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!