Orion IL, 7-25-15

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There seems to be a theme building for our success. If things are stressful and break the routine, then we tend to do pretty good. This last competition was no exception.

This past weekend we competed in Orion, IL and was suppose to be a pretty relaxing comp. It was scheduled in a way that we were able to arrive a day early and stay a day later if we wanted. Man this could be a little vacation for us.

Leading up to the weekend we had mostly everything packed and loaded, the only thing really left to do was to work 2 days and then load up the few remaining items that couldn’t be done earlier (meats, injections, sauces etc). So it should be pretty easy to head out first thing. The ideal plan was to be on the road by noon, but realistically by 2 pm.

1st day of work ended up having me up after midnight for the most part, so I didn’t get totally rested. Plus I seemed to have an intermittent annoying dry cough.

2nd day of work, again, had very little sleep after midnight. Feeling pretty tired, plus the cough seemed to become more regular. Oh well I guess, there is always that risk and seems like it’s a curse. It always seems as though if there is something important to do the day after a shift, you’ll be busy after midnight.

Friday morning I get off work, rush home and take my son to get his school physical that I forgot about. That will set the timeline back a little bit. No big deal though, some things have to be done. Get that done and head home to get a start on the final details. I go to hook up the smoker to the motorhome and find out that someone “borrowed” my hitch without telling me. Crap! So now I have to go spend more money and time. Oh and now I am coughing more with a bunch of sinus symptoms. This is not the time that I need this to start.

Got home, hooked up the smoker and as I was trying to swing up the jack, the little metal triangle used to pull the release pin out, broke. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? So I start to freak out a bit, thinking how in the world am I going to get it swung up. I did manage to get it swung up. That reminds me I need to get that really fixed.

Once we got everything settled and ready to go, we were on the road by 2:04 pm, Glad I set realistic timelines.

As we were on the road and about 2 miles out of town, a semi pulls out in front of us, causing me to nearly lock up the brakes and pray to avoid contact. Good thing he didn’t hit us, but the yield sign didn’t fare as good.He smashed and twisted into the ground it went.

Onto to the interstate we went, only to be cutoff by another semi and again causing us to brake hard. I’m starting to think either we have the unknown cloaking option or we’re a bigger threat than we thought and the other teams have pooled their money together to prevent us from getting there.

The drive takes about 3 hours, and 1 hour before getting there I realize I forgot an important superstitious item at home. The bottle of whiskey for the good luck shot. Crap again. I literally start to have a small anxiety attack.

Before you judge me, I am superstitious enough that I have certain clothes I bring to wear on turn in day.

I tell my wife if this is any indication of how the comp is going to go, we are going to do pretty good.

When we arrive in Orion, we stop to fill up fuel and like a golden ray luck shining down on us, there was a liquor store in the gas station. Again, don’t judge me.

Back on the road and we arrive at the site shortly there after.

We got unloaded and made our rounds meeting new teams and visiting with old friends. Our only real concern at this point was if the weather was going to hold out. They were forecasting possible severe thunderstorms.

We sat around that evening thinking about how the cook was going to go and agreed that a top 10 overall call was our goal. A top 5 would be great though. It should be attainable as long as we cook a good cook.

So with what seems to be like my routine bout of sinusitis taking hold, and hoping to not include bronchitis, we move ahead with firing up the cooker. The temperatures and weather, made running the cooker somewhat of a breeze.

The meats went on and the 1 hour log feeding began.

About 4 hours in I do a check in the money muscles and they temp at 195 and 201. Crap!!!!! They are overcooked. I hope they will tighten up with some rest.

During all of the cooking, my wife gets a call from my daughter that she is going to the ER because the ear ache that she has has now worsened to no hearing and blood coming from the ear. UGH!! Sure just a bit more stress.

Thankfully she was able to get in pretty quick and was diagnosed with a ruptured eardrum.

As each meat finishes, they all seem to have an issue with overcooking. I’m thinking a thermometer calibration may be in order.

The only meat that we seemed to be good with was the chicken.

Ribs were difficult to keep from falling apart as we cut them.

Pork ended up having no salvageable money muscle, so we had to do a box of chunks and pulled.

Brisket couldn’t get a knife to slice through the bark to save my butt. I have to flip it over and slice it from the bottom. We managed to get the slices we needed and added some pretty good burnt ends.

After we were done I couldn’t stop worrying that we may have just messed up our chance to get a top 10 overall call.

Awards were started about 30 minutes early, woohoo!!

I told me wife I wanted to attempt to broadcast the awards live. In my opinion it didn’t turn out too bad and we may try to do it more often. You can see the video here, Orion Awards.

At the end of the day we hit our goal:

Out of 15 teams we finished:

9th in chicken

9th in ribs

9th in pork

2nd in brisket

8th overall

I still think we could have done better, but we’ll take it for now.

I’m just worried about how much stress it will take to GC a comp. I hope I don’t have to have a vehicle stolen or a major breakdown.

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