Quincy, IL 6/21/14

There is something to be said when a 3.5 hour drive is a close competition.

This past weekend we competed in Quincy IL considering the previous drives I was actually looking forward to it. I was excited not to have to rush as much getting there. After all it was going to be hot and humid and the RV was pretty comfortably temped while driving.

We left town at about 9 and only had to make a few stops before we were officially on the road. I still needed to pick up butter, chicken breasts and apple juice from the store. As well as stuff to eat for dinner. Then needed to fill up on gas and dump our waste water tanks.

So after getting the apple juice, chicken breasts and stuff for dinner we started driving out of town. It turns out we were driving with a shadow. That shadow just so happened to have a badge and a light bar. So we had an unplanned delay. I instantly felt defensive because I knew we hadn’t broken any laws. The only thing I could think of, from reading about other team’s experiences, is this officer felt that I probably wasn’t properly licensed to drive the RV while towing my trailer.

As the officer walked up I had my license out and window down, letting the cool air out. He proceeded to tel me that he didn’t need that and that he just wanted to take a look at my cooker.

Are you freaking kidding me?

Well to say the least I was a bit relieved and kinda felt a bit important. He even knew who we were and said that he and a friend were going to compete in Danville. It never gets old answering questions, even if it puts us a little behind schedule.

So after getting back in my son thought it was hilarious and was taking pictures through the rear view camera and mirrors. In case you couldn’t tell he can be quite the funny guy.

Nothing to see here

Nothing to see here

We get to the gas station fill up and go to dump our tanks. As I am getting ready to unscrew the drain cap, I remember that I was having a hard time pushing the black tanks closure in all the way. I SLOOOOWLY start to unscrew the cap and notice immediately I was about to have a major problem. Yup brown liquid started to flow out.

I immediately closed the cap as the thought of a horrible movie scene entered my mind.

Rethinking my strategy I attacked the problem with the skill of a ninja. No major spills and the tanks got emptied.

This drive was pretty much a straight shot, but boring as can be. I am pretty sure no one lives between Jacksonville and Quincy IL. They just put seeds in the ground and leave. Heck they don’t even have decent cell service, much less radio stations.

As we arrived we got set up and tried to get motivated to begin working. Even the A/C wasn’t motivated.

After a late cook’s meeting and a much appreciated provided dinner, the prep work got done. I even enjoyed a bit of a nap before firing up the cooker.

The next morning things were going smooth until I trimmed the ribs. It was then that I remembered that I had forgot something from the store. Maybe you caught it, if you said butter you’d be correct.

Good thing competition teams are generous, Peter Wright with Lion Bout The Que, gave us a tub to use. Now I just wish I could have remembered to have injected my chicken.

The rest of the cook went alright, but it seemed like I just couldn’t get into my groove. It was like I was 5 minutes behind and not real fluid. It may have just been the heat taking a toll on me. Whatever the case I didn’t feel like it was going to be my best cook.

After the last turn in we got started immediately on preparing to leave and were done in about 1 hour. What a relief. That gave me about a 1 hour break to rest. I figured I’d get up around 3:30 and head over for the 4:00 awards.

Well apparently we didn’t get the message that they were starting awards at 3:15 instead. I probably should have figured something was up as we were the only team outside at around 3:30.

We made it to awards in time to hear the 4th place overall winner announced.

Kinda disappointing to not be a part of it, even though our name wasn’t called.

In the end we didn’t do as good as we hoped, but we didn’t do bad either.

Out of 25 teams we finished

12th in chicken – pretty sure had I injected we would have gotten a call

14th in ribs – 3 slabs, 3 different stages of doneness, again

19th in pork – scratching my head on this one, thought we had a pretty good product

13th in brisket – didn’t dip my slices before boxing.

15th overall – just goes to show that I need to think about everything I am doing.

I looked over the scores and was frustrated with myself because I saw that had I had more of an average cook we could have easily received a call or two.

 

 

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Knoxville TN day 2

After a peaceful night’s rest. I woke up the next morning and had my routine pot of coffee. The day of setting up continued as usual except we weren’t as rushed.

Once the meat inspection was completed, I hopped onto prepping the chicken. I hate working on chicken if it is hot outside, and it was definitely working on heating up.

After we finished our jobs we started walking around and meeting some new teams. That is a benefit of competing in a new area, you get to meet new friends. One of the new teams we befriended was “Nibble Me This” Guess what he has a blog also.

Speaking of meeting friends, that afternoon Erik and his family made it out to visit us. That really made the event great. It’s nice to be able to get a break from the routine and get caught up with friends. Erik had said how he was interested in comp BBQ, so guess what I put him to work for a little bit. Once the big meats were trimmed, they suggested we go out for dinner. Now that is a welcomed invite for sure. It really is nice to get away from the site and some different places. Even if it isn’t very far, it’s still different.

This was quickly becoming the best contest ever.

After dinner we made our way back to the cook site and got back to the routine. The weather was turning out to be perfect for cooking, not too hot and not too cold, with a slight breeze to keep the smoke blowing.

The cook went as normal as could be, for the first part. Then the meats started to stall and not break over.

The ribs which have been overcooking all year, suddenly decided to take their sweet time once I adjusted for their quick cooking. I struggled to get them done enough. I had to crank the temp up on the smoker to try and get them done.

Chicken thighs cooked fast and the breasts cooked slow.

The 4 butts that I brought for the comp were stalled, while the 2 that were provided for people’s choice cooked right on time.

I felt as though I was running around all morning checking temps. This was the first time that I didn’t even really use the Cambro.

Come turn in time I was truly pulling meat straight from the cooker and sorting it then. Not much of it really pleased me, it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great.

I wished we had taken more pics, but we were rushing to get something turned in that we were happy with. Pushed one entry to within about 1 minute of the turn in time.

The only category we thought we had a good shot at was the chicken. But as history has shown that isn’t always the case.

4:30 the awards started and we listened to all of the names in the chicken category get called, except our’s. Rib category was the same way, but we didn’t think we had a shot with them.

Pork started getting called out and Leslie was getting ready to head back to the RV to finish packing some things, when suddenly we heard the unexpected.

“Second place pork goes to ’82’s BBQ Crew'”

I am glad that we were the only team with ’82’ in the name because before he could say anymore than that, I had jumped up from my seat gave a pretty good “WOOHOO!!!!”

I really didn’t mean to make a big scene, but the emotion of it caught me first. Tell me this picture doesn’t prove how happy I was. This was a big win considering the caliber of teams that were there.

 

Image

This definitely made the drive home a bit easier.

We had a fantastic cook, but so did everyone else. At the end of the day here is how we did.

Out of 48 teams

Chicken 27th with a score of 166.8228

Ribs 45th with a score of 157.0744

Pork 2nd with a score of 173.7028 (new high score for us)

Brisket 20th with a score of 165.1200 (new high score for us)

Overall 24th with a score of 662.7200

 

Knoxville TN Day 1

This past weekend’s competition took us to Knoxville TN. This one would make for the longest traveled. It is approximately 445 miles (6.5 hours) from home. Typically I don’t like to drive this far for a competition, but I made an exception. As with most exceptions to things, it suited an agenda.This time the agenda was getting to hopefully visit with some great friends. They just so happen to live in the Knoxville area. 

For some reason I couldn’t get it together to be prepared in advance. Things like prepping my meat and making our boxes at home, in the air conditioning never really made it to the top of my list. I did on the other hand have everything else ready to go days in advance. This was actually more important than prepping because we needed to leave as soon as I got off work. Figuring we could be on the road by no later than 10. That should put us there around 6pm EST. That works perfect with plenty of time to loosely set up, unwind and relax for the night. Heck I might even prep my chicken then.

10:20 – We left town a little behind schedule, but nothing major. This will be a low stress trip.

A quick stop to Restaurant Depot for meats and supplies and we were back on the road. It really is nice to travel without any major problems. 

I spoke too soon, 3 hours in and we suddenly come to a screeching halt. Apparently I-65 south of Seymour IN no longer exists. I am serious, the pavement is gone and from I saw there was only 1 guy hired to work on it. This meant being diverted into the country on a 2-lane highway. Now just think about that for a minute. 2 lanes of cars, trucks and semis are now being rerouted onto 1 lane. I don’t see how this could be a problem.

This created a 9.6 mi major slow down. How slow you ask? We were avg 10 mph. So theoretically we lost 50 minutes +/-.

After we finally got back on the interstate it was smooth sailing again. Heck even the weather was holding out. 

Once we hit Louisville, I realized I made the mistake earlier and said smooth sailing again. The GPS told me I couldn’t go the way that I wanted to and instead sent me on a 10 mile detour, again!!!

At least this time we were still on the interstate. Oh yeah but guess what time it is? Yup 4:30 and rush hour is beginning. 

UGH!!!! I just want to be there already and we are still about 4 hours away. 

Oh yeah while I am thinking about, could someone please put out a memo to the drivers of KY and TN that I am pretty sure you won’t get pulled over for doing 5 mph over. If I am wrong please correct me.

We finally got to the competition location about 1 hour before they stopped assigning spots to the teams for the night and situated. Those guys were awesome for being so understanding. They even had guys still out there working on getting everything ready to go for the morning. 

Unfortunately our plans to meet up with our friends that night fell through due to our late arrival, but tomorrow would be a new day.