region and knows lots of teams. He was selling tickets for $5 and all proceeds would go to the foundation. I was figuring that he would be able to maybe raise a couple hundred dollars. Boy was I wrong!!! As the following pictures explains. Jim presented us with his check at the Rio Rancho BBQ contest in New Mexico.

Here is the winner of the drum smoker and a closer look at the check!!! Yes, it did leave me speechless. Especially when Jim had called Jay on the phone. I had a speech all ready to give and honestly, I wouldn't of been able to do it. It really touched me.

While I am not trying to single out these fine gentlemen, I think it is important to know that there are folks out there that have some huge caring hearts. So to David and Jim, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you. Know that I will continue this fight to cure cancer and some day, I hope to say we have achieved our goals. Until then, I will keep fighting side by side with you gentlemen.

Until our journeys meet again.

Cancer Sucks!


Rio Rancho, New Mexico

This was the start of the girls Spring Break. We left on Wednesday afternoon, as we had 20 hours of driving ahead of us. When I woke up bright and early on Thursday morning (with still 12 hours of driving to go) I found out that a massive front was moving in and was expecting to dump a lot of snow in Eastern New Mexico and in the pan handle of Texas. So I kept up a steady pace to get to Rio Rancho. We started getting hit with real heavy winds about Amarillo. A light rain started in Eastern New Mexico. We made it to Rio Rancho by 7:00 pm and fortunately we missed the snow. I-40 was shut down in parts. As Amarillo, TX got 11 inches of snow! But were the winds ever blowing in Rio Rancho!!!

When I woke on Friday morning, I was expecting 6 inches of snow on the ground. We didn't have any, but I understand that some local places had 3 inches of snow. It was really snowing up in the mountains, but most of the snow was melted by lunchtime. The winds continued all night long, with them actually rocking the RV back and forth. I'd venture a guess to say that they were blowing at times up to 50 mph... Fortunately for us, Rio Rancho is building a new town center and there is construction going on all over the place. We were in that corner of that parking lot that was getting nailed witht he wind first. So I guess we were blocking it for the rest of the teams! Needless to say, I think I will be cleaning desert/sand out of my RV for years to come. At times, it felt like you were in a sandblaster getting pelted with sand from the winds!!! The winds were so strong, that I couldn't get my awning back up without it wanting to act like a sail! So instead, I tied it down to a full cooler, just make sure it didn't take off!

This was officially our 19th state that we as a team have cooked!!! As many of you know, our goals are to try and cook in as many states as we can!!! This was also a fun one for the girls, as Aunt Robin came over from Tucson and met us for a few days. Which made the girls happy!!!

The organizer at this contest Art Perez really bends over backwards for the cooks. They had a real nice feast for us on Friday night and again for breakfast on Saturday morning. I have become a huge fan of green chile's on EVERYTHING!!! The winds and temps didn't keep the people from showing up for the event and there were good crowds all weekend. Saturday was a beautiful day in the 60's and the winds calmed a little bit. I was next to Scott Hettinga from Porkrastinators, as his mom lives in Rio Rancho. He ended up lowering his Ez-Up all the way to the ground and working out of it with it that low. The winds were blowing that strong! I was also next to Mark from Q and he ended up putting his Ez-Up away, as it blew away at one point.

As for the results, I was happy with my turn-ins even if the scores didn't indicate. Our results were:

- 17th place chicken
- 27th place ribs
- 4th place ribs
- 12th place brisket
- 8th place overall.

The Reserve Grand was Wild Hogs BBQ and Grand Champion was Rib-It. It was Mark and Beth's first GC!! Congrats to them! I was happy for them. They were just trembling up on stage, as they called the top 10 up to the stage. I didn't want to pox them, but I thought it was obvious that they had the win.

Probably the highlight of my weekend was a auction that Jim Ballog from Sweet Peppers did in memory of Monica Benedict, who passed away a few months ago. I'll write up a blog on that, but my hat goes off to Jim. You almost had me when we were up on stage and you called Jay. Fortuantely, you didn't have me talk!!! ;-)

So thanks to all the new friends I met in New Mexico! The girls and I had a riot!

Thanks again Jim. You are the man!!!

Cancer Sucks!


Monday, March 16, 2009

Little Rock, Arkansas

While we cooked our first contest of the year at New Year's down in Felda, Florida. In my eyes, Smoke on the Water is the official kickoff to our BBQ season. Nothing better to kick off the year than a $50,000 contest with 133 teams coming from all over the US to compete!

The last time I was down in Arkansas, was for the Pine Bluff contest. On our way home, Alex (Dr. Porkenstein) and I got to drive through 2 tornados on the way home. This trip was uneventful. Had a little rain/snow once I hit Arkansas, but nothing to really make the roads bad. I did realize that I was truly in Arkansas, when I was on I-40 and saw a box in the middle of the expressway. Then I saw an object with a truck stopped and a guy running back to get the object... It was a deer head!!! I knew I had arrived when I saw him running after the deer head, that obviously flew out of the back of his truck.

This was a fun contest. They loaded everyone in hour intervals to their spots. I thought that would be a mess, but it turned out OK. The rain held off until we were all set-up. My sister flew down for this contest and came over while I was at the cooks meeting. Which the mud/grass was unbelievable for this cooks meeting. It was like a bog. Amazing they ever got the judges in there on Saturday, that's how wet it was!

Steph from set up a dinner feast with a St. Patrick Day theme. I of course brought Italian Beefs, by request... I also did bring some Green River soda, just so I could keep the "green" theme. We had dinner over at the I Smell Smoke camp. We had everything from corned beef, Irish stew to soup. I really liked the stew and the soup... As it was rainy and a bit cold by then. I enjoy getting together with friends from all over the country for these feasts. So while I give Steph a hard time, I do enjoy them!!!

The evening was uneventful. My back was killing me the next day and I am not sure why. It seemed to put me always a minute behind for the morning though. As the Advil's were just not working! I was so out of sorts, that I missed the 9:22 am good luck shot. Fortunately, I was able to hit the next one at the 4 Legs Up camp.

We got through the turn-ins without a hitch. We were happy in the 4 categories that we turned in for the day. I knew we had the kiss of death when my sister and I each ate 3 ribs. Even had a side bet with Smokey Joel. He won, as the judges didn't seem to like my ribs. Then again, they didn't seem to really think much of anything we turned in. We got a call for 13th place brisket. Nothing to jump up and down about, but some days you have what the judges are looking for and other days you don't. This contest was one of those that we didn't have what they were looking for. While I knew my chicken wasn't "spot on", I had confidence in my other 3 categories. Oh well, we move on and try again at the next contest!

The winners were Myron Mixon and his Jack's Old South team for Grand Champion and Pellet Envy for Reserve Grand Champion. I talked with Myron on the way to awards and wished him luck, but it didn't look like he needed it. Rod just seems to own Arkansas. He has been joking that he is going to be moving down to those parts, with the success that he has had in Arkansas! Honestly, if I wore hats that color, I would be hiding in Arkansas too! If anyone needs a nice Greased Lightning hat, Rod has a couple extra's!!!

Cancer Sucks!