The Great Barbecue Adventure

After spending a lovely weekend in the upstate of South Carolina in a barbecue competition, I am able to make a pretty bold statement – Barbecue People is Good People…

The weekend adventure started on Thursday afternoon as I was traveling on Highway 178 just south of Saluda, SC. While traveling, I found the largest pothole known to man and after hitting it, I looked in the mirror to make sure the cooker I was pulling was okay. When I saw the cooker, both wheels were off the ground – she was airborne!

Apparently when she landed, the passenger side rim bent. It didn’t bend enough to cause an immediate tire explosion, but it bent enough to lose the seal between the tire and the rim. As air slowly leaked out, my girls and I went on our merry way thinking we escaped disaster…

After about a mile or two, the car began to shimmy and shake – at that point I realized we were no longer going to be okay. The girls and I regained our wits only to have the tire completely blow. We did a quick scan of the area we were on and found a NAPA store up ahead. Instead of pulling over, we decided to limp on to NAPA to see if they could point us in the right direction. Well, just before NAPA we found a small collision center named Winn’s Collision. Rather than heading on to NAPA, we rolled into the collision center hoping for a miracle…

No miracle was to be found as they didn’t have the replacement tire in stock and the nearest store was a Tractor Supply in Newberry, SC – approximately 25 miles away. I would need to drop the trailer, head 25 miles out of my way to purchase the tire, and then turn around and head back. The girls and I weren’t looking forward to this…

Just before we decided to leave, Mr. Winn had one final idea. Apparently his dad builds BBQ cookers and may have the wheel we need. He gave his old man a call and wouldn’t you know he had one. Mr. Winn took off to Old Man Winn’s place to grab us a spare. Five minutes after he got back with the spare, we were on our way again…

Needless to say, the girls and I were relieved to be on the road again, but we all were a little cautious as we weren’t sure how things would go. The remaining wheel seemed a little off, but was holding strong, so we kept on trucking…

Once we got to my parents house, we inspected the cooker and all seemed to be in order, though the remaining wheel was a little “loose”, so to speak…

The next morning I hop back in the car and head to Greenville, SC to meet my brother-in-law so we can get to the BBQ competition. On the way, I noticed the remaining wheel getting a little more loose and starting to squeak a bit. I went ahead and took her to Greenville, only to find the wheel bearings for the remaining wheel have completely fallen off…

At this point, we are too close to cookin’ and too far into this thing to let this bother us. So we did what any sane BBQ team would do – ignore it. We make a few stops on the way, head into Downtown Greenville, SC and reserve our spot…

Once we got setup, we began to call to a few local tire stores to see if they could help us. Most could – if we could bring the Hunley in, which we can’t because we are rockin’ a pecan wood fire in the firebox and about to smother her with 40 lbs on the wings. We offered them to come see us, but most weren’t willing to head into Downtown on a Friday afternoon with little chance of fixing her. We did talk one location into sending someone out, and after messing around with it for a few minutes, he too agreed she was toast for the short term and not up for the long trip back to the coast…

We didn’t let this slow us down as we cooked the 40 lbs of wings, added another 60-80 pounds of butts and three racks of ribs. At the end of the day, we outperformed ourselves, our equipment, and nearly 2/3 of everyone else at the competition as we walked away with a Top 10 in butts. Our first ever Top 10 plus our first ever Championship Points…

At the conclusion of the weekend, we have a great story to tell, great – and interesting – folks we’ve met (more on that coming), great memories, and a Top 10…

I think it was all worth it, but I haven’t gotten the final bill yet…

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